Most routers these days are dual-band models. That means they work on 2.4GHz and 5GHz. While 2.4GHz is still more reliable at greater distances - and through walls and floors - 5GHz can open up much, much faster speeds.
Does my router work on 5GHz?
Unless you already know for sure that your router is a dual-band model and definitely has a 5GHz radio, it's worth checking that out first. There's no point enabling 5GHz Wi-Fi on your laptop if your router doesn't support it.
The easiest way to do that is to check the manual, or log in to the router and check the settings available in the Wi-Fi section. In fact, some routers have the same SSID (network name) for both 2.4 and 5GHz, so it's worth splitting them out into two separate Wi-Fi networks if there's an option to do so as this means you can easily identify each network from your laptop, phone or tablet and know which one you're connected to.
If your router doesn't support it, see our roundup of the best routers.
How do I know if my laptop supports 5GHz Wi-Fi?
The best way to find out is to open Control Panel, go to Device Manager and find the make and model of your laptop's Wi-Fi under the Network adapters section.
This laptop, for example, has a Qualcomm Atheros AR9285 adaptor. Searching online for this make and model brings up plenty of results for its specifications which show that it works only on 2.4GHz. If your adapter supports 802.11a, it will definitely support 5GHz. The same goes for 802.11ac.
You can also right-click on the adapter in Device Manager, click Properties and then switch to the Advanced tab. You'll see a list of properties, one of which should mention 5GHz. If you don't see an option to enable or disable 5GHz, either your adapter doesn't support it, or the wrong drivers are installed.
If you really want to use 5GHz because you have too many neighbouring 2.4GHz networks, you can buy a USB Wi-Fi dongle for your laptop. These are inexpensive - around £10-30 - and mean you can upgrade your laptop's Wi-Fi without opening it up. We've rounded up the best USB Wi-Fi adapters