The official Wi-Fi 6 specification arrived in late 2019, and Wi-Fi 6 enabled hardware was first released in 2020. With the change also came a change in the naming convention used by the Wi-Fi Alliance. This has simplified the terminology for the average user. Instead of 802.11 ax we have Wi-Fi 6. The previous generation has also been renamed to be called Wi-Fi 5 instead of 802.11 ac. Wi-Fi 6 has been a hot topic in 2020 as it promises to deliver higher speeds to higher densities of wireless devices especially in crowded RF environments. Wi-Fi 6 is now standard in most flagship smartphones and some laptops.
No the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S do not have Wi-Fi 6 technology. While this is disappointing, it actually makes surprisingly little difference in most situations. Wi-Fi 6 is not really about achieving higher speeds to a single device but is more about handling lots and lots of devices in a small area. This means that for the average gamer playing their Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S from home Wi-Fi 6 is not that beneficial.
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S both utilize Wi-Fi 5 technology. They support both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands. Real world speeds in excess of 200 Mbps are possible using the Wi-Fi built in to both consoles. This is more than enough for most people, especially given that according to Ookla’s Speedtest.net the average broadband connection is 135 Mbps in the United States and 85 Mbps globally. The Wi-Fi 5 technology built in to the Xbox series X and Xbox Series S consoles are more than fast enough to keep pace. It is also important to note that Microsoft is only recommending a minimum of 5 Mbps for optimal results. Of course having faster download speeds will make for faster downloads of games and updates.
The Xbox series X and Xbox Series S also both include a gigabit ethernet port. This allows for a wired connection of up to about 945 Mbps. This is faster than any real world speeds seen with Wi-Fi 6. It also provides a much more stable connection with lower latency. Latency is top priority when it comes to online gaming and a wired connection is always preferable when latency is paramount.
About Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology. It was originally named 802.11 ax but was renamed when the Wi-Fi Alliance changed their naming scheme used to reference each generation of Wi-Fi technology. The new naming scheme is meant to be easier to understand as it follows a sequential pattern with each new release getting a higher number.
The primary focus with Wi-Fi 6 is providing faster Wi-Fi in high density environments. Examples of high density environments include sports stadiums, university auditoriums, casinos, event centers, and theaters. In these types of environments Wi-Fi 6 is better optimized to provide stable performance than previous Wi-Fi generation’s.
There are still some benefits to Wi-Fi 6 that apply to a home environment, particularly in dense urban neighborhoods. The increased efficiency of Wi-Fi 6 allows for higher bandwidth. This is beneficial especially if you have an internet connection faster than about 400 Mbps. For slower internet connections the difference will be less noticeable.
What Makes Wi-Fi 6 Faster
There are two important technologies that make Wi-Fi 6 connections much faster than Wi-Fi 5, MU-MIMO. and OFDMA .
MU-MIMO, stands for “multi-user, multiple input, multiple output,” it is technically supported by some newer Wi-Fi 5 devices but it is improved with Wi-Fi 6. MU-MIMO technology allows an access point to send and receive data from multiple devices at the same time. Without this technology devices have to wait their turn to send and receive data. Right now, MU-MIMO allows access points to communicate with four devices at a time. Wi-Fi 6 allows access points to communicate with up to eight. This is part of the reason it performs much better than previous generations when used in high density environments.
The other new technology, which is even more important is, OFDMA. OFDMA stands for “orthogonal frequency division multiple access”. The primary function is to allow one transmission to deliver data to multiple devices at once.