Gaming PCs and laptops are about to get much faster Wi-Fi

Alienware Area-51m
Image credit: TechRadar

If you find yourself online gaming via Wi-Fi, you may rightly be wary of the performance hit compared to using a wired Ethernet connection. However, a new wireless module from Rivet Networks could reduce such worries, as it provides far better performance than previous-generation solutions.

To be precise, this is the Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650, which Rivet boasts is the world’s first Wi-Fi 6 module. Wi-Fi 6 is the new, simpler name introduced by the Wi-Fi Alliance for 802.11ax. Today's 802.11ac, as seen in most contemporary routers and wireless networking hardware, is Wi-Fi 5 – so this is the next step on.

The Killer AX1650 uses an Intel chipset and offers 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 (plus Bluetooth 5.0) and a theoretical maximum throughput of 2.4Gbps. That’s around 40% faster than a previous-gen Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) 2x2 device – a substantial speed boost.

Furthermore, Wi-Fi 6 also improves performance in congested areas such as, say, apartment blocks with lots of wireless routers, and Rivet observes that the AX1650 will deliver four times more network capacity than a Wi-Fi 5 setup.

To begin with, the wireless card will be installed in a number of Alienware products. Initially, the Alienware Area-51m, Alienware m15 and m17 gaming laptops will carry the AX1650, and this will happen 'shortly', with other desktop PCs and notebooks to follow (and PCs from other manufacturers to arrive soon enough, no doubt).

Of course, bear in mind that not only will you need a device that supports Wi-Fi 6, but a router as well.

Dream stream

Extra bells and whistles that the Killer AX1650 offers include the ability to analyze the home network and automatically make adjustments to improve performance, as well as something called Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 technology.

The latter monitors your network traffic and is capable of automatically detecting games (or apps) which are running, subsequently prioritizing the network packets for said games in order to reduce latency. Rivet claims that: “Gamers can expect up to 3X better in-game latency performance when using the AX1650 during peak network usage periods.”

You can also adjust the priorities of traffic on your network manually, and set bandwidth limits as appropriate, using the control center software for the wireless card.

A further benefit comes in the form of GameFast Technology which automatically pauses processes that aren’t needed for the game you’re playing, and can allegedly free up as much as 10% of CPU and 20% of memory resources, which can instead be used to ensure the game runs a bit more smoothly.

This is all pretty nifty stuff, although all these technologies were available on the previous Killer AC1550. The main benefit you’re getting with the new card is the step up from a maximum theoretical throughput of 1.73Gbps to 2.4Gbps, plus the other aforementioned performance benefits of Wi-Fi 6 in terms of its better ability to cope in congested Wi-Fi areas.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).