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Intel's New Wi-Fi 6 Kit Gives Desktop PCs An Easy 2.4Gbps Boost

The new Intel Wi-Fi 6 Desktop kit gives channel partners an easy way to bring gigabit-plus wireless speeds to new and existing desktop PCs, which the chipmaker says can reduce infrastructure and labor costs by a third when compared to running PCs on a wired network.

Intel is giving smaller system builder partners and do-it-yourself enthusiasts an easier way to add gigabit-plus wireless connection speeds to existing and new desktop PCs.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company launched the new Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) Desktop Kit at the beginning of the month in response to demand from channel partners and distributors who were looking for a component they could buy in smaller quantities and bundle with other products, according to Intel executive Eric McLaughlin.

[Related: Intel Unveils 'World's Fastest' Laptop CPUs: 5 Things To Know]

McLaughlin, who is vice president at Intel's Client Computing Group and general manager of the Wireless Solutions Group, told CRN that such a component is especially important now with the coronavirus pandemic forcing many people to work from home.

"Having access to Wi-Fi is even more vital than it's ever been," he said. "We're thrilled to be able to deliver these types of products when the world needs them more than ever."

The Intel Wi-Fi 6 Desktop kit consists of an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX 200 M.2 key E module, antennas, cables and brackets — which the company said can be installed in less than 10 minutes. Once plugged into the motherboard, Intel said the module can provide a max speed of 2.4Gbps, which is nearly three times faster wireless speeds than the standard AC 2x2 module with 80 MHz channels, and 75 percent lower latency for gaming and video conferencing. It also allows for four times greater capacity of devices on a network.

While McLaughlin declined to provide the recommended customer pricing for the kit, online retailer NewEgg lists the product for $29.99. The desktop kit is supported by eighth-, ninth- and 10th-generation Intel Core processors, according to the NewEgg product listing.

McLaughlin said the Intel Wi-Fi 6 desktop kit was made with DIYers and small- to -medium-sized businesses in mind. Based on his experience of previously working at a value-added reseller, the Intel executive said SMBs that don't have their own IT department would likely benefit the most from the new kit because of its ease of use and how it eliminates the need for Ethernet cabling.

"My assessment is they wanted a certified product to go into small desktops," he said.

The genesis of the new desktop kit came from a survey of more than 360 global partners last year in which 85 percent said they wanted a product like the Intel Wi-Fi 6 Desktop Kit, according to McLaughlin. Chief among the reasons: antenna certification for Wi-Fi modules is challenging, partners want a brand like Intel that customers trust, and they want a product they could buy in smaller quantities, unlike many other Intel products. They also want the option to bundle it with other products.

The other major factor was the need for faster internet speeds of 1GB/s or more and better performance, which Intel's Wi-Fi 6 kit, when combined with Wi-Fi 6 routers, can enable.

"I think the other part was our product performance is the best in the business, McLaughlin said.

Intel has previously released white papers espousing the benefits of wireless connections. One Intel study found that organizations can reduce labor and infrastructure costs by roughly a third when switching from a wired to wireless network. In a case study documenting Intel's Fab 28 plant moving to a wireless desktop solution, the company estimated it saved about $241 per worker.

Wallace Santos, CEO of Intel partner Maingear, a Kenilworth, N.J.-based boutique PC builder, said fast Wi-Fi speeds have become a must-have for desktop PCs, even though conventional wisdom suggests that users would opt for a hard-wired Ethernet connection. He said this became apparent for Maingear when customers started complaining that they couldn't connect to the internet because they didn't realize they needed to add a Wi-Fi adapter to their custom build.

"We ended up making the choice of including Wi-Fi with every desktop that we ship, because people's expectations are that everything's Wi-Fi now," Santos said.

Another issue is that many users don't understand that they need a specific kind of hardware to take advantage of the gigabit speeds they get from their internet service provider, which Santos said a technology like Intel Wi-Fi 6 can address.

"if you're going for gigabit internet at home and you have the right access point, you're going to get that speed wirelessly with low latency," Santos said.


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