WiFi has been our day-to-day means of getting the internet on our smartphones and laptops for years. While we are all aware that WiFi is not the best when it comes to large data transfers, the latest generation of WiFi that is aptly named as WiFi 6, or 802.11ax, is here to spice things up again.
Today we have the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and also the ASUS ROG RAPTURE GT-AX11000 wireless router, which we are using as part of our setup to test the WiFi 6 speeds. We are only testing local network speed.
But before we begin, we need to go back and explain what exactly is WiFi 6.
The WiFi Alliance, who certifies WiFi products and its standards for interoperability, was recently made official and it also bears a new name. 802.11ax is the 6th generation of WiFi, hence the name WiFi 6. The older generations of WiFi have also been renamed to follow this numbered sequence.
- WiFi 1 – 802.11a (retired)
- WiFi 2 – 802.11b (retired)
- WiFi 3 – 802.11g (retired)
- WiFi 4 – 802.11n
- WiFi 5 – 802.11ac
- WiFi 6 – 802.11ax (new)
So, don’t be confused when you hear the terms WiFi 5 or 802.11ac. They’re the same.
With the new WiFi 6 comes improvements in speed, which we will show you the benchmarks later. WiFi 6 runs on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, which is similar to WiFi 4 (802.11n).
As of now, there are a limited amount of devices that supports WiFi 6. The Samsung Galaxy S10 series of smartphones are the 3 first smartphones in the world to support WiFi 6. Funny enough, the Galaxy S10+ shows a little “6” beside the WiFi icon, indicating that it is connected to a WiFi 6 router.
WiFi 6 testing setup
While WiFi 6 consumer products have just started to be available in the market, we got our hands on both the Samsung Galaxy S10+ smartphone (review here) and also the ASUS ROG RAPTURE GT-AX11000 router.
To eliminate bottleneck and for a more realistic testing, we used our own setup with our own testing methodology too.
- Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S10+
- Router: ASUS ROG RAPTURE GT-AX11000
- PC configuration
- CPU: Ryzen 7 1700 @ 3.8GHz
- RAM: 32GB HyperX Predator RGB DDR4 @ 2933MHz
- GPU: Palit GeForce GTX 1080 GameRock
- Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Gaming K4
- SSD: Plextor M9PeG PCIe Gen.3 x4 NVMe (review)
- Protocol: FTP
- Client: FileZilla
- Server: ES File Explorer File Manager
We are using the super-speedy Plextor M9PeG NVMe SSD to prevent any potential bottleneck from our PC, and connected to the router via Gigabit Ethernet.
With a very limited time, we managed to come up with this method to test the speeds of WiFi 6. We have a total of 3 different sets of payload for the tests, which yielded interesting results.
Our payloads are:
- Single large 1.6GB file
- Two large files, 1.6GB and 1.2GB
- 220 files ranging from 1MB to 6MB
Our procedure is pretty simple as well. We only have two devices connected to the router – the Galaxy S10+ via WiFi 6 and also the PC itself via Gigabit Ethernet.
Here are the steps on how we did our test:
- Setup and enable 802.11ax on the ASUS ROG RAPTURE GT-AX11000, and enable 160MHz channel bandwith for both 5GHz SSIDs.
- Download ES File Explorer File Manager on the Samsung Galaxy S10+.
- Choose the “View on PC”. The FTP details will be shown.
- The phone is placed about 50cm away from the router.
- Open FileZilla on the PC and connect to the FTP with the details shown.
- The payload is sent to the Samsung Galaxy S10+ via FTP using FileZilla.
- Time taken to complete the transfer is recorded.
- Steps 6 and 7 are repeated with the 2 other payloads.
- Steps 6, 7, and 8 were repeated but the payload is sent from the Samsung Galaxy S10+ instead.
- Steps 6, 7, 8, and 9 were repeated by connection to these different networks:
- 5GHz AX WiFi (WiFi 6)
- 2.4GHz AX WiFi (WiFi 6)
- 5GHz AC WiFi (WiFi 5)
- 2.4GHz N WiFi (WiFi 4)
By performing the 10 steps above, we summarized the data into just two graphs – one for copying data from the phone, and another for copying data to the phone.
By comparison, the 5GHz AX-WiFi is way faster than the other types of transfer. It is 2 to 3 times faster than the current generation 5GHz AC-WiFi. Also, the 5GHz AX-WiFi seems to be utilizing some WiFi 6-specific features as the transfer speed is unaffected while transferring the two large files simultaneously.
As expected, the 2.4GHz AX-WiFi is slower than the 5GHz AC-WiFi, but still about two times faster than 2.4GHz N-WiFi.
Extra test – transferring a bunch of 4K videos from the phone via WiFi
Let’s face it – I don’t like to have a cable lying on the table all the time, but I want it to be there when I need it. Hence, I have cables that dangle off my peripheral vision, although I do not wish them to be there. I only use the cable to transfer 4K videos from my phone to the PC for editing.
This extra test will be changing the payload for something special – a total of 32 videos with varying lengths, totaling up to a whopping 23.1GB in size. All of these are 4K 30FPS videos that was shot at Genting Highlands during this event.
We repeated the experiment but only to transfer from the phone to the PC via WiFi – and this is the result. It is very similar to the earlier graph of reading data from phone.
From here, we can see that the 5GHz AX-WiFi is maintaining a very high throughput. At nearly 85MB/s of transfer speed, I got all my 4K 30FPS footages transferred out in just 4 minutes and 29 seconds. That is impressive.
However, the other frequencies and protocols follow the same trend. WiFi 5 is faster than WiFi 6 at 2.4GHz, and WiFi 4 is just frustrating for 4K 30FPS video transfers.
Pros and cons of WiFi 6, or 802.11ax
While the benchmarks that we have done here shows absolutely stunning results, the WiFi 6 does have its shortcoming as well.
Firstly is the obviously the lack of supported devices – at least for now. There are only a handful of routers and phones that supports WiFi 6. Right now, you can only get the ASUS ROG RAPTURE GT-AX11000 and any phones from the Galaxy S10 series and enjoy WiFi 6. Of course, there will be more supported devices coming in the near future.
Scarcity aside, the cost of upgrading to a brand new technology that is fresh off the oven is quite high. The ASUS ROG RAPTURE GT-AX11000 for the price of RM2,589. That is almost as much as the Galaxy S10e!
Conclusion – is WiFi 6 a true wireless solution?
At this point of time, only the 5GHz AX-WiFi can be a substitute for cables. Transferring 4K videos took less than 5 minutes and that is honestly, really impressive. It is almost as fast as an external hard disk with USB 3.0 speeds.
However, WiFi 6 runs on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. 2.4GHz is slower but offers better range, but 5GHz is much faster but has a shorter range. Just a few meters and concrete walls can render the 5GHz WiFi to be unstable – and that is the only problem I have. Still, 2.4GHz AX-WiFi is still a huge improvement for day-to-day usage – and the range is as fantastic as 2.4GHz N-WiFi too.