Wi-Fi 6 Laptop Upgrade Guide – Why Upgrade?
To have a complete Wi-Fi 6 upgrade and enjoy the potential bandwidth and speed benefits of the latest variety of wireless connectivity, you will need to have two things in place. First, you need a router and at least one client (Mobile, Tablet, PC, Laptop, etc) supporting the new Wi-Fi standard of 802.11ax. It’s easy on the router front — there are a lot of different ones out there that arrive at diverse price points – I use the Asus RT-AX92U, which I reviewed here. On the client-side, however, things are a bit more complicated, as there are currently very few laptops or desktops systems with built-in Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) yet and those that arrive at a premium. So buying new hardware just for this WiFi6 connection is not so desirable right now. However, if you already bought a WiFi 6 router and want to enjoy the wireless performance benefits on your older tech, there are several ways you can upgrade your existing Windows desktop or laptop computer to 802.11ax compliance for less than £30 per device. Today I want to walk you through the steps of upgrading your laptop to WiFi 6 and allow you to connect at the best possible speed with a Wi-Fi 6 network. Though you should only be considering this router if you are comfortable potentially invalidating the warranty (as most laptops arrive with a security sticker on the core wireless adapter installation areas that, once broken, will disallow you from manufacturer warranty support.
Wi-Fi 6 Laptop Upgrade – Can You Upgrade a PC to WiFi 6?
Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 Module Dual Band
2×2 Wi-Fi 6/11AX Adapter for Laptop
Ubit WiFi 6 AX 2974 Mbps Dual Band 5GHz/2.4GHz
PCI-E Wireless WiFi Network Adapter Card for PC
Wi-Fi 6 Laptop Upgrade – Is My Laptop Compatible?
The good news is most laptops released in the past five or so years use an NGFF Wi-Fi card inside for handling the wireless network connectivity, arriving in a smaller 2230 M.2 slot and are ready for the upgrade, do NOT require awkward soldering or tweezers and is surprisingly easy. Though if in doubt, here’s how to check: if you can upgrade with the killer AX1650. If your current laptop arrives with an Intel Wi-Fi 5 adapter model number AC-72xx, AC-82xx, AC-3160, or AC-92xx, Killer 1435 and Killer 15xx, it will support the new AX200-based module. Again, even if your machine doesn’t use any of the Wi-Fi card models above, it still likely supports an Intel AX200-based card over PCIe, but it may eliminate your opens in a Laptop and limit you to a PC based PCIe upgrade. Put simply, if your computer has an available 2230 M.2 slot (or your current WiFi adapter is in that slot), you can go ahead with this upgrade. Here is how you can navigate windows to find out what your current wireless adapter is
- Right-click on the Start button (lower-left corner) and choose Device Manager to open the Device Manager window.
- On the list of devices, click on the right arrow (>) button before Network adapters to extend the list.
- Look for the wireless adapter and note down its name. If it’s one of the card model mentioned above, your laptop is for sure ready for the upgrade. You can also Google its model number to find out if it’s a 2230 NGFF card.
Wi-Fi 6 Laptop Upgrade – Installation
- Buy the Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 Wireless Adapter card. If you want to help me and support my guides, please use the Amazon link below:
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- On your computer, download the Wi-Fi 6 module’s driver software. (You can download the Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 Wireless Adapter driver using the link below. You do not technically need it yet, but it’s about 500x easier to do it now with your working card installed, than later if the new adapter needs it to connect to the network – a real Catch 22 issue!
Once you have downloaded the driver, go ahead and install the .exe or other executional files inside, as it will not disable your current network and will just add the driver to your windows library. Once this is done, power down your laptop, remove the battery and/or mains power if possible instead.
- Open up the computer, and install the module physically in the available m.2 slot, replacing the existing card as needed Swap the existing Wi-Fi card with the new Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 Wireless Adapter Wi-Fi 6 module (it should be easy to spot, as the two should look very similar) and make sure you reattach the antenna wires correctly onto the new card’s connectors. They are marked as 2 and 1 on the module, replicate their positions as seen on the old card to ensure the correct internal antenna are connected to their respective nodes on the card. These are NOT soldered and are just push clipped on.
- Close the computer back up, replacing the rear panel. The driver should already be installed if you followed the steps previously as given and your card should be installed. However, the list of previously stored wireless SSIDs and WiFi connections you may have had will potentially not be available (as many cards store this log of saved connections on the wireless adapter, which you have now removed), so you will need to re-enter the passwords for your new and old wireless networks.
And that’s it. If you’re using a Wi-Fi 6 router, your computer now can connect to it using a Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax connection.
Faster future cards
All Intel AX200-based Wi-Fi 6 modules feature the mid-range 2×2 specification in their architecture and as a result, they have the ceiling speed of 2.4Gbps (240MB/s) with real-world sustained speeds likely lower based on your existing ISP (internet service provider) connection, business of the network and media source you are communicating with (NAS, Media server, Web-hosted File server, etc). Keep in mind that the Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 Wireless Adapter installed in this fashion will not exceed that 2.4Gbs connection and if you want to hit the big leagues of 4.8Gbs you’ll need to wait till add-on cards of higher tiers are available. And then, the upgrade process will likely be the same and this guide should still help!
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