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 2020
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
Prescitech AC1200 WiFi Range Extender
A Solid Performance in a Mixture with Affordability
Efficiency and a cheap price sometimes do go hand to hand, and Prescitech AC1200 WiFi Range Extender is a great example of that.
Even though this device doesn’t bring anything brilliant, it does more than a good job of extending your existed Wi-Fi signal over the whole area of your house, while delivering a combined speed of 1200Mbps (900Mbps in 5GHz band and 300Mbps speeds in 2.4GHz range) and allowing for more than a stable and reliable connection.
Prescitech AC1200 WiFi Range Extender is equipped with four high-powered antennas and offers great compatibility, including support for Amazon Alexa. Moreover, it delivers compact design and altogether provides a great resource for stable 4K streaming or high-resolution gaming.
All in all, this extender won’t blow you away with its numerous features or dazzling super-speeds; nevertheless, it will do a proper job and deliver a good value for the money that will please the large base of budget-oriented users.
- Easy setup
- Excellent compatibility
- Not the best quality control
- It lacks a bit more features
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 WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX7700
A Superb Efficiency in a “Stealth” Mode
If you are looking for a serious Wi-Fi extender that will please you with both performance and a large number of available features, NETGEAR Wi-Fi Mesh Range Extender EX7700 is a great choice for you.
Although it isn’t cheap, this amazing device is bringing so much to the customers, such as MU-MIMO functionality, Smart Connect function, Wi-Fi Analytics App, as well as Smart Roaming that allows for the usage of the existed SSID. Moreover, this extender delivers combined Tri-Band speed of 2.2Gbps (866Mbps in each of the two 5GHz bands and 400Mbps speed in 2.4GHz range). However, thanks to the FastLane3 technology, one of its 5GHz bands is used solely for communication with a router, allowing for a continuous stable and fast connection and amazing user experience at the same time.
NETGEAR Wi-Fi Mesh Range Extender EX7700 comes with four super-efficient internal antennas and offers coverage of up to 2000 square feet of additional space. Also, it supports simultaneous connection of up to 40 devices, offers great compatibility with a vast number of different devices and altogether presents a one of a kind device.
In other words, if budget isn’t your major concern and you are looking for the best Wi-Fi extender there is, NETGEAR Wi-Fi Mesh Range Extender EX7700 should be your primary choice.
- Excellent performance
- High price
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 AC1200 WiFi Range Extender (RE300)
A Good All-around Wi-Fi Extender at a Fair Price
TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE300) is a multi-functional device that can be used either as an extender, repeater, one mesh or access point. It is cheap and offers decent performance with the combined wireless speed of about 1200Mbps (300Mbps in 2.4GHz band and 876Mbps in 5GHz range), and more importantly, provides highly reliable operations.
RE300 comes with a responsive web interface, offers an easy setup and delivers a solid Wi-Fi coverage, especially considering its low price.
Unfortunately, this device also comes with a few drawbacks, such as the absence of LAN port, and along with that, lack of wired and wireless backhaul, which surely affects its overall mesh functionality. Moreover, RE300 is compatible only with a couple of routers as Archer A7, C7 and MR600 when used as one mesh; therefore, if you are looking for such functionality from your extender, be sure that you have one of these before the purchase.
All in all, this device provides a solid speed boost and reliable connection and generally presents a good both Wi-Fi extender and Wi-Fi repeater device. However, if you are looking for a mesh feature, its limitations in that department may present a deal-breaker for many.
- Affordable price
- Easy setup
- No wired or wireless backhaul
- No LAN
- A bit bulky
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!