Wi-Fi 6E products are available to consumers today, but you probably wouldn’t know it by looking at the average household. While supporting hardware has been released over the past couple of years, component shortages, the complacency of Wi-Fi 6, and the rapid arrival of Wi-Fi 7 have led many to ignore the latest wireless standard. Netgear aims to ease adoption by announcing a USB adapter that brings Wi-Fi 6E to host systems via a USB 3.x Type-A connection.
Netgear company Adapter Nighthawk AXE3000 WiFi 6E USB 3.0 (A8000) announced Wednesday, works with laptops and desktops. It supports the 2.4 GHz band with speeds of up to 600 Mbps, the 5 GHz band with speeds of up to 1200 Mbps and the 6 GHz band with speeds of up to 1200 Mbps, according to an announcement from the San Jose, California-based company.
The adapter uses a flip-up antenna, and there’s an optional stand that can hold the adapter and connect to a PC via a USB-A cable, allowing you to move the adapter around to improve the signal.
Of course, you won’t be able to get the most out of the adapter without a Wi-Fi 6E router. And you won’t be able to use Wi-Fi 6E on a Mac.
Wi-Fi 6E is an advantage over Wi-Fi 6 by using the 6 GHz band in addition to the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands for less congestion and lower latency. However, the shorter wavelength means it peaks at a shorter distance, especially when obstacles like walls come into play. Your performance will also depend on the maximum speed you can get from your ISP.
For prospective students – the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is expected to finalize the Wi-Fi 7 specification by 2024, predict players like Intel Wi-fi 7 PC will be released by 2025. Wi-Fi 7 is expected to improve on Wi-Fi 6E by increasing the maximum channel bandwidth from 160 MHz to 320 MHz and increasing bandwidth by up to 20 percent when moving from 1024 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) to 4096 QAM and introducing multi-channel operation (MLO) and multi-resource block piercing.
All that said, a simple way to add Wi-Fi 6E to your PC may not be enough to justify switching to the standard. But for those with the gear, space and interest to make the upgrade worthwhile, Netgear said it will release the AX3000 this month for a suggested retail price of $90.