What is ax in router?

An access point (ax) in a router refers to support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard. Wi-Fi 6 routers with ax provide faster speeds, increased capacity, better performance in dense environments, and extended range compared to older Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) routers.What is ax in router?Key benefits of Wi-Fi 6 ax routers

Wi-Fi 6 brings noticeable improvements over previous versions:

  • Faster top speeds – Wi-Fi 6 supports maximum theoretical speeds up to 9.6 Gbps compared to 6.9 Gbps for Wi-Fi 5. Real-world speeds often exceed 1 Gbps with Wi-Fi 6.
  • Higher throughput – More data can be transferred at once thanks to technologies like OFDMA. Wi-Fi 6 throughput is about 40% higher than Wi-Fi 5.
  • Lower latency – Latency is improved by up to 75% compared to Wi-Fi 5, delivering a more real-time experience.
  • Increased capacity – More devices can connect simultaneously without slowing the network thanks to MU-MIMO and BSS colors.
  • Extended coverage – Improved modulations like 1024-QAM enable signals to travel further at faster speeds.

Wi-Fi 6 brings major gains in speed, latency, capacity and coverage compared to predecessor standards. For many households today, upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router is a worthwhile investment to provide the best wireless networking experience.

How you benefit from a Wi-Fi 6 ax router

A Wi-Fi 6 router improves your experience in several ways:

  • Faster file transfers and downloads – Large downloads and synchronizations happen noticeably faster.
  • Smoother 4K/8K video streaming – High bandwidth video streams more reliably to more devices simultaneously.
  • Lower latency for gaming – Wi-Fi 6 enables near real-time responses for competitive online gaming.
  • Video calls don’t strain the network – Smooth, high-quality conferencing with many users at once.
  • No bandwidth congestion – There’s enough throughput headroom to operate dozens of devices without dips in performance.

With technology trends like 4K video, smart homes, mobile devices and online gaming continuing to accelerate, Wi-Fi 6 delivers the performance and capacity home networks need both now and for the future.

Key technical improvements behind Wi-Fi 6 ax performance

Wi-Fi 6 achieves its speed, efficiency and capacity gains through several new and improved technologies:

Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)

  • Allows more data to be transmitted at once by splitting channels into smaller sub-carriers.
  • Enables simultaneous transmissions to multiple devices for increased throughput.

Multi-user, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO)

  • Allows simultaneous data transmission to multiple devices at once.
  • Significantly increases network capacity.

1024-QAM modulation

  • Allows faster top transfer speeds by encoding more data in the signal.
  • Enables higher throughput at longer ranges.

Target Wake Time (TWT)

  • Scheduling transmissions efficiently reduces power consumption.
  • Extends battery life on mobile devices.

BSS Coloring

  • Differentiates signals from different access points.
  • Reduces interference and collisions as more routers are added.

Together, these capabilities add up to a major leap over Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4. For home users looking for the best Wi-Fi performance, Wi-Fi 6 is the new standard.

What to look for in a Wi-Fi 6 router

With the improvements Wi-Fi 6 offers, upgrading your Wi-Fi is compelling. What should you look for in a Wi-Fi 6 router?

  • Wi-Fi 6 certification – Ensure the router complies with the 802.11ax standard and passes interoperability testing.
  • MU-MIMO support – More MU-MIMO streams enable faster simultaneous transfers.
  • OFDMA – Routers should support OFDMA for efficient data transmission.
  • 160 MHz channel support – Wider channels increase throughput for capable devices.
  • 5 GHz band availability – The 5 GHz band is less crowded and offers more channels.
  • Strong CPU – A faster processor manages Wi-Fi and software features more smoothly.
  • Beamforming – Focuses signals towards devices for better coverage.
  • WPA3 encryption – Future-proof security protocols keep networks safer.

When shopping for a Wi-Fi 6 router, prioritize these key 802.11ax capabilities for the best experience. Additional features like link aggregation, VPN support, and Wi-Fi mesh expanding can also add value.

Key Takeaways

  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) brings faster speeds, lower latency, higher capacity and extended wireless range.
  • Key technologies like OFDMA, MU-MIMO, 1024-QAM boost performance.
  • Upgrade your router to Wi-Fi 6 ax to speed up downloads, smooth video streaming, enable high-quality conferencing.
  • Look for Wi-Fi 6 certification, MU-MIMO streams, OFDMA support when shopping for a router.
  • Wi-Fi 6 works with older devices but 802.11ax capabilities require compatible hardware.

Conclusion

Support for the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard is a key indicator of the latest generation of wireless performance and speed. With demands on home networks increasing all the time, the improvements from Wi-Fi 6 deliver the smooth streaming, quick downloads, high capacity and low latency needed for modern connected experiences.

When shopping for your next router, prioritizing one with Wi-Fi 6 support ensures you’ll get the most advanced wireless capabilities today with throughput to spare well into the future. Investing in a Wi-Fi 6 ax router future-proofs your network for all of your devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does ax mean on my Wi-Fi router?
    Ax refers to support for Wi-Fi 6, the latest 802.11ax wireless standard. Wi-Fi 6 delivers faster maximum speeds, increased capacity, lower latency and better range compared to older Wi-Fi versions. 
  2. How much faster is ax Wi-Fi compared to Wi-Fi 5?
    Wi-Fi 6 offers about 40% higher maximum theoretical throughput vs Wi-Fi 5. Actual speed gains vary based on hardware, connections and environment. 
  3. Should I upgrade to ax if my devices are older?
    Yes, you’ll still benefit from Wi-Fi 6 router’s extended range and capacity. Upgrade devices over time to use the latest features. 
  4. Is ax the same thing as Wi-Fi 6?
    Yes, ax and Wi-Fi 6 both refer to support for the 802.11ax wireless standard. Wi-Fi 6 marketing names were introduced after the ax technical designation. 
  5. What does an ax router improve?
    A Wi-Fi 6 router improves speeds, latency, capacity, and wireless coverage. It handles more devices simultaneously with smoother 4K streaming, gaming, downloads and video calls. 
  6. How many devices can connect to an ax router?
    Technically over 200 devices can connect simultaneously. Performance depends on hardware capabilities and environment. 
  7. What is the range of ax Wi-Fi?
    Wi-Fi 6 extends wireless coverage range by about 25% over Wi-Fi 5 thanks to technologies like 1024-QAM. 
  8. Do I need a new modem for an ax router?
    No, your existing modem should work fine. Connect your ax router to the modem, then connect devices to the router wirelessly or via ethernet. 
  9. How much does an ax router cost?
    Wi-Fi 6 routers range from about $150 to $700+ depending on speed, features and hardware capabilities. High-end gaming/mesh routers cost more. 
  10. Will an ax router work with all my old devices?
    Yes, ax routers maintain backwards compatibility with older Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 3 devices. Only 802.11ax capabilities require Wi-Fi 6 device support. 
  11. What’s the difference between dual-band ax vs tri-band ax?
    Dual-band uses 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Tri-band adds a 2nd 5GHz band for more throughput. Tri-band has slightly higher speeds but also costs more. 
  12. What’s the fastest Wi-Fi version after ax?
    The next generation standard called Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) will deliver theoretical speeds near 40 Gbps. The first Wi-Fi 7 routers are still in development but expected to release around 2024. 
  13. Can I upgrade just my router to ax?
    Yes, start by upgrading your router to Wi-Fi to benefit all devices. You can upgrade individual devices’ Wi-Fi cards later as budget allows. 
  14. How many spatial streams should my Wi-Fi 6 router have?
    More spatial streams enable higher theoretical throughput. A good starting point is 4×4 (4 spatial streams on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands). High-end routers offer 8 spatial streams. 
  15. Will WPA3 make my Wi-Fi 6 network more secure?
    Yes, Wi-Fi 6 routers should support the latest WPA3 wireless encryption for improved security against attacks and password guessing attempts. 
  16. Can Wi-Fi 6 integrate with mesh networks?
    Yes, combining a Wi-Fi 6 router with mesh nodes provides both fast wireless performance and expanded coverage around your home. 

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