Last month Intel was the first company to launch a consumer Wi-Fi 6E devices, in the form of the AX210 Module.
This is a M.2 wireless card that will fit in most laptops, Wi-Fi equipped motherboards or Wi-Fi PCIe networking cards.
This is a short review, bordering on pointless because there is no 6Ghz hardware to test the module on. However, when I bought it, it was only available via import, so I wasn’t 100% if it would be a genuine product and I figured it would be good to get it set up and running for when Wi-Fi 6E routers do get launched.
First of all, if you decide to buy the AX210, I would strongly recommend you upload your Wi-Fi drivers beforehand. I did not, and unsurprisingly Wi-Fi did not work out of the box.
Intel released new drivers on the 1st of December with support for the AX210; you can either manually download them or use the Intel Driver & Support Assistant.
Beyond that, the physical set up is relatively easy, depending on how your laptop is laid out. Most laptops I have used have the Wi-Fi module in a relatively easy to locate place. Just make sure you reattach the antennas when you swap the modules over.
The same process should apply to motherboards and PCIe cards.
With the drivers installed, the module works almost identically to any other.
There are some references to 6Ghz within the settings, you don’t need to change anything or do anything with these, but it is good that Windows is recognising this as having 6Ghz.
Testing on the Netgear RAX120 which features a 2.5GbE port and supports 160Hz 5Ghz. It took me a little while tweaking the router to be able to get 160hz working properly, but eventually I got the module connecting at the full 2400Mbps.
Performacne was lower than the Wi-Fi 6 on my desktop, but this was almost certainly due to the antennas inside the laptop vs the external aerial of the MSI X570 Unify motherboard.
However, in general it performend about the same as other laptops with Wi-Fi 6 allowing me to achieve better than gigabit speeds.
A bit of an unexciting review, but the important thing is the card appears genuine, offers the same Wi-Fi 6 performance as the existing cards, and it is cheap to buy.
If you are planning on upgrading one of your devices with a Wi-Fi 6 module, I’d say it is worth skipping the AX200 and going straight for the AX210. Currently, you can buy the AX210 for around £15-£20 if you buy from AliExpress or Mouser. The AX200 is about £12 on AliExpress or £25 on Amazon.co.uk
I have a bit of a crowded network with my testing so many Wi-FI devices, I had to take down most of my network to get the Netgear RAX120 to play nice on the 160Hz channel. When 6Ghz routers become available, this should hopefully become less of an issue and it should be easy to connect at 2400Mbps reliably enabling properly multi-gig Wi-Fi.
Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 (Gig+) Module Initial Review Rating
Overall - 80%
It has not been possible to test the 6Ghz channel, but the AX210 offers the same performance as the existing AX200 and offers future proof 6Ghz connectivity when it becomes available. Using AliExpress there is currently a £3 difference between this newer module and the older AX200, so it is a no brainer for me.
- Cheap enough not to bother with AX200
- Can't use 6Ghz yet