I recently upgraded to a WIFI 6 (802.11ax) modem/router. I get great coverage in my house, but I can't fully take advantage of the new set up because my laptops are only 802.11 n & ac. How do I upgrade the WIFI adapters on my machines?
While I used to actually know my way around the guts of a computer about a million years ago (think 486DX or 1st gen Pentium), I have never done anything with a laptop and I don't know where to start.
Hello, @Moski Welcome to the community!
For laptops, this is typically handled by the WiFi antenna. Unfortunately, in most cases, this would be soldered to the motherboard, and would not be upgradable. You could add a WiFi adapter via a USB antenna if the device does not have WiFi 5, or you could check to see if your manufacturer offers the specific wireless adapter with AX capabilities.
In most cases, WiFi 6 is more than needed and WiFi 5 is capable of reaching speeds of up to 1733Mbps, though 866 Mbps for an 80 MHz channel to a 2×2 client is to be more expected.
Here's a highly detailed summary of WiFi and its connectivity.
Occasionally, there is a mini PCI Bluetooth and WIFI adapter underneath your RAM, and you could possibly find a newer replacement for it, but you would need to make sure it connects to the same antenna ports, etc ...
However, as LandShark said, it may just be easier to use a USB device to take advantage of the faster speeds.
One other question, do you actually NEED the higher speed? If you're sharing large files frequently with other computers in the house it may be useful, but if you're just browsing the internet, the internet speed itself may be the weakest link already so upgrading your WIFI would not make much of a difference in that case.
I'm a distance learning teacher who share's his screen all day long and I'm sharing the internet with my wife, who's working from home and my kid, who's going to school from home and about a million connected devices. The Wi-Fi can bog down sometimes. It's not a critical issue, but it does suck.
That said, if I can upgrade my modem, I'll be on 802.11ax 5ghz all by my lonesome, allowing everybody else to surf on a much less congested 802.11ac network.
BTW, I did consider getting an external 802.11ax adapter first, but unfortunately it doesn't appear that such a critter exists. If you know of any, please pass it along, because that would be the best case scenario.
An thanks for the info, Landshark!!!
To my understanding, the 5Ghz and the 2.4Ghz network would contain all of the network's traffic, regardless of which WiFi technology is being used. It does not split the connection between AX and AC on the same 5Ghz network.
802.11ac(WiFi 5) operates in the 5Ghz range only, while 802.11ax (WiFi 6) operates in both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz ranges, thus creating more available channels. For example, early chipsets support a total of 12 channels, eight in the 5Ghz and four in the 2.4Ghz range.
So, if you feel that your network is getting bogged down, you may want to force some devices to connect to the 2.4Ghz frequency and some to the 5Ghz frequency. Many routers offer the option to create separate networks for you to connect to.
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