Should you buy a Wi-Fi 6 router in 2021?

Netgear AX12
Netgear AX12 (Image credit: Netgear)

Should you buy a Wi-Fi 6 router in 2021?

Best answer: Yes. Wi-Fi 6 routers are ubiquitous enough now that you should heavily consider buying one. The technology is just at the cusp of being standard across modern devices and will keep you future-proof for years to come.

Why now is the right time for Wi-Fi 6 routers

Netgear Nighthawk 4-Stream AX4 Wi-Fi 6 Router (RAX40)

Source: Netgear (Image credit: Source: Netgear)

You've probably heard people talk about Wi-Fi 6 routers, the hot new way to connect your devices to the internet. But like with any new technology, there's always a caveat for whether or not it'll be useful for most people. Will having more bandwidth throughput matter if you're someone with only a few devices and only an average internet speed? Will your devices even support Wi-Fi 6, or will the new router have fancy tech that will go unused?

Thankfully, these questions are starting to have concrete answers, especially as people start having to upgrade to devices that also happen to support this new Wi-Fi standard. Wi-Fi 6 is here to stay, and it's more than likely you own something that could make use of it. Even if you don't have a house full of users, your devices, like the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15, could be hungry for faster internet and Wi-Fi 6 will do that for you. More and more people are more interested in seamless streaming, be it movies or games, and this new version of Wi-Fi will make that way less fussy. If there ever was a time to invest in Wi-Fi 6, especially if you're buying a new router anyway, it's now.

What's wrong with Wi-Fi 5?

Netgear Raxe500 Life

Source: Netgear (Image credit: Source: Netgear)

Wi-Fi 5 is fine, and chances are you already own a router that supports it. Wi-Fi 5 is more than usable for most people. The problem is that it's starting to be phased out, and you don't really want to be stuck on the old technology. It won't cause anything to not work, but it will cause you to yearn for the dial on speed tests to stay maxed out. In other words, as internet speeds start to go up, you'll want to have a router that can handle it.

Wi-Fi 5 routers get bogged down if you have too many people trying to access them too. So if you're already in a big household or building, you will see a lot of benefits from a newer router. A Wi-Fi 5 router will function just fine, but it won't excel at anything in five years. Plus, Wi-Fi 6 routers are starting to match them in price. There's no real reason not to pick one up.

Should you upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 router?

Archer A20

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Unless you're ready to buy a new router, upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 isn't as necessary. Although there's a catch here: If you haven't upgraded your router in close to a decade, you should seriously consider it. Routers don't necessarily need to be upgraded regularly like a phone or gaming console even, but they do need to be refreshed. It's best to think of your router like the heart of the body of devices you have active in your home or building. As long as it's not dead, everything should work fine. But what if that heart could pump that juicy internet out faster and for not an absurd price?

If you are truly happy with how everything works right now with a Wi-Fi 5 router, then there really isn't anything about a Wi-Fi 6 router that is so necessary that you need to run out and buy one right now. But if you're like a lot of people who sometimes unknowingly use a lot of bandwidth for streaming, gaming, or other things, you could get a lot of use out of a Wi-Fi 6 router.

Tyler Colp

Tyler Colp is a freelance writer for Windows Central. He's written about tech, games, and the culture around them across the internet. Ask him anything about Dark Souls or just follow him on Twitter.