2.4 GHz WiFi vs 5 GHz WiFi, What's the Difference?
You may have come across “5G” or “5 GHz” at the end of a WiFi network name while setting up a router or extender, or while browsing through nearby WiFi networks. Not only that, you’ve probably noticed that “5 GHz WiFi” often comes along with “2.4 GHz WiFi” at the WiFi specifications or WiFi setting page. So what exactly does all of this mean and what are the differences?
What are 2.4 GHz WiFi and 5 GHz WiFi?
2.4 GHz and 5 GHz are commonly used, frequency bands. WiFi devices generally communicate with each other by transmitting WiFi signals over either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz radio band.
What’s the difference between 2.4 GHz WiFi and 5 GHz WiFi?
- 5 GHz WiFi is faster but provides a shorter range.
Using higher frequencies, 5 GHz WiFi allows much faster transmissions of data. Under ideal conditions, 2.4 GHz WiFi can support up to 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps, while 5 GHz WiFi can support up to gigabit speeds, depending on the router class.
But 5 GHz WiFi provides a bit shorter range. Generally, the range of 5 GHz WiFi is within 49 feet (15 m) for a good networking experience—shorter than the 65 feet (20 m) range of 2.4 GHz WiFi.
- 5 GHz WiFi is less-crowded with less radio interference.
One more thing that counts is radio interference, which may cause unstable connections and slow down speeds. 2.4 GHz WiFi suffers more radio interference since the 2.4 GHz band is overcrowded with all kinds of WiFi devices and non-WiFi devices such as microwave ovens, ISM band devices, security cameras, Bluetooth devices, and more. 5 GHz WiFi is relatively less-crowded with less interference.
Which routers support 2.4 GHz WiFi and 5 GHz WiFi?
All WiFi routers support 2.4 GHz WiFi, while some also support 5 GHz WiFi. Traditional WiFi routers support only the 2.4 GHz WiFi band. Routers using WiFi 5 or newer WiFi standards generally support both bands, which are called dual-band or tri-band routers.
How do I select 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz WiFi for my devices?
WiFi devices need to support the same WiFi band to communicate.
For devices that only support the 2.4 GHz band, you can only connect them to 2.4 GHz WiFi.
For devices that support both bands, think about whether you really need to use 5 GHz WiFi. Select 5 GHz WiFi for the devices that need higher speeds and can stay within the shorter WiFi range, and switch devices to 5 GHz WiFi if they experience dropped connections on 2.4 GHz WiFi.
Which technology helps with band selection?
Need the 5 GHz band but find it tedious switching between bands for wireless devices? You can simplify band selection with Band Steering or Smart Connect. Simply get a router that supports Band Steering or Smart Connect and let your router prioritize wireless devices and distribute them efficiently among available bands.
Band Steering is a feature that encourages dual-band capable wireless clients to connect to the faster 5 GHz WiFi and leave the 2.4 GHz WiFi less-crowded for those clients who support 2.4 GHz only, thereby improving WiFi performance for all devices.
Smart Connect relies on an advanced algorithm that not only automatically determines which band is best for each device, but also constantly monitors the overall status of each device to determine if and when a particular device would benefit from being automatically reassigned to a different band.
Compared with 2.4 GHz WiFi, 5 GHz WiFi is faster with less radio interference but provides a shorter range. Remember these when selecting 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz WiFi for your devices. Or simply get a router that supports Band Steering or Smart Connect to help with band selection.