Wi-Fi 6E products are available to consumers today, but you probably wouldn’t know it if you looked around the average home. Although the support team has been in place for the past two years, component shortages, satisfaction with Wi-Fi 6, and the imminent arrival of Wi-Fi 7 have led many to overlook the latest wireless standard. Netgear is looking to make adoption easier by announcing a USB adapter that brings Wi-Fi 6E to compatible systems over a USB 3.x Type-A connection.
Netgears Nighthawk AXE3000 WiFi 6E USB 3.0 Adapter (A8000) announced Wednesday that it works with laptops and desktops. According to the San Jose, California-based company’s announcement, it supports the 2.4 GHz band up to 600 Mbps, the 5 GHz band up to 1200 Mbps, and the 6 GHz band up to 1200 Mbps.
The adapter uses a flip-up antenna and there is an optional stand that can hold the adapter and connect to a PC via its USB-A cable, allowing the adapter to be moved around for an improved signal.
Of course, you won’t be able to take full advantage 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 a boost over Wi-Fi 6 by leveraging the 6 GHz band in addition to the 2.4 and 5 GHz to reduce congestion and latency. However, the shorter wavelengths mean that it peaks at shorter distances, especially if obstructions such as walls come into play. Your performance will also depend on the maximum speeds you can get from your Internet provider.
For those looking to the future, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers is I expected finalize the Wi-Fi 7 specification by 2024, with players like Intel predicting that Wi-Fi 7 PCs will come out by 2025. Wi-Fi 7 should improve on Wi-Fi 6E by increasing the maximum channel bandwidth to 160 MHz to 320 MHz and increasing throughput by up to 20 percent as it moves from 1,024 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) to 4,096 QAM and introduces multi-link operation (MLO) and multi-resource unit drilling.
All that said, a simple way to add Wi-Fi 6E to your PC may not be enough to warrant switching to the standard. But for those with the equipment, space and interest to make the upgrade worthwhile, Netgear said it would launch the AXE3000 this month at a suggested retail price of $90.