This post will work you through the process of getting your (newly added) Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E module to work fully on a Windows computer. Specifically, you’ll be able to connect your device to a Wi-Fi 6E router using the new 6GHz band.
And no, you won’t need to mess with the computer’s registry or installing the beta version of the Windows operating system. This is a legit workaround and generally safe method. Before that, I’ll explain why this post is necessary.
(You should read the entire post. But if you believe you’re already in the know and want to get the driver software without other details? You can jump directly to that part!)
Dong’s note: I first published this post on April 28, 2021, and updated it on May 11 with additional extra steps for those needing to downgrade their official driver to make the 6GHz band work, for now.
What are you talking about exactly?
Well, if you have read the post linked above, you’d understand that as of right now, chances are you can’t use the 6GHz band — the hallmark of Wi-Fi 6E — on almost any Windows computer (let alone a Mac).
The current limited options of 6GHz clients
Specifically, if you get a Wi-Fi 6E router, you’ll end up only using it as a dual-band (2.4GHz + 5GHz) broadcaster. To use its 6GHz band, you’ll need the Samsung S21 Ultra, currently the only official Wi-Fi 6E client on the market.
In this case, though, for now, the new adapter will also work as a dual-band (2.4GHz + 5GHz) receiver. The current official driver software for the chip doesn’t support the 6GHz band.
That’s because Microsoft hasn’t officially supported this Wi-Fi band yet, not until the end of 2021 or so.
The real workaround is to sign up for the Windows Insider program (it’s free) — some pre-release Windows 10 builds (not all) have native drivers for this chip. But test builds of pre-release Windows are (expectedly) buggy and therefore unsuitable for those needing a computer that works.
This is where this post comes into play.
The real alternative, right now
I decided to extract the 6GHz-ready driver of the Intel AX210 chip from a non-public Windows 10 build, per the demand of so many. You’ll be able to download it here. In other words, you’ll get to use the driver without having to install the entire pre-release OS build, that’s if you can figure out which builds actually have this driver.
That said, this post applies only to those who use Windows 10 version 20H2 or later, have Intel AX210-based clients — not Intel AX200 or AX201 –, and one of the following broadcasters:
(Or any other router that supports the new 6GHz band.)
Still, please note: This driver is meant for a pre-release operating system. Use it at your own risk. Consider yourself warned.
How to install the Intel AX210 driver that unlocks the 6GHz band
If you’re an advanced user, download the driver via the link below and install it manually — you might need to force. For those who are new to this, the steps below will walk you through.
Generally, it’s a good idea to download the software (step 1) before installing the hardware on your computer. But this post assumed that you had gotten the AX210 adapter already running with an official driver.
1. Download the Intel AX210 driver software
Here’s the link to download the Zip file that contains the Intel AX210 driver. (Update: On May 18, I moved the file out of this website due to a bandwidth issue.)
Follow the few simple steps and download the .zip file on your computer. (This file’s name might be randomized). Generally, the browser will save it in the Downloads folder of your Windows profile, but you can place it anywhere — make sure you know where it is.
2. Extract the software driver folder from the zip file
Open the downloaded file and drag the “AX210Driver” folder out onto a location you know. For this post, it’s the Desktop of the computer.
(There are many ways to handle a .zip file, do however that works for your situation. Again, just make sure you know where you place this folder.)
3. Locate the current Intel AX210 hardware within Windows 10
- Right-click on the Start button (or hit Windows + X combo on the keyboard) to open up the Menu X. (A)
- On the menu that pops up, click on Device Manager to bring up the Device Manager window. (B)
- On the Device Manager window, open up the Network adapters and double-click on the adapter in question. In this case, it’s: “Intel(R) Wi-Fi 6 AX210 160MHz”. That will bring up the device’s Properties window. (C)
4. Check the drive version and decide accordingly
(This step helps you decide what you should do next. Make sure you pay attention. But it’s safe even if you don’t. You’ll waste a bit of time, though.)
First, make sure you’re using the Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 chip. If you’re using the Intel AX200 or AX201 Wi-Fi 6 chip, then you don’t apply.
Now, look at the Driver Version. If it’s 18.104.22.168 or earlier numerically — that’s 22.214.171.124 or lower — then continue to step #5. Else, click on this link to jump directly to the Extra Steps.
5. Install the downloaded driver
Now you need to install the driver manually.
a. On the Properties window, click on the Driver tab, then on Update Driver.
b. Click on Browse my computer for drivers.
c. Navigate to the “AX210Driver” folder mentioned above (for this post, it’s on the Desktop) — or you can copy and paste the path of the folder onto the field. Then click on Next and wait for the driver to be installed, which will take a few moments.
And that’s it. Mission accomplished. Now you’ll be able to connect to see and connect your router’s 6Ghz band.
If that’s the case, you can skip the next section and jump to the Final Notes (you don’t want to miss them).
However, if you see a message that reads: “The best drivers for your device are already installed.” then continue with the Extra Steps below.
Extra Steps: How to install the older but 6GHz-ready driver version
These steps apply to those already using the official non-6GHz driver of versions later than the “non-official” but 6GHz-ready version I posted here. The gist is that you want to force Windows to use a version it doesn’t consider “the best.”
1. Click on Update Driver
2. Choose to pick the driver yourself
In this step, instead of browsing for the driver folder, you pick the option to choose the driver yourself.
3. Choose to select the driver from a “Disk.”
In this step, ignore everything you see. Just click on the Have Disk… button.
4. Enter the path of the folder that contains the driver you downloaded
Now enter the path of the folder that contains the driver. For this post, that’s the Driver folder on the Desktop. If you’ve chosen to do the same, replace “Dong Ngo” in the screenshot above with your profile’s name. You can also browse for it. Then click on OK.
5. Pick the working driver and install it
The next screen will show the driver you downloaded: Intel (R) Wi-Fi 6E AX210 160MHz.
Select it and click on Next to install it.
And that’s it! Mission (re)accomplished. (Seriously, by now, I think I deserve a coffee or two!)
You will note that since your Windows version doesn’t officially support the 6GHz band, the status window of this band will include less info than that of the 5GHz (or 2.4Ghz) band. Specifically, there’s no info on the current band, and the channel is shown as zero. All that doesn’t affect the performance, however.
By the way, if your computer can see the 6GHz band but get the “can’t connect to the network” message, do the following:
- Make sure you use Windows 10 20H2 version or later.
- Change the SSID of the 6GHz band to make sure the computer won’t reuse the old settings.
Finally, Windows and Intel will release newer versions of the driver that don’t support the 6GHz band — not before the companies officially unlock this band on the AX210 chip. (Eventually, an official version will support the new band, but we don’t know when yet.)
So if you update to one of these versions via Windows Update or any other way and subsequently are no longer able to use the AX210 chip’s 6GHz band, you will need to roll back to the version you downloaded here (via the Roll Back Driver button shown in the screenshot of step #4 above) or re-install it as described in the extra steps above.