802.11ac vs. 802.11n

What's the Difference?

802.11ac is the latest wireless networking standard, offering faster speeds and improved performance compared to 802.11n. With speeds up to three times faster than 802.11n, 802.11ac is ideal for streaming high-definition video, online gaming, and other bandwidth-intensive activities. Additionally, 802.11ac operates on the 5GHz frequency band, reducing interference and providing a more stable connection. Overall, 802.11ac offers a significant upgrade in speed and reliability over its predecessor, 802.11n.


Frequency Band5 GHz2.4 GHz
Maximum Speedup to 1.3 Gbpsup to 600 Mbps
Channel Width80 MHz or 160 MHz20 MHz or 40 MHz
MIMO Streamsup to 8up to 4

Further Detail


When it comes to wireless networking standards, 802.11ac and 802.11n are two of the most commonly used options. Both standards offer high-speed wireless connectivity, but there are some key differences between the two that users should be aware of. In this article, we will compare the attributes of 802.11ac and 802.11n to help you make an informed decision about which one is right for your needs.


One of the most significant differences between 802.11ac and 802.11n is the speed they offer. 802.11ac is the newer standard and provides faster data transfer speeds compared to 802.11n. With 802.11ac, users can experience speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps, while 802.11n typically offers speeds of up to 450 Mbps. This means that 802.11ac is better suited for bandwidth-intensive tasks such as streaming HD video or online gaming.


Another important factor to consider when comparing 802.11ac and 802.11n is the range of the wireless signal. In general, 802.11ac offers better range compared to 802.11n. This is due to the use of beamforming technology in 802.11ac, which allows the router to focus the wireless signal directly towards the connected devices. As a result, users can enjoy a more stable and reliable connection even at longer distances from the router.


When it comes to compatibility, 802.11n has the advantage over 802.11ac. Since 802.11n has been around for longer, it is more widely supported by older devices. This means that if you have older devices that do not support 802.11ac, you may still be able to connect them to a network using 802.11n. On the other hand, newer devices are increasingly being equipped with 802.11ac support, making it a more future-proof option.

Frequency Bands

802.11ac operates on the 5 GHz frequency band, while 802.11n can operate on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The 5 GHz band used by 802.11ac is less congested compared to the 2.4 GHz band, which can result in faster and more reliable connections. However, the 2.4 GHz band has better range and can penetrate walls and other obstacles more effectively. This means that 802.11n may be a better choice for users who require better coverage in larger homes or buildings.

Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO)

Both 802.11ac and 802.11n support Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) technology, which allows for multiple data streams to be transmitted simultaneously. However, 802.11ac takes MIMO to the next level by supporting up to eight spatial streams, compared to the four streams supported by 802.11n. This results in faster and more efficient data transfer, especially in environments with multiple connected devices.


In conclusion, both 802.11ac and 802.11n have their own strengths and weaknesses. 802.11ac offers faster speeds and better range, making it ideal for users who require high-performance wireless connectivity. On the other hand, 802.11n is more compatible with older devices and offers better coverage in larger spaces. Ultimately, the choice between 802.11ac and 802.11n will depend on your specific needs and the devices you plan to connect to your network.

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