Wi-Fi 6E test – mesh on steroids

TP-Link’s new mesh system can already connect at 6 GHz, so you can build a future-proof and lightning-fast home network. We tested what next-gen racing is like.

Long preparations and a lot of industry consultation are necessary for such a widespread technology as wireless network connection, i.e. Wi-Fi, to move to the standard level. From the user’s point of view, development is a snail’s pace, and although everyone agrees that the existence of WLAN networks is convenient and self-evident today, there is no doubt that they are still light years away from perfection.

Now, however, it may seem that new developments are arriving sooner than usual, such as mesh systems and, most recently, Wi-Fi 6E. The Wi-Fi Alliance and network product manufacturers see the merging of the two as the next step (before Wi-Fi 7 becomes widespread).

We managed to get a complete Wi-Fi 6E-compatible system for testing, which not only supports the latest standard, but on top of that it also has a mesh structure, so we were able to experience the combined (blessing) effect of the two technologies.

Can it be 1 GHz more?

The essence of the Wi-Fi 6E standard is very simple: they took the new solutions introduced in the Wi-Fi 6 standard, but transferred the data to 6 GHz instead of the crowded 5 GHz carrier frequency. This band is located between 5925-7125 MHz and offers a total of seven 160 MHz wide channels (or 14 80 MHz). In comparison, 500 MHz is available on 5 GHz and 70 MHz on 2.4 GHz. However, the 6E standard is limited by the fact that, among other things, only the lower band between 5925-6425 MHz has been allowed in the European Union, the higher frequency may reduce it somewhat range, and the 6 GHz band has been used by microwave data connections for a long time, which may be a problem for a Wi-Fi 6E connection.

The new development marked “E” is not considered a new standard, this is also indicated by the fact that the IEEE standard marking is unchanged (802.11ax), but the support for 6 GHz cannot be solved with a simple software update, completely new devices are needed on all sides. For those who have not yet replaced their older devices with Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E is also available when switching, but it should be expected that these devices will also be more expensive due to the more complicated Tri-Band structure. Tri-Band is essential to ensure that Wi-Fi 6E network centers perfectly handle older client devices even on 2.4 GHz.

Mesh+6 GHz – homemade super highway

For our test, we managed to obtain the latest TP-Link XE75 AXE5400 two-piece mesh system, together with a TP-Link Archer TXE75E and a Mercusys MA86XE card. Both client devices require a desktop PC and are based on Intel’s AX210 controller, with the difference that the more expensive TP-Link model uses a separate antenna from the back of the PC, which allows for better reception. In both cases, with 2×2 MU-MIMO, the theoretical speed can be a maximum of 2.4 Gbit/s on a 160 MHz wide channel, which is also available at 5 GHz, but at 6 GHz there is less interference and channel selection is also easier. We also get a Bluetooth 5.2 connection, and of course all the services known for Wi-Fi 6 are also available here.

Deco XE75 also supports 2×2 MU-MIMO, so the maximum speed of 2.4 Gbit/s even at 6 GHz, Tri-Band operation is also a given, and if you place the two devices correctly, up to 500 nm you can also cover an area of Each of the cylindrical units has three gigabit LAN/WAN ports (2.5 GbE is offered by the Pro version), there is no USB, but there is a protection module, easy expandability, Amazon Alexa voice control and a mobile app. The latter is critically important, unfortunately you have almost no setting options on the normal web interface, you can only check the most important information.

During the testing, we were specifically interested in the stable and more uninterrupted high-bandwidth data transmission provided by Wi-Fi 6E. For the Deco XE75 duo, we did not use a cable backhaul, we relied on the automatic WLAN setup. Measured directly next to the router, the Wi-Fi 6E speed was 2401 Mbit/s for the Wi-Fi 6E client PC and also for the Wi-Fi 6E mobile phone. Of course, the data transfer was less than this, but here too we managed to measure 867-912 Mbit/s. Separated by several walls, the speed was already significantly reduced, and we measured roughly the range and performance of a stronger Wi-Fi 6 router at 347 Mbit/s. When building the mesh system, the two centers were initially too far apart; unfortunately, the Deco app does not help in finding the right position, but after we moved the secondary unit, the system worked nicely and stably even with WLAN backhaul, including the easy-to-like Wi-Fi roaming.

Should everyone switch?

Wi-Fi 6E is not a panacea, it will not complete your network, and if you do not have a Wi-Fi 6E-capable device, you will not be able to use anything from the 6 GHz band. On the other hand, if you have many devices, several of which support higher frequencies, and you would never in your wildest dreams ever again find that there is a Wi-Fi blind spot in your apartment, then the mesh+Wi-Fi 6E is an excellent combination, and it is also timeless, since the The Wi-Fi 7 standard is expected to be finalized in 2024, and it will only become widespread in the following years.

HomeShield: Virus protection and router

There’s no question that we need to protect all our devices against attacks and data theft, but it’s on a home network that malware encounters a strong firewall at the first point of entry. In TP-Link mesh systems (and many other Archer routers), this task is performed by HomeShield. This includes detailed QoS, parental controls, network optimization and complete virus protection on top of the firewall. The solution is effective, but at the same time we have to swallow the bitter pill that we are forced to pay a monthly fee for the Pro version, and in addition, this does not trigger client-side protection for mobile devices.

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Source: PC World Online Hírek by pcworld.hu.

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