Ask LH: Should I Use 2.4GHz or 5GHz For My Wi-Fi?

Ask LH: Should I Use 2.4GHz or 5GHz For My Wi-Fi?
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Dear Lifehacker. I recently purchased a dual-band wireless adapter for my PC and was wondering what the difference is between 5GHz and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. My router can put out both signals and I was wondering which I should use. Thanks, Wired Up

Dear WU,

5GHz and 2.4GHz are two different radio frequencies that are used by computer networks to achieve wireless connections. The short answer is that 2.4GHz has better range while 5GHz is less prone to interference. In other words, 2.4 is good in the house (especially if there are solid walls to penetrate) while 5 is better suited to apartment blocks which are likely to have a greater amount of network interference.

Just be mindful that older devices aren’t always compatible with the 5GHz range, so it’s good to have both signals covered. Your dual-band product combines the best of both worlds, so you should be pretty well set regardless of your living arrangements.

You can find a bunch of additional tips in the router section of our ‘Know Your Network’ guide. Hope this helps!

See also: Ask LH: Which Wi-Fi Router Should I Buy?


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  • I’ve had a dual-band Netgear router running DD-WRT firmware for several years now in an apartment and essentially utilize the 5GHz frequency for streaming HD media and the 2.4 GHz for all other devices (Laptops, Smartphones, iPads). It’s remained a very good compromise, although I sometimes switch the iPads to the 5GHz band if they are streaming media.

  • some devices like cordless home phones can use 5GHz. I always double check that no other device is using the same but if not, correspond has a great idea.

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