The Difference Between Wireless-G, Wireless-N and Wireless-AC

What is Wireless N & Wireless G?

differences-between-wireless-n-wireless-g-wireless-acPeople generally refer to all Wireless Internet as WiFi but, as with a lot of technical jargon, WiFi as a term is often misused.  Are you one of those people constantly asking: Why is my Internet or my WiFi so slow??!?

Very often, it is not the Internet provider’s fault. Rather, it all comes down to the type of router you are using and the speed it offers

Wireless-N and Wireless-G are terms referring to 802.11n and 802.11g wireless networking standards set by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the professional organization and standard bearers for electronics discussion and publication among working professionals.

By setting a wireless standard, the multitude of manufacturing entities creating wireless networking products (routers) and wireless networking devices (PS4, Laptops, Tablets, SmartTVs,  XboxOne, iPhones, Roku) can all start on the same page. Imagine if a given wireless networking device was only able to connect to certain routers at certain places. It would result in a major loss of continuity for users and would cause anything from minor headaches to mass frustration.

Wireless networking standards such as Wireless-N and Wireless-G go through many iterations/versions called drafts until they are finally settled upon for publication and mass use.

IEEE 802.11n is a wireless networking standard created to improve network throughput (maximum speed and transmission capabilities) over the two prior standards—802.11a and 802.11g. For example, most coffee shop hotspot routers run on Wireless-G (54 Mbps) or even Wireless-B (11 Mbps). They are constantly being shared by many people so it can be somewhat slow to connect and actually surf the web.

What made Wireless-N significant is that it increased the maximum data transmission rate more than tenfold from 54 Mbps to 600-900 Mbps. Wireless-N also opened up additional spectrum area for wireless transmission, allowing for the use of four spatial streams in at a channel width of 40 MHz. That is double the channel width of Wireless-G. 802.11n standardized support/technical specifications for multiple-input multiple-output (AKA MIMO). It also increased security and improved several additional features.

The most popular Wireless-N routers available include the Dark Knight Asus RT-N66U, Netgear WNDR4500, the Asus RT-N16, & the TP-LINK WDR3600.

Watch this video for more insight into the upgraded features on the RT-N66U Tomato FlashRouter.


What is Wireless-AC?

Enhancements of 802.11n are currently being drafted and tested and may even included on certain brand new routers as 802.11ac. However, there are limited devices that support the standard at this time, meaning no phones, laptops, Rokus, AppleTVs.

Since these devices don’t support the standard/draft yet, buying an Wireless-AC router will probably not let you connect at its increased speeds. You may be able to upgrade a laptop using a special Wireless-AC adapter, but it is only made by a few manufacturers and it could become obsolete at any time if the Wireless-AC draft changes.

(Editor’s Note 03-20-2015: Wireless-AC has increasingly become more formalized and is now included on iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus. We have added the Linksys WRT1900ACS DD-WRT and Netgear R7000 Nighthawk DD-WRT which are ready for max-performance Wireless-AC upgrades.)

Why You Should Upgrade to Wireless-N from Wireless-G?

Hanging onto an older Wireless-G router means you are sacrificing overall speed and security while actually hindering the wireless capabilities for newer devices.

Using a Wireless-G router with your iPad may feel like trying to catching a fish with a stick. It may eventually work, but it certainly not the most efficient way to get the job done. This is not an iPhone 4S to iPhone 5 type upgrade where you have a little bit sleeker device and a few new features to play with. When a wireless standard is jumped, you are talking MAJOR wireless connectivity improvements.

Want to see the differences between Wireless AC, Wireless-N and Wireless-G? Well, here’s a quick breakdown for you.

Wireless G vs Wireless N Comparison

Max Throughput: 54 Mbps vs 600-900 Mbps (Wireless-AC 1200-5300)

Wireless Range (Radius): 75 ft vs up to 200-500 ft

Wireless Channel Width: 20 MHz vs 40 MHz (20/40/80 MHz for Wireless-AC)

Of course, these ranges are maximum distances in optimal conditions. Most of us don’t live in a world where there are no other wireless interference. Even if you don’t see any other wireless signals in your range, there is still a laundry list of devices that can cost you range, such as Cordless Phones, Baby Monitors and Microwaves. Getting a high performing router Wireless-N is the best way to overcome these issues. And here are some tips to make your Wireless-N router perform better in our new video.

Best Wireless-N Tomato Router - Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight

Best Wireless-N Tomato Router – Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight

Here is a handy list of some of our most popular Wireless-N & Wireless-AC Router Routers and their manufacturer speed maximums:

Wireless-N 300 MbpsAsus RT-N16 DD-WRT, Asus RT-N16 Tomato

Wireless-N600 Mbps – Linksys Cisco E2500, TP-LINK WDR3600

Wireless-N 900 MbpsDark Knight Asus RT-N66U Tomato

Wireless-AC 1200 Mbps Linksys WRT1200A DD-WRTAsus RT-AC56U TomatoAsus RT-AC56U DD-WRT – The Top Budget Wireless-AC Option

Wireless-AC 1450 Mbps – Netgear AC1450 DD-WRT

Wireless-AC 1750 Mbps – Asus RT-AC66U DD-WRT, Asus RT-AC66U Tomato

Wireless-AC 1900 Mbps  Linksys WRT1900ACS DD-WRT+, Netgear R7000 Nighthawk DD-WRT, Netgear R7000 Nighthawk Tomato, TP-Link Archer C9, Asus RT-AC68U DD-WRT, Asus RT-AC68U Tomato

Wireless-AC 2400 Mbps – Asus RT-AC87U DD-WRT

Tomato Installed Asus RT-AC3200 Open Source WiFi Router

Asus RT-AC3200 Tomato FlashRouter

Wireless-AC 3100 Mbps – Asus RT-AC88U DD-WRT 8 Port

Wireless-AC 3200 Mbps
Netgear x6 R8000 AC3200 DD-WRT
Asus RT-AC3200 Tomato – Most Powerful Tomato Router

Wireless-AC 5300 Mbps 
Netgear x8 R8500 DD-WRT
Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT – Most Powerful DD-WRT Router of 2016

If you are looking to get “faster wifi,” these are the devices you want to buy.

Upgrading these router’s firmware to the powerful DD-WRT or Tomato firmware platform on all of these routers, as FlashRouters does, allows you more control over the signal while improving signal strength and stability. Many of these routers have excellent hardware but the manufacturer’s firmware actually hinders their abilities. Buying one of these router with a DD-WRT upgrade or Tomato firmware enhancement can make a world of difference in their overall performance and create a new bedrock for your networking gateway.

For more DD-WRT Router & VPN Service Provider info, product updates, and specials, follow us on Twitter @flashrouters or like us on Facebook.

Post Updated: 8/24/2016

9 thoughts on “The Difference Between Wireless-G, Wireless-N and Wireless-AC

  1. Pingback: Router Thomson

  2. Peter Stock

    Is your Comparison Chart backwards?
    It’s not clear which metric relates to which standard. the way it’s presented (“Wireless N vs Wireless G Comparison”) I would assume that the first metric is the N number and the second metric the G.
    so on range (“Wireless Range (Radius): 75 ft vs up to 200-450 ft”) I would assume the G standard had a longer range than N. And I expect that is neither correct nor the idea the writer means to convey.

    1. joeso Post author

      Hey Peter,

      Thanks for pointing that out. It has been switched. Your assessment of the chart is correct.

      Joe S.
      FlashRouters Sales Manager

  3. Steve

    Great write-up, thanks for including details on the latest Wireless AC standard. I recently upgraded to a Cable Modem AC Router combo device and it was a great decision. I can now work in my backyard and connections to my Roku and Galaxy S5 are lightening fast. Its also nice to only have one device although I did strongly consider a handful of stand-alone units.

  4. Devin M

    i have 129mbps network speed through ethernet, my roommate moved the router to far away and i can only use this G+ mimo adapter with a max speed of 22mbps, if i purchase a N adapter would my speeds increase?

    Ps. I’m only 20-25 feet away from the router which is a motorola arris SURFboard Modem & Router dual band 802.11n

  5. P. Mota

    Very thorough, yet very comprehensive, read on the different type on wireless standards! Very nice to learn about the “new” AC.
    You guys should release an update for the article to include some news!

  6. kiran

    will following network smaprt phone from Europe will work in USA? please inform.
    GSM 850/900/1800/1900 / HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *