How to Enable 5GHz Wi-Fi on Laptop, Windows 10

See How to Enable 5GHz WiFi on Laptop, Windows 10, and others. The Wi-Fi technology has been consistently updated, managed, and improved upon by the Wi-Fi alliance. Wi-Fi updates are released in the form of ‘versions’. The version gaining much traction in the community is 5GHz Wi-Fi.

In this article, we will look at how you can utilize the 5GHz band to potentially increase the speed and signal strength of your internet. We will start by learning more about 5GHz Wi-Fi.

How Wi-Fi works

How Wi-Fi works

When we send information to a computing device through a Wi-Fi network, the network devices break it down into small pieces of information called packets. These packets are much easier to handle by the computers and it is much easier to route them.

The packets are transmitted via radio and are therefore required to be in the form of analog signals. The data has to be modulated and demodulated by the use of a modem device. Different versions of Wi-Fi work at different frequencies. These wave frequencies are measured in hertz or, a bigger unit, gigahertz.

Wi-Fi 5

First off, Wi-Fi 5 isn’t the new kid on the block. It was first released in 2014. It is only becoming popular now because most manufacturers are finally moving towards it and consumer electronics manufacturers want their devices to be compatible.

As the name suggests, Wi-Fi 5 uses a 5GHz radio band to transfer data. It can achieve a theoretical maximum link rate of 6933 Mbit/s. It uses the 802.11 ac standard provided by the IEEE.

Dual-Band Wi-Fi?

The term is thrown around a lot in networking circles and whenever Wi-Fi comes into discussion. As the name suggests, devices that support dual-band Wi-Fi have two inbuilt radios – one for 2.4 GHz and another for 5GHz. The owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website usually lists whether the device has single or dual-band Wi-Fi.

Please note that having a dual-band does not mean that you can connect to both bands at the same time, you can only be connected to one at a time. Next, let’s break down what 2.4 GHz and 5GHz mean for the consumers.

  • 4 GHz: The radio waves in this band are much longer and suitable for carrying information for a longer distance. It is the most widely used band and the signal space can therefore be very crowded.
  • 5GHz: This band carries data in shorter waves. This entails that as the distance increases, the data gets lost. On the upside, this band is much better at penetrating through walls and closed doors.

Checking if your laptop supports 5GHz Wi-Fi

We will assume a Windows 10 machine for this process.

  1. Open Start Menu and search for “cmd
  2. In the cmd window, type “netsh wlan show drivers
  3. Information about your network configuration will be displayed
  4. Look for the line that says “Radio types supported: “
  5. Note the part in front of the above line and use the following table to determine the kind of Wi-Fi band you have:
802.11ac and 802.11g Both 2.4 GHz and 5GHz are supported
802.11n is also displayed Can’t determine 5GHz compatibility. Need to connect an actual network to check
802.11b and 802.11g Only 2.4 GHz is supported
802.11n 5GHz is supported

How to Enable 5GHz WiFi on Windows 10

The following are the steps to enable 5GHz on a Windows 10 machine:

  1. Right-click on the Start button (the windows logo)
  2. Select ‘Device Manager’ from the list
  3. In the device manager window, click on ‘Network Adapters
  4. Right-click the ‘Wireless Adapters Driver’ and goto ‘Properties
  5. Choose 802.11n from the properties heading.
  6. Set the ‘Value’ of the adapter as ‘enabled’
  7. Click the ‘OK’ button, thereafter reboot the PC for full effect.

You will have successfully enabled 5GHz Wi-Fi on your system.

Enabling 5GHz Wi-Fi on Windows 7

In case you are running Windows 7, follow these steps to enable 5GHz:

  1. Right-click on the network icon in the taskbar (present on the bottom right side next to the clock)
  2. Select ‘Open Network and Sharing Center
  3. In the network and sharing center, select “Change Adapter Settings”
  4. You should see a list of all the networking adapters on your computer
  5. Choose the Wi-Fi adapter. Right-click on it and select ‘Properties’
  6. Select the ‘Configure’ option and choose the ‘Drivers’ tab from there.
  7. From the ‘Advanced’ tab, select ‘802.11n’, while having it selected, choose ‘Enabled’ from the ‘Value’ dropdown on the right.
  8. Click the ‘OK’ button at the bottom.

Restart the PC and you should now have 5GHz Wi-Fi enabled.

Checking if Android device supports 5GHz Wi-Fi:

There are a few ways we can go about this:

  • The easiest method: Check the box in which your device came. The back of the box should list the networking features of the device. If you don’t see any mention of 5GHz, look for ‘802.11n’ – it’s the IEEE standard for 5GHz band radio.
  • Flip through the owner’s manual. This is the old-school way but is also the most solid method. The owner’s manual is printed by the maker and contains exact information about your device. Look for any networking or connectivities section in the contents of the owner’s manual.
  • Visit the maker’s website. Popular manufacturers like Samsung and Motorola have a help section on their websites. The different models should be listed. Pick yours and check the specifications.

Enabling 5GHz Wi-Fi on Android devices:

Please note: Unlike Windows, Android is an Open Source Project. This means that your devices might have a slightly modified version of Android even if you have the same version number. In the case that you do not see the options mentioned below, it is recommended that you visit the official help or the forums of your device manufacturer for further assistance.

The steps are supported on ‘Vanilla’ Android. If you have a customized or modified version, check the OS manufacturer’s website.

Let’s go through the steps of enabling 5GHz Wi-Fi on Android:

  1. Tap the Settings icon or launch the Settings application. Alternatively, you can directly enter the Wi-Fi settings of the device by long pressing on the Wi-Fi icon from the notification shade.
  2. Tap on the Advanced Settings. On some devices, you might have to tap on the options button to reveal this. Also, some devices might call this function ‘Additional Settings’
  3. On this page, scroll down until you see a ‘Wi-Fi frequency’ header.
  4. The 2.4 GHz and 5GHz options should be listed under this heading, check the 5GHz checkbox to switch bands.

What if the 5GHz checkbox isn’t available/can’t be seen?

There is a slim chance of this happening. In case it does happen, one of the following could be the reason:

  • You’re simply too far from the Wi-Fi router. Remember that 5GHz networks have a relatively smaller range than 2.4 GHz networks. If you recently switch over to the higher frequency band, you should consider moving closer to the hotspot and retry the connection.
  • Your device simply doesn’t support 5GHz Wi-Fi. Some older devices, especially the ones manufactured before 2016, do not have a dual-band adapter and therefore can not connect to 5GHz networks.

The role of 5GHz routers

We have to understand that Wi-Fi is a network technology. Different devices talk to each other to make the network happen. This means that all the communicating devices need to be on the same page to be able to understand each other.

In technical terms, this means that all the devices on the network need to be on the same bandwidth. When you receive data from the internet, it is in the form of analog signals. A device called a modem demodulates it and converts it back to digital signals which can be understood by computers.

The traffic control of the network is the router. It controls whether the devices on the network are properly receiving the data packets or not. You need to have a 5GHz enabled Wi-Fi router to use 5GHz Wi-Fi.

If the router that you are using does not have 5GHz, it would not be possible for you to connect to 5GHz Wi-Fi even if your client devices like phones and computers support it. When purchasing a router make sure to check if it supports dual-band Wi-Fi so that you can use it later if you wish to.

Closing thoughts

Does 5GHz increase your internet speed? Probably not. Will it feel faster anyway? Yes, especially if you don’t have a lot of people already using the 5GHz band. Can you connect to a 5GHz band from your Android device? It will depend on the hardware of your device, check the specifications of the device Should you be using 5GHz Wi-Fi? Yes, if you have a lot of rooms or walls obstructing the flow of radio waves.