UniFi Network - Optimizing Wireless Speeds

2023-12-03 23:55:20 UTC

This article explains the best practices for optimizing WiFi speeds. If you experience degraded connection quality (i.e., high latency or wireless disconnections), then you should consider reverting any changes and using UniFi's default settings which prioritize wireless connectivity, as opposed to speeds.

If you are looking for information to improve your wireless connectivity, click here.

Basic Optimization

Begin by following these steps:

  1. Increase the channel width to 80 MHz or 160 MHz for each AP's 5 GHz radio. The 2.4 GHz radio should remain on 20 MHz to avoid excessive interference.
    • Globally configured under Settings > WiFi > Global AP Settings. These changes will not be applied to any AP Exclusions listed.
    • Individually configured in UniFi Devices > select an AP > Settings.
  2. Set the Transmit Power to Auto for each AP's 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios
    • Globally configured under Settings > WiFi > Global AP Settings. These changes will not be applied to any AP Exclusions listed.
    • Individually configured in UniFi Devices > select an AP > Settings.
  3. Increase your client's signal strength by moving it closer to the nearest AP or adding an additional AP nearby.
    • Signal Strength is shown in the WiFi Insights tab, or by clicking on a client device.
    • Clients should have a minimum signal strength of -60 dBm, though -50 dBm or better is recommended for maximum performance.
  4. Perform a radio-frequency (RF) scan of your environment in UniFi Devices > select an AP > Insights > Scan Channels
  5. Pick the channel with minimal interference for each AP's 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios. This means selecting the highest magnitude numbers (e.g., -90 dBm is preferred to -80 dBm).
    • If interference levels are similar, prioritize picking the channel with the least utilization.
    • When configuring the 2.4 GHz radio, only select from channels 1, 6, and 11
    • Ensure that nearby APs are using different channel, when possible. 
  6. Minimize the use of wireless meshing between APs when possible.
    • Although it is a convenient way to extend WiFi coverage, it is much less performant than a wired connection (about 50% lower for each "wireless hop"), especially in high-interference environments.
    • To learn more about mesh WiFi considerations, click here.
  7. Update all UniFi APs to the latest version.
  8. Update the WiFi driver on affected clients. These can often be found on the manufacturer's website.


If the basic optimizations above did not provide satisfactory results, follow these steps:

  1. Check your wireless client's Maximum Phy Rate in UniFi Network's WiFi Insights tab. This describes the theoretical maximum throughput of a client given its current environment (signal strength, noise, channel width, etc.). The real throughput will always be about 50-60% lower
  2. Try replacing the cable that connects your AP to your network. These can degrade over time and limit maximum bandwidth.
  3. Check for any upstream bottlenecks and remove them. This includes large quantities of active clients on a specific AP, or upstream switch. Consider the following:
    • Add more APs to better distribute connected clients.
    • Use higher bandwidth APs such as the U6 Enterprise or U6 Enterprise In-Wall. Both devices support large quantities of clients in addition to 2.5GbE uplink ports.
    • Use UniFi's higher capacity Professional and Enterprise switches.
  4. Determine if your expectations are realistic. Remember, purchasing a 1Gbps Internet plan does not mean you will receive 1Gbps speeds over WiFi. More realistically, speeds may be between 150-250Mbps, depending on the client.
  5. Determine if your client device is the real bottleneck. Consider the following:
    • WiFi Band - Some clients are limited to connecting on 2.4GHz. They will not achieve the performance of 5GHz or 6GHz.
    • WiFi Standard - Not all clients are capable of using the latest standards that support maximum speeds (e.g., WiFi6 - 802.11ax).
    • MIMO - Some clients have multiple radios for maximum performance (e.g., 4x4 MU-MIMO).
    • Channel Width - Not all client devices are capable of using 80MHz or 160MHz widths. They will connect using the maximum supported width.
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