Selecting and Installing a WiFi Booster

Our homes and workplaces are filled with obstacles that significantly reduce WiFi signal strength. Metal appliances, thick walls, electric wires, lights, and computers can bring an otherwise blazing fast internet connection to a crawl.

Selecting and Installing a WiFi Booster

When this happens, people often waste hours talking with their internet service providers or trying various tips and tricks on how to avoid interference and extend signal range. The net result of these attempts is seldom satisfactory.

The good news is that everyone can say goodbye to their WiFi signal problems. All that’s needed are the right tools for the job. Tried and tested by countless professional and home users alike, the combination of NetSpot, a wireless site survey, WiFi analysis, and troubleshooting app for Windows and Mac OS X, with a WiFi signal booster yields excellent results and is guaranteed to fill all the bars on the WiFi strength indicator on your smartphone or laptop.

Logo TP-Link AC1750

TP-Link RE550 AC1900 WiFi Range Booster

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Logo Linksys RE7000

Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Booster

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Logo NETGEAR X4 AC2200 W EX7300

Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Booster

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Logo Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000

Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band WiFi Booster

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D Link DAP 1610 Logo

D-Link DAP-1610 AC1200 WiFi Booster

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What Is a WiFi Signal Booster

A wireless booster, also known as a WiFi extender or WiFi amplifier, is an electronic device similar to your home or office router. Its job is to receive a wireless signal, amplify it, and broadcast it again. Out of these, the amplification phase is the most important.

Desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices have tiny wireless chips with built-in antennas. In most situations, they do a good job, but they become inadequate as soon as you move farther away from the wireless signal source. In comparison, a wireless signal booster has two large antennas — one for receiving and one for broadcasting — which can be either built-in or external.

The signal amplification electronic circuit works like a microphone, making weak signal strong.

A wireless booster can be used to strengthen an existing WiFi network and bring strong internet signal to all corners of a house or an office. You simply connect a WiFi booster to your network — just like you would a smartphone — and it will automatically start broadcasting. Most wireless signal boosters on the market are designed to be easily extendable.

Let’s say that you would like a rock solid internet connecting in every room in your house, including the basement and the attic. The chances are that a single wireless signal booster wouldn’t be able to cover everything on this own. But two, three, or even four boosters are guaranteed to do the trick.

Selecting the Best WiFi Booster

How do you select the best WiFi booster for your home or office? First, you need to find out areas require signal boosting and which are fine as they are. You could, of course, use an online speed test to test whether your download and upload speeds match the advertised speeds of your internet service provider. The problem with this method is that it offers little to no precision.

Online internet speed tests are affected by the total number of people using them, background network activity, and other factors. NetSpot’s Survey Mode is a much better solution. With it, you can accurately, quickly, and easily create a visual map of your entire network and see where it would be best to install a wireless signal booster.

The most significant disadvantage of this type of signal booster is the weaker performance. Stand-alone wireless boosters come with external high-gain antennas that tend to provide noticeably better boosting than the integrated antennas of plug-in boosters.

Just like you wouldn’t expect a decade old WiFi router to support all modern internet standards, you can’t expect old WiFi boosters to support the latest wireless standards and encryption algorithms. At the very least, select a booster capable of achieving the same download and upload speeds as your wireless router. Better yet, select a booster that supports the most cutting-edge technologies on the market. You may pay more, but you’ll also get a lot more mileage out of it.

Finally, consider what perks come with the wireless booster. Some boosters are bare bones and don’t come with any extra features beyond the boosting itself. Other wireless boosters can provide their users with detailed usage statistics through WiFi booster apps. Not everyone cares about extra features like this, but, if you do, make sure your WiFi booster has them.

How to Install a Wireless Signal Booster

NetSpot comes with many handy features to help you find the perfect location for your WiFi booster. The one that you’ll likely find the most useful is the ability to start network surveys with heatmap visualizations of signal strength.

  • To start a new survey, launch NetSpot and switch to the Survey Mode.

  • Click on the Start a New Survey button and name your new survey.

Netspot — New Survey
Netspot — New Survey
  • If you have an existing map of your area, you can load it from your computer. Alternatively, you can use NetSpot’s map-drawing feature to create a new one.

NetSpot’s map-drawing
NetSpot’s map-drawing
  • Then it’s time to help NetSpot determine the scale of the map. Select any two points on the map and input the distance between them.

  • Select where you’re standing to start the first measurement.

  • Move to different places to complete the survey.

NetSpot Stop Scan
Netspot — complete the survey
  • Once finished, click the Stop Scan button and go through the available heatmap visualizations to see the results.

Netspot — heatmap visualizations
Netspot — heatmap visualizations

If you see areas with a weak signal, you know where to place WiFi boosters. We highly recommend you use NetSpot to verify that the installed WiFi boosters fixed the original issue and improved your signal strength.

With NetSpot, you don’t need an expensive technician to make wireless connection drops a thing of the past. NetSpot is so easy to use yet so capable that anyone can instantly become a network expert and see where the problem is.

Best WiFi Boosters

Most WiFi boosters are designed to be plug and play, making it possible for anyone to install them on their own to enjoy a strong and reliable WiFi signal everywhere.

When selecting a WiFi booster, make sure you have at least a rough idea of how large is the area that you want to cover.

To make the selection process easier for you, we selected the top 5 best WiFi boosters according to professional reviews and real users alike.

TP-Link RE550 AC1900 WiFi Range Booster

Rating : 4.7 out of 5

The TP-Link RE550 AC1900 WiFi Range Booster is a premium WiFi booster aimed at those who want to cover up to 12,000 additional sq.ft. Its three adjustable antennas give it the ability to evenly distribute WiFi signals to all directions, and the built-in Gigabit Ethernet port is perfect for connecting to a nearby stationary device.

Unlike with some other WiFi boosters, the TP-Link RE550 AC1900 WiFi Range Booster is easy to set up even without a third-party WiFi signal analyzer app like NetSpot. That’s because its built-in intelligent signal light helps find the best location for optimal WiFi coverage by showing the signal strength in real time.

TP-Link AC1750 WLAN-Repeater (RE450)

Because the TP-Link RE550 AC1900 WiFi Range Booster can simultaneously broadcast on two different frequencies (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz), it can achieve combined WiFi speeds of up to 1,900 Mbps, and that’s pretty fast for a WiFi range booster.

Pros and Cons
  • Can cover up to 12,000 sq.ft.
  • Three adjustable antennas
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Straightforward setup process
  • None
Logo Linksys
Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Booster
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Rating : 4.4 out of 5

Despite its unassuming design, the Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ is packed with modern WiFi technologies, including Multi-user MIMO, which allows multiple Wi-Fi devices to simultaneously receive multiple data streams. The WiFi booster also supports Cross Band Technology to maximize the utilization of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless bands for combined speeds of up to 1.9 Gbps.

Linksys RE7000 1900

The Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ is designed to extend the range of your WiFi router up to 10,000 square feet. The setup process is a piece of cake because you’re guided from start to finish by the Spot Finder app. All you need to do is connect the WiFi booster to your router by pressing the WPS button and follow the app’s instructions.

Pros and Cons
  • MU-MIMO technology
  • Push-Button Connect technology
  • Relatively affordable
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • No external antennas
Logo Netgear
Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Booster
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Rating : 4.2 out of 5

If you need an Ethernet port to connect a computer, video game console, or smart TV to your WiFi range booster, then the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Booster isn’t the right choice for you because it doesn’t have any.

Despite this flaw, the WiFi range booster can offer a lot of value thanks to its great performance, MU-MIMO support, and a physical WPS button. Both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands are supported, so you should be able to achieve great speeds even in areas with lots of interference.

Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200

Also worth praising is the fact that the Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Booster doesn’t block the second receptacle when connected to a wall outlet, keeping it usable for other devices.

Pros and Cons
  • Great performance despite internal antennas
  • MU-MIMO support
  • Convenient physical control buttons
  • Doesn't block the second receptacle
  • No Ethernet port
  • Dated design
Logo Netgear
Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band WiFi Booster
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Rating : 4.1 out of 5

The Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 is a high-end WiFi booster with speeds up to 3 Gbps. It uses Netgear’s patented FastLane3 technology to broadcast WiFi signals over three different bands (at the same time (including a dedicated 5GHz band with up to 1.7 Gbps) so that each device you connect to the internet can choose the fastest line available.

What’s more, the three bands can be used to create the same seamless signal coverage that’s typically created using more expensive mesh routers.

Netgear Nighthawk X6S Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Extender (EX8000)

Thanks to the support for the 802.11k standard, you can move around the house while video chatting with friends or watching an online video without any interruption. On the rear, the Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 has four Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect wired devices, such as your Smart TV, game console, or home security system.

Just keep in mind that this high-end WiFi booster is much larger than most other WiFi boosters on the market. Its dimensions are much closer to WiFi routers, but its performance more than makes up for the bulky form factor.

Pros and Cons
  • Creates a mesh-like network
  • Supports three WiFi bands
  • MU-MIMO support
  • Bulky
  • Expensive
Logo D-Link
D-Link DAP-1610 AC1200 WiFi Booster

Rating : 3.8 out of 5

Don’t let the fact that the D-Link DAP-1610 AC1200 WiFi Booster ranks last on our list of the best WiFi boosters discourage you from taking a closer look at it because it’s still one of the best products in its category.

D Link DAP 1610 AC1200

Thanks to its elegant design, the WiFi booster won’t be an eyesore in your home, and that’s despite the fact that it sports two external antennas. While the antennas can be independently positioned, you should still expect your speeds to be average at best because the router simply isn’t a speed monster, which is evident from how much it heats up when pushed to its limits.

Pros and Cons
  • Elegant design
  • Two external antennas
  • One 10/100 LAN port
  • Slower speeds
  • Heats up quickly

WiFi analyzer app runs on a MacBook (macOS 10.12+) or any laptop (Windows 7/8/10/11) with a standard 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax wireless network adapter.

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WiFi Booster – FAQs
What Is a WiFi Signal Booster?

You might know it as a WiFi signal Booster, a WiFi extender or a WiFi amplifier — a device similar to your home or office router — its job is to receive a wireless signal from a router, boost it, and then broadcast it further. The amplification part is crucial one here, as it helps extend stronger, steadier signal to all areas of your home or office.

How to Select the Best WiFi Booster?

Before getting a new WiFi booster it is best to identify which areas in your home or office require a wireless signal boost. A WiFi site survey app like NetSpot will help you identify the areas with the weakest signal and decide how many WiFi boosters you will need to eliminate dead zones in your network.

A more powerful booster will cost more than a weaker device with less features, but in the long run it is worth the investment. Standalone wireless boosters with external antennas are preferable to plug-in boosters with integrated antennas, because they provide a better signal. It is also recommended to look at newer models of WiFi boosters with the support for latest technologies.

How to find a perfect location for your WiFi booster?

NetSpot can help you find the best placement for WiFi boosters by showing you where the signal is weak or absent completely. To create a visual heatmap of your wireless network signal in NetSpot, follow these steps:

  • Open NetSpot and switch to the Survey mode;
  • Start a new survey;
  • Load an existing plan of your space or create a new one in NetSpot;
  • Scale the plan by choosing two easily identifiable points on it and enter the actual distance between them;
  • Select the spot you are standing in to begin the survey;
  • Move around your space in zigzag pattern and take measurements as you go;
  • When you are finished taking measurements, click the Stop Scan button;
  • NetSpot will create heatmap visualizations that you can look through and analyze your coverage;
  • Once you’ve installed WiFi boosters in the areas with the weakest signal, it is recommended to run a survey with NetSpot again to confirm the proper placement of the devices.
Read next in All about Wi-Fi Extenders, Boosters

If you want to get more information about Wi-Fi, check out the following articles about Wi-Fi Extenders, Boosters etc.

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