Wi-Fi signals broadcast on a variety of frequencies. The most common one used by routers is the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. Knowing the difference between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands is crucial as it could be your ticket to a consistent and stable internet connection at your home office.
Here’s the difference between the two Wi-Fi bands.
Understanding the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi Bands
When comparing the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi frequency bands, you need to pay attention to two key things. First: coverage or range, and second, speed or bandwidth. For starters, bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data transferred in a measured amount of time.
Let’s break down the two starting with the 2.4GHz band.
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Band
The 2.4GHz band includes 14 total channels. Each channel is 22 megahertz (MHz) wide. However, out of the 14 channels, not every country allows every channel. In terms of speed, the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band tops 450 megabits per second (Mbps) or 600Mbps, under ideal conditions, depending on the router.
This band features wider coverage compared to the 5GHz band, thanks to the lower frequencies used.
5GHz Wi-Fi Band
5GHz Wi-Fi has a total of 24 non-overlapping channels. If you go with this, you certainly have a wide range of channels to choose from, even though each channel is just 20MHz wide, although channel bonding can increase channel size. On bandwidth, 5GHz boasts up to 1.3 Gigabits per second (Gbps).
5GHz has higher transfer speeds and less coverage because higher frequencies can’t penetrate solid objects, like walls.
Although these theoretical speeds are already quite impressive, the real-life speeds you can achieve on the two bands will vary because other factors come into play. For instance, your Wi-Fi speed may be limited due to the different types of Wi-Fi standards used. To be clear, Wi-Fi bands are a slightly different topic from Wi-Fi standards, but they have a close link.
Away with ideals, what some the advantages and disadvantages of the two?
2.4 GHz vs. 5GHz: Advantages and Disadvantages
Each of the two bands has its pros and cons.
Starting with the 2.4GHz band, its main advantage is wider coverage. The downside to this is that it isn’t as fast as its counterpart, the 5GHz band.
Another disadvantage of the 2.4GHz band is the limited number of simultaneous devices you can connect to a single router. Additionally, the 2.4GHz band tends to be overcrowded considering the many devices that use it. Overcrowding results in connectivity issues like slow Wi-Fi speed than expected, dropped connections, interference, and so on.
With that said, 2.4GHz is ideal if you’re after wide Wi-Fi coverage around your house. The lower frequencies can better penetrate solid objects, so you will get to use your Wi-Fi from a greater distance.
The 5GHz band supports higher speeds. Support for more channels means you can connect a whole lot more devices. This band also tends to be less crowded, hence less interference, since not many devices use it. You’ll also experience a stable internet connection.
The main disadvantage of the 5GHz band is coverage. Also, this band is not supported by many Wi-Fi-enabled devices as compared to the 2.4GHz band.
2.4 GHz vs. 5GHz: Which Wi-Fi Band Should You Use?
Your choice primarily depends on your needs. Go for the 2.4GHz band if you need more coverage, or you live in a house with many objects that may cause interference. The 2.4GHz band is also ideal for internet activities that don’t require higher speeds like browsing.
5GHz is ideal for high bandwidth activities like streaming video and playing intensive role-playing games (RPG) like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. You should also use this band if you want to connect more devices around the house.
Where a wide Wi-Fi range is not needed, 5GHz is an ideal band to use. However, it’s easier to get more range from a 5GHz router using a mesh Wi-Fi network. Alternatively, you can use Wi-Fi range extenders, which tend to be cheaper.
Buying the Right Wi-Fi Router
While purchasing a router, you don’t have to make a tough choice of selecting either of the two bands. This is because it’s common for modern Wi-Fi routers to use both bands. That’s what dual- and triple-band Wi-Fi routers are all about.
A dual-band Wi-Fi router broadcasts both a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz signal. With this type of router, you can connect both 5GHz and 2.4GHz enabled devices.
That leads to less interference, and you get the best of both worlds–the ability to connect to a 2.4GHz signal for more range and a 5GHz signal for higher speeds.
Triple band routers broadcast three different signals, a single 2.4GHz signal, and two parallel 5GHz signals. As a result, Triple-band routers allow you to connect even more devices without impacting Wi-Fi speeds. You also get less interference, and you can dedicate each band to different devices in your home or office.
Soon enough, you’ll be considering a router with 6GHz Wi-Fi, too. Currently, tri-band typically refers to 1x 2.4GHz and 2x 5GHz. However, when 6GHz routers become the norm, tri-band will refer to a router with 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands.
Since Wi-Fi speeds are shared among your connected devices, a separate 5GHz band means you get more bandwidth. Dual-band routers offer twice the bandwidth, or more, while triple-band routers offer three times (or more) bandwidth than single-band routers.
Use a Wi-Fi Band That Suits Your Needs
2.4GHz and 5GHz, being the most common Wi-Fi bands available, have their pros and cons. Hopefully, you now understand the two better and, depending on your needs, and you can make a wise choice.
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