Looking for the best Wi-Fi 6E upgrade options? You're at the right place.
Not all devices show the new standard-specific symbol. Most still use the generic Wi-Fi bars. But in either case, the 6GHz signals are a real thing.
This post will give you the best options out of that FOMO. Those with a dated router or a computer with an older Wi-Fi standard or no Wi-Fi at all will find options to enjoy the new 6GHz band.
Dong's note: I first published this post on January 28, 2023, and updated it on June 25, 2023, to include up-to-date hardware options.
Wi-Fi 6E Upgrade: The almost plug-and-play options
This post doesn't apply to those who already have a Wi-Fi 6E broadcaster -- like one of these -- and 6GHz-ready clients, such as most latest laptops or smartphones.
Generally, to upgrade a network to Wi-Fi 6E, you need to add a 6GHz-capable access point. If you have a Wi-Fi 6 router, you only need a 6GHz-only access point. But if you have a non-Wi-Fi router, you might want an access point with all three bands, including 2.4GHz, 5Ghz, and 6GHz.
On the receiving end, all you need is a Wi-Fi 6E adapter. This adapter, by default, is a Tri-band device -- it'll work on one of them at a time.
With that, let's look at our current six Wi-Fi 6E upgrade options, representing both ends of a Wi-Fi connection -- the broadcasting and receiving.
These hardware upgrades are listed in the order I tested them with the latest top. There's no ranking among them -- they are designed for different situations or needs.
Wi-Fi 6E upgrade on the receiving end
These are Wi-Fi adapters that can be added to an existing computer to enable it to work with the new 6GHz of Wi-FI 6e (or Wi-Fi 7).
1. Netgear A8000 USB Adapter: The most convenient Wi-Fi 6E upgrade for a Windows 11 computer
The Netgear A8000 is the first, and currently, the only, USB Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi 6E. It works well in my testing, and the plug-and-play design makes it worth the relatively hefty price tag.
For right now, you need Windows 11 to use it -- Windows 10 only gets Wi-Fi 6 out of it. Going forward, chances are you'll find software drivers for Linux, and other platforms, though don't quote me on this.
Netgear A8000 Wi-Fi 6E Adapter's Rating
Instantly adds Wi-Fi 6/6E to a Windows computer
Relatively compact design, software driver included
Fast (sub-Gig) and reliable performance
Expensive; 6GHz available only in Windows 11; no Mac support (for now)
No 160MHz channel support; no Mac support; No USB-C option
Could be even more compact
2. Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E chip: The most versatile Wi-Fi 6E adapter for a computer
The Intel AX210 -- not to be confused with the AX200 -- is a standard Wi-Fi 6E module that you can add to any NGFF slot. It's also the only one that can work with most platforms, including Windows 10 (with a special driver.)
Intel AX210 vs AX200 vs AX201 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.
Unlike the Netgear A8000 above, the Intel AX210 requires a bit of work in installation. But it supports the 160GHz channel width to have twice the capacity. Most importantly, it's affordable.
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
Wi-Fi 6E upgrade on the broadcasting end
These are Wi-Fi broadcasters, namely access points, that can be added to an existing network via a network cable to add at least the 6GHz band to the network.
1. Ubiquiti U6 Enterprise: The complete Wi-Fi 6E upgrade to a non-Wifi router
The U6 Enterprise is a Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E access point supporting the top-tier specs on all three bands and a 2.5Gbps PoE+ port. It works well as a standalone unit with any non-Wifi router. However, when coupled with an UniFi controller, such as the UDM-SE, multiple units can work together to deliver an incredible mesh system without incurring a subscription cost.
Ubiquiti U6 Enterprise's Rating
Top-tier Wi-Fi 6E support, excellent performance; part of the robust UniFi family with lots of features when hosted by a controller
2.5 Gbps PoE network port
Simple setup and management via helpful UniFi mobile app, lots of features
No PoE injector included; no power adapter option
No local management or web user interface; UniFi app requires vendor login; limited features and settings as a standalone AP
2. ARRIS SURFboard W6U: Instant 6GHz band for any existing router
The ARRIS SURFboard W6U is a perfect 6GHz upgrade on the broadcasting side. It's, so far, the sole access point I know that features only the 6GHz band.
So if you have a Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router, especially one with a Multi-Gig LAN port, plug this little AP into one of the network ports, and you get a complete Wi-Fi 6E network.
ARRIS SURFboard W6U's Rating
Fast and reliable 6GHz performance
Quickly adds top-tier Wi-Fi 6E to any existing Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 network
2.5Gbps Multi-Gig port, compact design
Standard local web user interface, optional mobile app
No 2.4GHz, 5GHz, or PoE support;
Not yet supported by the mobile app (at the review)
A bit pricey, no Guest Wi-Fi network, no media bridge role, not supporting 240V power outlets
3. ZyXel NWA220AX-6E: A Wi-Fi 6E network upgrade with some extra
The ZyXel NWA220AX-6E is a bit odd. It's a Tri-band wireless access point -- 2.4GHz, 5Ghz, and 6GHz -- that can operate only as a Dual-band.
Specifically, you can only use either the 5GHz or 6GHz band at a time. Consequently, if you already have a Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 router, it'll make an applicable 6GHz upgrade.
ZyXel NWA220AX-6E Access Point's Rating
Reliable performance, good coverage
2.5 Gbps PoE network port, extra Gigabit port
Nice design, ready to mount
Local web interface with tons of customization
Only 6GHz or 5GHz is available at a time; no power adapter or PoE injector is included.
Sustained Wi-Fi throughputs could use some improvement
Overwhelming amount of settings for home users; a Nebula login account is required for mesh function and remote management
4. Netgear WAX630E: Standalone Wi-Fi upgrade for any network
The Netgear WAX630E is one of the first wireless access points (WAPs) that feature Wi-Fi 6E.
Similar to the Enterprise U6 above, the WAX630E is a complete Wi-Fi upgrade for a non-WiFi router. But you can also add it to any existing Wi-Fi router. In this case, ensure you place it far enough from the router so their signals don't heavily interfere.
When multiple units are used, the Netgear WAX630E can form a robust AP-based mesh system. Unfortunately, in this case, each unit will incur a monthly subscription cost. For this reason, financially, it's most applicable when a single unit is enough for the needed coverage.
Alternatively, you can also check out the EnGenius ECW336, which is similar but, unfortunately, hugely overpriced.
Netgear WAX630E's Rating
Wi-Fi 6E support, reliable performance with excellent coverage
2.5 Gbps PoE network port, extra Gigabit port
Excellent web local interface, tons of Wi-Fi settings, and lots of AP-related features
Bulky design, no power adapter or PoE injector included
Sustained throughput speeds could be better
No support for multiple units via local management, no free level of Insight-Managed cloud-based mesh setup
The final thoughts
Since Wi-Fi (6 or 5) routers are commonplace, a combo of the 6GHz-only ARRIS SURFboard W6U access point and an adapter -- the Intel AX210 or the Netgear A8000 -- is the applicable Wi-Fi 6E upgrade in most cases. Still, pick a device or a combo that works for your need.
If your laptop doesn't have Wi-Fi 6E, it never hurts to get one of the adapters because they both feature Tri-band bands and can work with all Wi-Fi networks, not just the one you have at home. And you might get a Wi-Fi 6E (or 7) in the future anyway.
Of the two, the Netgear A8000 is super easy to use -- for a cost -- while the Intel AX210 is affordable, more versatile, and delivers the best 6GHz performance.