802.11ac vs. 802.11ad – Which one is better?

The 802.11ac and 802.11ad Wi-Fi standards are responsible for the transmission of internet across different ranges at different speeds. So which one of the two is higher placed, and which one is better?

Internet transmission is largely dependent on a set of standards that bear different characteristics and capabilities. There are a number of standards at the moment ranging from 802.11b, d, g, n, ad, ac, ax and s. All these are able to transmit at different speeds in different environments over varying ranges.

Enter 802.11ac and 802.11ad. These two are made for high speed internet transmission, and they have proven to be quite efficient. But what characteristics set them apart, and which one of the two is faster? We did an in-depth research to find out which one is better. Here are our findings.

What is the difference between the 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards?

802.11ac (Winner) 
2.4GHz, 5GHz
Average Transmission Rate
Average Range
80 meters from 3 antennas
10 meters with beam forming
802.11a, b, g, n
Not backward compatible

802.11ac vs. 802.11ad – How do they compare?         


The first and probably most important difference is that these two standards transmit different signals. 802.11ac is responsible for transmission of Wi-Fi signals, while the 802.11ad standard is mandated to transmit WiGig signals which are different from Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi in the 802.11ac standard is mainly transmitted by devices that operate on two bandwidths. There is usually a smaller bandwidth of 2.4 GHz and a bigger 5GHz which, when combined, deliver gigabit data. These devices are usually able to transmit data in medium sized homes or offices. The average transmission rate of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard is 1.3Gbps. Routers responsible for transmitting this standard are often times fitted with antennas that can either be internal or external. These antennas are ideal for ensuring that the speed and range of the internet is boosted for optimal delivery.

The 802.11ad standard transmits WiGig signals. This protocol was developed to facilitate the transmission of lightning fast internet. For this reason, it needs a much higher frequency than the 802.11ac standard. It operates on a 60GHz transmission which enables it to be transmitted at really high speeds. Its average rate of transmission is 7Gbps, making it about 7 times faster than the 802.11ac standard.

The 802.11ad standard is the better one in this category since it is able to transmit at much higher speeds than the 802.11ac standard.

Range and Compatibility

The 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard is able to cover medium sized homes and offices. An average router with three antennas is able to cover up to 80 meters in length, or an area of approximately 1,500 – 3,500 square feet. This standard is backward compatible with 802.11a, b, g and n Wi-Fi standards.

The 802.11ad standard is a beam forming network. It is able to cover a radius of about 10 meters. It works by beam forming, and does not necessarily require antennas for transmission. It is not backward compatible with any other standard.

The 802.11ac is the better standard in this category since it can cover wider ranges. It is also backward compatible with other Wi-Fi standards.

802.11ac vs. 802.11ad Overview

802.1ac Standard Overview

This Wi-Fi standard is excellent for internet transmission over medium sized ranges. It us usually transmitted from routers that operate on two bandwidths which are the 2.4GHz bandwidth and the 5GHz bandwidth. The average transmission speed for this standard is 1.3Gbps, meaning that it is perfectly capable of transmitting Gigabit internet.

An average 802.11ac router with three antennas is able to transmit across a range of about 80 meters. This makes it ideal for home and office spaces that average 1,500 to 3,500 square feet. It is backward compatible with 802.11a, b, g and n Wi-Fi standards.


  • It is ideal for medium sized spaces
  • It operates on 2 bandwidths
  • It is backward compatible with other standards


  • It is not as fast as 802.11ad

802.11ad Standard Overview

This standard was developed for the transmission of lightning speed internet over small spaces. It actually does not transmit Wi-Fi. It transmits what is called WiGig signals. It operates on a 60GHz frequency that allows it to reach up to 7Gbps speeds. This makes it about 7 times faster than the 802.11ac.

When it comes to range, the 802.11ad transmits at a distance of about 10 meters. It is a beam forming standard that optimizes on speed. It is, unfortunately, not backward compatible with any other standards.


  • It is beam forming
  • It supports really high speeds


  • It cannot transmit as far as the 802.11ac
  • It is not backward compatible

Verdict: So, which one is better – 802.11ac or 802.11ad?

The 802.11ac is the winner in this comparison because it transmits at decent speeds over wider ranges than the 802.11ad. It is also more practical for home and office use, and the fact that it is backward compatible makes it more versatile.


  1. Can the 802.11ad be used in an office space?

While it is quite fast, you may be disappointed by the short range it covers. This is why it may not be ideal for an office setting.

  1. Can 802.11ac accommodate gaming?

Yes, it can, but the 802.11ax standard would be a much better fit for high intensity gaming.


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