8 Best Wi-Fi Extenders in 2018

Best Wi-Fi extenders
In our fast-paced society of devices and technology, it’s essential to have access to a quick and reliable internet connection at all times. Whether you’re an online gamer, a student watching meal prep videos or a parent researching local schools, most people have a good reason for using the internet.

But what happens when your Wi-Fi signal drops out? Your videos start buffering. Your pictures and web pages don’t load. You can’t get access to important information. When you don’t have stable Wi-Fi, it can be an annoyance or even a disaster.

That’s why Wi-Fi extenders were invented because sometimes a single router just isn’t enough. In this guide, we’ll talk about everything you need to know when it comes to buying the best Wi-Fi extender for your home or office so you can use your internet the way it’s meant to be used.

Top Picks

How to Choose the Best Wi-Fi Extender

What are Wi-Fi Extenders?

To understand what a Wi-Fi extender is, you should first know what a router is. If you’re using a wireless router in your home, that’s great! However, if you have a very large home or you need to have Wi-Fi access at a long distance from where the main router is, you might start to experience Wi-Fi interference or dead zones.

A Wi-Fi extender is exactly what it sounds like; it’s an extension of your Wi-Fi, with your router as the access point.

Here are a few reasons why you might need a Wi-Fi extender:

  • You have Wi-Fi dead zones in your home.
  • You want to use your internet outdoors or further away from your current wireless range.
  • You want to have the strongest possible connection in your home at all times.
  • You need a cheaper alternative to buying a new router or mesh system.

What’s the difference between a Wi-Fi extender and a Wi-Fi mesh system?

A Wi-Fi mesh system consists of access points that are all on the same network, whereas Wi-Fi extenders are typically on different networks. A mesh system uses multiple nodes that communicate with each other to provide Wi-Fi, while a Wi-Fi extender is simply an attachment that extends your router’s Wi-Fi range.

Wi-Fi Extender or Mesh Wi-Fi System: Which one is better?

Wi-Fi extenders are ideal if you’re looking to extend your Wi-Fi to a particular location or area around you home. Also, Wi-Fi extenders are usually much cheaper than mesh systems. If you’ve already invested in a good wireless router, you can avoid paying more for a mesh system by buying a Wi-Fi extender instead.

However, mesh systems can be easier to setup and manage because they’re usually automatic (whereas Wi-Fi extenders require manual configuration with the router). They’re also better for larger homes with more devices because each room can have its own hub of Wi-Fi.

Here are some reasons why you might choose a Wi-Fi extender over a mesh system:

  • You already have a good router and you just want to increase its range
  • You just want to cover a specific dead spot in your home
  • You want to save a lot of money
  • You have a smaller home and a mesh system isn’t necessary for you

Overall, choosing to use a Wi-Fi extender is a very affordable and often efficient way to increase your router’s Wi-Fi range without spending too much money on more range than you need.

Dead Zones

Dead zones are areas in your house or apartment where you have trouble connecting to your network.

This can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Floors or ceilings made of concrete
  • Large metal objects such as a filing cabinet or refrigerator
  • Appliances that use radio waves, such as cordless phones and microwaves

Many people look to Wi-Fi extenders as a remedy to dead zones. Extenders connect to the router via Wi-Fi; their antennas help amplify the Wi-Fi signal from the router, which rebroadcasts the signal into areas where Wi-Fi is lacking.

Using Wi-Fi extenders to cover a particular dead zone in your house can be a cheap yet thorough way to broaden your router’s Wi-Fi range without having to move your router or add wired access points.

Roaming

When you’re moving throughout your house, you shouldn’t have to connect to a different network on the device you’re using. With Wi-Fi extenders, there are a few ways that you can nullify this annoyance.

Some routers and extenders have a roaming technology called Seamless Roaming or Smart Roaming. This allows you to move between rooms while staying connected to your router and switching to your extender once the signal gets too weak.

This technology also ensures your device doesn’t get interrupted. The best Wi-Fi extender will have roaming technologies that optimize your at-home Wi-Fi usage so you don’t have to keep reconnecting your devices.

Compatibility

When sizing up your options for purchasing a Wi-Fi extender, it’s important to know what your network is capable of so you can match your internet speed appropriately. Your Wi-Fi extender needs to meet the specifications of your router; otherwise, you’ll be dealing with an expensive paperweight because your extender and your router aren’t compatible.

For example: If your wireless router can only support N technology, then getting an AC extender might not be the best choice. However, an AC router would be ideal for an AC extender. The same principle goes for Dual-Band and Tri-Band technologies.

The idea is that you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your router. When shopping for the best Wi-Fi extender, pay attention to its specifications and router compatibility limitations.

Wall Plug vs Desktop

There are two primary types of Wi-Fi extenders: wall plug extenders and desktop extenders. Wall plug extenders can plug directly into a wall socket, while desktop extenders are similar to normal routers and need to be placed on a flat surface.

A wall plug is a great way to go if you want to save desk space, but it will need to take up an outlet. If you choose a wall plug Wi-Fi extender, make sure it’s slim and sturdy enough to keep in the wall without taking up too much space.

Desktop extenders tend to have more features and wider ranges of Wi-Fi signal, but you’ll need to clear off space for them.

Both desktop and wall plug extenders may come with external antennas, which can help the extender give out a better signal coverage. The best Wi-Fi extender will have a balance of signal boosting, speed performance and user-friendly features.

Best Wi-Fi Extenders in 2018

NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X4S

The Best Netgear Wi-Fi Extender with Mesh Technology

NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X4S
The Netgear Nighthawk is a high-performance wall-plug Wi-Fi mesh extender that features tri-band technology so you can enjoy faster Wi-Fi speeds all on the same network. This extender has a very simple setup and works with any router, but it’s ideal if you have a Nighthawk router to accommodate it.

Specs

  • Band: Tri-Band
  • Ports: None
  • Placement: Wall plug
Pros:

  • Features mesh technology
  • Fast speeds for an extender
  • Simple setup
Cons:

  • Firmware needs improvement
  • Expensive

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TP-Link AC1200 RE355

The Best Home Wi-Fi Extender with an Easy Setup

TP-Link AC1200 RE355
The TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi range extender features three adjustable external antennas to obtain optimal wireless coverage. You can also use the signal light to figure out where the strongest Wi-Fi signals are in your house; there’s even a high speed mode to boost performance for bandwidth-intensive activities.

Specs

  • Band: Dual-Band
  • Ports: 1x Gigabit Ethernet
  • Placement: Wall plug
Pros:

  • Three external antennas
  • Easy to use and install
  • Helpful signal light
Cons:

  • Large for a wall plug
  • Speed is lacking

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NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Extender

The Best Netgear Wi-Fi Extender Wall Plug

NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2200
The Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200 provides powerful range extension along with MU-MIMO technology so you can have internet on more devices simultaneously. This versatile unit also comes with FastLane technology and two Wi-Fi modes so you can direct your connection wherever you need the most performance.

Specs

  • Band: Dual-Band
  • Ports: 1x Gigabit Ethernet
  • Placement: Wall plug
Pros:

  • Fast and reliable due to beamforming
  • Two Wi-Fi modes (use as extension or access point)
  • User-friendly design
Cons:

  • Bulky for a wall plug
  • Expensive
  • Setup can be complicated

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TP-Link AC2600 Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender

The Best Home Wi-Fi Extender Plugin with Extended Range

TP-Link AC2600 Dual Band Wi-Fi range extender
The TP-Link AC2600 Dual Band Wi-Fi range extender has four fixed external antennas that cover a range of up to 14,000 square feet, making it a great choice if you want to extend your Wi-Fi a very long distance from your router. Like the previous TP-Link, this unit comes with an Intelligent Signal Indicator and High Speed Mode so you can optimize your wireless experience.

Specs

  • Band: Dual-Band
  • Ports: 1x Gigabit Ethernet
  • Placement: Wall plug
Pros:

  • Four external antennas (lots of coverage)
  • Good for streaming and gaming
  • Easy installation
Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

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D-Link DAP-1650

The Best Wi-Fi range Extender for Smaller Budgets

D-Link DAP-1650
The D-Link DAP-1650 is a unique dual-band Wi-Fi range extender that includes wireless encryption and easy push-button setup with the QRS mobile app. This unit can actually be used in three different ways: as a range extender, a media bridge or an access point.

Specs

  • Band: Dual-Band
  • Ports: 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 2.0
  • Placement: Desktop
Pros:

  • Includes 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Versatile usage
  • Good security features
Cons:

  • Fairly large
  • Manual needs improvement
  • Connection instability issues

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NETGEAR Nighthawk EX7000

The Best Wi-Fi Extender for Gaming

NETGEAR Nighthawk EX7000
The Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 features powerful amplifiers and FastLane technology so you can get the best possible coverage and speed for gaming, streaming and more. This unit also comes with 6 Gigabit Ethernet ports so you can connect all of your devices to it for a major boost in speed and stability.

Specs

  • Band: Dual-Band
  • Ports: 5x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0
  • Placement: Desktop
Pros:

  • Includes 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Features external antennas for added coverage
  • Two Wi-Fi modes (use as extension or access point)
Cons:

  • Big and bulky
  • Firmware needs improvement

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Linksys AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Range Extender

The Best Cheap Wi-Fi Extender

Linksys AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi range extender
The Linksys AC1200 dual-band Wi-Fi range extender has a compact body and a minimalist design so you can plug it into one outlet and still be able to use the second outlet. This unit features auto-firmware updates for added security and you can also use it to focus your wireless signal to a specific device.

Specs

  • Band: Dual-Band
  • Ports: None
  • Placement: Wall plug
Pros:

  • Very inexpensive
  • Small and compact
  • Simple setup
Cons:

  • Limited range
  • Connection instability issues

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TP-Link’s RE580D

The Best Home Wi-Fi Extender under 100 Dollars

TP-Link AC1900 RE580D
The TP-Link AC1900 (RE580D) is a dual band Wi-Fi range extender that comes with five Ethernet ports and three external antennas for increased range. The user-friendly TP_LINK Tether App makes this unit easy to install on your Android or iOS device.

Specs

  • Band: Dual-Band
  • Ports: 5x Gigabit Ethernet
  • Placement: Desktop
Pros:

  • Three external antennas
  • Good security features
  • Helpful app
Cons:

  • Connection instability issues
  • Requires frequent resets

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Maximize Your Wireless Range with the Best Wi-Fi Extender for Your Needs

Imagine having fast, stable Wi-Fi throughout your home, even when you’re out in the garden or lounging by the pool. With Wi-Fi extenders, you can not only increase your Wi-Fi range, but also ensure your devices have the best performance Wi-Fi wherever you are in your home or office.

Whether you’re looking for the best Wi-Fi extender, wireless router, streaming device or USB Wi-Fi adapter, there’s no shortage of wireless technology in today’s market.

Our Picks

If you’re a gamer or a media lover looking for lots of Ethernet port space, high speeds and lots of range:

The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Desktop Wi-Fi Range Extender: This is a high-performance Wi-Fi range extender that comes with enough ports for all of your devices, including your consoles, blue ray player, 4K TV, and so on. This unit also offers FastLane technology, which is important for directing speed performance to your desired location, such as your gaming console.

If you just want something cheap to extend your Wi-Fi efficiently without hassle:

The Linksys AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Range Extender: This unit is both affordable and efficient at eliminating dead zones around your home. It has a very easy setup and it’s not too bulky, so you can plug it into an outlet without blocking a lot of space.

If you want to pay a little more for high-quality Wi-Fi range extension:

The Netgear Nighthawk Mesh X4S: This wall-plug extender is optimized to provide high speeds for your extended Wi-Fi, which is a feature not common in other Wi-Fi extenders. You can also have everything on one network so you only need to worry about one SSID, which can save time in a busy lifestyle.

Not everyone needs Wi-Fi extenders, but for those who do, they can be incredibly useful and effective. Choosing a Wi-Fi extender is also a great way to extend your Wi-Fi range while sticking to your budget!

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