As technology progresses, the gap between wireless networking and wired ethernet connections is closing. These days, with a good router and wireless chip, your internet speed and latency can get very close to your trusty cable. The kicker, however, is that only stands true if you have good WiFi signal strength. If you’re experiencing slow internet on WiFi, you may want to check your WiFi signal strength in Windows 10.
What is a good WiFi signal strength?
We’re going to walk through many options to do just that, but first, it’s worth talking about what defines a good and bad WiFi signal strength. We’re all used to the bar system when it comes to signal, but how low can it get before it starts to seriously affect your connection?
Well, in Windows 10, three and four bars represent a good, solid signal. Two bars indicate an acceptable level, where you’ll start to see some slowdown, and one bar is likely to seriously affect your connection.
Outside of the bar system, WiFi signal strength is typically measured in dBm, or decimal milliwatts. Here’s what you can expect to see at different measurements (via eyeaas):
|WiFi signal strength||Connection quality|
|-30 dBm||It doesn’t get much better than this. You’re probably sitting right next to the router.|
|-50 dBm||Still great.|
|-60 dBm||Starting to get into the “good” territory. Your signal will still be very reliable.|
|-67 dBm||Here’s where we start to cross the threshold from “good” to just reliable. It’ll work for most of your tasks, but likely not perfectly.|
|-70 dBm||Not a great signal, unsuited for many tasks.|
|-80 dBm||Your signal is likely unreliable to the state of extreme frustration.|
|-90 dBm||Don’t even bother. Unusably bad.|
|-95+||If you can connect to a network with this signal, you deserve an award.|
Of course, while these technical measurements of signal strength do help, the real answer to whether your signal strength is good or not is “does it work for what you use it for?”.
A signal strength of -67 dBm will give you just about what you need, so long as you aren’t streaming in HD or performing latency-sensitive tasks. Even a connection of -70 dBm will be okay if you’re just doing some light browsing and sending emails. If you’re doing anything else, you’ll want to target -60 dBm and below.
With that out of the way, we’re going to show you how to perform a WiFi signal strength test using several in-built tools. We’ll also talk about whether you should use a free WiFi analyzer for Windows 10 for more in-depth reports. Strap in, and let’s get started:
- 1 How to View WiFi Signal Strength via the Windows 10 WiFi Icon
- 2 Check the WiFi Signal Strength of All Networks in Range Using the Fly-out Menu
- 3 How to Check Current WiFi Signal Strength in Windows 10 Network Settings
- 4 How to View the Signal Quality of your Wireless Network in WiFi Settings
- 5 How to View WiFi Strength in Network and Sharing Center
- 6 How to Check WiFi Signal Strength in Network Connections
- 7 How to Perform a WiFi Signal Test (with Percentages) in Command Prompt
- 8 How to Perform a WiFi Signal Test (with Percentages) in PowerShell
- 9 The Best Wi-Fi Analyzer apps for Windows to Check and Optimize Signal Strength
How to View WiFi Signal Strength via the Windows 10 WiFi Icon
The easiest way to get a quick idea of your WiFi quality is by checking the Windows 10 WiFi icon on its task
- Look for the WiFi icon next to your system tray
If you don’t see the icon, check the system tray to make sure it isn’t in there. If it is, you can drag it out onto your taskbar if you wish.
Remember, you ideally want three to four bars. Two bars and below and you’ll start to see some degradation.
Check the WiFi Signal Strength of All Networks in Range Using the Fly-out Menu
If you have the luxury of having multiple networks to choose from, this one will help you decide which are worthwhile.
- Click the WiFi icon on your taskbar
The Windows 10 WiFi icon returns a full list of networks and their signal strength when you click on it. Generally, the closer you are to the network, the better the quality will be. This is one of the many reasons it’s better to avoid stealing your neighbor’s WiFi signal.
How to Check Current WiFi Signal Strength in Windows 10 Network Settings
If you still can’t find your WiFi icon or prefer a more minimal taskbar, you can check your WiFi signal quality via the Windows 10 settings menu. Here’s where you can find it:
- Open Settings
Press the Start button, then click the settings cog above the power button. Alternatively, press Windows + I.
- Click on “Network & Internet
- Press “Status” in the sidebar and examine the Windows 10 WiFi icon
Remember, ideally you’ll want more than two bars for a stable connection.
How to View the Signal Quality of your Wireless Network in WiFi Settings
Alternatively, you can determine whether your WiFi signal is bad via the WiFi section in Settings. Here’s how:
- Open Settings
Press the Start button, then click the settings cog, above the power button. Alternatively, press Windows + I.
- Click “Network & Internet”
- Click “Wi-Fi” in the sidebar and view your WiFi signal quality
Remember that you ideally want more than two bars for a stable connection.
How to View WiFi Strength in Network and Sharing Center
If you don’t have an up-to-date version of Windows 10 or just prefer the legacy Control Panel, you can check your WiFi strength there, too. Here’s how:
- Open Control Panel
Press Start and then type “Control Panel”. Click the top result.
- Click on “Network and Internet”
If you don’t see the section, make sure your “View by” mode is set to “Category”.
- Press “Network and Sharing Center”
- Click your Wireless network
You’ll see a small icon with your current signal next to the “Connections:” field in the Network and Sharing Center. To see it more clearly, though, click the name of your WiFi network.
- View your WiFi Signal Quality in the WiFi Status menu
If your signal is only one or two bars, you may want to take steps to remedy the situation, such as moving closer to your router, removing obstacles, and more.
How to Check WiFi Signal Strength in Network Connections
If you have more than one Wi-Fi adapter, you may be better off checking WiFi strength in the Network Connections section of the Control Panel. It’s a little tucked away, so here’s where you can find it:
- Open Control Panel
Press Start and type “Control Panel”, then click the top result.
- Press “Network and Internet”
- Click “Network and Sharing Center”
- Press “Change adapter settings”
- Check the signal strength of your WiFi networks
- View more details in the WiFi info view
Double-click your WiFi network to view more information about your connection, including its speed, duration, and a larger signal bar.
How to Perform a WiFi Signal Test (with Percentages) in Command Prompt
If you don’t like the inaccuracies of a signal bar, you can use Command Prompt in Windows 10 to perform a WiFi strength test. This method will show you a percentage, allowing you to test different areas of your house to see where the connection is best. Here’s how:
- Open Command Prompt
Run the WiFi signal test command
Press Start and type “CMD”, then click the top result, “Command Prompt”.
In your command prompt window, type the following command to get a whole host of WiFi info, including the signal strength percentage:
netsh wlan show interfaces
You’ll see a “Signal” column with a percentage next to it. Feel free to run this command multiple times.
How to Perform a WiFi Signal Test (with Percentages) in PowerShell
You can also test WiFi signal quality in different parts of the house with PowerShell. Running a command will give you an exact percentage value that you can use to more easily determine where the signal is too weak. Here’s how you can use it:
- Open PowerShell as an Admin
Press “Windows + X” to open the hidden Start menu, then click “Windows PowerShell (Admin)”.
- Test your WiFi signal with the netsh command
To test your WiFi signal, paste this command into your PowerShell Window and press Enter:
(netsh wlan show interfaces) -Match '^\s+Signal' -Replace '^\s+Signal\s+:\s+',''
It will return a percentage value, which indicates the strength percentage of your current connection.
The Best Wi-Fi Analyzer apps for Windows to Check and Optimize Signal Strength
If you’re looking to get a dBm reading or troubleshoot further, you’ll want a third-party WiFi analyzer for Windows. These WiFi testers go far beyond what Windows 10’s basic tools offer and can help you to view your signal strength over time, perform a WiFi scan for overlapping access points.
Here’s a quick roundup of the best free WiFi analyzer apps on Windows 10:
This free WiFi scanner features a robust toolkit that will help you troubleshoot various WiFi connection issues. As well as a long-term monitoring graph, it includes a WiFi channel analyzer. Signal strength is available in dBm and can be viewed both in the graph and in a tabular format. The frequency of the WiFi tester is set to every five seconds by default, but you can modify it to every 10, 30, or 60 seconds if you wish.
In the discover view, Netspot will automatically show a “level” bar to indicate whether your signal strength is acceptable or not. A red bar indicates a very poor connection.
You can download Netspot here.
Acrylic Wi-Fi Home
Acrylic Wi-Fi Home is another free WiFi checker, with the caveat that you’ll have to pay for enterprise use. Though you can’t alter the timeline of the signal graph unless you purchase the Pro version, it does have one of the nicest interfaces of the WiFi testers we’ll cover today.
A table of WiFi networks is presented along with channels, dBM readings, and max speeds, above a channel graph that updates every five minutes by default. You can view 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi channels in the graph, or switch to the “Signal strength” tab for a more dynamic visualization.
Other than its corny play on words, inSSIDer has a lot going for it. Technically, it’s freemium, rather than free, but the truth is that you can use it indefinitely without paying as long as you’re willing to sign up and weather a few prompts to pay for its subscription.
And weathering them could be a good idea, because inSSIDer has a fantastic interface and robust tools. One key standout is its dashboard, which lets you favorite Wi-Fi networks of your choice for quick analysis.
inSSIDER also has a WiFi channel analyzer that will let you check which frequencies your neighbor’s WiFi networks are using and place yours accordingly. It’s also one of the few wifi analyzers for Windows that shows overall WiFi utilization.
Of course, the basic features are also there – with both a table and graph-based layout that display the signal of nearby networks in dBm.
Homedale does basically everything the above analyzers do – WiFi channel analysis, signal graphs, tables, and overviews – but it does it portably. What does that mean in practice? You don’t need to install Homedale, simply run its .exe and you’re good to go.
The signal strength of your WiFi network will be shown in the table view with a nice color-coding system so you can tell whether it’s acceptable at a glance. If it matters to you, you can also use Homedale to check where a location service such as Google would determine your location to be from your WiFi network.
Vistumbler is a barebones but lightweight WiFi scanner that gets the job done. Though its interface may not be the most intuitive, it’s hiding features such as a 1-second signal strength graph and table, live Google Earth tracking, and GPS support.
One advantage to it is the range of signal measurements it gives, with max a minimum reading for both dBm and percentages.
Phew. That was a lengthy one, but you should now have a very good idea of how to check WiFi signal strength in Windows 10. Remember, performing a Windows 10 network reset may be worthwhile to rule out OS issues. Additionally, if you have an Ethernet cable plugged in, don’t forget you can disable its adapter rather than unplugging it to check your WiFi.