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This dongle can bring a superfast Wi-Fi 6 connection to your old computer

To upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 you would customarily need to buy an entirely new laptop or replace the Wi-Fi card in your desktop. Netgear has come up with a clever way to avoid this. The Netgear Nighthawk A8000 adapter simply plugs into any USB slot 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 high bandwidth and speeds as brand-new top-of-the-line machines with Wi-Fi 6-capable receivers. It supports all three Wi-Fi bands — 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz — and can deliver blazing speeds of up to 1.2GBps, which is comparable to an ethernet connection. However, there is a catch.

The Netgear Nighthawk A8000 Wi Fi 6 adapter
image: Netgear

For starters, you’ll need a Wi-Fi router that supports Wi-Fi 6. These are currently quite pricey, 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 an entire Wi-Fi 6 mesh network to make sure you get a clear signal in every room, otherwise, there’s no point in having the adapter. Mesh networks are expensive and so far there are only a few which support Wi-Fi 6.

There’s another caveat to using Netgear’s Nighthawk A8000. You’ll need to be running Windows 11. It doesn’t work with Windows 10 or MacOS. Forget it if you use a Chromebook.

However, if you can meet these qualifying requirements, you’ll be ready to enjoy some high performance. Wi-Fi 6 has a theoretical top speed of 9.6Gbps, which is a whopping increase over Wi-Fi 5’s 3.6Gbps. Most ISPs only provide up to 1.5Gbps, and the average US household only has 100Mbps speeds, so these extreme Wi-Fi 6 speeds are completely irrelevant in the real world. That said, these technologies keep connectivity future-proof as we await ISPs to pick up their game.

But Wi-Fi 6 isn’t only about high speeds. It also opens more bandwidth, meaning multiple devices can use the Wi-Fi signal in your home without slowing down. It uses the latest 6GHz lane so your connection is much more stable. There are fewer drops and practically zero lag. It’s like having an ethernet connection without the cables.

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

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Nathan Drescher
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nathan Drescher is a freelance journalist and writer from Ottawa, Canada. He's been writing about technology from around the…
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