2.4GHz vs 5GHz: Wi-Fi frequencies explained 

2.4GHz vs 5GHz: Wi-Fi frequencies explained 

Josh G | Social Media & Content Lead

If you didn’t know that your WI-Fi can operate at two different frequencies, then this quick guide is for you.

🤓 (Fun side note: there is a third frequency for triband routers – 6GHz – but we’ll explain that in another post). 

For now, we’ll concentrate on dual-band routers, which can switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz. But why, you may ask? What’s the point? Well, the easiest way to think about it, is that these as different types of ‘highway’ for your internet data to travel on.  

And yes, though the 5GHz frequency is newer and shinier and generally faster, 2.4GHz is still worth keeping around.  

The pros & cons 

2.4 GHz Wi-Fi

👍 Longer range

👍 Better compatibility with older devices

👍 Lower cost

👎🏻 More crowded, leading to interference

👎🏻 Slower speeds in congested areas

👎🏻 Limited channels available

5 GHz Wi-Fi

👍 Faster speeds

👍 Less crowded, resulting in more reliable connections

👍 More channels available

👎🏻 Shorter range

👎🏻 Higher cost

👎🏻 Limited compatibility with some older devices

Which Wi-Fi frequency should you use?

For most of us, there’s no need to fiddle with our frequency. Our Wi-Fi networks will work pretty perfectly on their default settings. In fact, for Cuckoo customers using their eero, it will automatically allow devices to use both frequencies (though there is a way to hide the 5GHz band if you need to connect to older devices or smart home technologies).  

But if you do want to use different frequencies, here are the main things to think about: 

📌Distance to the router 

 For devices closer to the router – we’re mainly talking about being in the same room – the 5GHz frequency gives you a stronger connection and faster speeds, perfect for streaming or gaming. 

 But if your device is further away, like upstairs or at the other end of the house, 2.4 GHz might be the better option. It may be slower, but it’ll give you a more reliable and consistent connection. 

 Basically, go for 5GHz if you’re nearer the router and fast speeds are important. And 2.4 GHz if you’re further away and can settle for slightly slower speeds.  

So what’s the best frequency for... 

🕹Gaming consoles 

These can happily use both, but 5GHz is best because it processes data faster, which means you can spot the zombies more quickly. That said, if you want the fastest guaranteed speeds, plug in with an Ethernet cable. For more on this, have a read of our guide to gaming

💻Laptops and computers 

If you’re using a fixed desktop, then a 5GHz connection is best, especially if you're streaming your favourite series or Facetiming with your folks. But for laptops, the 2.4GHz channel might be better as you move from room to room. 

📺 Smart TVs 

To get the most out of film night in your living room on your 4K Ultra HD Smart TV, the 5GHz option will make it smooth and buffer-free. But if you’re watching from a bedroom in the far corner of the house, 2.4GHz will be more stable (though it might pixelate from time to time).

 📱 Smartphones 

As you roam from the bedroom to the kitchen to the toilet (yes, we all do it!) and maybe even the garden or balcony, you’ll want the wider coverage that 2.4GHz offers, to keep you scrolling. 

 

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