Wi-Fi 6 is about to become mainstream. Asus revealed a new Wi-Fi card, the PCE-AX3000, yesterday to bring the next-generation wireless protocol to desktop PCs.
The Wi-Fi Alliance officially released the Wi-Fi 6 specification in September. This latest version of the wireless protocol, which is technically known as 802.11ax, is said to be up to three times faster than the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) protocol it will eventually replace. It also features better data delivery, improved traffic management and other upgrades that allow it to offer far better performance than its predecessors.
Companies have been quick to add Wi-Fi 6 support to routers, smartphones and other devices that rely on the wireless protocol. It's been less of a priority for desktop network adapters, though, perhaps because of the assumption that many PC users would rather use Ethernet to guarantee the best performance and stability. Asus changed that yesterday with the announcement of the PCE-AX3000.
According to AnandTech, the PCE-AX3000 is based on the AX200 Wi-Fi 6 CNVi solution that Intel released in April. That means it requires a compatible Intel platform to function, so AMD users will still have to wait if they want to embrace the future of Wi-Fi (not that many people will be ready to upgrade their home networks to Wi-Fi 6 any time soon; most are probably content with their existing setups).
The PCE-AX3000, just like the AX200, also features Bluetooth 5 support. That means it should enable faster Bluetooth connections--Asus claims on the card's product page that Bluetooth 5 is up to twice as fast as its predecessor--in addition to better Wi-Fi performance.
Still, the introduction of this card shows that manufacturers like Asus are ready for Wi-Fi 6, even though its official specs were only finalized a month ago. Combine that with the easily remembered branding--which The Wi-Fi Alliance officially adopted a year ago to make it easier for the Average Joe to discern between different versions of the wireless protocol--and it seems like the next generation of Wi-Fi is upon us.
The Wi-Fi card is currnetly available for pre-order for $69.99 on Amazon, which says the product will be in stock on November 29.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.