How to check the type of wireless standards on your wireless computer

A Wi-Fi enabled device, such as a wireless laptop can connect to the Internet through a wireless router.  Each Wi-Fi enabled device has been created to follow a set of wireless standards developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

There are currently five (5) wireless standards, each with its own features.

StandardBandMaximum data rateChannel width
802.11b2.4 GHzUp to 11 Mbps20 MHz
802.11a5 GHzUp to 54 Mbps20 MHz
802.11g2.4 GHzUp to 54 Mbps20 MHz
802.11n2.4 GHzUp to 450 Mbps20 MHz
5 GHz40 MHz
802.11ac5 GHzUp to 1300Mbps20/40/80 MHz
Checking the type of wireless standard supported by your wireless adapter helps determine the possible data rate wireless speed of your computer based on the wireless standard.

For example:  Let's say you have an 802.11ac router, and the wireless adapter in your laptop is an 802.11g adapter.  Your adapter has a limitation of capping out at 54Mbps per 802.11g standard, while an 802.11ac router can reach data rates of up to 1300Mbps.  When your computer transfers data more slowly than your high-tech router, upgrading your wireless adapter to a newer wireless standard can help speed up your connection.

This article will help you check the wireless standard of the adapter installed on your computer, so you can decide if you need to update your wireless adapter.

Below are two (2) ways to determine the type of wireless standards your wireless adapter supports:

Device Manager
Command Prompt

QUICK TIP:  You may also contact your computer or wireless adapter's manufacturer to know the wireless standard it supports.

Device Manager

Step 1:
Access the Device Manager.
  • For Windows 10, 8 and 8.1 - Right-click on the Start  button on your desktop screen then select Device Manager.
  • For Windows 7/Vista - Click the Pearl  button then enter "Device Manager" on the Search programs and files field.  Click the Device Manager link once it appears on the search results.
  • For Windows XP - Click Start > Settings > Control Panel > System.  On the System Properties dialog box, click Hardware tab then click the Device Manager.
Step 2: 
On the Device Manager window, click Network adapters

Step 3:
Look for the name of your wireless adapter.
NOTE:  In this example, the wireless adapter is Intel<R> Centrino<R> Ultimate-N 6300 AGN with 802.11n wireless standard.  This is backwards compatible with 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g.
Step 1:
Access the Command Prompt.
  • For Windows 10 - Right-click on the Start User-added image button on your desktop screen then select Command Prompt.
  • For Windows 8/8.1 - Press the Windows User-added image key then enter “cmd” and select Command Prompt to open the application.
  • For Windows 7/Vista - Click the Pearl User-added image button on your desktop screen then enter “cmd” into the field and press [Enter].
  • For Windows XP - Click Start on your desktop screen and click Run.  Enter “cmd” into the field and click OK.

Step 2:
On the Command Prompt window, enter “netsh wlan show drivers” then press [Enter].


Step 3:
Look for the Radio types supported section.  This will indicate what wireless standards it supports.

NOTE:  In this example, the wireless adapter is Intel<R> Centrino<R> Ultimate-N 6300 AGN with  802.11n wireless standard.  This is backwards compatible with 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g.


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