This post will work you through getting your Intel AX210 or AX211 Wi-Fi 6E module to work fully on a Windows 10 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 any of those shenanigans. This method is legit and safe. And I'll also explain why this post is necessary.
By the way, 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, 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.
What are you talking about exactly?
While we can buy and install the Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E adapter, or one of its variants, and upgrade your computer to it, the official driver software for this chip on a Windows 10 computer keeps the 6GHz band locked -- you can't use it.
Intel AX200 vs AX210 vs AX211 vs AX411
The Intel AX200 chip supports Wi-Fi 6 -- it's a Dual-band adapter (2.4GHz and 5GHz). On the other hand, the Intel AX210 chip features Wi-Fi 6E -- it's a Tri-band adapter with an additional 6GHz band.
These two are generic and will work on any computer that has the supporting slot and correct software driver.
- The AX201 is a Wi-Fi 6 chip that only works on a computer running an Intel 10th Gen CPU (or later).
- The AX211 and AX411 both are Wi-Fi 6E chips. They respectively require a computer running at least an Intel 10th Gen or 12th Gen.
Of these options, the AX210 is the most versatile. Still, its 6GHz band is only officially supported in Windows 11. A special software driver is necessary to make it work with Windows 10. That's also the case with the AX211 and AX411.
It became evident in the past few months that Microsoft has decided to make the support for Wi-Fi 6E (the 6GHz band) an incentive for folks to upgrade to Windows 11. Windows 10 will not support this band -- not officially.
The best way to get this band to work is to upgrade your computer to Windows 11. Have an old Windows 10 computer that doesn't meet the hardware requirement? You can still upgrade to Windows 11 via this trick.
In this case, you won't need the driver software I mentioned here. Just get the latest software from Intel (or via Windows update), and the 6GHz will be there.
By default, on a Windows 10 computer, the Intel AX210 adapter will work just like any Wi-Fi 6 module. You only get the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands out of it and will not see the 6GHz band at all.
And we'll change that.
The 6GHz-ready software driver you'll find here is one that was once available briefly for Windows 10 before it was pulled permanently -- it's the pilot driver originally intended for the OS before Microsoft changed its mind. I extracted it and recompiled it as a manual download.
As a result, this software driver is signed -- it's verified and approved by Microsoft -- and will work on Windows 10 20H2 or later.
To sum up, this post applies only to those who:
- want to keep using Windows 10 and have version 20H2 or later.
- have a computer with a Wi-Fi 6E adapter based on the Intel AX210 or Intel AX211 chipset (Intel Gen 10th CPU required.)
- have a Wi-Fi 6E broadcaster (router or access points.)
Intell AX210 driver software: Steps to unlock 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 it if you already use the latest official driver.
For those who are new to this, the steps below will walk you through it.
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.
While the steps below use an Intel AX210, they will work if you have an Intel AX211 -- as long as your computer runs an Intel 10th CPU or later.
1. Download the “special” Intel AX210 driver software
Here's the link to download the Zip file that contains the Intel AX210 driver.
Please note: All software and files mentioned in this post are free -- if you have time and the required skills, you can find them elsewhere on the Internet or create your own. To prevent abuse and spam, download links mentioned in this post are available only to the site's Ko-fi supporters. Direct (add-free) subscribers can also access them via these member-only downloads.
Follow the few simple steps and download the .zip file on your computer. (The 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 known location. For this post, I used the Desktop area of the computer.
There are many ways to handle a .zip file, so pick the method that works for your situation. In any case, 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 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, this post doesn't apply to you.
Now, look at the Driver Version. If it's 184.108.40.206 or earlier numerically -- that's 220.127.116.11 or lower -- then continue to step #5 beneath. Else, 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: "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.
And that's it! Mission (re)accomplished.
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. However, all that doesn't affect the performance.
By the way, if your computer still doesn't see the 6GHz band or gets the "can't connect to the network" message, check the following:
- Make sure you live in a region where this band is available per regulations.
- You're using 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 keep releasing newer driver versions that still don't support the 6GHz band on Windows 10. If you install one of these versions, you will lose the 6GHz band. In this case, roll the driver 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.
Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E Chip's Rating
Adds Wi-Fi 6 and 6E to a computer; support 160MHz; affordable
Flexible application via NGFF form factor (2230 M.2 slot) or PCIe adapter
Reliable and fast Gig+ performance
No official driver for Windows 10
No USB option