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The benefits of migrating to 5 Ghz WiFi


Most budget focused consumers don’t upgrade their routers or networking equipment very often. And this results in a few complications. The good old version of WiFi when it launched was known as WiFi b/g which was very good for most applications in the late 2000s. It had a range of about 40 meters (or 125 feet) and a maximum speed of 54 Mbps which was quite good for 2007.
WiFi is ubiquitous but is it getting slower?
WiFi n, brought support for 5Ghz. a maximum speed of 600Mbps and double the range. However, the actual realistic speeds don’t even get close to that theoretical number for a variety of reasons. This is mainly because of an extreme growth in the number of WiFi networks in the past decade that has blocked the 13 channels used in the 2.4Ghz spectrum. Though WiFi n supports 5Ghz a vast majority of routers don’t support it.

WiFi n is supposed to use two channels in the 13-channel spectrum but according to the standard, when the spectrum is congested, it falls back to one channel which brings the theoretical maximum speed to 150Mbps. However, when there are many devices connected to the same network, and the devices are not very close to the router, the speeds drop even further. Because of this, in practical terms the maximum speed you usually get with a traditional router is about 20-30 Mbps on average.

To break free of this you must migrate away from the congested 2.4Ghz spectrum and move to the 5Ghz spectrum. Moving from WiFi n to the ac standard also increases your theoretical maximum to 1Gbps and so the average attainable speed is about 300Mbps which is major upgrade. One other advantage is the reduction in ping times where instead of the 30-40ms delay with traditional older routers, you could get a responsive 2-5ms in most cases which is a big boost to your gaming performance.

Here is a helpful chart that shows the differences between four WiFi standards, WiFi 6 or ax is not available yet, but is included here as a reference to how the WiFi standards would grow in the future.

Chart with a comparison of WiFi g, n, ac and ax. (© Kategat Media 2019; available for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license).
Chart with a comparison of WiFi g, n, ac and ax. (© Kategat Media 2019; available for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license).
Here are some TP-Link routers recommended by Kategat:

   


See also
Image of WiFi symbol, thanks to Christiaan Colen on Flickr. Licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
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