Have you noticed the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands in your wireless network selection and wondered which one is better? Why does your router have two different broadcast frequencies, anyway? We’ll answer these questions and more in this article so read on to learn more.
A brief Wi-Fi background
Modern routers, since the 802.11ac standard have these two frequencies and the latest 802.11ax standard has three frequency bands. Let’s find out more about the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands and whether one is better than the other.
Wireless data is transmitted between devices in frequency bands. These bands are radio waves that carry the data and these bands are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. Older Wi-Fi routers only transmit in the 2.4 GHz band and these are known as single band routers.
Newer Wi-Fi routers, though, will transmit in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and are called dual-band routers. There are even tri-band routers these days which in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, also broadcast in the 6 GHz band.
To be fair, the 2.4 GHz band works pretty well. The only problem is that it is the standard band that’s used in many of other devices like wireless cameras, microwave ovens and even cordless phones.
This is a problem because the 2.4 GHz band becomes overcrowded with so many competing signals causing a lot of interference. Interference slows down the Wi-Fi network and could even cause you to lose connection to the Wi-Fi router.
To solve this overcrowding problem, the 5 GHz band was added. It isn’t used by as many devices and as a result, is not as crowded. If you’re having a lot of trouble with slow network speeds and your connection dropping, switching to the 5 GHz band could help to solve the problem.
5GHz vs 2.4GHz
The following table summarizes the differences between the 5GHz and 2.4GHz wireless bands. Let’s look at each factor in more detail.
|2.4 GHz||5 GHz|
|Wireless Channels||11 channels||25 channels|
|Range||60 feet (20 meters)||45 feet (15 meters)|
|Speed||450 – 600 Mbps||1 Gbps|
The 2.4 GHz band has 14 wireless channels to choose from but only 3 of the wireless channels do not overlap. In comparison, the 5 GHz band has 25 non-overlapping channels. This means that the 5 GHz band is less prone to interference because devices have more non-overlapping channels to choose from.
Another key difference between the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands is the speed and the range that they cover. The 2.4 GHz band Transmits data at a slower speed than the 5 GHz band but it covers a wider distance than the 5 GHz band. Conversely, the 5 GHz band transmits data at a faster speed than the 2.4 GHz band but it has a shorter range. The reason for the shorter range of the 5 GHz band is because higher frequencies are less able to penetrate solid objects like the walls in a building.
According to router manufacturer, TP-Link, the range of the 2.4GHz band is about 60 feet (20 meters) and 5GHz is less than 45feet (15 meters) to guarantee a good networking experience. Higher power and technology such as beamforming can also increase the range of the wireless network. While posters may mention a longer range, this is dependent on an optimal environment without physical impediments, wireless interference and optimal placement of the product.
As for speed, the 2.4 GHz band can support up to 450 Mbps or 600 Mbps while the 5 GHz band can support up to 1 Gbps, under ideal conditions.
5GHz vs 2.4GHz for gaming
When setting up your wireless router for gaming, we recommend keeping it as close to your gaming device as possible. If your gaming device is less than 15 meters from your router, use the 5 GHz band and you will benefit from the faster data transfer speeds and less wireless interference.
On the other hand, if your gaming device is further than 15 meters away from your router or if you have structures blocking the Wi-Fi signal, using the 2.4 GHz wireless band might be better as you would have less issues with the signal dropping at key moments.
Which is better – 5GHz or 2.4GHz?
So, what is better, the 2.4 GHz band or 5 GHz band? There’s no definite answer as they both have their advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of the 2.4 GHz band is that it has a wider range and can penetrate solid objects better but the disadvantages are that it is slower than the 5 GHz band and is also more vulnerable to interference when there are many other devices use the same band.
The advantage of the 5 GHz band is that it has a higher transfer speed and is less vulnerable to interference, but it does have a shorter range is not able to penetrate through solid objects. With a proper setup, we would recommend using the 5 GHz in most instances and switching to the 2.4 GHz if your device is out of range.