Wi-Fi 6 which also goes by the name 802.11 ax is being touted as the biggest update to the wireless standard since its first release two decades ago. And that’s because of some good reasons; Wi-Fi 6 brings multi-gigabit speeds 4 times as fast as the previous versions, it performs well in dense environments and it’s easy on battery life of even the smallest devices.
Now device vendors are rushing to release wifi 6 certified products to the market this year. Usually old-time router manufacturers like Asus, Netgear, TP-link, Cisco, D-link are the first on the slippery road before computers, smartphones, smarthome, wearables follow suit. That’s because the router or access point plays a central role of connecting devices together in a wireless network.
It’s really not wise to jump onto this new shinny Tech bandwagon because vendors are still fixing the rough edges around the Tech, there aren’t enough compatible devices yet and usually such cutting edge Tech is pricey being new in the market. But the advantage with WiFi 6 here is that it’s fully backward and forward compatible with older Wifi standards WiFi 1-5 or 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. So you are still not at a loss if you bought Wifi 6 router except for their hefty prices right now.
NETGEAR NightHawk AX12 (RAX120) and NightHawk AX8 (RAX80)
late last year, network giant Netgear launched two WiFi 6 routers; the 8-stream NightHawk ax8(Rax80) and the 12-stream NightHawk ax12(Rax120) both capable of speeds of up to 6Gbps. While the Nighthawk ax8 is capable of 4×4 MU-MIMO meaning it can talk to 4 devices concurrently on 4 spatial streams, the NightHawk ax12 doubles this with 8×8 MU-MIMO. More so, the ax12 spots Multi-Gig 5G/2.5G/1G Ethernet Ports and supports WPA3, the latest WiFi security protocol. The Ax8 Nighthawk router is currently retailing for $400 on Amazon and the Ax 120 won’t be available till Q1 of this year.
Meanwhile Netgear is already touting their next version of the Orbi WiFi mesh system with WiFi 6 support. This router WiFi mesh is expected to spot Gigabit wireless speeds, 12 spatial streams, Tri-band with dedicated 4×4 AX backhaul. It probably won’t be out until somet time late this year.
Asus RT-AX routers
Early last year, another big name in routers Asus released a plethora of Wifi 6 routers on the market starting with the ASUS RT-AX88U – AX6000 Dual Band 802.11ax WiFi Router. The Asus AX88U spots 4 antennas with 4×4:4 MU-MIMO, 1GB of RAM, 8 Gigabit LAN ports, 1 WAN and can handle upto 6Gbps of wireless speeds. You can even control this router by linking your Amazon Alexa to it with simple voice commands. This router is currently retailing for
$346.00 on Amazon.
The Asus AX11000 Tri-band WiFi Gaming Router is a more pricey and powerful Tri-band router targeted towards hardcore gamers with its 10 Gigabit wireless speeds, quad-core processor, 2.5G gaming port, DFS band, WTFast, Adaptive QoS, AiMesh for mesh wifi system and AiProtection network security.
The other Asus AX routers include;
- ASUS RT-AX88U – AX6000 Dual Band 802.11ax WiFi Router
- ASUS RT-AX92U – AX6100 Dual Band 802.11ax WiFi Router
- ASUS RT-AX95U – AX11000 Tri Band 802.11ax WiFi Router
- ASUS GT-AX6000 – ROG Rapture AX6000 WiFi Router
- ASUS GT-AX11000 – ROG Rapture AX11000 WiFi Router
TP-Link Archer AX Routers
Late last year after Asus and Netgear, TP-Link announced two AX router models; the TP-LINK Archer AX6000 running a broadcom BCM4908 1.8GHz Quad Core Processor and the TP-LINK Archer AX11000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Gaming Router running the same Broadcom processor. Both routers support 4×4 MU-MIMO configuration and come with 1GB of RAM, a 2.5 Gbps WAN port, 8x gigabit LAN ports, and two USB 3.0 ports (1x Type-A, and 1x Type-C).
The Archer AX6000 at the time of release was available on pre-order on Amazon for $350 while the Archer AX11000 is expected to retail at $450. However, at the time of writing this article, no units are available on Amazon.
The other TP-Link AX routers include the TP-Link Archer AX1500 and the TP-Link Archer AX1800 available in 2×2:2 configuration.
D-Link haven’t yet featured prominently in the WiFi 6 race. The company has two AX routers so far; the D-Link DIR-X6060 and the DIR-X9000 802.11ax Ultra Routers which haven’t even yet launched in the market. There’s still scanty information on the products, but what we know so far is the AX6000 is expected to support speeds of up to 6,000 Mbps while the AX11000 will support up to 11,000 Mbps. We shall have to wait till the products are launched in the market for the full details.
Arris AX11000 Surfboard
The Arris ax11000 surfboard mesh wifi system is another WiFi 6 worth looking at. While the product is expected to launch later this year, the Arris ax11000 surfboard tri-band router will come with 4×4 configuration, 1,200 mbps on the 2.4GHz band, 4,800 mbps 5GHz low, and 4,800 mbps 5GHz high and 4 gigabit Ethernet ports capable of linking for up to 2 gbps WAN speed. The product page says nothing about pricing, so we shall have to wait till it’s released.
That’s all we have on WiFi 6 routers. Notable mentions are the Aerohive AP630, AP650 and AP650X AX 4×4 Access Points with Dual 1G Ethernet ports and powered by PoE+ or DC power. We can only expect WiFi 6 routers to become more relevant when more client devices such as smartphones, wearables, laptops and smart home devices support the standard in the coming months or more realistically years.