What does “built-in wifi” actually mean in 2023?

The concept of built-in wifi has been around since Wifi was created at the end of the 90s. For many people, the term can seem to be a little ambiguous, and fails to explain what it actually means.

With the variety of different devices in our household, this can make things even more confusing. Does a built-in wifi modem mean the same as a built-in wifi television?

Well, no, although they use the same description. We’re going to explain what built-in wifi means relevant to the device that it’s talking about.

What is built-in wifi?

The answer is that built-in wifi just means that the device you’re using has the capability to connect to, or distribute, a wireless connection. It’s often used within different devices, like smart televisions or mobile phones. It can also be used to refer to a device that lets you connect to a wifi network too, like a router.

In the majority of cases, built in wifi will refer to the devices that you use on a daily basis. This is primarily TVs, laptops and phones, but you’ll also see it used for things like set top boxes, sat navs and dash cams, cameras and some times headphones. With these items, it simply means that they have the ability to connect to wifi.

Other places where you may see the term include a modem, which may be referred to as having a “built-in” wifi router. Essentially, this does the job of both the modem and router within one device, and will allow you to connect to the internet from your home.

You also might see the term built in referring to wifi adapters. Essentially, these adapters can be added to any devices that you have that don’t have wifi built into them. Older computers are a good example of this, as unlike the modern day where every laptop has an in-built wifi card, this wasn’t always the case when it came to computers.

Another example of a device that you might see with built-in wifi is a motherboard. Essentially, what this means is that the wifi card/chip is likely soldered to the motherboard itself, and cannot be separated. With some computers and laptops, this will be detachable, and can be switched out for a different one.

In modern times, we’re seeing less and less devices advertising themselves as having built-in wifi. This makes sense, as many of us expect our phones and cameras to have wifi built into them automatically anyway. And as our wireless networks become more capable and developed, it’s second nature for our phones and laptops to have this built into them.

How does built in wifi work?


Essentially, a device with a built in wifi receiver will work the same as all wifi devices. They connect to your home router by using completely wireless radio frequencies, which are measured in Gigahertz. 1 GHz is equal to 1 billion hertz.

By Hertz, we’re talking about the oscillation (similar to vibration) of the electrical current being emitted by your internet router. For comparison, bass sounds are sent at a very low rate of around 20Hz, which is only 20 times per second. To send these wifi frequencies, they literally need to oscillate billions of times per second.

Wifi generally works over two different bands – these bands are just what we refer to as the ranges of radio frequencies that they work over. If you want to learn more about these, then check out this article comparing 2.4GHz to 5.0Ghz wifi bands.

We have these two different bands, with the 5.0GHz band generally being the faster of the two, so it’s good for your phone or laptop. The 2.4GHz is more reliable, and it uses the same radio frequency range as Bluetooth. 2.4GHz can also be better if you’re upstairs, as it tends to be better at passing through walls.

Either way, both of these different bands are available for you to connect to. In some cases, your router may actually offer more bands than this for you to connect to – often, newer routers will have 2 different 5.0GHz bands. This can be good if you have a multitude of different devices in your home.

The devices that you use have an in-built wifi card, which connects to the wireless router in your home. This allows it to receive and send signals from the internet.

Built-in Wifi vs Wifi Ready


Two common terms that are used within wifi are both “Built in wifi” and “wifi ready”. They’re similar to one another, but you will need to know the difference between them if you want to access the internet.

Generally, we use the term built in wifi if a device already has a wifi adapter built into it. This means that it can easily connect to your router at home, and has easy access to your wifi network.

This isn’t necessarily the case if something is “wifi ready”. This can mean that it can connect to the internet without any additional products, but it also may mean that you need to insert a wifi card or an ethernet cable into the device to do so.

This really depends on the individual device itself, so make sure that you check it out completely before deciding if the device is the right one for you. As well as “wifi ready”, you may also see the term “wifi-enabled”, which tends to mean the same thing.

Is built-in WiFi good?

Asking whether built in wi-fi is good is a pretty tough one to answer. It’s good in some aspects, and bad in others. It really depends on the device that you’re using.

Built in wi-fi is definitely going to come in handy if you need a quick and easy way to get an internet connection. Think of your laptop – are you happy you have built wi-fi, or would you rather have to attach an internet dongle every time you want to use the internet?

At the other end of the argument, wifi is not going to be as reliable of an internet connection as ethernet. A cable is always going to be the better choice of the two. So although there are benefits of using a wireless network, there are downsides to it as well, as it’s not as dependable as connecting to an ethernet port.


In conclusion, Built-in wifi isn’t the most self explanatory term, so it’s understandable that many people get confused by it. It’s usually taken to mean a device that can connect to the wifi, and it may be used to describe the phone or TV you connect to your wifi with on a daily basis.

The more common wifi becomes, the less common that this description is relevant, as increased expectance on built-in wifi becomes the norm – which is why it’s probably so confusing to some young people now.

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About Melissa

Hey! I'm Mel, I write the occasional article for Spacehop, amongst other things. I love meeting new people and chatting, so if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

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