This dongle brings a Wi-Fi 6 connection to your old computer

To upgrade to Wi-Fi 6, you usually need to buy a brand new laptop or replace your desktop Wi-Fi card. Netgear has found a clever way to avoid this. The Netgear Nighthawk A8000 Adapter simply plugs into any USB port and brings instant Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to your computer.

What it does is retroactively bring Wi-Fi 6 to older computers, allowing them to enjoy the same bandwidth and high speeds as brand new high-end machines with Wi-Fi 6 compatible receivers. It supports all three Wi-Fi bands – 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz – and can deliver blazing speeds of up to 1.2Gbps, which is comparable to an Ethernet connection. However, there is a catch.

picture: Netgear

To get started, you’ll need a Wi-Fi router that supports Wi-Fi 6. These are currently quite expensive, as Wi-Fi 6 is a relatively new technology and most mid-range routers only offer up to Wi-Fi 5. If you live in a large house, you’ll need a full Wi-Fi 6 mesh network to ensure you get a clear signal in every room, otherwise it won’t no point in having the adapter. Mesh networks are expensive and so far only a few support Wi-Fi 6.

There is another caveat to using Netgear’s Nighthawk A8000. You will need to be running Windows 11. This does not work with Windows 10 or macOS. Forget it if you’re using a Chromebook.

However, if you can meet these qualification requirements, you will be ready to enjoy high performance. Wi-Fi 6 has a theoretical maximum speed of 9.6 Gbps, which is a huge increase from Wi-Fi 5’s 3.6 Gbps. Most ISPs only provide up to 1.5 Gbps, and the average American household only has speeds of 100 Mbps, so those extreme Wi-Fi 6 speeds are completely irrelevant in the real world. That said, these technologies ensure future-proof connectivity as we wait for ISPs to pick up their game.

But Wi-Fi 6 isn’t just about broadband. It also opens up more bandwidth, which means multiple devices can use the Wi-Fi signal in your home without slowing down. It uses the latest 6 GHz channel so your connection is much more stable. There are fewer drops and virtually no lag. It’s like having an Ethernet connection without the cables.

All of this makes Netgear’s approach laudable, as it brings much better Wi-Fi to the masses. Of course, you’ll need to get a Windows 11 PC first and upgrade your router.

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