A Wi-Fi standard is an approved method to transmit data. Both the receiver and the sender will need to communicate using the same standard otherwise communication is lost.
Older standards will not be able to broadcast and receive as well as new standards, due to being developed for the available technology at the time. Most older standards have now been retired due to their redundancy.
Below are two examples of modern 802.11 Standards available in the market.
802.11n - Maximum theoretical throughput up to 300Mbps with a range up to 54 metres. 802.11n can be affected by building material, other access points and the number of wireless clients.
802.11ac – Maximum theoretical throughput up to 1300Mbps and is backwards compatible to other standards 802.11b/g/n. Range is up to 51 metres, however it broadcasts at 5Ghz which is a long wave length. This means any sort of interference will be noticed and drop the performance significantly. For best 5Ghz performance, you need to be within line-of-sight to the router.
All standards will only perform as well as the hardware it is hosted on.