Gigabyte's Wi-Fi 7 PCIe card preps your desktop for a faster wireless future

Gigabyte GC-WIFI 7 card
(Image credit: Gigabyte)

With the Wi-Fi 7 specification set to be finalized early next year, Gigabyte is now offering a PCIe Wi-Fi 7 card, called the GC-WIFI7, that is perfect for upgrading current and older desktop PCs to the latest wireless standard.

The card comes in a small half-height, single-slot form factor, featuring a PCIe x1 interface that connects to the motherboard. It supports all of the major features Wi-Fi 7 supports, including MU-MIMO, 4K-QAM, MRU, and MLO which enables the card to utilize the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands simultaneously to transmit and accept data. Bandwidth is rated at up to 5800Mbps. On top of this, the GC-WIFI7 also comes with Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity for connecting wireless peripherals, audio gear, phones, and more.

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

The Wi-Fi card also comes with an antenna housed in a magnetized black plastic shroud, that should be easy to manage and tuck away, especially on steel and iron surfaces.

Wi-Fi 7 is the next generational leap in wireless technology that is set to succeed Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E in 2024. The new standard employs a variety of improvements, that more than quadruple the amount of bandwidth Wi-Fi can theoretically handle. In the real world, router manufacturers such as Netgear state speeds in the multi-gigabytes per second range for Wi-Fi 7 capable home routers.

There are several ways Wi-Fi 7 is achieving these substantially greater speeds compared to Wi-Fi 6/6E. One is through a feature we previously discussed called MLO or Multi-Link-Operation. This allows a client device to use multiple wireless bands and channels simultaneously to connect to a Wi-Fi 7-compatible router. In the past, wireless networks could only access up to two frequency bands at a time, like 2.4GHz and 5GHz, but with Wi-Fi 7 devices this feature has been expanded so that devices can connect to all three bands that are supported including 2.4GHz, 5GHz and the 6GHz band.

A couple of other noteworthy improvements come in the way of MU-MIMO and QAM. MU-MIMO effectively doubles the number of spatial streams that Wi-Fi 7 can support, from 8 to 16, while QAM, or Quadrature amplitude modulation, has been improved from 1024 to 4000. Maximum channel bandwidth has also been doubled from 160MHz to 320MHz. All these upgrades allow Wi-Fi 7 to have superior performance on each of the three bands.

Gigabyte's new Wi-Fi 7 card is one the first PCIe options we've seen, although bare M.2 Wi-Fi 7 modules have been popping up at online retailers in recent weeks. U.S. pricing wasn't yet available when we wrote this, but one thing's for sure: Gigabyte's card will cost a lot less than a new high-end Wi-Fi 7 router

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Update: In a rather disappointing turn of events, it appears Gigabyte has three different hardware variants of its Wi-Fi 7 adapter. If you care about the hardware inside the card, you'll probably want to buy the card at a retail store where you can check the packaging, or at least confirm the version of the card before buying.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • plateLunch
    5800Mbps?!?! What is someone supposed to do with that speed? My internet connection is only 400 Mbps. And one thing no one ever mentions..what is the throughput of your home router? The manufacturers always talk about their Wifi speed. But they never talk about how fast the router can move bits. I have a small business router and I had to pay a lot just to get 500 Mbps.
    Reply
  • usertests
    plateLunch said:
    5800Mbps?!?! What is someone supposed to do with that speed? My internet connection is only 400 Mbps. And one thing no one ever mentions..what is the throughput of your home router? The manufacturers always talk about their Wifi speed. But they never talk about how fast the router can move bits. I have a small business router and I had to pay a lot just to get 500 Mbps.
    Devices on the local network can communicate faster than Internet speeds.
    Reply
  • emike09
    plateLunch said:
    5800Mbps?!?! What is someone supposed to do with that speed? My internet connection is only 400 Mbps. And one thing no one ever mentions..what is the throughput of your home router? The manufacturers always talk about their Wifi speed. But they never talk about how fast the router can move bits. I have a small business router and I had to pay a lot just to get 500 Mbps.
    Honestly, no clue, at least for home users, which this will eventually trickle down to. A rare home user might have a mighty home network with NVMe NAS RAID arrays, 10 kids and 10 adults, all trying to pull from some crazy Plex server or data-store. IDK, trying to get creative. I've got 1Gb Google Fiber, and share my network with my roommates, 6 of us total, and even though I'm the heavy user of LAN/WAN traffic, there is literally nothing I could do to come close to saturating 5800Mbps.

    Some business video editing studios could theoretically need a router with 5.8Gbps, but 99.9% of the time, they're going to be hardwired via 10Gb-25Gb ethernet. Anybody that needs 10G+ speeds are going to be hardwired, via copper or fiber.

    Wifi 7 is a joke. We don't need more speed. We need more reliable signal, better noise reduction, further throw. "Maybe" in 10 years I'll need the speed that Wifi 7 can provide, but as it stands now, it's nothing but a marketing gimmick. Wifi 6e is pretty cool since you can get off of 2.4 and 5ghz congestion and onto 6ghz. But 6ghz is terrible for long-range signal attenuation compared to 2.4. The moment I step outside my home, 20 feet from my router, the 6ghz network dies as it can't pass through my walls.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    The funny thing is that if "ultra high end" motherboards continue the trend, like the insanely overpriced MSI MEG Z790 GODLIKE MAX, you may not have a PCIe slot to use on a wireless card (or anything else for that matter) without sacrificing a M.2 slot.
    Reply
  • pixelpusher220
    emike09 said:
    The moment I step outside my home, 20 feet from my router, the 6ghz network dies as it can't pass through my walls.

    Tell me you live in a warehouse with no walls w/o telling me /s haha

    Seriously though, these speeds are great...assuming you have an access point *very* nearby. Requiring 2/3x devices of a mesh system to get around the walls doesn't seem really viable.
    Reply
  • pixelpusher220
    plateLunch said:
    5800Mbps?!?! What is someone supposed to do with that speed? My internet connection is only 400 Mbps. And one thing no one ever mentions..what is the throughput of your home router? The manufacturers always talk about their Wifi speed. But they never talk about how fast the router can move bits. I have a small business router and I had to pay a lot just to get 500 Mbps.
    Another thing is backhaul. Since Wifi 7 will have even more distance restrictions, you'll need more than a couple 'hops' across your network to get to the router/switch. Since you def won't get more than 2 of these radios in the first devices, you start halving your speed pretty fast no?
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    plateLunch said:
    5800Mbps?!?! What is someone supposed to do with that speed? My internet connection is only 400 Mbps. And one thing no one ever mentions..what is the throughput of your home router? The manufacturers always talk about their Wifi speed. But they never talk about how fast the router can move bits. I have a small business router and I had to pay a lot just to get 500 Mbps.
    lol slow down that is theoretical speed I doubt it will hit that real world like current wifi. Secondly you are thinking about your WAN connection and this would be for your internal LAN.
    Reply
  • newtechldtech
    plateLunch said:
    5800Mbps?!?! What is someone supposed to do with that speed? My internet connection is only 400 Mbps. And one thing no one ever mentions..what is the throughput of your home router? The manufacturers always talk about their Wifi speed. But they never talk about how fast the router can move bits. I have a small business router and I had to pay a lot just to get 500 Mbps.
    Networking is not only for internet access, you connect devices and PCs and mobiles together . also 5800Mbps is the total bandwidth ,means each user can have more bandwidth when connecting at the same time.
    Reply
  • Ogotai
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    The funny thing is that if "ultra high end" motherboards continue the trend, like the insanely overpriced MSI MEG Z790 GODLIKE MAX, you may not have a PCIe slot to use on a wireless card (or anything else for that matter) without sacrificing a M.2 slot.
    dont even need this board to run out of usable pcie slots... my x570 e gaming board, i have a video card, sound card and an add in sata card, ans thats it, no more lanes left to use, unless i want to drop my video card down to 8x, or maybe lose a sata port or 2...

    desktop kind of needs more pce lanes to go around, especially if they add more m.2 slots on the board. i also have an X99 based comp im still using as it has the lanes, and pcie slots i need for whats in that comp. IF i could afford to grab a threadripper, that x99 based comp, would be replaced by now...

    im in the process of updating half of my home network to 10g as well... but dont need wifi 7 yet..... 6(e) looks to be just fine for the wifi needs here still...
    Reply
  • Geef
    I think wifi 7 will be good for future VR headsets. Being able to use full speed connection between PC and headset without a cord or limitations.
    Reply