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Hope I get to review my first 6E WiFi router soon. Many new laptops are compatible with the WiFi 6E standard, but older models will be limited to WiFi 6 or WiFi 5.
I upgraded my old Dell XPS 15 before but I rarely use it now so to prepare for the review I upgraded my Huawei Matebook 14. I assumed this process was relatively well known (if you’re into tech/computers), but my PR asked me a few questions about this, so I thought I’d document the process. It’s quite simple.
This guide will work pretty much the same for most laptops. However, some laptops have hard-to-reach components, I couldn’t easily update my Huawei Matebook 13 (I think the motherboard is reversed). If you open the back of the laptop, you should be able to tell if it’s an easy upgrade.
Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E M.2 Module
Currently there are two modules available that can do WiFi 6E, the Intel AX210 and the Killer AX1650. In the past, Killer used to customize its hardware, but it has been reported that the AX1650 is identical to the Intel model.
The Intel AX210 is sold on Amazon through many random brands. They are only importers of the official module because Intel does not sell it directly to consumers.
You specifically want the one with AX210 in the name, it should also say things like WiFi 6E and 6GHz.
The model I bought is from Wise Tiger and costs £36.
The old AX200 is still available, and this one only has 2.4Ghz/5Ghz WiFi 6 (not 6E). It costs almost the same, so there’s no reason to buy it, even if you don’t immediately intend to use expensive WiFi 6E hardware.
Download the drivers before installing the module!
The Intel AX210 has been out for a while now, I made the schoolboy mistake of assuming that Windows would recognize the new hardware and have its drivers. So I found myself with no network connectivity when I restarted my laptop, I had to root an ethernet adapter to fix it.
It is best to download the drivers first. You can download the drivers directly from Intel here.
It may be easier to install it before installing the hardware, I obviously didn’t do that afterwards.
Opening the Huawei Matebook 14 laptop
The Matebook uses those annoying electronics-specific screws. It’s either Torx or Pozidrive, you’ll need one of those cheap precision screwdriver sets from Amazon. They are a good investment, I use mine all the time.
There are 6 small screws on the front and side edges, then 4 longer screws on the back. They are very small, put them in a container or something, so you don’t lose them.
Removing the back panel is the most difficult. I used the little plastic levers from my screwdriver set, and starting from the back where the monitor hinge is seemed like the easiest method.
With the rear panel off, the existing WiFi 5 module is immediately visible and easily accessible. The NVMe drive is also an easy upgrade if you want to do two things at once.
The module has two antenna wires, which are clipped into place with small push-button clips. These come off pretty easily, but you have to remember which color goes where (although I’m not sure that makes a huge difference).
The module is held in place by a small Phillips screw. Pull it out and the module should lift up and you can easily remove it.
Then simply slot the Intel AX210 into place and screw it in place.
When putting the antennae back in place they are quite tricky, I have found that a few tweezers can be helpful in putting them back in place. They require a bit of force for the push button to click into place, I had to use the tip of my fingernail to provide enough force to feel the little click. If you don’t click them into place, you will most likely have performance issues.
Once that’s done, you can reattach the back panel, which is much easier than removing it, and screw everything back in place.
When you start, you should be informed that your laptop now has WiFi 6. If you haven’t installed the drivers, it will show the small circle and no connection available.
As this is a new WiFi module, the laptop will forget all your saved connections.
Make WiFi 6E 6Ghz work
There should be absolutely nothing to do. However, you can verify that Windows can use 6 Ghz.
- Go to Network Connections (you can type that in windows search)
- Right click on WiFi and select properties
- Click configure
- go ahead
- It should show the channel width option for 6 Ghz (with separate options for 5 Ghz and 2.4 Ghz). You don’t need to change any settings.
Other Examples of Laptops
As I said earlier, not all laptops are upgradable, but I recently reviewed two Acer laptops, and these both expose the M.2 module for easy upgrading.
I think ultraportables will be the hardest to upgrade because all the components are crammed together as tightly as possible.
Last updated on 2022-01-15 / Affiliate links / Amazon Product Advertising API Images