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Activate 5 GHz WiFi on your laptop

5 GHz WiFi


Some routers and laptops support the 5 GHz Wi-Fi wireless connection mode, which can lead to a faster and better internet connection. We show you here how to find out if your laptop is compatible and how to enable the 5 GHz connection.

In general, Wifi is reliable and easy to use. Select the name of the router that provides the connection, enter the password and forget about everything else. But when you want to use a specific connection band, such as 5 GHz, things can get complicated. Here we explain how to check if your laptop supports it and how to enable 5 GHz.

Find out if your router supports 5 GHz

Unless you know with certainty that your router is a so  called dual-band model and has a 5 GHz connection band, you should proceed as follows. It makes no sense to enable 5GHz Wi-Fi if your laptop doesn’t support it.

The most efficient way to do this is to consult the manual or log into the router and check the available settings in the Wi-Fi connectivity section. In fact, some routers have the same SSID (network name) for both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connection bands, so it is worth changing one of them to easily identify each network from the laptop, phone or tablet.

We encourage you to also read: How to know which Wi-Fi frequency does your mac use: 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz?

802.11a, 802.11n and 802.11ac work at 5 GHz, but with 802.11n it is optional. This means that since most of today’s routers are 802.11n models, you will probably have to find out if yours has a 5GHz frequency band in addition to the common 2.4GHz.

Not all routers can use both frequencies simultaneously, so if yours cannot, it is very likely that you will not be able to use the 5 GHz mode. The reason is that if one of your Wi-Fi devices does not support 5GHz (many do not they do), it won’t be able to communicate with that router when you set it to that band.

This is not a problem for dual band routers that can operate both frequency bands at the same time. However, you should be aware that using different frequencies can still cause problems, as devices on different frequencies may not be able to communicate with each other.

For example, an iPhone 6 Plus connected to a router via 802.11n on the 5 GHz band will not be able to see a Google Nexus player that connects to the same router via the other 2.4 GHz band.

How to know if my laptop supports 5 GHz

Unfortunately there is no simple and direct way to obtain this information. The most reliable way is to open the ‘Control Panel’, go to the ‘Device Manager’ and look for the make and model of the laptop chip in the ‘Network Adapters’ section.

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How to enable 5 GHz on the laptop

In our case, the laptop used has a Qualcomm Atheros AR9285 adapter. Searching the internet for this make and model brings up countless results for its specifications showing that it only works on 2.4GHz. If your adapter supports 802.11a, we will definitely know that it will support the 5 GHz band. The same goes for 802.11ac.

It is also possible to right-click on the adapter in the ‘Device Manager’, click ‘Properties’ and then switch to the ‘Advanced’ tab.

You will see a list of properties, one of which should mention 5 GHz. If you do not see an option to enable or disable 5 GHz, it is because the adapter does not support it, or because the wrong drivers were installed.

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How to enable 5 GHz on your laptop

If you really want to use the 5 GHz band due to the overcrowding of neighboring networks that use the other 2.4 GHz band, you can buy a Wi-Fi dongle or USB key for your laptop.

They are cheap, with prices ranging between € 10 and € 30 on Amazon and will enable this option in those somewhat old laptops that do not have it.

When it comes to browsing privately through any VPN connection, the connection speed is decisive if you have set any other country as the IP for your connection. 

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