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In 2020, there has been a growing number of new Wi-Fi router options, however, the best Wi-Fi 6 routers offer customers the ability to connect to multiple devices and still have a strong and reliable connection. There are four main competitors in the market that are considered the best routers: TP-Link, NETGEAR, Ruckus, and Asus.
Wi-Fi Alliance, the organization that oversees the implementation and adherence of Wi-Fi standards, began certifying devices in the fall of 2019. The adoption of Wi-Fi 6 was slow initially, however this year more devices that are compatible with Wi-Fi 6 have come into the market, as a result, there's been an increase in customers upgrading to the next-gen Wi-Fi routers. Wi-Fi 6 is perfect for crowded places, such as campuses, airports, and offices that are likely to suffer from slow internet. It allows for customers to have an optimal experience from their devices because they run faster and there is less network congestion. Additionally, businesses are also gravitating towards Wi-Fi 6, as it’s not only improving performance but productivity because products are working well together.
IoT industries have particularly benefited from Wi-Fi 6, as it has enabled them to produce more devices. Additionally, with the help of Wi-Fi 6 routers, these devices are making it into the home market faster. Many leading tech companies such as HP, Asus, MSI, and Dell have rolled out Wi-Fi 6 compatible laptops, and Qualcomm introduced the Wi-Fi 6–compatible Snapdragon 855 processor in the latest Android smartphones. As technology continues to march forward, Wi-Fi 6 routers will garner more attention and reshape household networks in 2021.
What is Wi-Fi 6?
While Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation in internet speed. It packs more information in each data transfer, conserves the battery life of your devices and has noticeably increased efficiency when connecting multiple laptops and mobile devices to one router.
“Wi-Fi” is essentially a way of providing broadband internet to a device using wireless transmitters and radio signals. Once the transmitter receives the data from the internet, it’s converted into a radio signal that can be transferred to a Wi-Fi–enabled device. The Wi-Fi 5 routers we’ve been accustomed to since 2014 provide suitable internet access for multiple devices connected to a router, but the biggest downside is limited speed as increasingly more devices are added.
History of Wi-Fi:
- Wi-Fi 1 (802.11b) – released in 1999
- Wi-Fi 2 (802.11a) – released in 1999
- Wi-Fi 3 (802.11g) – released in 2003
- Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) – released in 2009
- Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) – released in 2014
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) – released in 2019
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 5: What’s the Difference?
Wi-Fi 6 beats Wi-Fi 5 in almost every category. This includes battery life conservation, performance in public areas and latency.
Longer Battery Life
When we go to bed at night, our smartphones and laptops continue to communicate with the Wi-Fi router. The next generation of Wi-Fi will have a “target wake time” to signal to devices when to turn its radio signals on and off. This puts less strain on the device’s battery life.
Faster Wi-Fi Speed
What users will notice the most is the laser-fast speed anywhere, anytime, from the office or home, and especially in public. Data-transfer speed on Wi-Fi 6 will be 40 percent faster than Wi-Fi 5, and the signal will more easily penetrate solid walls.
Better Performance in Public Areas
If you’re in a crowded area where everyone is sitting idle for an extended amount of time (like an airport, hotel or sports stadium), chances are, the internet is going to be slow. Wi-Fi 6 changes this. According to Intel, we can expect Wi-Fi 6 connection speeds to be at least 4 times faster in public areas.
The Best Wi-Fi 6 Routers
As we continue to buy new smartphones, computers and “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices, Wi-Fi 6 routers will be required to unlock the full potential of the latest technology trends in 2020 .
When comparing the top Wi-Fi 6 routers available in 2020, cost and necessity are the key differentiators. However, the common benefit across all Wi-Fi 6 routers is their fortified network security and the increased connection capabilities they provide for large companies, especially those in multi-story office buildings.
This Asus Wi-Fi router has gold accents and sleek design — the embodiment of “next gen.” It boasts Wi-Fi upgrades like dedicated OFDMA and MU-MIMO, which allow data to transfer seamlessly to multiple devices with improved streaming stability.
Plus, its 124-QAM capability enables the router to transfer up to 25 percent more data compared to Wi-Fi 5 routers. The Asus RT also has eight LAN ports and AiMesh, an Asus Wi-Fi mesh system that can link a single device to multiple routers simultaneously for improved coverage if necessary.
ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
The Rapture is the most powerful Wi-Fi 6 router for gamers. For those who don’t want a wired connection, the Rapture provides the highest quality wireless connection for gaming and prioritizes gaming devices.
Along with a 2.5G port, it has AiMesh, AirProtection for security and a range of custom connection options.
Netgear Nighthawk AX8
Netgear introduced an entire line of Wi-Fi 6 routers, but the most practical is the Nighthawk AX8. It can manage up to eight OFDMA connections and 16 devices simultaneously.
Boasting up to 6Gbps across its bands, Nighthawk AX8 is the ideal router for a large home or small office. Say goodbye to dead zones.
TP-Link Archer AX6000
The enormous Archer AX6000 router by TP-Link is the most robust Wi-Fi 6 router on the market, with several standout features like Alexa compatibility for voice commands and a USB-C 3.0 port for charging your smartphone.
Most notably, the Archer has “band steering” and “airtime fairness” technology that prevents the router from becoming overcrowded and ensures no device is given favorability for connection speed.
While the Ruckus R730 looks like your typical office router, it’s anything but ordinary. Rest assured, this router can handle any office’s Wi-Fi needs.
The Ruckus R730 features dual-band supports with up to 12 spatial streams and the ability to handle up to 1,000 device connections. If that’s not enough devices, it also has meshing technology to spread connection across other routers, while seamlessly providing 5Gbps to them all.
While Wi-Fi 6E was announced on January 3, 2020 by Wi-Fi Alliance, there are no compatible devices to support its 6GHz spectrum because the U.S. government has yet to officially allocate funding for Wi-Fi.
When looking for a next-gen router, look for the “Wi-Fi 6 CERTIFIED” marker. The Wi-Fi certification program is based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard that provides the efficiency, coverage and performance required in the most demanding environments. The certification also ensures the router you’re purchasing is performing at an optimal level and has the highest standards for security when connecting laptops, smartphones and IoT devices.