What Do Those 'AX' and 'AXE' Numbers on Your Wi-Fi Router Mean? (2024)

If you’ve been considering upgrading your home wireless network, you might feel overwhelmed by the choice of routers and the type of networking technology that best suits your needs or budget. We get it. It can be complicated. Wi-Fi names can be confusing in and of themselves, and the sheer number of wireless router brands, model numbers, and differences in speeds and features can be daunting to wrap your head around.

For starters, Wi-Fi generations themselves are a confusing jumble of letters and numbers, with flavors like 802.11n, 802.11ac, 802.11ax, and so on. A simplified numbering system makes it somewhat easier to understand which version is newer (i.e. Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5), but that leaves the confusing letters and numbers in the product names of wireless routers themselves. When it comes to product specs and model numbers, higher numbers are usually better. So is an AX2000 wireless router worth choosing over an AX1900 one? AX6600 has to be more capable than AX6000...right?

If you're not sure, we get it. Router makers have adopted some complicated, confusing naming schemes that often differ among manufacturers and sometimes leave you, the shopper, in the dark. Yes, those numbers are about speed, but they reflect speeds that you won't be seeing directly on your phone or PC, because they're the sum total of all possible speeds on all channels and all frequency bands that the router supports.

Dual-Band vs. Tri-Band vs. Quad-Band

Wi-Fi operates on three primary radio frequencies: 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz. Wi-Fi networks using 2.4GHz generally have a longer signal range, while 5GHz allows for faster speeds at the expense of range. Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers allow wireless networking using both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers still use 2.4GHz and 5GHz, but typically their 5GHz transmissions are divided into two separate channel ranges.

What Do Those 'AX' and 'AXE' Numbers on Your Wi-Fi Router Mean? (1)

(Credit: TP-Link)

With a tri-band router, you might be able to use the faster upper range of the 5GHz network. However, that upper channel range might instead be reserved for mesh networking communication (known as "backhaul"), depending on the particular model.

Wi-Fi 6E routers gain an additional band to work with: 6GHz. Many of these routers are still marketed as tri-band routers, with users able to select among 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz networks as their client devices allow. Quad-band routers now also exist, offering a 2.4GHz band, two selectable 5GHz bands, and the new 6GHz band.

Best Wi-Fi Mesh Network Systems We've Tested

In any case, that number on the router (such as AX2700 or AX3000) is, essentially, the sum of all the speeds across all bands the router can use, not the speed of any individual band or device. For instance, if the combined speed of all of a given Wi-Fi 6 router's bands is around 3,000Mbps, you might see it advertised as AX3000 ("AX" denoting Wi-Fi 6, and "3000" for the approximate sum of the speed across all bands). Sometimes, the sum of all the speeds doesn’t match the advertised figure. These sums are often rounded up to a more marketable number. For instance, an AXE10000 router’s speed might add up to 9,560Mbps, but the manufacturer will typically round up to 10,000 for naming purposes.

Wi-Fi 5: Pick a Band, Not Both Bands

The most important thing to know about Wi-Fi 5 router speeds is that they're a combination of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz speeds that the router supports, and a Wi-Fi 5 device connecting to it can pick only one. Most likely, you'll be on 5GHz. In that case, your laptop maxes out at 1,300Mbps on an AC1750 router. (See our chart below.)

Phones and smaller devices generally handle only one or two spatial streams. For example, if a device supports 2x2 MIMO in its Wi-Fi, that means speeds no better than 867Mbps to each device when using an AC1750 router. A router supporting more streams means it can handle more devices at once that are running at the best possible speeds.

The above chart is mostly a list of dual-band 802.11ac modes. The three at the bottom are tri-band modes, with two 5GHz channels running at once.

Wi-Fi 6: Bigger Channels, Higher Speeds

Wi-Fi 6 allows for faster speeds based on several new technologies. Better encoding and wider channels allow for more data to be carried on a single stream.

Otherwise, the same rules apply as with Wi-Fi 5. Your device has to pick 2.4GHz or 5GHz, and it may not be able to handle as many spatial streams as your router. Netgear gave us a list of its Wi-Fi 6 modes, and we added data from Asus and other router makers.

Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6: Even Higher Speeds, But Maybe Off-Limits

Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 systems support both low and high 5GHz channels simultaneously. They may use the high 5GHz channels as dedicated backhaul for a mesh system, using them exclusively to pass data between the router units, so consumers may not be able to access that channel for their devices.

As you can see on this chart (primarily provided by Netgear, and enhanced by PCMag), tri-band mesh systems will have higher AX numbers even when the speed delivered to any individual device (on 2.4GHz or 5GHz) is the same as a standalone dual-band router with a lower number.

The "5GHz" columns in the chart refer to the lower 5GHz channel used by the router, and the "5GHz-2" columns refer to the higher 5GHz channel.

Quad-Band Wi-Fi 6E: The Fastest Yet

Wi-Fi 6E uses the 6GHz channel to deliver even faster speeds to devices. We’re seeing more and more Wi-Fi 6E devices hitting the market now. However, this networking standard is still new, and 6E-compatible tri-band and quad-band routers are still quite expensive, with many models retailing for $300 and up.

In general, Wi-Fi 6E routers follow the same naming scheme we see with Wi-Fi 5 (AC) and Wi-Fi 6 (AX) routers. These routers are denoted with an “AXE” prefix followed by the total sum of the data speeds across all the frequency bands.

The majority of the Wi-Fi 6E routers above are tri-band routers with mesh networking capabilities. The AXE16000-class router is the only quad-band router in this category, offering consumers access to all four frequency bands (2.4GHz, two 5GHz, and 6GHz).

Generally speaking, the higher the AXE number, the faster the maximum speed offered by the router. However, when compared with a standard Wi-Fi 6 router, that might not consistently be the case. For instance, an AXE10000 Wi-Fi 6E router offers a maximum data speed of 920Mbps for the 2.4GHz frequency band, while an AX8400 Wi-Fi 6 router has a lower number but offers a faster 2.4GHz maximum speed, at 1,147Mbps.

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What About Wi-Fi 7?

So few Wi-Fi 7 routers and devices are available that a discussion of their speeds isn't relevant yet for most consumers. For now, all you need to know is that the Wi-Fi 7 designation is "802.11be," and speeds are listed in router names following the above format. So the tri-band Eero Max 7, one of the first consumer Wi-Fi 7 routers, is BE20800, with 574Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, up to 8,677Mbps on the 5GHz band, and up to 11,529Mbps on the 6GHz band.

For more on this latest networking standard, which improves upon Wi-Fi 6E in some small ways, see our guide.

Router Numbers Meet the Real World

These days, Wi-Fi routers, especially Wi-Fi 6E routers, can offer some blisteringly fast data speeds. However, it’s good to keep in mind that you will rarely experience those maximum speeds in daily usage. The advertised speeds are theoretical maximums, and several factors will impact your real-world speeds.

Remember, first, that your device will be choosing among 2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz frequencies, not combining them. Also, the lower the signal strength, the lower the speeds you’ll experience. Generally, the farther away you are from an access point, the slower the speeds you will see.

Interference is another big factor. It can stem from a lot of different sources, but signal interference can cause your speed to drop.The frequency bands have only a limited number of channels, and with so many Wi-Fi networks around these days, the congestion can cause interference and slowdowns. The new 6GHz band aims to address this problem, but you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6E-compatible device in order to take advantage of it.

Physical interference, such as the number of walls, floors and other objects between your device and the wireless router or access point can slow down your connection speeds, too. The 2.4GHz frequency can travel through walls and objects better than 5GHz and 6GHz can, but 2.4GHz can’t offer the faster top speeds that the other two bands can offer.

Also, note that handheld devices, such as mobile phones, may use only one or two data streams to connect to a wireless network, whereas laptop and desktop computers can handle more streams.

What Do Those 'AX' and 'AXE' Numbers on Your Wi-Fi Router Mean? (8)

(Credit: Westend61/Getty Images)

Most important, your home or office internet connection can be the main limiting factor. Your wireless router can only be as fast as the network connection supplied to it. If your internet service provider is serving you a 500Mbps internet connection, you’ll never get downloads faster than 500Mbps, no matter how good the rating is on your wireless router.

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What Do Those 'AX' and 'AXE' Numbers on Your Wi-Fi Router Mean? (2024)


What Do Those 'AX' and 'AXE' Numbers on Your Wi-Fi Router Mean? ›

These numbers refer to the maximum bandwidth that the routers are capable of, on all bands simultaneously (including 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands), in megabits per second. So an AX1800 router, for example, should in theory be capable of transmitting and/or receiving up to 1800Mbps.

What does the ax number mean on a router? ›

For instance, if the combined speed of all of a given Wi-Fi 6 router's bands is around 3,000Mbps, you might see it advertised as AX3000 ("AX" denoting Wi-Fi 6, and "3000" for the approximate sum of the speed across all bands). Sometimes, the sum of all the speeds doesn't match the advertised figure.

What do the numbers on routers mean? ›

What do the numbers mean on wireless routers? Once you spot the AX while shopping for a new router, you will also see a bunch of different numbers following it, such as Ax1500. This isn't very complex to explain, the higher the number the more maximum bandwidth, or speed, you can obtain.

Is AX1800 better than AC1200? ›

The AC1200 offers extended coverage and enhanced signal strength with dual-band technology and high-gain antennas. On the other hand, the AX1800 and AX3000 introduce cutting-edge WiFi 6 technology for lightning-fast speeds and optimized performance across multiple devices.

What level of Wi-Fi is ax? ›

Wi-Fi 6, or IEEE 802.11ax, is an IEEE standard from the Wi-Fi Alliance, for wireless networks (WLANs). It operates in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, with an extended version, Wi-Fi 6E, that adds the 6 GHz band. It is an upgrade from Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), with improvements for better performance in crowded places.

Is ax WiFi better? ›

OFDM is a symbol that transmits data. It divides its data among smaller sub carriers for more stability and wider coverage. AX WiFi uses a 4x longer OFDM symbol to create 4x more sub carriers. Because of this, WiFi 6's longer OFDM symbol provides increased coverage and makes it 11% faster.

Is AX1800 or AX3000 better? ›

AX3000 has a theoretical total bandwidth of 3000 Mbps, while AX1800 has 1800 Mbps. This means that AX3000 has higher transmission rates and can handle more data traffic, making it suitable for environments with higher demands.

What is the best router settings for Wi-Fi? ›

What are your recommended Wi-Fi router settings?
  • Avoid emoji's in speaker name, router name (SSID) and router password.
  • Make sure that 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n and/or 5 GHz 802.11n is activated. ...
  • Use channel 1-11 on 2.4 GHz. ...
  • Use channel 36-48 on 5 GHz.

What settings should I change on my router? ›

8 Settings to Change on Your Router Before You Even Turn it On
  • Use WPA2 or WPA3 but not WEP encryption. ...
  • Disable WPS, uPnP, and NAT-PMP. ...
  • Disable WAN Administrator Access. ...
  • Change SSID Name. ...
  • Change the Default WiFi Password. ...
  • Make Admin Password Different than the WiFi Password. ...
  • Configure a Guest Network.

Can a better router increase internet speed? ›

A router doesn't increase the speed of your internet connection. A 100Mbps plan remains as a 100Mbps plan, and there's nothing you can do or add to increase your speed outside upgrading to a faster plan. But a router can make or break the connections on your side of the modem or ONT.

Which is better AC1200 or AC2200? ›

The main difference between the two lies in the overall throughput that devices connected to a router can obtain. A router with AC1200 can reach a maximum of 1200 Mbps while a router labelled with AC2200 can reach a maximum of 2200 Mbps.

What does AXE5400 mean? ›

WiFi 6E Unleashed: The brand new 6 GHz band brings more bandwidth, faster speeds, and near-zero latency. AXE5400 Tri-Band: Delivers Wi-Fi speeds up to 5.4 Gbps, enabling your devices to run at full speed.

What is the fastest Wi-Fi ax speed? ›

Networking Protocols Chart
Generation/IEEE StandardFrequencyMaximum Link rate
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)2.4/5 GHz600–9608 Mbit/s
Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)5 GHz433–6933 Mbit/s
Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)2.4/5 GHz72–600 Mbit/s

How do I know if my Wi-Fi is AC or ax? ›

On the Wi-Fi network screen, under Properties, look at the value next to Protocol. It will say Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) if you're connected to a Wi-Fi 6 network.

Is Wi-Fi 6 the same as ax? ›

Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is changing the way we connect to and consume information. The Wi-Fi 6 standard builds on the strengths of earlier Wi-Fi standards while improving efficiency, flexibility, and scalability.

Is an AX or AC router better? ›

So, what advantages does 802.11ax actually offer over the existing 802.11ac standard? Well, the main benefit is that 802.11ax offers up to four times the device capacity compared with 802.11ac. In other words, you can connect four times as many streaming boxes, TVs, phones and other online devices at the same time.

What does ax3000 mean? ›

The "AX3000" designation indicates the theoretical maximum speed that the Wi-Fi router or adapter can achieve. In this case, "AX3000" signifies that the device can deliver speeds of up to 2402 Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 574 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, totaling a combined speed of 3000 Mbps.

Does ax mean Wi-Fi 6? ›

The latest version of this technology is Wi-Fi 6, also referred to as 802.11ax.


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