Upgrade Your Laptop to Wi-Fi 6E for just $30 – A Step by Step Guide

Wi-Fi 6e Laptop Upgrade – Why Should You Upgrade?

There was a time when upgrading a laptop was a largely impossible task. Laptops may be a significantly more portable, durable and convenient alternative to Desktop PCs, but due to their use of more efficient components and smaller-scale parts, upgrading them can be a remarkably difficult task. Even something as simple as adding more memory or increasing the size of the internal hard drive or SSD can be daunting, as the carefully designed physical layout of components to capitalize on passive/active airflow and heatsinks means that access can be very difficult. With the innovations in Wireless technology (as the discussion of WiFi 5 to WiFi 6 now switches to WiFi 6e – with WiFi 7 on the horizon too) you might be looking at upgrading the wireless connectivity on your laptop towards the new 1.2/2.4Gbps wireless connection. The good news, upgrading the majority of laptops released in the last 3-4 years (and indeed PCs and even some tablets) has become significantly easier, with the release of very affordable WiFi 6e adapters in the form of m.2 connected cards (NGFF M.2 2230 Interface: Enables Key A or E M.2 socket to attach the module). These are relatively simple to swap, as well as being available online very competitively (for as little as $30 / £28 and only as high as around $40 / £33 if you want a PCIe card and antenna version. So, what advantages would the installation of a WiFi  6e adapter in your laptop/PC or just setting up a WiFi 6e Router in your home/office be?

  • Tri-Band 2.4G 5G 6Ghz
  • Max Speed up to 574Mbps @2.4GHz + 2400Mbps @5GHz +2400Mbps @6GHz.
  • WPA3 and many other highly encrypted variations
  • MU-MIMO
  • Supports legacy Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6 Connections
  • Bluetooth 5.2 included in the installation of the WIfI 6E Adapter
  • More 160Mhz Connections at once by crossing over the 6Ghz band

So, there are a bunch of advantages to upgrading towards WiFi 6e. So, today I wanted to walk you through how to prepare for the installation, get the right WiFi 6e Intel Drivers, take suitable precautions, undertake the installation and then check tha tit has been successful. In this WiFi 6e installation guide, I am using a specific laptop, but will highlight how/what you need to check to ensure that your own laptop is suitable. Let’s begin.

Note – If you are not happy or nervous to open your laptop or PC up and do a manual/hands-on installation of a WiFi 6e adapter, there are alternatives. I would recommend the D-Link DWA-X-1850 USB-to-WiFi 6 Adapter. Learn more about it in my review here – https://nascompares.com/2021/10/28/d-link-dwa-x1850-wi-fi-6-usb-adapter-review

If you would rather WATCH the Installation Guide to upgrading your Laptop to WiFi 6e, you can watch the video below from NASComapres YouTube:

Wi-Fi6E Laptop Upgrade – Can You Upgrade a PC to WiFi 6E?

First and foremost, you need a Wi-Fi 6E adapter card to replace the existing wireless adapter card in your system. Most systems feature a card fitted to the motherboard of their PC/Laptop system that is connected to 1 or more antenna inside your system. In the case of laptops, these antennae are thin cables connected to your card and end in the screen (for best external coverage). The best card you can get right now (and the one I am using in my upgrade) is the MQ WiFi 6E AX210NGW Wireless Adapter upgrade card. The two are mostly the same. Alongside the upgrade to 802.11a / WiFi 6E, it will also upgrade you to Bluetooth 5.2. If you want to upgrade a desktop, chances are you will also need a converter, which generally costs about £10 and fits into your available PCIe slot. and features two antennae that protrude from the rear your PC. No doubt in future we will see USB to WiFi 6E upgrades (thanks to the 5GB/s and 10GB/s speed of these connections), but technology is not quite there yet and right now you either need to upgrade your wireless adapter internally or with a PCIe Upgrade.

Wi-Fi 6 MQ WiFi 6E AX210NGW

2×2 Wi-Fi 6e/11AX

Adapter for Laptop

£27 – $29.99 – €30

WiFi 6E PCIe WiFi Card AX210NGW

PCIe WiFi6e Wireless

Network Card for PC

£27 – $29.99 – €30

Wi-Fi 6E 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 AX210NGW Wireless Adapter. 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 AX210-based module. Again, even if your machine doesn’t use any of the Wi-Fi card models above, it still likely supports an Intel AX210-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 models 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 6e Laptop Upgrade – Installation

Now that you have done all the steps needed to make sure your computer supports the new AX6e AX210NGW Wireless Adapter, here are the general steps to do the Wi-Fi 6 upgrade on your laptop. For this guide, I am using a Razer Blade 15 Z09 laptop (as well as upgrading a Dell Latitude 7280 Laptop in the studio) which I have successfully upgraded to 802.11ax AX6e inside 15 minutes. However, these steps can be followed up upgrade pretty much any modern-ish Laptop with an m.2 slot to WiFi 6e.
  • Buy the AX210NGW Wireless Adapter card. If you want to help me and support my guides, please use the Amazon link here.
  • On your computer, download the Wi-Fi 6e module’s driver software. (You can download the AX210NGW Wi-Fi 6e 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!

(click below to download AX210 WiFi 6e Driver)

  • 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 AND/OR remove the battery and/or mains power if possible instead.

  • Open up the laptop and you should be able to see all of the components. Once again, if your laptop has an easy to remove the battery, remove it. Additionally, if your laptop has any kind of GPU card, avoid the copper piping.

  • Open up the laptop and you should be able to see all 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 AX210NGW 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.

Here is how the two adapters compare:

  • 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 6e router, your computer now can connect to it using a Wi-Fi 6E / 802.11ax connection.


 

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    4 thoughts on “Upgrade Your Laptop to Wi-Fi 6E for just $30 – A Step by Step Guide

    1. Cheers for that. Nigh on impossible on my old HP G7 laptop though. IIRC, HP has a whitelist and disallows WiFi / Bluetooth modules in BIOS on laptops of this vintage. BTW, for laptops with built in battery, I recommend running the battery down completely if possible. Otherwise in many cases you can just disconnect the battery before working on it.
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