Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 5 – What Are the Key Differences? Should You Upgrade?

The Wi-Fi 5 was released on the market in 2014. In those days, it is one of the most commonly used internet connectivity for wireless local area networks. But with the advent of developments in technology in 2020, like the Wi-Fi 6, things have taken a turn for the better.

Today, in this post, we will try and find out the key differences between the Wi-Fi 5 vs. Wi-Fi 6, and whether you want to upgrade to the Wi-Fi 6 if you haven’t yet. We have also provided you with the pros & cons to understand both this internet connectivity nicely.

In the end, we have briefly discussed about the Wi-Fi 6E and how it is making a small impact.

Difference between the Wi-Fi 5 & Wi-Fi 6 internet connectivity

internet connectivity

You would surely be owning a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC. In that case, you would need to use the internet. Probably, you would be using some kind of Wi-Fi that is available in your region or country.

Is it not?

All devices provide you with the ability to connect to the internet with the help of Wi-Fi, which is also called as wireless fidelity. This form of wireless technology was brought about into the world by a few technology firms known as the Wi-Fi Alliance.

This technology makes use of the radio waves that help smartphones, PCs, laptops, tablets, and other devices to connect to the internet sublimely. Moreover, you can also communicate with others effectively.

Since Wi-Fi has been designed for the market, it has provided several opportunities for users all around the world. Till 2020, Wi-Fi 5 technology was the best that was provided to the users in the market.

Today, we have Wi-Fi 6, which is an advanced version of the Wi-Fi 5 technology. Let us first read a little about the Wi-Fi 5 and the Wi-Fi 6 technologies and find out more about them.

What is Wi-Fi 5?

What is Wi-Fi 5

The Wi-Fi 5 or IEEE 802.11ac is the fifth generation of wireless networking standards. It is part of the IEEE 802.11 set of standards that can provide you with an amazing throughput in the local area network (LAN) with the help of the 5GHz band frequency.

It was released into the market in 2014 and had several upgrades to from the earlier version of Wi-Fi 4 technology. The wireless data transmission in the Wi-Fi 5 happens on the 5GHz band frequency that is less congested.

With the Wi-Fi 5 technology, you can experience between speed and internet connectivity than the Wi-Fi 4 technology. It has a maximum connection speed of 6.9 Gbps. This is massive considering the fact that, devices could only transfer a few bits per second.

With the MU-MIMO technology, more users can now connect on the same network effectively without any lag in the signal. It is also safe to say that the Wi-Fi 5 is more efficient than most of the wireless technology that we have seen for many years now.

Sadly, the signals can cover a short distance because of the 5GHz band. The backward compatibility can become a problem when used with devices working on the 2.4GHz. They may not work properly on the 5GHz band.

The installation cost can be quite expensive.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

What is Wi-Fi 6?

The Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking belongs to the 802.11ax standard. You can also call it as AX Wi-Fi or high-efficiency Wi-Fi. The model is a successor of the Wi-Fi 5 technology. The Wi-Fi 6 technology is an interesting development in this aspect.

It was developed such that Wi-Fi connectivity can provide signals even in dense environments including residential areas, apartments, offices, and buildings. The internet connectivity was released in the market in 2019 and makes use of the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz bands.

The 6GHz band will be introduced in the market with the Wi-Fi 6E. We will take a look at it at the end of this post. The Wi-Fi 6 has the ability to save the battery’s working life. This is possible because of the Target Wake Time (TWT).

That means that the devices using the Wi-Fi 6 network are durable. It is because they get automatically switched off when not in use. They go to sleep. It is helpful when you are setting up IoT devices that do not require Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Wi-Fi 6 provides you with a quicker speed than the Wi-Fi 5 technology when used on a single device. You can also make use of it when operating on several devices on one router. You will want to know that it comes with a safety protocol to ensure that you browse securely.

There is also the backward compatibility using Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4 technology among the other standards. You can make use of several devices when working with the Wi-Fi 6 technology as they come supported by one router.
The cost of installing it in your home or office is very high. Besides, you have to get smartphones and laptops that are compatible with this kind of technology. There is a short range of connectivity.

Wi-Fi- 5 vs. Wi-Fi 6 – Key differences

Wi-Fi- 5 vs. Wi-Fi 6 – Key differences

Every release in the market comes with several specifications, immense modifications, and enhanced usability. There is some overlap that comes with the Wi-Fi standards. This means you may want to know the key differences between Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 technologies.

1) The name of Wi-Fi standard

The first difference would be the IEEE name given to both of them. The IEEE as you know is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers that gave the 802.11 standards to each of unique medium.

The Wi-Fi alliance gave different standards for these names depending on the positions present in the generations of the Wi-Fi standards. The Wi-Fi 5 was given the IEEE 802.11ac and the Wi-Fi 6 was given the 802.11ax.

2) The battery consumption and power used

The battery consumption of the devices is one of the vital components that most users have to look out for. Sometimes, though the power provided is sufficient, the battery might give way. Some devices that are mainly used in IoT management are designed for charging.

But some are not produced for charging several times. It means, when you use that device for accessing the internet using Wi-Fi, then the battery consumed, and the power used are on the higher side.

With the Wi-Fi 6 technology comes with the Target Wake Time (TWT) that provides the amount of unproductive time for the device to be reduced. Besides, it also helps in accessing communication with a decision to go to sleep when not in use.

This helps in ensuring that the device does not consume too much of power or reduce the battery of the device. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi 5 does not come with the TWT feature and it can’t regulate the power and battery consumed.

3) Network security protocols

The security features in your wireless connectivity are important to make sure that your devices do not catch any viruses. Besides, it is imperative that your data or sensitive information remains safe.

Sometimes, when you access the internet through several devices using the same network, then it is essential that the network is safe to use. Moreover, you may use the Wi-Fi connection in public places like the bus, trains, and coffee shops.

The Wi-Fi 5 technology comes infused with the WPA and WPA2 protocols. They are good and ensure that your connectivity is safe. The earlier wireless technology came with the WEP protocol, which is quite useless now.

However, Wi-Fi 6 technology has ensured that it has the latest security features that even the best hackers can’t penetrate. One of the main hacking techniques is knowing your passwords bank details and so on.

When you are using Wi-Fi 6, then your data is quite safe. It is possible with the WPA3, the latest security protocol. This immensely enhanced your security features and ensures that your data is entirely secure.

There is also the OWE technology that comes with auto encryption and scannable OR codes for connecting to devices directly.

4) Speed of data transfer

The speed of the data transfer is the most crucial thing for any wireless network that is present in the market. You do not want to be struggling with data speed when watching movies or downloading a music file.

So, it is essential that the Wi-Fi connectivity that you use provides you with a decent speed. The Wi-Fi 5 technology comes with a maximum data transfer speed of 6.9 Gbps. That amounts to an average data speed of about 200Mbps.

Though the speeds are significantly lower than the Wi-Fi 6, it comes with MU-MIMO technology for connecting 4 devices simultaneously. However, when you use more devices, then there is a chance of having congestion and sharing of the bandwidth.

This connectivity uses the 1024-QAM modulation and has a data transfer speed of up to 9.6Gbps. The speed might not be much or high, but as you can see, when several devices are connected to the same network, there is no lag in the speed.

5) Approach to beamforming

Beamforming is a method that is used when the wireless signals have to be directed toward the specific receiver, and not in different directions. So, you can send the data to the device, and than broadcast the signal in all directions.

It was already used in the Wi-Fi 4 technology, and present in the Wi-Fi 5 as well. In the Wi-Fi 5 technology, it makes use of 4 antennas. However, in Wi-Fi 6 technology, it makes use of 8 antennas.

The better the beamforming technology, the more data speed and range of the signals. The winner is quite obvious here, it is the Wi-Fi 6 technology. So, you would want to make sure that you use it.

6) Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)

Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) is mainly used for network access control. This technology helps in control of the users who are accessing the internet connection at one time.

In the Wi-Fi 5 technology, the frequency channels 20, 40, 80, and 160 MHz have 64, 128, 256, and 512 subcarriers or internet connections. It drastically reduces the number of users who can connect to the Wi-Fi network at that time.

The Wi-Fi 6 technology uses the OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access). The OFDMA technology knows about the existing subcarriers or internet connectivity using the same frequency bands.

It means that in the 20, 40, 80, and 160 MHz channels, there are 256, 512, 1,024, and 2,048 subcarriers. This ensures that there are less congestion and no delays when you want to connect several devices.

It also increases efficiency, is ideal for low bandwidth operations, and decreases latency.

7) Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Outputs (MU-MIMO)

The MU-MIMO means multi-user, multiple-input, and multiple outputs. This wireless technology allows more than one user to use the router at the same time. However, the MU-MIMO capacity in Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 comes with a massive difference.

The Wi-Fi 5 technology uses a downlink, unidirectional 4×4 MU-MIMO. Several users can access the internet to a specific limit. When there are more than 4 users, then the connection becomes slower and shows signs of congestion.

In the Wi-Fi 6 technology, there is an 8×8 MU-MIMO technology used. It can handle more than 8 devices and is actively connected to the wireless LAN without experiencing any interference at all.

Moreover, the Wi-Fi 6 technology is bidirectional, where the peripheral device can connect to the router with several bands. You can now upload any information that you want and download files without experiencing any hassle with your internet connection.

8) Frequency bands

The Wi-Fi 5 technology uses the 5GHz band that offers you with quite less interference when using the internet connection. However, the signals come with a less range and find it difficult to penetrate thick walls.

The Wi-Fi 6 uses two band frequencies, the standard 2.4GHz, and the 5GHz. The Wi-Fi 6E experiences 6GHz, which is much quicker. In the Wi-Fi 6, devices can now automatically scan for the band that has less interference.

It ensures that you can get the best network, quicker speed, and a good range as well. The range is good when you can’t find the peripherals in the same location. So, in this case, the Wi-Fi 6 is again superior to the Wi-Fi 5 technology.

9) The BSS coloring

BSS coloring or basic service is an exciting feature that is present in the Wi-Fi 6 technology. This ensures that it is present on every 802.11 networks. But the Wi-Fi 6 technology can make use of this feature from other devices with the help of the BSS color identifier.

It helps to ensure that overlapping signals do not occur. Though it is not a critical feature, it is essential for users who have several devices at home.

10) The difference in latency

The latency is the delay that happens when the data packets are transferred from different locations. When the latency speed shows you zero or less, then it means that there is no delay in the transfer of the data.

It is evident that the Wi-Fi 6 provides you with better latency than the Wi-Fi 5 technology. This makes it ideal for corporate organizations and businesses. Those of you who work remotely would appreciate these features in the Wi-Fi 6 internet connectivity.

Pros & cons of Wi-Fi 5 & Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 5 pros and cons


  • This has a decent network.
  • Many devices still use it today.
  • It works well at low speeds.
  • It is much cheaper than the Wi-Fi 6.


  • It can work with one device per channel.
  • It can’t handle Gigabit connections.

Wi-Fi 6 pros and cons


  • This has enhanced security.
  • It is much quicker than the Wi-Fi 5.
  • It is more efficient than Wi-Fi 5.
  • Manages more devices efficiently.


  • This is costly.
  • Not all devices can work with it.

Towards Wi-Fi 6E – The next generation

Wi-Fi 6E

The Wi-Fi 6 was released in the market in the year 2021. It was just after the Wi-Fi 6 standard was released in the market. The Wi-Fi 6E is a powerful version of the older Wi-Fi 6 technology. The connectivity can also include a 6GHz band.

You will want to know that the Wi-Fi 6E is not different from the Wi-Fi 6. But it provides several opportunities for you. They are not very different from each other as they make use of the IEEE 802.11ax standard.

It makes the Wi-Fi 6E technology superior to the Wi-Fi 6 technology. But you would want to know that there are some key differences between them both. The first is that the Wi-Fi technology used in both of them is different.

The Wi-Fi 6E works on three bands, the highly congested 2.4GHz, and the overused 5GHz. Besides, the Wi-Fi 6 is quite unique to most of Wi-Fi devices. You can see that the 6GHz band can exist without any overlap between the devices.

You can connect many devices without having any slowdown in the internet connectivity and download. We feel that as you are moving towards new technologies like 8K streaming and VR, then 6GHz is the best way to go about things.

The Wi-Fi 6E comes with several channels that include the 160MHz that works on the 6GHz band. It is more than Wi-Fi 6 technology that can provide 160MHz channels on the 5GHz band. You will want to know that the Wi-Fi 6 bands are backward compatible, and they come available on Wi-Fi 6 devices.


From the above post, it becomes quite obvious that Wi-Fi 6 is the next big thing in the internet-connected world. When you want stable wireless networking, then you might have to rely on a solid connection like the Wi-Fi 6.

Not to mention, it is and will be central to IT infrastructure for the next few years. You will want to know the differences between the Wi-Fi 5 and the Wi-Fi 6 for making the right decision weather you should upgrade your Wi-Fi router or not.

You will have to decide on the network that you want to use for your home or business. It is obvious that internet connectivity capability holds the key to modern businesses and companies.

The knowledge of these differences is vital for survival in an ever developing and changing market. If you found this post helpful, then feel free to share it with your friends. If you have any queries, then please write to us, and we will do our best to help you with it.

Is it worth upgrading from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6?

Yes, it is worth upgrading from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6. When you are using older equipment that needs an upgrade, then why not. You are going to get more speed, better support, and massive security features. You may opt for Wi-Fi 6E if you want to.

Is Wi-Fi 6 slower than Wi-Fi 5?

No, Wi-Fi 6 is not slower than Wi-Fi 5. The Wi-Fi 6 is also called as 802.11ax provides you with quicker speed, good battery life, and reduced bandwidth congestion. That means, you can get a stable internet connectivity than Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) technology.

Does Wi-Fi 6 penetrate walls better?

The Wi-Fi 6 can penetrate walls, but there might be a lag in the internet connectivity. You may face issues when you have thick walls and carpeting as the signals might take some time to transfer using the regular & traditional router network.

Is Wi-Fi 6 more stable than Wi-Fi 5?

The Wi-Fi 6 has a better internet range than the Wi-Fi 5. The Wi-Fi 5 works on the 5GHz band, and the Wi-Fi 6 can work on both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands. Of course, the Wi-Fi 5 can work on the Wi-Fi 4 protocol when you want to use it for longer reach capabilities.

Should I use Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 on a laptop?

You can use either Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 for your laptop. However, the Wi-Fi 5 makes use of the MU-MIMO, and the Wi-Fi 6 can support the bidirectional MU-MIMO for uplink and downlink capabilities.

Besides, with the Wi-Fi 6, you can connect with several users on the same network without experiencing any lag in the bandwidth. This is something that the Wi-Fi 5 can’t do. Moreover, the Wi-Fi 6 MU-MIMO offers you more speed as well.

James Smith has always been intrigued by electronic products since his childhood. After his post graduation in electronics from a popular university, he decided to pursue a career in the electronics sector. But his calling for writing about these marvellous pieces of work got the better of him. That is how UBG was started. With a writing career spanning more than 12 years, James has worked on several hundred product reviews. During his free time, he like to spend time with his pet dog and relax in the swimming pool.