As we talked about earlier today, Wi-Fi 6 is on the way with faster peak download speeds and much better handling of multi-device households, offices, and businesses. Across the board, Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) will be a major upgrade over Wi-Fi 5 (also known as 802.11ac). One thing is a tad nagging right now even with updated Wi-Fi 6 enabled routers on the way like the Google Wi-Fi 2 set to debut this fall: you need Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices to fully take advantage of all the perks this new protocol brings. After all, this upgrade is mainly a hardware-based one, so it will take all new hardware to fully leverage it.
If you’d like a deep dive into all the improvements coming with the new version of Wi-Fi, you can head over to C-NET read a much more in-depth article on it. It can all get a tad technical pretty quickly, so as long as you know the primary benefits are higher peak speeds and a much improved ability to handle greater device load, you’re basically all set.
With that knowledge and the understanding that it takes a Wi-Fi 6 router and devices to take advantage of this update, we began searching for upcoming Chromebooks that will support the Wi-Fi 6 spec, and there are already quite a few. Right now, we are tracking a total of 6 boards that have the Intel Harrison Peak firmware being added. This firmware is the necessary driver software responsible for making newer Intel chips capable of sending and receiving data over Wi-Fi 6.
At this point, the entire ‘Hatch’ family of devices (‘Hatch, Kohaku, Helios, Kindred & Kled’) are all on board as is ‘Drallion’, a device we’ve yet to talk about but have had our eyes on for a few weeks. ‘Drallion’ looks to be based initially off of ‘Sarien’, but with a newer chip (‘Sarien & Arcada’ utilize Whiskey Lake Intel chips versus ‘Drallion’ and it’s Comet Lake chip). We’ll talk more about ‘Drallion’ in the near future.
Trust me, keeping up with all these codenames is getting tough for us too and we’ll be putting together a list of upcoming Chromebooks in the next week or so to keep a reference. Just know that all the Chromebooks we are tracking with 10th-gen Comet Lake Intel chips look to be coming with support for Wi-Fi 6 out of the box.
For what it’s worth, don’t hold your breath for Wi-Fi 6 on upcoming ARM-powered Chromebooks with Qualcomm 845 chips or the MediaTek 8183 chips: neither of these chipsets have support for Wi-Fi 6, so there’s no way for this to be added.