Is Wi-Fi 6 better or 6E?

Wi-Fi technology has come a long way in the past few decades. The latest Wi-Fi protocols – Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E – offer faster speeds, lower latency, and the ability to handle more devices compared to previous standards. But which one is better for most people – Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E?

Is Wi-Fi 6 better or 6E?

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is the newest Wi-Fi protocol that was ratified in 2019. Key improvements over previous Wi-Fi 5 standards include:

  • Faster top speeds – up to 9.6 Gbps theoretical maximum vs 3.5 Gbps with Wi-Fi 5. Real-world speeds often 30% faster.
  • Better performance in crowded environments – supports more simultaneous connections.
  • Up to 4x increased bandwidth efficiency allowing more devices to use available spectrum.
  • Longer battery life for devices.
  • Lower latency for time sensitive tasks like video conferencing and gaming.

Wi-Fi 6 is backwards compatible with previous Wi-Fi device generations. Most new smartphones, laptops and routers support Wi-Fi 6.

What is Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E builds on top of Wi-Fi 6 by adding support for the new 6 GHz band. Key advantages over Wi-Fi 6 include:

  • Much wider 160 MHz channels resulting in faster speeds – theoretical maximum of 11 Gbps+.
  • Significantly reduced interference and congestion since the 6 GHz band is relatively empty compared to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
  • Lower latency. Important for gaming, VR/AR and video calls.

The 6E in Wi-Fi 6E denotes support for the 6 GHz band specifically. This band was opened up by the FCC in 2020 for unlicensed commercial use.

<p style=”text-align: center;”> Wi-Fi generations compared: </p>

Wi-Fi Generation Max Speed Bands Year Released
Wi-Fi 6E 11 Gbps+ 5 GHz, <br>6 GHz 2020
Wi-Fi 6 9.6 Gbps 2.4 GHz, <br>5 GHz 2019
Wi-Fi 5 3.5 Gbps 2.4 GHz, <br>5 GHz 2014

Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6E comparison

Now that we’ve covered what Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are individually, let’s compare them head-to-head:

Factor Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6E
Speed Up to 9.6 Gbps 11 Gbps+
Bands 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz
Congestion Good with many devices Excellent with many devices
Interference OK Very low
Latency Good Excellent
Range Good Very good
Backwards Compatibility Yes No
Adoption Very high Low (for now)

As you can see, Wi-Fi 6E edges out Wi-Fi 6 in almost all technical aspects thanks to support for the new, empty 6 GHz band. It offers faster speeds, lower congestion, less interference, lower latency and generally better performance.

However, Wi-Fi 6 has much wider adoption among current devices. Wi-Fi 6E is still very new, so device support is low but growing rapidly.

So which one should you get?

Should I get Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E?

For most people’s home Wi-Fi today, Wi-Fi 6 is still the best choice when buying a new router or laptop. Reasons include:

  • You likely don’t have any Wi-Fi 6E capable devices yet.
  • Wi-Fi 6 router prices have come down significantly. Great affordable options available.
  • Wi-Fi 6 offers big improvements over WiFi 5. Faster speeds than most internet plans provide today.
  • Wi-Fi 6E adoption is still low but accelerating quickly.

However, if you have Wi-Fi 6E devices or want greater future proofing, Wi-Fi 6E does provide technical advantages. Specifically for congested networks with 100+ devices, gaming, VR, 8K video streaming.

It’s a new technology that will take 1-3 years for mass adoption. But Wi-Fi 6E ultimately paves the way for faster multi-gig home internet plans beyond 1 Gbps in the future.

So in summary:

  • Today: Go with Wi-Fi 6 for best value and compatibility.
  • Future proofing: Consider Wi-Fi 6E if you’ll keep your router for 5+ years.

Key takeaways

  • Wi-Fi 6E is the newest Wi-Fi version building on Wi-Fi 6 with added 6 GHz band support.
  • It offers faster speeds (11 Gbps+), lower latency, less congestion and interference compared to Wi-Fi 6.
  • However, Wi-Fi 6 has wider device support and adoption currently.
  • Wi-Fi 6 is the best choice today for most home networks.
  • Wi-Fi 6E provides more future proofing for advanced applications.

Conclusion

Wi-Fi 6E is the latest and fastest Wi-Fi protocol thanks to its access to wide open 6 GHz spectrum. However, Wi-Fi 6 strikes the best balance of speed, value and compatibility for most users today. With widespread device adoption already, Wi-Fi 6 routers and devices should serve homes very well for the next 5+ years – delivering faster, reliable wireless connectivity. Longer term however, Wi-Fi 6E’s technical advantages will shine through as its adoption increases.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Wi-Fi 6E safe?
A: Yes, Wi-Fi 6E has been tested extensively and deemed completely safe by health organizations when used as intended. The 6GHz frequency used does not interact with the human body.

Q: How much faster is Wi-Fi 6 than Wi-Fi 5?
A: Wi-Fi 6 delivers up to 30% faster real-world speeds compared to Wi-Fi 5 under typical conditions. The maximum theoretical bandwidth is improved from 3.5 Gbps to 9.6 Gbps.

Q: Does Wi-Fi 6 work with 5GHz?
A: Yes, Wi-Fi 6 works with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. Only Wi-Fi 6E adds support for the new 6GHz band.

Q: Should I upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 now?
A: If you have Wi-Fi 6 capable devices, upgrading your Wi-Fi router to Wi-Fi 6 is recommended for faster speeds and capacity for many connected devices. For older non Wi-Fi 6 devices, speed boost may be minor.

Q: Does Wi-Fi 6 drain more battery?
A: No, Wi-Fi 6 is designed to use battery power more efficiently resulting in longer battery life for devices like phones and laptops.

Q: Can Wi-Fi 6 increase internet speed?
A: Wi-Fi 6 increases wireless LAN speeds, but not necessarily internet speeds. Your internet plan bandwidth limits overall speed. However, faster wireless throughput does help minimize congestion which can improve internet speeds during peak usage.

Q: Is Wi-Fi 6 necessary for gaming?
A: Wi-Fi 6 can benefit gaming by reducing latency and improving bandwidth capacity. This leads to less lag and interruptions during gaming sessions – especially useful if gaming wirelessly on multiple devices.

Q: What frequency does Wi-Fi use?
A: Common WiFi frequency bands: 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and recently 6 GHz for Wi-Fi 6E. Higher frequencies like 5 or 6 GHz offer faster speeds but lower range.

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