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How to Improve Laptop Wi-Fi Signal & Speed?

How to Improve Laptop Wi-Fi Signal & Speed?

We all have moments where it feels like we will live or die with our internet connection. Whether it's a client that needs a file right away, or you need to fix your fantasy lineup because your star player got hurt 2 minutes before game time - Wi-Fi connection in your home will either save or ruin your day. Here are my top 10 tips for improving your laptop’s Wi-Fi signal and speed.

1 - Change your Wi-Fi power settings

Windows control how much your Wi-Fi gets, more power equals better performance, but less battery life, it’s a tradeoff, but fortunately, you can set different options for when running on wall power or battery power.

1. To open the settings, right-click the battery icon and select power options.
2. Change the settings of the current plan, change advanced settings and go to Wireless Adapter Settings.
3. Settings Maximum Performance should help improve Wi-Fi. This option might not show up on all laptops, if it’s not on yours then check out.

2 - Don’t block the Wi-Fi antenna

Wi-Fi works best with a direct line of sight, more distance and more obstacles in the way equals a weaker signal. The location of the Antenna in your laptop will vary, but in general, they’re in the lids, on the sides, or even on the back corners like in the case of Lenovo’s Legion 7.

How to Improve Laptop Wi-Fi Signal & Speed?

Often the manuals will show you where they’re located so you know not to obstruct them. Putting the wireless access point in a central location will also help ensure that you get the range possible. Basically don’t stick it in a cupboard in the corner of your house or something.

3 - Change bands

Since Wi-Fi 4 in 2009 both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands have been available for wireless networks. Generally, 5GHz is faster, but it’s also a shorter range, it’s a tradeoff. I’ve set my home network up with separate 2.4 and 5GHz networks. The devices that stay far away from the access point are on the 2.4GHz network as they get better range, while everything else that’s much closer stays on 5GHz to get the better speed. Plus having all your wireless devices on different bands helps reduce interference. Generally, the 2.4GHz band is more congested, more devices like Bluetooth keyboards and mice for instance use it too, and even running microwaves are known to cause interference with 2.4GHz networks!

4 - Change channels

Within both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands there are also a number of channels available. The channels overlap each other, and the more wireless networks on the same channel or overlapping each other will increase the amount of interference. There’s just more to compete with.

How to Improve Laptop Wi-Fi Signal & Speed?

You can check which channels are in use in your area with software like a Wi-Fi analyzer, which is available through the Microsoft Store. In this example, we’re seeing lots of other networks on the 2.4GHz band on channels 8 and 11, and it’s suggesting I move to channel 1 as it’s not in use, so doing this should improve the connection and changing it is a very simple option in the web interface for the wireless access point.

How to Improve Laptop Wi-Fi Signal & Speed?

5 - Upgrade your Wi-Fi drivers

For most laptops, Windows update will probably automatically update the Wi-Fi drivers for you, however, there are often newer versions that offer improvements and fixes available on the manufacturer's website. Intel for example has this super simple option to download a tool that automatically detects what’s installed in your laptop and will tell you if you need any updates. Although Intel Wi-Fi is very common in laptops, it’s not the only option out there. If you’re not sure what model you have then you can open task manager and if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network the model will be listed here.

How to Improve Laptop Wi-Fi Signal & Speed?

Otherwise failing that you can try software like Hardware Info and check the specific model of your Wi-Fi. Now that previous screenshot that I showed you to demonstrate upgrading the Intel drivers was actually from this laptop, and before applying that update I wasn’t able to connect to the router over the 5GHz network, but as soon as I applied that update I was able to connect no problem and I was able to get significantly better speeds compared to the 2.4GHz band, so yeah just goes to show that it’s definitely worth checking for updates. Is Wi-Fi Dangerous?

6 - Update your router's firmware

Basically, you want to keep both ends of the connection up to date, not just the laptop, as updates often improve things like performance, stability, and security, so check if there are any updates on the product page for your wireless access point from time to time. Newer models like the one from ASUS I’m using also give you the option to check from within the web interface too.

7 - Upgrade your Wi-Fi card

I changed the Wi-Fi card in this laptop from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6 for about $20. This simple change was able to offer me great speed boosts on both my 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, but keep in mind that both the Wi-Fi card and wireless access point need to support the same Wi-Fi version. At least for best performance, generally they’re backward compatible, so this is a Wi-Fi 6 access point and I could connect to it from a Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 4 laptop, but for best performance, I’m going to want to upgrade the laptop to Wi-Fi 6.

This will depend on your laptop, most laptops have removable Wi-Fi cards but some are soldered to the motherboard and can’t be changed. If you’re in doubt it’s pretty easy to check inside or refer to the manual. Installation, while powered off, is straightforward. There are two antenna cables attached to the card.

Take note of the order as it does matter. Remove the cables, unscrew and remove the card, insert the new card, reattach the cables in the original order and turn the laptop back on. In Windows generally, a Windows update will be enough to get you up and running, but if you only have Internet access with Wi-Fi then you’ll want to make sure that you download those drivers from the manufacturer's website first.

8 - Wi-Fi extenders

For bigger areas, even a single powerful access point might not be enough to give you all the coverage you need, especially if you have lots of solid walls. There are different types of Wi-Fi extenders. Generally, I’d suggest keeping away from the repeaters that just connect the existing Wi-Fi network because if the signal to the repeat is already weak then that won’t improve much.

In the best case, if your house is already wired for ethernet you can connect Wi-Fi extenders directly to the wired network. If it’s not, there are still Wi-Fi extenders that only need to connect to power, as they can use the power wires to transfer data.

9 - Upgrade your Wi-Fi antenna

My old router let me unscrew the antennas and replace them with bigger options with higher gain, and this should help improve the signal, but it depends on the specific model and if it supports this, and what sort of antenna it came with. If yours doesn’t support this then we have next step.

10 - Upgrade your Wi-Fi router

This is of course a more expensive option and more of a last resort out of all the options covered so far, but the fact is newer Wi-Fi standards found in newer models offer faster speeds and more range, though it does of course vary on the specific model. You might have to do some research and check out reviews first. If you’ve got something that does Wi-Fi 6 then you might not want to spend more to get something that only goes up to Wi-Fi 5. Even if it is more expensive.

Unless you’re just accessing content over the local network, say from a NAS for instance, at the end of the day you’re probably going to be more limited by your Internet connection than your wireless access point. If most of the content that you access is out on the Internet then it’s going to depend more on your internet speed and latency. Even if you have the best Wi-Fi in the world, download and upload speed will be bottlenecked by your internet connection, so if you still have problems after trying everything in this article then you might need to follow up with your Internet Service Provider. How To Speed Up Any Internet Connection.

Before ASUS sent over their new AX89X with Wi-Fi 6 I was stuck with an 8-year-old router which only offered Wi-Fi 4. No matter what I did, even if I was sitting in the same room as this thing, Wi-Fi was basically unusable. Now the speed boost I get in the same room is pretty crazy, and even when on the other side of the house the difference is also significantly faster. Seriously, before this thing, my Wi-Fi was just pathetic.

The main reason that I wanted this particular model is because it’s got a 10-gigabit port, which is overkill for most people that are just accessing the Internet. But it means I’m not being bottlenecked by gigabit speeds when copying content from my NAS over Wi-Fi, which is something that I do very often with large files now that I’ve got Wi-Fi that actually works, and now that I’ve got a modern wireless network I can actually start testing Wi-Fi in my laptop reviews, something I haven’t done in the past because of my crap Wi-Fi.

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