On our most recent IoT Podcast, Steve called in to ask when Wi-Fi 6 routers would be available for purchase. That’s actually an easy question since several models have already debuted on store shelves in the past few months.
Rather than simply say “they’re already available”, however, we took the time to discuss who should, and shouldn’t, consider upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router now and which ones we currently recommend for various budgets.
Since Steve has an old Almond router that sounds like it’s on its last legs, he is a good candidate to upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 router. However, anyone who does buy one of these new routers won’t really see the benefits for several months. That’s because the additional speeds and bandwidth require client devices to support Wi-Fi 6, and very few do just yet.
But if you’re ready to buy one, here are some options.
The TP-Link Deco X60 is a three-pack Wi-Fi 6 mesh router system is currently available for $329.99. The only downside is that Costco seems to be the sole retailer for this kit. However, if you have, or know someone with a Costco membership, this is our pick for those on a limited budget. Note that at the time of writing Costco is no longer showing the product; it was available when we recorded our podcast.
TP-Link says the X60 should cover up to 7,000 square feet, so it should be plenty of coverage for just about anyone. And the wireless speeds are rated up to 3 Gbps, at least theoretically, although that assumes your devices support the new 802.11ax bands for Wi-Fi 6. TP-Link has announced but not released the Deco X20, which is a less expensive and slower model as well for Wi-Fi 6.
Best Buy has the Asus Zen WiFi ax, which is a two-device package with a price of $450 when we recorded our show. At the time of writing, Best Buy is showing a $50 sale.
Unlike the dual-band approach used by TP-Link, the Zen is a tri-band mesh router, so it uses three frequencies for specific purposes: two of these are for Wi-Fi device connections while the third is specifically for the base stations to communicate with each other. And it has three Ethernet ports unlike the two you’ll find on the TP-Link models. Asus says the two-pack should cover 5,500 square feet.
If you have a bigger budget, the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 product line may be your best bet. A two-device package will cost you $699 and cover up to 5,000 square feet. You can also boost coverage with the three-pack for another $300.
Why consider spending $700 or more for a mesh Wi-Fi 6 system? The tri-band Orbi touts wireless speeds up to 6 Gbps, which is the fastest by far out of this bunch. It also has four ethernet ports, which is nice for anyone who has IoT hubs that need to plug into your home network. Again, you’ll need Wi-Fi 6 devices in your home to take advantage of these speeds, which are the best-case scenario.
Although we didn’t mention this on the podcast, it’s worth noting that routers with the recently approved Wi-Fi 6e standard should be arriving later this year. These have all of the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 but add another band of unlicensed spectrum in the 6 GHz range to help reduce network congestion.
To hear Steve’s question in full, as well as our discussion, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: