Looking for the best Wi-Fi 6E upgrade option? You’re at the right place.
This post will give you the best 6GHz options out of that FOMO, even when you have a dated router or a computer with an older Wi-Fi standard or none.
In other words, you’ll find hardware that adds the 6GHz band on either or both ends of a Wi-Fi connection — the broadcasting and receiving sides.
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 Tri-band — it’ll work on one of them at a time.
With that, let’s look at our current five Wi-Fi 6E upgrade options. They are listed in review order with the latest top.
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.
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 160MHz channel support; no Mac support; No USB-C option
Could be even more compact
2. ARRIS SURFboard W6U: Instant 6GHz band for any router
The ARRIS SURFboard W6U is a perfect 6GHz upgrade, don’t the broadcasting side. That’s because it’s, so far, the only access point I know that features just the 6GHz band.
So if you have a Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (or Wi-Fi 5) router, plug this little AP into one of the network ports, and you get a complete Wi-Fi 6E network.
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 excellent 6GHz upgrade.
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: The complete Wi-Fi upgrade for any network
The Netgear WAX630E is one of the first wireless access points (WAPs) that feature Wi-Fi 6E.
The AP has all three bands, 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz, and, unlike the ZyXel NWA220AX-6E above, you can use all three simultaneously. So this is a complete Wi-Fi upgrade for a non-Wi-Fi router, such as the Firewalla Gold.
But you can also add it to any existing Wi-Fi router. In this case, ensure you place it far enough, so their signals don’t interfere.
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 cloud-based management
5. 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.)
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 bandwidth. Most importantly, it’s affordable, costing merely around $20 apiece.
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
The final thoughts
Since Wi-Fi (6 or 5) routers are commonplace, in most cases, the combo of the 6GHz-only ARRIS SURFboard W6U access point and the Intel AX210 module or the Netgear A8000 is the most likely upgrade you’d need.
But pick a combo that works for your need from the option above. Other than that, the easiest option is also to get the Netgear adapter and a Wi-Fi 6E router. Or pick the Intel AX210 if you want the best 6GHz performance out of your computer.