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How to manually switch Wifi between 2.4 and 5GHz bands on the Surface Pro 3

With Microsoft's recent firmware update for the Surface Pro 3, among the new bits and pieces was a new Marvell Wifi driver that lets you switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands on the fly. For those of us using a dual-band router, the updated driver should help resolve any related issues.

Switching bands is easy, so long as you know where to look. Here's how to do it.

  • Using the universal search on the Start Screen, search for "Device Manager."
  • Open Device Manager
  • Find "Network Adapters" in the list and expand it
  • Tap and hold or right click on "Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller" and open its properties
  • Along the top of the dialog box, open the Driver tab
  • Verify the version number is 15.68.3073.151 before continuing
  • Assuming all is correct thus far, hit the Advanced tab. This is where you'll change bands.
  • The dropdown "Value" box on the right will have options for 2.4GHz, 5GHz and Auto when the Property box on the left has "Band" highlighted.
  • Select your desired band, hit OK, and you're good to go!

One thing worth noting is that should you specify only 2.4GHz or 5GHz, your Surface will only connect on those bands. If you then leave the house and try to connect to Wifi elsewhere, it's worth making sure you've set it back to Auto to keep things running nice and smoothly.

For more Surface Pro 3 tips and tricks be sure to swing by our dedicated Surface Pro 3 page here

Thanks jlangner for the heads up!

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

44 Comments
  • Not that i own a Surface :'( But that's great news. I was so surprised when I got a 5GHz band router at home and it turned out that that frequency is extremely bad at penetrating walls, windows etc. So everything at home is back on 2,4GHz...
  • Yeah I use 5GHz on everything in my office because it's right by the router so works like a dream. Everything that moves around the house needs to stay on 2.4 for the same reason you described.
  • Perhaps there should attempts with 1,2GHz or some collaboration among electronics companies so that not everything in the house uses the 2,4 band. Seems a bit stupid that all sorts or electronics run on the 2,4 band
  • @Mortenvs RF bands are regulated by government and they are assigned specific legal uses to prevent interference and misuse.  There are so many different technologies operating on RF bands for consumer, commercial, and millitary purposes.  If electronics companies were allowed to create products that transmit on any band they like it would be total chaos.  Wireless technology probably wouldn't even be possible because it would be so unreliable.  In the US, 1.2GHz already has an assigned use.  It is used for long range HAM radio.  HAM radio signals are very powerful (they have a range of hundreds of miles) so there would be plenty of interference.  The next "general purpose" band below 2.4GHz is 900MHz, but it is also heavily used by household devices.  Also, lower frequencies have longer range, but less data bandwidth.  Using a lower band will increase the chance of interference from neighbors (that would otherwise be out of range if a higher frequency were being used) while at the same time cutting data speeds significantly.
  • Thanks.I needed to get some info about the frequency bands.
  • The problem with a single 2.4 is that you slow down the entire network depending on the devices you have connected. So a printer on 802.11b can impact your 802.11n device. Or at least that is how I understand it. Dual band is the way to go.
  • That's correct but 5GHz very is so bad at penetrating anything that it in my case is virtually useless. The only thing band about 2,4 is that even a microwave oven, a remote control etc use that frequency as well.
    And your device cannot use both bands at the same time
  • The higher the frequency the worse it is at penetrating non-vacuums. However its much more performant within its range.
  • Yes, its for short distance
  • i just wish when the Surface Pro 4 announced they change the goddam WiFi chip. the only reason i am jealous of my mums iPad is because the WiFi actually works - all the time. the WiFi on my Surface Pro 3 sucks ass - when it works, it is awsome, before it cuts out again 5 minutes later, then i have to manually reactivate it again, for it to work for another 10 mins or so, and then repeat the process...
     
  • Sounds like there's something wrong with your Surface
  • another problem is when i turn it on from standby, it will seem to work for a second or so, then turns off. it wasnt to bad before the latest update which was supposed to HELP the WiFi issues, it seems to have made it worse
  • My wife's Lenovo X230 sometimes (sometimes often) has the same problem. It helps rebooting the router
  • Again, sounds like something is wrong with your Surface. There were some significan issues with WiFi at release, for some folks, but most seem to have been mitigated with updates, software and firmware. Wife and I each have a SP3, and WiFi is not an issue.
  • Don't know if troll or... LOL ipads (or iPhones if that matters) can't even compete with pretty much any other device Wi-Fi wise. They simply can't.
  • I had the same problem with a nice $200 netgear nighthawk router, ac1900. Worked great on everything except my surface pro 3, despite two exchanges. Finally I decided to try a new router, and returned the night hawk. Got a Linksys AC1600 model for half the price and my problems are gone.
  • Odd. My wife and will lie in bed on a weekend morning - she on her iPad, me on my SP3 - and I have yet to drop a connection while she will every now and then. Not often but every now and then. We're maybe thirty or forty feet from the router with two walls between.
  • You need to contact Microsoft support. My Surface Pro 3 works fine. I had a stalling on startup problem and they helped me fix it easily. Also the blogs might have some good info on your particular problem.
  • I've named my 2.5 and 5 bands differently, much less confusion.
  • But that's two profiles that need to be maintained need and two passwords. Not a big deal, but not quite as convenient.
  • As have I. It's much easier to switch between the two by swiping in from the right with different names than the instructions above with two ssid names. It's fine for me because I'm nice and close to my router and the only time i need to move to 2.4 is when I need to share with my TV.
  • Yup, same here. I have 3 ssids available total. 1 for 5, one for 2.4 and one for guests based on 2.4 as well. Avoids confusion, makes switching easy, and it is easier to keep guests away from my internal newtork.
  • That's actually a really great idea.
  • Same.  To me, this is a much better solution than using one SSID for both 2.4 and 5GHz and hoping your device connects to the right band. I also have a guest network for 5GHz.  I only enable my guest networks when needed and my router allows a time limit to be set.  So I enable them for a few hours longer than my guests might need them and then they disable themselves. 
  • Same here, I'm using my new WRT1900AC. My room mate uses my guest WiFi and my devices use either my 2.4 of 5GHz connections.
  • This is only useful if your using a dualband radio equipped(1 ssid for both frequency's) router or you setup a WHN hotspot on your sp3.
  • Sadly, WHN hotspot does not work on SP3.  It worked on the SP1 and SP2, but so far even the latest drivers don't support it on SP3.  Apparently there were issues with the new 802.11AC chipset so MS removed the functionality from the drivers.  I'm hoping it gets solved and added back in at some point, although I really don't have a serious need for it.
  • Why not leave it on Auto detect?
  • Doesn't always work. On my laptop sometimes I still need to manually switch because it's not smart enough quick enough
  • Because on "Auto" people have had issues with it connecting to the 2.4GHz band even though the 5GHz band is within range and would be faster.
  • My wifi router displays two different points to connect to, so wouldn't it just make more sense to sign into both, then simply connect to it with one tap?
  • Yes, but some people have their router configured with one SSID name for both bands.  If your router assigns a dedicated SSID to each band then this option really isn't needed. 
  • That makes sense then. Every dual band router I've had has shown both. I didn't even know they made routers that did that.
  • Since this most likely just changes a setting in the registry, it should be trivial to create a couple of registry files to quickly and easily change it back and forth. Edit: Spelling
  • The firmware update stated that there was a way to "prefer" one over the other. I would like to see how that is accomplished as this is an either/or scenario. On my Intel adapter in my work machine there is actually an item under advanced that allows you to "prefer" one over the other. This is what I want for the Surface
  • Im guessing my surface rt(first Gen) can't use the 5ghz? What about my Lumia 1520?
  • Lumia 1520 connects to 5Ghz routers just fine.
  • my surface pro first gen connects to 5GHz very well and from a quick search on Bing it looks like the RT supports 5GHz networks as well
  • Sweet thanks for the info. I got the free cell spot router from tmobile and its dual band and works great. Been digging it so far!
  • this last firmware did wonder for me. hyper-v connected stand by issues seem to be fixed, wifi speeds are better... great update! i was wanting this feature, since i have a single ssid for both bands, but leaving it on auto seems ok with the update.
  • Really, they fixed CS? That would be amazing. I bought a higher end SP3 just for the ability to Hyper V. When it didn't work right I was really, really bummed about it. Please, please, please
  • Off Topic: I got a email telling me that Microsoft is talking about Windows 10 on the 21st, and a link that explains how watch where I can watch it live, I know its been talked about but now we have a official link to watch it at!
  • For me 5ghz has proven a lot of Hype. First thing.... my Chromecast only works on 2.4ghz. Second 5ghz is a lot weaker signal in my home - and I don't really have a lot of thick internal walls. Last - never really noticed any real world speed difference using 5ghz.
  • Let's see, the average consumer. on a Ipad touch settings, touch Wifi, choose from list  and select. On Mackbook, click on WiFi icon choose from list.  On the SP3 do a  magic dance of menus. What is Microsoft thinking? Can't you see a list of 2.4 and 5 by clicking on the WiFi icon then select to connect? Or am I not seeing the advantage to this apporach?