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Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7: technology comparison

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Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7: technology comparison

Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7: technology comparison

28.06.2024

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Since the advent of wireless technology in 1997, Wi-Fi standards have been constantly evolving. Today there are two current versions: version 5 and 6. At the same time, the 7th version of Wi-Fi has already been introduced. What are the differences between them and which version is enough for your laptop or other gadget? About this you will learn from our material.

Differences between Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7

Let's compare the three above-mentioned technologies in terms of their key technical characteristics.


Data transmission speed


The Wi-Fi 5 standard, which was introduced back in 2013, provides maximum speeds of up to 3.5 Gbps. This is sufficient for web browsing, checking emails, online broadcasting and other basic needs of home and office users, provided that the number of devices connected to the network is small.

As the number of multimedia devices and the quality of multimedia content grew, the capabilities of Wi-Fi 5 became insufficient. Therefore, in 2019, a new version of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) was introduced with a bandwidth of 9.6 Gbps. With this in mind, Wi-Fi 6 is suitable for use both at home (online gaming, watching videos in 4K, interacting with augmented (AR) and virtual (VR) reality) and in offices, co-working spaces, cafes, shopping centres and other places with a lot of connected gadgets.

But as for the 7th generation of Wi-Fi, introduced in early 2024, it surpasses all previous versions in its data transfer speeds, which reach 46 Gbps — that's almost 5 times faster than Wi-Fi 6 and 13 times faster than Wi-Fi 5. This makes Wi-Fi 7 the optimal solution for 8K video streaming, gaming gameplay, services for Smart Home and IoT, and VR and AR applications. Since Wi-Fi 7 should work even better with more devices, it may be ideal for public Internet zones and large companies with many employees.

Frequency

The Wi-Fi operating range is 5 — 5 GHz, which provides decent coverage within an unobstructed room (for example, if you want to connect a TV in one room). If the task is to cover a larger signal radius, you need to switch to the 2.4 GHz frequency.

With Wi-Fi 6, developers have already added support for an additional 2.4GHz frequency, which provides better range and reliable signal penetration through obstacles.

Wi-Fi 7 introduces support for the 6 GHz bands, providing even wider coverage and improved productivity, especially in networks with a large number of devices.

Number of streams


The Wi-Fi 5 standard was the first to support MU-MIMO technology, with which the router can create up to 4 streams to simultaneously send data to the appropriate number of gadgets.

In Wi-Fi 6 the number of streams is increased to 8. At the same time, devices can send data in both directions (both from the router to the connected devices and vice versa), which significantly reduces signal delays in busy networks.

In the 7th version of Wi-Fi the developers increased the number of spatial streams up to 16, which makes Wi-Fi 7 an undoubted leader in speed and productivity.

Efficiency

Unlike Wi-Fi 5, version 6 provides high productivity in high device density environments. Although the nominal speed increase over Wi-Fi 5 is about 40%, the overall throughput of the entire network is increased to 300% and latency is reduced by 75%.

Wi-Fi 7's throughput gains are even more impressive, with 480% more bandwidth than previous generations. Thanks to backwards compatibility, a Wi-Fi 7 router can provide your entire home with access to the latest online features.

Conclusions

So, each new generation of Wi-Fi supports higher speeds and is designed to connect more devices. You can take full advantage of any version if all devices are compatible with it, i.e. if it is supported by both the end gadget and your router. If different Wi-Fi standards are supported, the network capabilities are limited to the characteristics of the oldest of these standards.

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