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.
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 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.
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.
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 2019
NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X4S
The Best Netgear Wi-Fi Extender with Mesh Technology
Need to improve Wi-Fi coverage in your home? NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X4S will help to extend Wi-Fi without cutting the speed and slowing down general performance. Note that its speed reaches up to 2.2Gbps. There is also quad-core processor. Thus, this extender is one of the best options for lag-free 4K streaming as well as gaming.
What is more, this Wi-Fi mesh extender combines visible Wi-Fi networks into one and always finds the most suitable hidden network to boost Wi-Fi performance. NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X4S provides one SSID, so adding new devices to the network won’t be a problem. Besides, you can easily roam around your home without losing connection as this extender will pass it between the router and other Nighthawk Mesh Extenders.
- mesh technology
- excellent performance
- 2.53Gbps of wireless bandwidth
- MU-MIMO enabled
- two USB 3.0 ports, and an eSATA port
- easy setup
- a bit outdated software
- no pass-through outlet
- somewhat pricey
TP-Link AC1200 RE355
The Best Home Wi-Fi Extender With Great Coverage
Another great Wi-Fi extender is TP-Link AC1200 (RE355). It comes with total 1200Mbps Wi-Fi speeds (300Mbps/2.4GHz and 867Mbps/5GHz). There are three adjustable dual-band antennas to deliver decent coverage (up to 10,000 sq. ft.) as well as stable connection. So, you will be able to enjoy flawless HD video streaming and gaming simultaneously.
By the way, this Wi-Fi extender provides hefty security encryption to keep your data safe. It is also rather compatible and supports almost any Wi-Fi router or wireless access point. It works with such operating systems as Microsoft Windows 98SE/NT/2000/XP/Vista as well as Windows 7/8/10, Mac OS, NetWare, UNIX and Linux.
Its Gigabit Ethernet port can be used as a wireless adapter to connect a wired device to your network. Thanks to its intelligent signal light you will be also able to select the best location for Wi-Fi coverage as it will show the signal strength. Note that there is free TP-LINK Tether App to control and manage Wi-Fi.
- three external dual-band antennas
- easy setup and management
- helpful signal light
- great coverage
- could be faster
- sudden connection drops may occur
NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X6S (EX8000)
Another Great Wi-Fi Mesh Extender from NETGEAR
NETGEAR Nighthawk EX8000 is another great Wi-Fi mesh extender. It has great compatibility level, so it will be suitable for any Gateway, router or ISP provided Gateway. There is combined speed up to 3Gbps for a fast and stable connection. Note that it doesn’t reduce the speed of your Wi-Fi, so you won’t experience any connection drops when roaming around your home. NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh gathers all visible Wi-Fi networks into one and selects the most suitable for better performance.
You can connect wired devices to this Wi-Fi mesh extender including smart TV and game consoles with 4GB Ethernet ports. The only requirement is to use a suitable browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0, Firefox 20, Safari 5.1, Google Chrome 25.0 browsers or higher.
- WPS pairing
- MU-MIMO technology
- great speed
- easy setup
- stable connection without dead zones
- four additional ports
- dedicated backhaul
- a bit pricey
- large footprint
- occasional firmware update bugs
TP-Link AC2600 Wifi Extender (RE650)
Fast and Stable Wi-Fi Extender
Looking for a great home Wi-Fi extender with top-notch performance? Then consider TP-Link AC2600 Wi-Fi Extender. This model comes with 4-Stream and 256 QAM technologies which guarantee excellent AC2600 connections and provide extra data stream. Due to the combination of 4-Stream and 256 QAM RE650 it delivers fast performance suitable for gaming and 4K streaming. What is more, thanks to Intelligent Processing Engine it prevents connection drops.
There is also MU-MIMO technology which allows using several devices simultaneously without speed reduction and lagging. Note that RE650 is equipped with four hefty quad-antennas which create reliable connection and together with Beamforming technology provide great coverage.
TP-Link AC2600 Wi-Fi Extender supports such wired devices as game consoles and smart TVs. Besides, there is easy setup and intuitive interface for simple RE650 use.
- fast performance
- MU-MIMO technology
- great coverage
- intelligent signal light to check the best location
- stable connection
- easy setup
- a bit bulky
- needs an occasional reboot
Great Budget Wi-Fi Extender
One of the best Wi-Fi extender under $100 is D-Link DAP-1650. Except for its affordable price, there is a range of other options which attract lots of customers. It is rather fast with 1,300 Mbps on the 5GHz and 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz speeds. This model extends both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi at the same time which makes it rather flexible. So, 4K streaming as well as gaming won’t be a problem for DAP-1650. Besides, this dual-band technology offers backward compatibility with older wireless.
This D-Link Wi-Fi extender comes with four Gigabit LAN ports to provide better wired connections. Note that its multiple internal antennas will eliminate dead zones to make your experience flawless. DAP-1650 has easy setup due to the QRS (Quick Router Setup) Mobile app. There is also WPA and WPA2 wireless encryption to keep your data safe.
- fast performance
- 4 Gigabit LAN ports
- versatile usage
- good security features
- affordable price
- a bit bulky
- poor manuals
- sudden connection drops
- USB 2.0 port only
NETGEAR Nighthawk EX7000
The Best Wi-Fi Extender for Gaming
If you prefer Wi-Fi mesh extenders then NETGEAR NIGHTHAWK EX7000 is one of the best models to choose from. It is convenient in use as it comes with one SSID to manage, so you can easily add devices to this network and the extender will select the best option to boost Wi-Fi performance.
NETGEAR NIGHTHAWK EX7000 provides reliable connections, so you won’t face such problems as unexpected connection drops and as a result interrupted streaming or downloading. This model supports all routers, gateways as well as rented ISP gateways. It can also be connected with wired devices using 5 Gigabit Ethernet Ports. Note that EX7000 is designed with Wi-Fi protected access ((WPA/WPA2-PSK) and WEP.
- 5 Gigabit LAN ports
- external antennas for added coverage
- two Wi-Fi modes (use as an extension or access point)
- easy to install and configure
- bulky with a large footprint
- firmware needs improvement
Linksys AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender (RE6350)
The Best Cheap Wi-Fi Extender
RE6350 is definitely the best cheap Wi-Fi extender which will pleasantly surprise you not only with its low price but also a range of decent options. The first thing to consider is its easy and fast setup with Push Button Connect. After pressing the button the extender will automatically sync with your router. Then just plug in the range extender where you need it. By the by, there is also Spot Finder Technology which allows you to choose the best location for the range extender in your home.
There are also automatic firmware updates which take care of security level to keep your private data safe and protected. Linksys AC1200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender is a highly compatible extender which supports all Wi-Fi routers.
Despite its low price RE6350 offers good speed for media streaming, online gaming and large file transfers. What is more, its Beamforming technology allows several users to enjoy high-bandwidth activities at the same time.
- compact design
- simple setup
- Beamforming technology
- connection drops
- limited range
- no LAN ports
TP-Link AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender (RE580D)
Another Affordable Wi-Fi Extender
Another great budget Wi-Fi extender is TP-Link AC1900 Dual Band. It delivers strong Wi-Fi coverage up to 10,000 sq. ft. thanks to three external dual-band antennas as well as hefty 700mW amplifiers. Its Beamforming technology provides more focused signal for better connections. There is also an option of Intelligent Signal Indicator which changes color when finds the best spot to extend your Wi-Fi.
Its dual-band speeds reach up to 1900Mbps and guarantee flawless 4K HD streaming and gaming at the same time. RE580D offers stable connections to multiple users with 1GHz dual-core processor. There are also Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect smart TVs and game consoles to Wi-Fi.
RE580D supports any 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi router or access point. Its free TP-LINK Tether App will help you install this Wi-Fi extender as well as manage its configurations easily. By the way, there are also advanced security encryptions to keep your data protected.
- good throughput performance
- easy installation and configuration
- Beamforming technology
- great coverage
- no USB connectivity
- connection drops
- requires frequent reset
TP-Link AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE220)
The Best Budget Wi-Fi Extender from TP-Link
TP-Link AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender is the best budget Wi-Fi extender on our list. So, if you need something really cheap or just don’t want to spend a fortune on a new extender, then have a look at TP-Link AC750. It’s also a great option for extending Wi-Fi to Echo/Alexa devices, WeMo & TP-Link smart plugs, TP-Link smart bulbs, iPhone, etc.
RE220 supports all standard Wi-Fi routers and gateway. The RE220 offers cloud functionality for FW updates and provides remote management. This TP-Link Wi-Fi extender is designed with dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual bands, so there is decent speed which allows HD streaming and online gaming.
- can use one band for dedicated backhaul
- can be used as an Access Point
- easy setup
- no auto switching between bands
- not the best option for high-speed routers
- too short power cord
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.
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!