Do you have a Wi-Fi router that struggles to reach every corner of the house, office, garage, or backyard? If so, you might need a range extender. A mesh system could fix the problem, but that requires replacing your entire network. Instead, get a Wi-Fi range extender to improve the existing setup you already have, that way you can work or stream Netflix from any room in the house.
As the name suggests, a range extender picks up your router’s Wi-Fi signal, then uses additional power and more antennas to boost the signal even further. Typically, the terms “Wi-Fi extender,” “booster,” and “repeater” all mean the same thing, with extender being the most popular name.Basically, it’s a mini router you can strategically plug into the wall wherever it’s needed most, then reap the benefits.
A Wi-Fi range extender is different than a Mesh Wi-Fi system, which is a slightly newer technology. With an extender, instead of buying all new gear, you simply add a boost to your current home internet setup.
- Speed & Specs:When looking for a range extender, you’ll want to choose something that matches (or exceeds) your current Wi-Fi router.If you have a dual-band AC1200 router, get at least a dual-band AC1200 extender. That way, the extender isn’t bottlenecking the system any more than it has to. Or, if you happen to own a Wi-Fi 6 router, get a Wi-Fi 6 extender.
- Range: Typically, extenders under-deliver on promises, but you’ll still want to pay attention to the suggested increase in range. When it says it’ll cover a 2,000-sq. ft. house, don’t expect a miracle, but definitely get an extender offering enough range for your situation.
- Price: Finally, choose something that will fit your needs without being too expensive. If you consider spending too much on an extender, you might as well switch to a whole-home Mesh setup.
The Netgear Nighthawk X4(EX7300) is the best overall Wi-Fi range extender for several reasons, even if it’s a little pricey. It’s one of the fastest plug-in extenders around delivering stable AC2200 speeds, supportsMU-MIMO technology to stream to several devices in your home, has four internal antennas, covers over 2,000 sq. ft., and has an ethernet port to hardwire something like a game console or PC.
We also love the X4’s smart roaming feature. Most range extenders don’t use the same Wi-Fi network name as what’s already in your house and instead have an “Ext” at the end. As a result, devices will disconnect from your main router and connect to the extender as you move around your home. With the Nighthawk X4, that doesn’t happen. It’s all one fast, smooth, seamless experience.
Another solid option and a great Wi-Fi range extender that’s a little more future-proof is theTP-Link AX1500. This offers plenty of range, two external antennas, but more importantly, it has Wi-Fi 6. Many people still don’t have Wi-Fi 6 routers, but they’re becoming more common by the day. Without diving into what makes Wi-Fi 6 great, just know that it’s faster, broadcasts Wi-Fi signals further, won’t have as much interference, and performs better in crowded areas like apartments.
The TP-Link AX1500 will extend the range of your home Wi-Fi over 1,500 sq. ft. with quick and stable speeds, work with newer routers in the future, whether that’s a TP-Link mesh router or any Wi-Fi 6 model.
If you just want to get a better Wi-Fi connection in one room of the house or your garage and don’t need the best or fastest option, consider the affordable D-Link AC1200. This is a solid dual-band (2.4 and 5Ghz) Wi-Fi range extender that offers decent speeds and coverage under $50. It supports AC1200 speeds, has two external antennas you can aim for the best connection, and it still has an ethernet port if you need one. It’s a good little booster, just don’t expect it to work upstairs and across the entire house.
Last but not least, we wanted to recommend something a bit over the top-. It’s a premium Wi-Fi range booster unlike any other for those that need the best. The Netgear Nighthawk X6(EX7700) is a powerful tri-band Wi-Fi range extender offering fast AC2200 speeds, fast-lane technology, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and Netgear’s smart-roaming feature.
Smart roam ensures you only have one Wi-Fi name to look for and connect to, instead of also connecting to the extender. And with tri-band backhaul, the X6 uses one band for communicating with the main router, leaving both the 2.4 and 5Ghz bands free for 4K video streaming, gaming, and more from any area of the house. This thing is as capable as they come, but has a price tag to match.