Should you buy a Wi-Fi 6 router in 2020?

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Best answer: Yes, if you have an older router, you should consider moving up to Wi-Fi 6, especially since the prices have come down, and new phones will likely support the tech. If you already have a fast 802.11AC router, it won’t be worth it, however.

Speed and capacity upgrades

If it’s time for you to buy a new router or you need to get your first router, it’s worth it to be ready for new Wi-Fi devices. Wi-Fi 6 can handle more devices at once and will be able to keep speed and latency more consistent even under heavy load.

Since most people keep their routers for years and may upgrade their phones or computers multiple times before getting a new router, it’s best to get a router that’s ready for the future. Thankfully, Wi-Fi 6 routers have come down in price and are finally ready for mainstream users.

Nearly every networking company has some support for Wi-Fi 6 and currently, there are routers available in every category whether you’re looking for best features, something cheap, or maybe you’re ready for a mesh system.

The first consumer routers to adopt Wi-Fi 6 were over-the-top gaming routers like the Netgear Nighthawk AX12 and, while they’re good, they have features most people won’t use, like faster Ethernet and link aggregation. Not to mention they are quite expensive.

Where does that leave 802.11AC?

Wi-Fi 5, or as it is more commonly known, 802.11AC, got darn fast at the end of its life, with many routers offering speeds well over 1Gbps. Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11AX, brings a lot of enhancements for routers, such as support for a larger number of devices as well as some more efficient power usage.

For most home users, Wi-Fi 5 routers can supply more than enough speed, and if you have a fast one, it might not be worth it to jump into new hardware until prices come down even further. Similar to buying a smartphone from last year like a Galaxy Note 9, the performance may be good enough, and the software will be current, but it will reach its end-of-life sooner than the Note 10.

If you were going to buy a router today, Wi-Fi 5 just doesn’t make a ton of sense for the next few years you will have it. However, if you don’t, it’s worth it to go further and get a Wi-Fi 6-compatible router.

Entry Level

Asus RT-AX56U

$130 at Amazon
$139 at Best Buy
$130 at Walmart

Wi-Fi 6 for the masses

The Asus RT-AX56U allows you to build a Wi-Fi 6 network that is fast enough for most people at a great price. Four LAN ports keep compatibility high.

Entry AX Mesh

Netgear Nighthawk MK62

$191 at Amazon
$200 at Best Buy
$200 at Walmart

Compact Wi-Fi 6 mesh networking

Build an understated Wi-Fi 6 mesh with the Netgear Nighthawk MK62 mesh routers. Cover up to 3000 square feet, even in tough conditions at AX1800 speeds.

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