The increased number of connected devices in homes today calls for a Wi-Fi upgrade. And not just any upgrade, but one that supports your smart home devices, 4K and 8K content streaming, gaming, and large file downloads and uploads without lagging.

Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E offer all this and other cutting-edge features, like traffic prioritization for improved connectivity and faster internet speeds. Dive in to understand how these two new Wi-Fi protocols compare and differ so you can make a well-informed choice when it’s time for an upgrade.

Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6E: Side-by-Side Comparison

Wi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 6E
What is itA new generation Wi-Fi technology (802.11ax) that brings faster speeds and less bandwidth congestionAn upgrade of the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard that allows access to the new 6 GHz wireless band
IEEE Standard802.11a802.11a
Release date20192020
Frequency2.4 or 5 GHz2.4, 5, and 6 GHz
Maximum Linkrate 600–9608 Mbit/s600–9608 Mbit/s
Maximum throughput 9.6 Gbps 9.6 Gbps 
Data delivery rate at 15 feet1.146 Gbps1.788 Gbps
Number of 160-MHz-wide channels available1 (in the 5-GHz band)8 (1 in the 5-GHz band, 7 in the 6-GHz band)

Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6E: What’s the Difference?

The Wi-Fi 6 seeks to improve the coverage, latency, efficiency, and performance of your wireless network even in the most demanding environments. Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi 6E provides the same benefits and extends them to the 6 GHz bandwidth.

Here’s how the two compare in specific categories.

Network Overlapping

wi-fi 6 vs wi-fi 6e
WiFi 6 is an IEEE standard for wireless local-area networks.

Both Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E support more Wi-Fi users simultaneously. They also deliver improved network performance even in congested environments. However, Wi-Fi 6E can support up to 4 times more super-wide Wi-Fi channels. 

The Wi-Fi Alliance quotes this more specifically as “14 additional 80 MHz channels and 7 additional 160 MHz channels.” This makes it an ideal networking solution in hyperconnected smart homes where congestion and interference would be the norm.

The addition of the 6 GHz spectrum allows 6E-supported devices to exclusively connect to the higher bandwidth, which completely relieves congestion and interference.

Device Support 

To fully take advantage of the new Wi-Fi 6 protocol, you’ll need a router with Wi-Fi 6 capability and devices that are enabled to use the new protocol. While Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible with Wi-Fi 5 devices, you don’t get to take advantage of all the benefits provided by the protocol.

So, you may need to upgrade your router and devices to enjoy all the perks of Wi-Fi 6. Unfortunately, because Wi-Fi 6E is still fairly uncommon, you won’t find it on many devices.

For instance, the latest devices on the market, like iPhone 14 series, the PlayStation 5, or the Xbox Series X, are not Wi-Fi 6E enabled. This means that you will have to spend a pretty penny upgrading your hardware if you want to operate on this newly opened 6-GHz band.

Security

Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E offer improved security thanks to the protection of the latest Wi-Fi Alliance security certification—WPA3. WPA 3 is equipped with the latest security and authentication protocols to make the new network protocols difficult to hack and more secure than ever. 

It includes the latest and most secure wireless encryption standards, which ensure that it’s hard for hackers to intercept. The improved security is achieved thanks to the replacement of the pre-shared key (PSK) by Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE). 

The SAE limits each device to one password guess per cycle, which increases the time hackers spend guessing and trying out different passwords in an attempt to hack your network.

Battery Drain

Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E have a feature called Target Wake Time (TWT) that will help to improve battery life on all your connected devices. The TWT allows your router and devices to schedule communication.

As a result, they don’t have to keep their antennae on while waiting for signals, something that actively drains a device’s battery and wastes a lot of energy. 

TWT allows moments of downtime between transmissions. The result is improved battery life for your smart home devices, smartphones, and tablets; plus, better performance for larger network devices.

Speed and Performance 

wi-fi 6 vs wi-fi 6e
Wi-Fi 6E takes the efficiency features from Wi-Fi 6 and extends them to the 6 GHz band.

Wi-Fi 6 is designed as a primary connection for devices instead of a secondary or supplemental one, which has made it between four and ten times faster than its predecessors. 

Theoretically, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E can reach speeds of up to 9.6 Gbps, which is significantly higher than the current 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5. The new protocols also take advantage of unused radio frequencies to ensure faster 2.4 GHz performance. 

Although Wi-Fi 6E delivers super-fast speeds even at low latency, this is limited to a clear line of sight to the node or router. As soon as the range is blocked by a wall or ceiling, the bandwidth automatically drops back to 5 GHz.

Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6E: 5 Must-Know Facts

  1. Wi-Fi 6E supports uninterrupted multiple-device connections, even in congested networks.
  2. Wi-Fi 6E allows devices to connect to the new 6 GHz bandwidth.
  3. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are much faster than previous wireless network protocols. They can also reach speeds of up to 9.6 Gbps.
  4. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E use WPA 3, which is a new security protocol that reduces the chances of your network getting hacked.
  5. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E can improve battery life thanks to the Target Wake Time feature.

Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6E: Which One is Better? Which One Should You Use?

In our opinion, Wi-Fi 6 is the best option because you can start using it right away. With Wi-Fi 6 you’ll still get to enjoy faster speeds, improved traffic prioritization, and beefed-up security for your wireless network.

After all, a lot of new devices are already Wi-Fi 6 compatible, including new laptop and smartphone models like the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3, the Apple iPhone 14, and the OnePlus 10 T Pro. Additionally, in the near future, more routers, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices will come already enabled with this technology.

Although Wi-Fi 6E offers you all these benefits plus reduced congestion, you can hold off on it unless you have the money to also upgrade all your devices. So far, very few devices support Wi-Fi 6E, and these include Samsung’s Galaxy S21 and a few 8K smart TVs. We think it’s better to wait it out a bit longer before investing in the Wi-Fi 6E.

Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6E: How Do They Compare? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest wireless standard (802.11ax), introduced in 2018. It’s an upgrade of the previous Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard, which promises an enjoyable Wi-Fi experience in smart homes with multiple connected devices.

Some of its benefits include increased data throughput, faster speeds, backward compatibility, improved security, better traffic prioritization, and improved network traffic efficiency.

What is Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E is a newer, wider-lane wireless network protocol that can utilize the 2.5 GHz, 5 GHz, and the newly authorized 6 GHz.

It’s ideal for smart connected homes with multiple devices because it can deliver high amounts of data over short distances while alleviating traffic congestion and interference.

Fun fact: The “E” in Wi-Fi 6E stands for “Extender,” and it’s used to refer to the extended number of usable wireless bands.

What are the benefits of Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6 E allows connection to a broader spectrum, which in turn helps deliver faster speeds more consistently. Other benefits of this network protocol include:

  • Fully scheduled traffic, resulting in guaranteed low latency,
  • Support of the next generation of wireless connections,
  • Up to 6 times faster speeds than those of Wi-Fi 5,
  • Low latency, which reduces lag time for gaming and video conferencing applications.

What's the main difference between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E is an improvement over Wi-Fi 6, so it offers the same features but goes a notch higher to allow access to the new 6 GHz wireless band.

How do the Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E differ from the Wi-Fi 5?

The two newer network protocols offer significant improvements over Wi-Fi 5. These include:

  • A wider coverage: While Wi-Fi 5 could only support 5 GHz, Wi-Fi 6 can support 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, and Wi-Fi 6E supports 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz
  • Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E have 9.6 GB of maximum throughput, while Wi-Fi 5 has only 3.5 GB.
  • While Wi-Fi 5 only allows one user per channel, the newer protocols can handle up to 30 users on a single channel.
  • The newer alternatives support up to 8 MU-MIMO beams simultaneously, allowing more devices to connect, while Wi-Fi 5 can only support four.

What is the 6 GHz wireless band?

It’s the frequency band with the widest frequency range of up to 1200 MHz and frequency bands between 5.925 GHz and 7.125 GHz. It was approved for operation by The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Office of Engineering and Technology in 2021.

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