WiFi slower than older Intel MacBooks
Apple names the WLAN specifications of all MacBook Pros released since 2017 in one support document, which was published a few days ago. Among other things, this shows that all devices support at least the standards 802.11ac, 802.11a/n and 802.11b/g/n, MacBook Pro 13″ (2020) and MacBook Pro (2021) also 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) However, there is a difference in speed, where the 2017-2019 Intel MacBooks perform better than the more recent generations including the M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max notebooks.
Current notebooks only support two data streams
According to the company, all MacBooks with Apple’s own processors achieve a maximum transmission rate of 866 Mbps with the widespread 802.11ac standard in the 5 gigahertz band. This speed is also offered by the three variants of the MacBook Pro 13″, which were introduced in 2019 and 2020 and were still equipped with Intel CPUs. On the other hand, the 13, 15 and 16-inch models released between 2017 and 2019 support significantly higher data rates with x64 processors, they reach 1,300 Mbps. The reason for this is that they are equipped with three spatial streams and corresponding antennas, the newer devices only have two parallel data streams. This naturally also affects the WLAN speed when using 802.11a /n and 802.11b/g/n, here the transfer rates of the versions of the MacBook Pro with M1, M1 Pro and M1 Max are also significantly below those of the earlier Intel generations.
Theoretical maximum values are hardly reached anyway
However, it should be noted that the transfer rates specified by Apple are theoretical maximum values. In reality, these can hardly ever be achieved, so the actual WLAN speed is usually significantly lower. In addition, the access point or router must also support the standards supported by the MacBooks, which is not the case with all devices that are still used in the wild. The lower data rates of the MacBook Pro 13″ (2020) and MacBook Pro (2021) should therefore hardly have a negative impact in everyday use.
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