2.4GHz Vs. 5GHz – What’s the Difference

The difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz is that a 2.4GHz connection is slower but over longer distances, while a 5GHz connection is faster over a shorter range of reach.
2.4GHz Vs. 5GHz

Brands like to advertise how their routers are dual-branded and thus support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. 

But what is the difference? And which is best for your home?

As a Network Engineer, I will answer that now. 

So continue reading below.

What is a GHz?

For those who do not consider themselves particularly technologically literate, a GHz, otherwise known as a gigahertz, is a frequency equalling a billion hertz. [1]

This frequency is an electronic transmitting frequency that connects your internet to your Wi-Fi device. Some devices that use GHz transmissions include the following: 

  • Smartphones
  • Laptops
  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Microwaves
  • Smart Home devices

Two integrally specific factors tend to determine the difference between 2.4GHz and 5 GHz. These factors are bandwidth, otherwise known as speed, and range, otherwise known as distance. 

Understanding Range

Range refers to how far a signal for a device such as a wireless router can reach while still successfully connecting to other devices.

2.4GHz tends to have a further reaching range than 5GHz because it can go through solid barriers. 

5GHz cannot penetrate barriers because its frequency is far too high. Some common examples of these barriers include:

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • Large furniture

These items, while demanding for 5GHz to surpass, are easily surpassed by 2.4GHz transmissions. 

All About Bandwidth

Bandwidth, or the speed at which a GHz frequency can travel, determines how fast something can download or stream. Some examples of when fast bandwidth is necessary includes:

  • Streaming television shows online
  • Watching Youtube videos
  • Downloading a computer game or file
  • Streaming music

With higher frequencies such as 5GHz, faster data connections will occur, and the use of your equipment or appliance will operate far more efficiently when transmitting data.

2.4 GHz Overview

2.4GHz frequencies are more useful when attempting to cover a wide area with the transmission, such as supplying a Wi-Fi connection to an entire building with only one wireless router.

While 2.4GHz offers low data rates and can tend to be interfered with and lose connection, the pros of 2.4GHz frequencies include:

  • Reaching a larger area of coverage
  • The ability to go through walls and physical obstacles
  • More devices can connect to and use the frequency at once
  • The max connection speed is quick at about 150 megabytes per second
  • Your router signal can reach around 410 square feet

While not necessarily equally reliable, 2.4GHz is excellent for occasional part-time use at a large office or public area.

5 GHz Overview

While 2.4GHz frequencies excel at covering distance, 5GHz frequencies are the ruler of reliability.

5GHz can successfully stream large media files in real-time over a secure internet connection and download large documents and PDF files without crashing or overloading your devices. [2]

Though 5GHz does not have the same reach that 2.4GHz does and only transmits about 1 gigabyte per second, its pros include the following:

  • Higher data rates with lower chances of disconnection or interference
  • Fewer devices using 5GHz makes for more privacy and protection
  • A more limited yet denser coverage area
  • The max signal range from your router can reach around 410 square feet when amplified 

If you work from home or seek a GHz frequency with reliable streaming capabilities for playing video games or streaming movies. Then the 5GHz is the choice for you.

Considering Interference

When it comes to comparing 2.4 vs. 5GHz, considering interference potentials and probability will help define the differences.

For 2.4GHz bands, baby monitors, cell phones, and microwave ovens tend to be the largest interferences to the network. 

With 5GHz bands, on the other hand, microwaves and cell phones do not pose as much of a problem. Interference instead comes from radars, perimeter sensors, and wireless digital satellites. [3]

While both 2.4GHz and 5GHz have their interference quirks and reactions to other devices, they both tend to slow down when connected to by many devices.

The more devices connected to your frequency, the more patchy the overall connection tends to be.

The Cost Difference

Another difference between 2.4 vs. 5GHz is the cost. Understanding the cost price points of the two will help you decide between efficacy and cost efficiency when evaluating your needs.

Since 5GHz is newer to the technology and transmission frequency market, its cost tends to be higher than 2.4GHz.

This is also the case because while 2.4GHz has a set of devices it supports, 5GHz can also usually support 2.4GHz devices such as radios.

The Best GHz Option for Your Needs

Either 2.4GHz or 5GHz will be best for you and your devices, depending on your specific needs. Keep in mind that while 2.4GHz only has 3 available channel connection options, 5GHz has over 20. 

If the highest speed possible is what you are looking for when it comes to daily frequency and Wi-Fi transmission use, 5GHz is the best choice.

However, if you want to be able to take your laptop out to the edge of your backyard and work there without being disturbed, the long-distance reach of 2.4GHz will suit your needs. 

If you already have 2.4GHz for distance usage but notice a slow connection when multiple devices are connected, take the plunge and switch to 5GHz.

It is always better to have a more effective lesser internet connection than a spotty one that can reach far and wide.

Always remember that the main difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz is that 5GHz allows for faster data transfer rates at much shorter distances.

While 2.4GHz delivers on long distances while typically performing at slower speeds.

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