To keep things simple, the main differences between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies are coverage (range) and speed (bandwidth).
2.4 GHz signal travels further and covers a wider area but transmits data at a slower speed.
The 5 GHz band transmits data at a faster rate but has less coverage.
2.4 GHz Versus 5 GHz Wireless Overview
2.4GH Frequency Overview
- Wider coverage area
- Better at penetrating solid objects such as walls
- Sensitive to interference from other devices on the 2.4Ghz frequency
- The maximum signal range from the router is around 410 ft
- Maximum connection speed is around 150 Mbps
5GHz Frequency Overview
- Less range and coverage area
- Less effective at penetrating solid objects such as walls
- Less susceptible to interference due to more channels
- The maximum signal range from the router is around 410 ft amplified
- Maximum connection speed around 1Gbps
Interference on 2.4GhHz vs 5GHz
Interference can cause your WiFi connection to become slower.
2.4GHz band encounters more interference than the 5GHz signal because devices such as microwaves, baby monitors, radio-controlled toys & garage door openers use the 2GHz band.
In addition, the 2.4GHz frequency band only has 11 channels (3 non-overlapping channels – 1, 6, & 11) for devices to operate on.
The 5GHz band has 23 channels which makes it easier for you or your router to find the least noisy channel for you.
Difference between 2.4Ghz and 5GHz wireless frequency
Source: PowerCert Animated Videos
How far can 2GHz and 5GHz wireless frequencies reach?
What do the numbers and letters mean?
The numbers and letters e.g. ac/n/g etc. represent different wireless protocols standards – created by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
- 802.11b – released in September 1999 operated on the 2.4GHz frequency and provides a data rate of up to 11 Mbps
- 802.11g – approved in June 2003, 802.11g and the successor to 802.11b. and was able to achieve up to 54Mbps rates in the 2.4GHz band
- 802.11n standard, also known as WiFi 4 (approved in October 2009) and was the first “dual-band” enabled (i.e both 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies) with speeds up to 600Mbps
- 802.11a operates on 5GHz frequency, with data rates up to 54Mbps. 802.11a came out later than 802.11b which causes some confusion.
- 802.11ac is the current standard and is also known as WiFi 5
- 802.11ax is next-gen and also known as WiFi 6
Every new standard comes with improvements to speed and efficiency.
How fast are 2GHz and 5GHz wireless?
|Frequency||Theoretical Speed||Real-World Speed|
|2.4 GHz (802.11b)||11 Mbps||2-3 Mbps|
|2.4 GHz (802.11g)||54 Mbps||10 -29 Mbps|
|2.4 GHz (802.11n)||300 Mpbs||150 Mbps|
|5 GHz (802.11a)||6-54 Mbps||3 - 32 Mbps|
|5 GHz (802.11ac)||433 Mbps - 1.7 Gbps||210 Mbps - 1 G|
|5 GHz (802.11n)||900 Mbps||450Mbps|
- What is a good broadband speed?
- 5 ways to speed up your broadband speed
- How to change wifi channel on your router
Why does 2.4GHz band have greater range than 5GHz?
In most cases, the higher the frequency of a wireless signal, the shorter its range. Higher frequency (5GHz) radio waves lose more of their energy passing through solid objects such as walls and floors than lower frequency (2.4GHz) waves.
Although the transmissions are sent with the same power from the source, 2.4GHz wireless band will travel further.
Is it better to connect to 5GHz or 2.4 GHz?
If you want a better connection from further away from your router use 2.4Ghz. If your device is close to the broadband router use 5Ghz. 2.4Ghz has a wider coverage but provides slower speed whereas 5Ghz has shorter range but faster connection speed.
Can I use 2.4GHz and 5GHz at the same time?
Dual band routers are can receive and transmit on both 2.4 GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time. Most ISP broadband routers are dual band and have both frequencies enabled by default.
2.4GHz vs 5GHz for online gaming?
For a seamless gaming experience, 5Ghz is recommended. While 2.4GHz will be sufficient for most games, 5GHz is suited to handle the greater bandwidth demands of multiplayer player high graphics online games.
When a game starts lagging or glitching, it’s time to switch to 5GHz.
YouTuber My Mate Vince published the informative video below testing gaming performance between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi on an Xbox One S. He tested 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi from four different locations in his house and recorded the results. Check out the results.
How do you check if you are connect to 2.4GHz or 5GHz on Windows 10?
1. Click on Start Menu
2. Go to Settings
3. Click on Network & Internet
4. Click on the SSID (wireless network name) name and scroll down to properties
5. Network band section shows whether you are connected to 2.4GHz or 5GHz
To find out if your MAC is connected using 2.4 or 5 GHz bands, Click on the wireless networking icon at the top of the screen while holding down the Option key.