Home WiFi routers are notoriously unpredictable. Sometimes the signal reaches across several rooms all the way to the other side of your house; other times the signal drops as soon as you leave the room with the router. And if the router you got from your ISP isn’t strong enough to cover your entire living space or office, you better not expect to get a better one if you want to avoid a bitter disappointment.
Best WiFi Extenders
Is your WiFi router not performing up to your expectations? Maybe it’s not the time to replace it just yet. Instead, you could purchase a WiFi range extender to help it cover your home with a strong, steady WiFi signal.
- 957 User reviews
How Does a WiFi Range Extender Work?
A WiFi extender doesn’t replace your existing router, it works together with it, making the original signal stronger.
WiFi extenders work like stereo amplifiers used for driving hi-fi systems. They use electric power from a power supply to increase the strength of the original WiFi signal, transmitting the amplified signal in the air. To accomplish this feat of engineering, WiFi range extenders contain two WiFi antennas: one is used for signal capture and the other one for signal transmission.
A WiFi extender is often referred to as “booster”, “repeater”, or “WiFi extender”, but all these names mean the same thing: a device that captures a WiFi signal, amplifies it, and transmits it.
Most wireless range extenders plug into the standard electrical outlet. They can be then set up with the help of the WPS button or a dedicated smartphone app. WPS is a network security standard that allows WiFi-enabled devices to communicate without entering long passphrases.
With modern WiFi extenders, you get to enjoy the same robust encryption protocols as you get with your main WiFi router, so there’s no need to worry about your privacy. However, you should be prepared for some speed loss. Some of the best WiFi extenders on the market can rebroadcast WiFi signal with only a negligible speed loss, but most single-band extenders lose up to 50 percent of the original bandwidth.
To minimize the speed loss, it’s paramount to position the WiFi extender in the optimal spot, preferably with the help of a professional app for wireless site surveys, Wi-Fi analysis, and troubleshooting such as NetSpot.
Why Should I Buy a WiFi Extender?
A WiFi extender (also known as a WiFi booster, WiFi repeater, and WiFi amplifier) is an electronic device with two WiFi antennas. One of the two antennas receives a signal from a wireless router, and the other antenna broadcasts it after it has been amplified.
When placed correctly, a WiFi extender can help you extend your WiFi network to cover your entire home.
To know whether you’re better off replacing your WiFi router with a more capable model or purchasing one of the wireless extenders mentioned in this article, we recommend you download and use NetSpot to analyze your wireless network.
NetSpot is a professional app for wireless site surveys, Wi-Fi analysis, and troubleshooting. You can download it for free, and it works on both Windows and macOS. Even though NetSpot is praised by professional network administrators, its simple user interface makes it suitable even for regular home users.
How to Find the Best WiFi Range Extender?
WiFi range extenders come in all sizes, shapes, and price ranges. A purchase of a Wi-Fi extender only makes sense if a purchase of a new WiFi router isn’t a cheaper way how to achieve the same result.
Always make sure to read online WiFi extender reviews before you click on the Order button. As you may know, networking equipment isn’t exactly known for its reliability. Some products work seemingly flawlessly, whereas virtually identical alternatives from other manufacturers only cause headaches.
If you care at all about your security and privacy, avoid products from unknown manufacturers and companies with a poor reputation. With almost 400,000 new malware samples detected every day, WiFi security isn’t something to be taken lightly. In the day and age of targeted ransomware attacks, it often takes just a single determined attacker to bring down an entire company or ruin someone’s life.
You should also avoid WiFi range extenders that have suspiciously few positive online reviews because such extenders are likely to perform unreliably, or they may have hidden flaws that become apparent only after weeks and months of use. The only exception are newly released WiFi range extenders that haven’t been available long enough for users and professional reviewers to evaluate their features.
Your WiFi range extender should support the same WiFi standards as your WiFi router. At the moment, the latest WiFi standard in use is IEEE 802.11ad, which provides data throughput rates of up to 6 Gbps. If you have an older router, it most likely supports only the IEEE 802.11n WiFi standard, also known as Wireless N.
This earlier standard can provide data throughput rates of up to 300 Mbps, making it considerably slower than the newest standard but still fast enough even for larger households.
You should also decide whether you need a dual-band WiFi extender or not. A dual-band WiFi extender can broadcast either on the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band. A single-band WiFi extender can only broadcast on the 2.4 GHz band.
If you live in a densely populated area, the chances are there are many wireless routers in your vicinity that broadcast on the 2.4 GHz band, causing network congestions, which lead to lag spikes and slowdowns. Switching to the 5 GHz band is an easy way how you can avoid these issues and often even enjoy faster speeds and a more stable signal.
Desktop vs. Plug-In WiFi Range Extenders
When selecting the best WiFi extender, you need to decide whether you want to buy a desktop or plug-in extender.
Desktop WiFi range extenders: As their name suggests, WiFi range extenders of this variety are meant to be placed on a desk or shelf and connected to power using a standard power cable. This gives you a lot of flexibility during installation since the only limiting factor is the length of the power cable. Because desktop WiFi range extenders can be positioned away from walls and other obstacles, they can typically achieve better coverage than their plug-in counterparts, but having a desktop WiFi range extender in the middle of a room is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Plug-in WiFi range extenders: Most WiFi range extenders sold today are designed to be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Plug-in WiFi range extenders are extremely convenient to install as long as you have an available outlet in a suitable location. Perhaps the biggest downside of plug-in WiFi range extenders is the fact that they’re, by their design, always located close to a wall and electrical wires, both of which negatively affect the strength of the emitted WiFi signal.
Installation and Configuration
While some home users are technically savvy and don’t mind deciphering cryptic configuration options and reading lengthy manuals, most prefer the installation and configuration process to be as straightforward as possible.
The good news is that most WiFi range extenders — both desktop and plug-in — that are sold today take just a few minutes to install and another few minutes to configure. Almost all of the best WiFi extenders available are equipped with an LED status indicator that clearly informs you when you find the perfect place for your extender.
From there, you simply need to connect the extender to your existing WiFi network and pick a password for the new network. This can be done using a smartphone app or with a simple press of the WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). WiFi range extenders that don’t have a simple setup process should be avoided because there are countless more convenient alternatives to choose from.
Limitations of WiFi Range Extenders
Wi-Fi range extenders are tremendously useful devices that can instantly extend the reach of a weak WiFi network and eliminate places of signal weakness. However, they do have certain limitations, and you should keep them in mind when researching which WiFi extender is the best and deciding whether a new WiFi router wouldn’t be a better solution:
Separate network: WiFi range extenders create a separate network, which means that your devices must switch from your main network to the extended network as you move around your house. Some devices can transition between WiFi networks relatively smoothly, while others take a long time. Broadcasting one more WiFi network can also create issues with signal interference, especially in the 2.4 GHz band, which offers only three non-overlapping channels.
Limited bandwidth: Because of how WiFi range extenders operate, they effectively reduce the available bandwidth in half for any device connected to them. If network performance is critically important to you, it might be a good idea to research other solutions, such as mesh networks.
Another device to configure: When you buy a WiFi range extender to increase the reach of your existing network, you need to configure it separately from your router. From time to time, you should also check if there is an update available for your extender to keep it secure and in the best possible working condition.
If these limitations of WiFi range extenders are not dealbreakers for you, go ahead and move on to the next chapter of this article to learn how to use NetSpot to plan your WiFi extender purchase.
Use NetSpot to Plan Your WiFi Extender Purchase
To select the best WiFi range extender, you should check your current WiFi coverage to see where the weak spots are. In theory, you could take your smartphone or laptop and simply base your analysis on the WiFi strength indicator icon, but a professional wireless site surveillance app such as NetSpot will give you much more accurate results.
NetSpot comes with three survey modes: Inspector, Survey and Planning. The former mode is great if you want to get a quick overview of all WiFi networks in your area, but the latter mode is what you need for a comprehensive WiFi survey.
Even though NetSpot satisfies the needs of professional network administrators, it’s accessible even to casual users. The polished, modern user interface removes all complexity from wireless network surveilling, allowing you to generate detailed signal heatmaps with a few clicks.
It all starts with a map of your local area. You can either upload an existing map or create a new map using NetSpot’s map-building tools. After that, it’s time to walk from room to room until you cover the entire area. NetSpot will then analyze the gathered data and present you with results.
What Are the Best WiFi Extenders in 2023?
When determining which WiFi extenders are the best in 2023, we’ve taken into consideration not just features and performance, but also reliability and user reviews. At the same time, we’ve tried to keep our selection as varied as possible to include something for everyone.
D-Link’s WiFi extender supports dual-band 802.11ac alongside 802.11n/g/b/a for superb backward compatibility with older WiFi devices that can’t take advantage of the speed offered by 802.11ac. The extender has four gigabit Ethernet ports for high-speed wired connections.
D-Link has designed their product to be very easy to set up, and the use of Multiple Antenna Technology provides superior wireless coverage compared to standard home routers.
- Supports dual-band 802.11ac
- Four gigabit Ethernet ports
- Very easy to set up
Featuring Cross Band Technology for maximum use of both bands at the same time for high-speed connection as well as Beamforming Technology for directional transmission of the WiFi signal to the connected devices, the Linksys RE7000 WiFi range extender has what it takes to cover up to 10,000 square feet with a strong WiFi signal.
You can find Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ WiFi Range Extender in any local electronic shop or buy it on Amazon right now.
- Cross Band Technology
- Directional transmission
- Covers up to 10,000 square feet
- Gets rather hot
The extender relies on a set of multiple-input and multiple-output technologies for wireless communication, known as MU-MIMO, to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously, allowing the entire family or office to enjoy high-bitrate multimedia content without buffering.
Delivering speeds up to 2.2 Gbps, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 is a high-end WiFi extender with modern features, sleek design, and simple setup.
- Support for MU-MIMO
- Speeds up to 2.2 Gbps
- Compact case
- Not the best value for money
Featuring three adjustable antennas that let you dial the extender for optimal coverage, the TP-Link AC1750 can cover up to 10,000 square feet, helping you eliminate dead zones and expand your WiFi network to places where it would otherwise be inaccessible.
The TP-Link AC1750 WiFi range extender has won numerous awards for its modern design and remarkable performance — both delivered at an affordable price.
- Easy to set up
- Three external antennas
- Surprisingly great performance
- The external antennas make it bulky
This powerful WiFi extender from Linksys stands out with its four Gigabit Ethernet ports that ensure high-speed connectivity for wired devices. The extender utilizes Cross-Band technology to broadcast a single WiFi network simultaneously on both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz band, achieving stable and high-speed transfers of data even during the heaviest workloads.
The Linksys RE6500 also boasts the ability to connect directly to a stereo system or audio speaker and stream music to it from a smart device or computer. Its two antennas are removable, so you can replace them with larger ones should you ever need even better performance.
- Fantastic performance
- Four Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Linksys Spot Finder Technology
- Takes a lot of space
The Netgear WiFi Range Extender EX3700 is an excellent budget-friendly WiFi range extender that can add WiFi range coverage up to 1000 square feet without breaking your budget. It has a single Ethernet port for your gaming console, desktop computer, or smart TV and delivers speeds of up to 750 Mbps.
It works flawlessly with any WiFi router, and you can connect it to your existing WiFi network with a simple press of the WPS button.
NETGEAR has released a handy smartphone app, called WiFi Analytics, that you can use to test WiFi strength in rooms throughout your home. The app does what it’s supposed to do, but it leaves something to be desired when compared to professional WiFi analysis solutions such as NetSpot.
- Compact size
- WPS button for simple installation
- Limited performance
You can think of the NETGEAR WiFi Range Extender EX2800 as a more modern alternative to the Netgear WiFi Range Extender EX3700. Even though it doesn’t have any external antennas, it actually offers superior coverage (although its performance is identical).
We like that it doesn’t block adjacent wall outlets when plug in and appreciate its ability to connect up to 20 devices at the same time.
- Elegant design
- Adds WiFi range coverage up to 1200 square feet
- WPS button for simple installation
- Smart LED indicators
- WiFi speeds only up to 750 Mbps
If you’re looking for the best WiFi extender for gaming, look no further because this tri-band extender from Netgear offers unmatched performance and speeds of up to 3,000 Mbps, which is enough for multiple users to stream 4K video and play demanding online games at the same time.
The Netgear Nighthawk X6S Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Extender (EX8000) features intuitive parental controls take make it easy to block inappropriate online content and set schedules for individual devices, making it one of the best Netgear WiFi extenders currently available.
- Tri-band extender
- Dedicated backhaul
- Top performance
- Best WiFi extender for gaming
The TP-Link AC1900 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE580D) is a smart WiFi router that you can use as a WiFi range extender. It supports the latest WiFi technology and comes with support for dual-band WiFi and MU-MIMO technology.
Its three external antennas provide the performance and connection stability needed for the most demanding tasks, and TP-Link’s Airtime Fairness feature prevents devices from hogging network bandwidth.
- Smart Connect technology
- 3 non-removable external antennas
- Good performance
- Large size
If you’re willing to spend over $100 on a WiFi range extender, you should consider this high-end model from TP-Link. Its four external antennas and support for MU-MIMO Wave 2 technology allow it to talk to multiple devices over a long range without sacrificing connection speed.
On the left side of the extender is a gigabit Ethernet port for wired devices, and the front side houses three LED indicator lights that help provide optimal placement.
- Dual-band support
- User-friendly interface
- Smartphone app
- Blocks adjacent outlets
Depending on how your electrical wiring is set up in your house or apartment, the NETGEAR PowerLINE 1000 might be the best solution how to broaden the reach of your wireless network. This rather unique NETGEAR WiFi extender consists of two units: one plugs into your modem or router, and the other one plugs into an electrical outlet.
The two units then transmit Internet signal over your existing electrical wiring, helping you expand your network even if there are several thick brick walls making things more difficult for you.
The connection between the two units is securely encrypted, and the NETGEAR PowerLINE 1000 is using the latest Homeplug AV technology to achieve Gigabit speeds through your electrical outlets.
With its four antennas, two LAN ports, and support for the 802.11ac standard, the Coredy E120 is an undisputed king of the budget category of WiFi extenders. The Coredy E120 is actually not just a WiFi extender as it can function also as an access point and router.
Regardless of how you use this handy device, the Coredy E120 will always be able to deliver fast wireless speeds of up to 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band.
Test Your New WiFi Extender with NetSpot
Shortly after you buy and install a new Wi-Fi extender, you should verify whether it performs according to your expectations using NetSpot. You can either do a quick, local Wi-Fi analysis using the Inspector mode, but we recommend a complete site survey using the Survey mode.
The easy-to-understand heatmap that NetSpot generates will instantly help you see whether your new WiFi extender has eliminated the dreaded weak spot.
Absolutely! WiFi extenders capture an existing WiFi signal using one WiFi antenna, amplify it, and transmit it using another WiFi antenna. The best WiFi range extenders are able to cover a wide area with a strong WiFi signal and effectively eliminate all dead zones and areas of signal weakness.
The strongest WiFi extender we’ve reviewed is the D-Link DAP-1650 WiFi Range Extender (AC1200), which supports dual-band 802.11ac and features four gigabit Ethernet ports for high-speed wired connections. Just don’t expect the strongest WiFi extender available to be cheap.
There’s actually no difference at all. The terms WiFi booster and WiFi extender are used interchangeably by manufacturers to refer to devices that repeat wireless signals from your router to expand its coverage. Some manufacturers also use the term WiFi repeater.
After reviewing 10 different WiFi boosters, the D-Link DAP-1650 WiFi Range Extender (AC1200) emerged as the bets WiFi booster to buy right now, offering fantastic performance and excellent coverage. Its only downside is its steeper price, but that’s to be expected from any top-of-the-range electronic device.
WiFi extenders use electric power from a power outlet to increase the strength of a WiFi signal, transmitting the boosted signal further on. WiFi range extenders feature two antennas: one is used for receiving the signal and the other one for signal transmission.
Getting a WiFi extender is only reasonable if purchasing a newer modern router will be much more expensive or impossible for some reason. Before adding a chosen extender to your cart, make sure to read ratings and reviews. A known reliable brand is always better than an unknown manufacturer with poor reputation.
Here are the top 12 of the best WiFi extenders you can buy in 2023:
- D-Link DAP-1650 WiFi Range Extender (AC1200) supports dual-band 802.11ac and also offers the backward compatibility with older WiFi devices.
- Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ WiFi Range Extender.
- Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Extender (EX7300).
- TP-Link AC1750 WiFi Range Extender (RE450).
- Linksys AC1200 Max WiFi Range Extender RE6500.
- Netgear WiFi Range Extender EX3700.
- NETGEAR WiFi Range Extender EX2800.
- Netgear Nighthawk X6S Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Extender (EX8000).
- TP-Link AC1900 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE580D).
- TP-Link AC2600 WiFi Extender, Up to 2600Mbps.
- NETGEAR PowerLINE 1000.
- Coredy E120.
Just like you would try your new shoes on to ensure perfect fit, you have to make sure your new WiFi extender will satisfy your requirements. Test your new device with NetSpot. You can do a quick, local WiFi analysis with the Inspector mode, but we recommend a complete site survey with the Survey mode.
If you want to get more information about Wi-Fi, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi Extenders, Boosters etc.