What is the Difference Between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi?

  • By: Josh Koop
  • Date: June 23, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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If you are shopping for a new wireless router you may have seen the options include 2.4GHz, 5GHz, or the most common 24.GHz and 5GHz. This may lead you to wonder whats the point and differences between these for my new setup, well today we aim to help you out!

What is the difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi? The primary difference between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless frequency ranges are overall range and bandwidth. 5GHz wireless network can provide faster data rates at short distances where a 2.4GHz wireless network offers better coverage at a distance, while typically performing at slower speeds.

Well if it is as simple as speed then I should default everything to the 5GHz bandwidth range then correct? Well that is not the best choice in all connections, you need to know better how far out your devices are and whether they need high bandwidth or are fine as background slow transfers.

When Should I Use 5GHz WiFi?

If you have a router which has 5GHz already available to you then you may wonder when is the best time to use it? Is there a reason to use 2.4GHz over the 5GHz in your home when it has both options?

Well if my router should have both 2.4GHz and 5GHz then when should I use 5GHz WiFi network instead of 2.4GHz? The best time to utilize the 5GHz band in your home is for fast data transmissions when the two devices are within a short range of each other. This works for things like gaming, streaming, and similar purposes.

Well how do you know if you are close? In my opinion it is much more a line of site or single wall, any more than that and you start to see performance declines and may need to look at 5GHz network extenders to help extend the signal better.

Range Comparison of 2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz

StandardFrequencyTechnical DistanceReal Life Distance
802.11a5Ghz390 ft195 ft
802.11b2.4Ghz460 ft230 ft
802.11g2.4Ghz125 ft62 ft
802.11n2.4Ghz820 ft410 ft
802.11n5Ghz460 ft230 ft
802.11ac5Ghzup to 820 ft (amplified)up to 410 ft (amplified)
This shows distance with no obstructions, note house walls, wiring, ducts all cause interference

How Far Can 5GHz WiFi Reach?

In a perfect world the above graph shows that you would expect a 802.11n network to reach around 230 feet, inside a house though this is drastically reduced.

Inside each house will be different reactions to how far a network will extend from a single router. You will need to gauge this and work on planning the most efficient setup to keep your devices effortlessly streaming.

Which is Better for Streaming 2.4GHz or 5GHz?

This question is pretty straight forward in most instances but has some nuance based on where you have your modem located along with how far from the modem your devices are and how much walls and other obstructions lie between them.

Which is better for streaming 2.4GHz or 5GHz? The 5GHz band is much more efficient for streaming high quality video as it will encounter far less loading screens or delays when the buffer hits. You can use 2.4GHz when streaming lower quality like 320-480p if you choose or distance requires.

As you now hopefully can picture what you need to do is look at what kind of data is to be sent and the location in regards to the router to ensure the best performance possible.

Data / Speed Comparison of 2.4 GHz vs 5 GHz

StandardFrequencyTechnical SpeedReal Life Speed
802.11a5Ghz6-54 Mbps3 – 32 Mbps
802.11b2.4Ghz11 Mbps2-3 Mbps
802.11g2.4Ghz54 Mbps10 -29 Mbps
802.11n2.4Ghz300 Mpbs150 Mbps
802.11n5Ghz900 Mbps450Mbps
802.11ac5Ghz433 Mbps – 1.7 Gbps210 Mbps – 1 G
This shows speed with no obstructions, note house walls, wiring, ducts all cause interference

What is Faster 2.4GHz or 5GHz?

Most definitely the networks each have some benefits and drawbacks, many home users will ask which network is faster between the two that exist on their home wireless setup.

As for straight speed then it goes without saying that the 5GHz band can transmit more data faster than the 2.4GHz, this means in brute force speed as long as you are close to the router the 5GHz network is the winner.

Does 5GHz WIFI go Through Walls?

One thing that causes all users issues when they start to set up a home wireless network is understanding how to best use the space and where to place devices. Things like walls, conduits, ducting, and much more in the walls, ceilings, and floors can cause havoc on performance.

Does 5GHz WiFi go through walls? Unlike the 2.4GHz a 5GHz network doesn’t penetrate objects like walls anywhere near as well as the longer 2.4 GHz signals can. This difference in usefulness can limit how an access point can be used or reached inside a building like your home or office.

When you know you need to send traffic down halls and between multiple rooms the best way to manage this is to purchase network extenders. A network extender would help you to push a signal further with more strength allowing devices to communicate.

Why is My 5GHz Slower Than 2.4 GHz?

More than likely the cause of your overall slowness is due to the lack of proximity to your wireless router. Due to this distance you will see degrading performance from any 5GHz network.

In addition if there is a lot of walls and metal objects in between your router and your device you may see incredibly poor performance on a 5GHz network versus the same as a 2.4GHz network, you will need to balance these out if you need the 5GHz network at a range from the router in your house.

What Devices Should be on 2.4GHz and 5GHz

The choice in which devices should be on what network you need to look at the distance from the access point or router. This distance is the first thing to evaluate as to your hardware and devices.

Many low end devices don’t need overall speed and really just send small amounts of data continuously to the network, like a Ring Camera, Nest, or other similar smart home device. These can be safely put on the 2.4GHz network as the range and need dictates not benefiting from the 5GHz.

What you would want to keep on your 5GHz network would be things where fast and high rates of data are needed, like a Fire Cube, Xbox One, PlayStation, or other similar devices. These need to have faster data to ensure no buffering happens while you play or watch your favorites.

Final Thoughts on What is the difference between 2.5 GHz and 5GHz WIFI

This is definitely more tied to your use case for the network and your distance from the AP you plan to use, just being on a 5GHz won’t make you
“faster” than the 2.4GHz and may make you slower.

You need to evaluate your location and placement and needs to choose the right network for your needs to ensure proper speeds can be maintained and not leave you frustrated and upset.

If you are looking for a high performing and high quality router then I want you to check out my recommended gear page, this will have information on choosing a router, modem, and if for gaming what hardware will get you the best performance.