The best Wi-Fi extenders in 2021

The best Wi-Fi extenders boost the range of your Wi-Fi signal to push wireless coverage to parts of the house your router can’t reach, eliminating dead spots without upgrading to an expensive mesh networking system. These small and affordable Wi-Fi signal boosters plug into the nearest outlet to provide a quick solution for weak wireless signal and spotty coverage. It doesn’t matter if you call them Wi-Fi extenders, signal boosters, or wireless repeaters, they all do the same thing: provide stronger Wi-Fi signal where you need it.

We’ve reviewed wall plug units that can be hidden behind the couch and desktop units that prioritize power over aesthetics, but the best Wi-Fi extender for you is the one that can be positioned to add wider Wi-Fi coverage where you need it, whether it’s so you can get work done in a basement office or stream shows out in the backyard.

  • Want signal everywhere? Check out the best mesh Wi-Fi routers
  • See the best laptops for getting work done

The best Wi-Fi extender for you will meet your coverage needs and be convenient to use, as well as fitting your budget. Overall, our rating criteria include design, range, throughput, setup and which settings you can adjust. But our recommendations aren’t purely about speed and coverage, but also price.

What are the best Wi-Fi extenders?

Based on our in-depth lab tests and hands-on usage in a real home, the best Wi-Fi extender on the market is the TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender. It has great range and performance in a plug-in design that’s easy to install in most any room. It also has a handy smartphone app that makes managing your network easier.

If you’re willing to pay for top performance, the Editor’s Choice Netgear AX1800 4-Stream Mesh Extender (EAX20) is the most capable extender we’ve reviewed, with Wi-Fi 6 speeds and built-in mesh support, but it’s a larger desktop model that’s not as easy to hide.

The best Wi-Fi extenders you can buy today

1. TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender

Best Wi-Fi extender overall

Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

The TP-Link RE650 takes a top position as the best Wi-Fi extender overall, with a convenient plug-in design, and long range for big homes. It packs a lot of power, and delivers great speeds at up to 75 feet. Really, our only problem with the TP-Link RE650 is that the plug-in unit is large enough that it will probably block adjacent outlets, but that’s a small quibble for the excellent performance this extender provides.

That performance came second only to our top overall pick, but the TP-Link RE650 offers competitive speeds in a handy, easy-to-install design. With four external antennas and dual-band wireless-AC support, the TP-Link RE650 is a great choice for large homes. You can also set up and monitor your extended network with TP-Link’s handy Tether app, which puts advanced settings and security tools right on your phone or tablet.

2. Netgear AX1800 4-Stream Mesh Extender (EAX20)

The best extender with Wi-Fi 6 support

Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

With Wi-Fi 6 speeds and even mesh capability built right in, the Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20) was already a contender for the best Wi-Fi extender you can get. While not everyone will be excited about it’s large desktop design – without a plug-in design, there’s no hiding this extender behind the couch or in the corner – and a price that’s more expensive than some routers, the proof is in the performance. And boy, does the Netgear EAX20 deliver, with category-leading speeds and an awesome 95-foot range.

The Netgear EAX20 does one thing and does well: it extends networks that are faster and have a longer range than the competition. Throw in a handful of customization options, and add a layer of online security to help protect your home network, and it’s not hard to say that this admittedly pricey extender is worth every penny.

3. Rock Space AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender

A great affordable Wi-Fi extender

Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

For an affordable, but capable Wi-Fi extender, you might want to consider the Rock Space AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender. With solid basic Wi-Fi performance and dead-simple setup, this little Wi-Fi extender is a great way to cover the odd dead spot in your Wi-Fi coverage, or to push stronger wireless signals out to your back patio or garage.

With a compact plug-in design and adjustable antennas, you can easily tuck the Rock Space extender out of the way, and setup can be done in just minutes, with no extra app to worry about. And with solid middle of the road performance that works as well between floors as it does room-to-room, it’s also a great choice for townhouses and other multi-floor homes. Just don’t expect blazing speeds or advanced customization options – this is strictly for basic Wi-Fi.

4. Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band WiFi Extender

A premium Wi-Fi extender with top performance

Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

The Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band Extender emerged as the best-performing Wi-Fi extender we’ve tested by a large margin, with faster data speeds and an enormous range. It’s also got some tricks up its sleeve that other extenders might not match, like the ability to use the X6S with any standard router to make a real mesh network, giving you more seamless coverage throughout the house. You can even add additional units to expand that mesh network far and wide.

The Nighthawk X6S uses a desktop design that’s much larger than the average plug-in signal booster, but that size allows for more antennas (six in total) and beefier hardware that offers tri-band coverage out to 168 feet. It’s big and expensive, but it’s worth every penny.

5. Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender

A great Wi-Fi extender with a low profile

Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

Need to beef up your Wi-Fi network coverage and range, but don’t want an extender that stands out? The Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi range extender is compact and low-profile, with a design that won’t block other outlets or stand out as a garish tech product. It’s easily the best Wi-Fi extender we’ve seen for people that want an unobtrusive design, instead of an antenna-festooned brick that blocks adjacent outlets.

But aside from the subtle design, the Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ offers solid throughput speeds and set-up assistance that helps you find the right spot for optimal performance. The overall performance is pretty good, but that set-up assistant makes it a great choice for anyone that wants a little help getting things set up just right.

6. D-Link DAP-1720 Wi-Fi AC1750 Range Extender

Best for two-story homes

Specifications
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid

D-Link’s DAP-1720 is easy to set up, provides a convenient mobile app for managing device settings and can help fill a home with Wi-Fi. Handy features like a built-in Ethernet port that can handle Gigabit speeds, and a physical on/off switch make it a capable tool for extending the reach of your router, but it serves up patchy performance and is so large that it risks blocking adjacent AC outlets.

Despite some irregular performance, the D-Link DAP-1720 does particularly well when pushing signal to a floor above or below. That verticality makes it one of the best Wi-Fi extenders available for getting signal to every floor of a multistory home, making it the perfect choice for anyone who finds their Wi-Fi signal dropping out when they go up or down stairs.

How to choose the best Wi-Fi extender for you

  • How Much Should a Wi-Fi Extender Cost? The cheapest Wi-Fi repeaters will often sell for less than $50, and our current budget pick sells for half that. Newer signal boosting devices have support for the latest wireless standards and offering technologies like beam-forming and Mu-MIMO for enhanced performance will often cost more, but even the best extenders can be had for less than $200.
  • Plug-In or Desktop? While most signal boosters use small plug-in designs that connect directly to a wall outlet, they aren’t the only option. Some of the best Wi-Fi extenders use larger designs that sit on a desk or shelf, more like a traditional router. These larger devices don’t have the same size and weight limitations of plug-in units, allowing for better antenna placement and better internal hardware. Plug-in models, on the other hand, will often be less expensive and more convenient to install.
  • Match Wi-Fi Standards: While you may not pay much attention to which wireless standard your router uses, it will definitely have an impact on how helpful your extender is. If your wireless router uses the current 802.11ac standard, you’ll want to be sure your extender does, too. The older 802.11n standard is slower and often is limited to one band, which will create a bottleneck in your Wi-Fi coverage, slowing down all of your browsing and streaming. But that’s a problem only if your router is offering better speeds. If you have an older wireless-N router, then a matching extender will do the job just fine.
  • Placement Is Everything: Both wireless routers and Wi-Fi extenders use radio waves to share data back and forth with your internet connection. You need to find somewhere that’s close enough to the router to grab a strong signal to rebroadcast, but far enough away to extend the network’s range to where it’s needed. Need more help? Check out our guide to Wi-Fi extender placement.
  • Consider an Upgrade: If your wireless router isn’t providing the speeds or coverage you want, it may be better to skip the Wi-Fi extender entirely and get a new router. Newer models offer better performance, and mesh routers will let you expand your wireless coverage across even the largest home. (One of our editors traded in his router-and-extender combination for a Netgear Orbi mesh system. See why he says «This mesh router is the best thing I bought during the pandemic.»)
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How we test Wi-Fi extenders

Every Wi-Fi extender we review is evaluated based on a combination of in-depth performance tests and hands-on usage in a real home. This mix of real-world use and controlled benchmark testing gives us a clear picture of how well each device performs.

We use Ixia’s IxChariot testing software to measure throughput at a variety of distances and environmental conditions. This includes testing with the extender placed at 50 feet and 75 feet from the router. The software simulates traffic in a busy wireless network while measuring data flow back and forth. The results are shown in megabits per second (Mbps) at a distance from the extender, with higher numbers indicating better performance.

Measuring the throughput at various distances also lets us determine the effective range of the extender, giving you a better understanding of how well a device will do in covering the farthest corners of your home.

We also use each product in a real home, which has signal-thwarting brick walls and the sort of sturdy construction that basic routers struggle to contend with. In that environment we use the network for everything from listening to music and streaming video to performing additional tests and even writing the review.

All of our reviews include additional details about the set-up process, the quirks and cool aspects of design, and all of the settings and management functions the device offers. If you want to learn more about any of the best Wi-Fi extenders listed above, just check out the full reviews for more detailed information.

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WiFi Range Extender Best Setup Guide

With so many complicated guides and tech comparison mumble jumbo around WiFi Range Extender, we have put together some easy to follow best practices and walkthrough tips. These simple explanations will help you determine what wifi extender to buy and how to actually place your Wifi Range Extender.

Wifi Range extenders work to improve the signal strength for different purposes such as gaming (consoles like ps4 or xbox) or smart TV streaming, or general laptop and mobile devices like iPad or iPhone. Imagine that they either provide another route of your devices to reach the originating router, or “extended” the range of signals that your routers can reach.

Please note that this WiFi Range Extender information and setup guide is written especially for general users who do not know too much about tech or how to optimize it to the maximum speed. The information explained here on the pros and cons provided here is intentionally written to be general and easy to understand. In short, we will help you to make it work to your advantage and help you with your internet setup.

We will go through some basic and general tips. These practical solutions should help you decide the best methods and installation setup to solve some of the most common wireless range extender issues and questions.

It should be noted that this guide will not go into the “actual” installation process as different brand of Wifi Extenders have different installation interfaces.

How Does WiFi Range Extender Work

Most home use consumer wifi extenders are wireless “repeaters”. The range extenders receive wireless and “repeat” the signals into the air. Now because you can place the repeaters away from your main router, having a range extender can effectively increase the overall coverage of your wireless transmission.

However, the increase in area coverage comes with a cost. The “overlapped” or common areas between the repeater and the router can suffer performance issues. As the same transmissions occur over the same frequency and channel.

Signal Booster vs Range Extender
Some people confuse signal booster with most commercially sold retail wifi range extenders. Signal boosters are usually attachments to your router or computer devices to amplify or increase the signal strength. Range extenders are typically stand-alone devices that repeat the signals of your network.

Signal boosters can be limited in ways that even if your routers can send signal to the devices, your client devices may not have the ability to transmit that information back. However, they can be great for 1 way transmissions. Signal boosters can still suffer performance issues if the wireless signal is blocked by multiple walls or metals.

Determine If a Range Extender Will Help

Do you actually need a Wifi Extender or a Router Upgrade or Placement Optimization? The first rule of thumb router wifi extender is really an “extension” of your router, but if the source (router) is bad or old, having a Super Fast Wifi extender will not help much speed or performance. It can actually potentially make your wifi connection worse or slower than before.

Consider upgrading your router first if your router is old or slow using older speed standards. For example, at the time of writing this guide, you should upgrade your router if you are still using a 802.11G only connection. Consider upgrading to a router setup with N / AC may be the best as AC is the highest accepted standard at the time of writing.

Next, consider optimizing your router’s physical location if possible. Consult our Router Placement Guide for some practical tips. After you have made sure that your home router is running optimally with decent upgrades, you should then consider setup Wifi Extenders to cover the deadspots around your household.

Finally, because of the performance issues that occur with having Range Extenders, you should almost never setup multiple wifi Range extenders within the same area. As the signals that they transmit can interfere with each other.

Choosing Your Wifi Extender Brands and Model

Without digging deeper into the brands or best models of Wifi Extenders, as this guide is not intended as a comprehensive Wifi extender buying guide, we will simply suggest you purchasing the same branded Wifi Extender as your router. For example, if you have a netgear router, buy a netgear wifi extender. And use a motorola wifi extender if you have a motorola router.

The reason behind this simple recommendation is that although WiFi is a standardized technology, different manufacturers can still design or code things a little differently. Some manufacturers implement minor differences or “features” to boost their performances and may use different technological wording or terms.

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These small differences can cause unforeseen errors or problems that are hard to diagnose down the road. Compatibility is the number one consideration when picking out your ideal wifi extender. Save yourself potential hassle by simply going for the same brand setup. This way you only have to deal with 1 set of terms or even customer support rather than having to cross reference and research.

So if you are “renting” a modem/router combination from a Cable Company such as Comcast, Time Warner or At&t’s U-verse. Simply check the brand of that router, and opt to purchase the same branded wifi extendesr.

Getting the Right Extender Speed

Your next option is the speed rating of the Wifi Extender. In general, you should always choose the same speed rating as your router. Your entire WiFi network is only as fast as the slowest link, this means that you will have wasted resources by having a slower node or access point within your extended WiFi network.

This means that if your router is running on 802.11N network, you will need to have a Extender having N or higher. For example if you have a N300 rated router, you should use a N300 rated extender, and the same for N600 router + N600 Wifi Extender.

And if your router is running on 802.11AC, you will need to have an AC enabled extender or else your network will be slowed down to the slowest link.

Optimal WiFi Extender Placement

After buying the best Wifi Extender suited for your need, your next task is to actually install it and place it in the right place. Having the wrong or bad physical placement is the number one reason why your internet disconnect or dropping connection often.

First of all, think of your WiFi extender as an access point or another “pseudo-router” that relays information from your devices to your main router wirelessly. This means that you will need to follow all the best practices of a Router Placement.

Secondly, ensure that a full connection is available between your wireless extender “to” the main router. If the wireless connection between your WiFi extender to the router is slow or weak, your speed is limited to the slowest connection even if your devices have full bar connection to the Wifi Extender, you will also lose connection often.

If the signal between the extender to the router is not stable and drops often, that means your relayed signal to the main router will be unstable and dropped accordingly.

Your next step is to figure out the best location for the Extender to actually reach the deadzones around your house. Think about the areas that you spend the most time with your devices, then make that calculated choice. Some extenders have directional antennae to help you reach those spots and you should use that to your advantage.

Setting Up Wireless / Frequency and Channel and Security Login

When you are setting up a Wifi Extender, you will usually need to select the same wireless frequency and bandwidth channel.

Next, make sure that the security profile is the same for both your router and the range extender. For example, if you are using WPA2, make sure that the security level is the same. You typically do not need the same wifi password, however, having the same password can help you manage your network much easier.

WiFi Extender with Same or Multiple SSID

When you are setting up your Wifi network range extender, some extender models offer you the ability to use the same or different SSID.

We recommend you to use a different SSID than your main router even if you have the choice to use the same SSID. The reason is that having different SSID’s can ensure a proper connection between your device to the “right” place. Many connection problems can arise when you take roaming into consideration when you are moving around with your mobile device inside the house.

Your mobile devices such as Google Android phone or Apple iPhone typically keep a wireless connection even when it is weaker. In short, when you have the same SSID for both the WiFi extender and the router, your mobile devices will almost always stick to the weaker one instead of disconnecting you and switch to the stronger one.

Your mobile devices is usually setup so that it will “look” for a new wifi connection when the existing one drops below a certain rating.

When you have both main router and the range extender with different SSID’s. You will have much easier time to “force” your devices to connect to the wireless node that makes the most sense.

For example, you have a router setup in the living room next to the TV. You installed a Wifi extender by the kitchen since your wifi connection for the bedrooms upstairs on top of the kitchen are much weaker. The poor signal may be caused by the piping between the first and second floor. You are able to achieve much stable connection by using this setup.

However, when you first walk into the house, your phone automatically connects to the stronger wifi signal inside the living room. It keeps the connection alive even when you are upstairs inside your bedroom instead of switching to your Wifi Extender in the kitchen. This failure to roam and switch will then slow your internet connection down whenever you use your devices in the bedroom. Since your devices never switch to the range extender even if it offers better signal strength.

This means that if you use your mobile devices more often inside the bedroom, consider setting the main router’s password security login to “non-autmatic” to improve your overall experience. And if you have the same SSID for both the Extender and the router, this can be tough to do without changing some complicated device settings.

WiFi Extender with LAN Port or “Hardwire”

If your WiFi extender has LAN ports and its actually in a position where you can hardwire ethernet cable connection. You should always do it. By routing some of the wireless connection into hardwire, you free up some of the air time and generally improve the speed of your entire network.

This is true for the devices that exist within the overlapped area between your router and range extender, it makes sense to try to hardwire them wherever possible. This can prevent the wireless packets being transmitted duplicated times between your devices.

With our previous example with the living room and bedroom, let’s say you also have a TV inside the kitchen, it can be beneficial to hardwire the streaming devices such as Apple TV or Chromecast to the range extender. Instead of connecting the devices wirelessly to either the main router or the range extender.

Prioritize Utilizing Main Router Instead of Extender

If your client device is having the same signal strength from both the main router and the range extender, always connect to the main router’s SSID instead of the range extender. You should do this if your devices tend to stay in one spot and do not roam.

By connecting directly to the main router, you avoid having duplicate broadcasts done by both your device and the range extender. Only switch to the wifi range extender when you actually need wireless to work for the “dead zone” location intended.

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How do WiFi Extenders Work?

recommended wifi signal strength

The device works by capturing existing WiFi signals in your home or office and then rebroadcasting them. Small in size, the WiFi extender can expand coverage to areas where your router either doesn’t reach at all or doesn’t reach well. It catches weak signals and retransmits a stronger one in return.

It's important to remember: WiFi extenders boost the existing signal, but won't make your actual WiFi Internet connection faster. Your Internet service and WiFi router capabilities determine this. Therefore, if your concern is overall WiFi speed, consider upgrading your router or Internet service. Generally speaking, 802.11n WiFi routers are fine for most home users, while 802.11ac is even better but may be more than some users need. On the other hand, routers supporting only older WiFi standards, like 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g may cause noticeable performance issues. Newer 802.11ac extenders have the benefit of being backwards compatible with many other standards.

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Something to keep in mind after installing one: Check your device settings if you notice continued weak connections. Your phone, laptop or tablet might not recognize the WiFi extender because it will stay connected to your router as a default. The way to change this is by manually switching from router to booster.

Pro Tips for Finding the Best WiFi Extender

When choosing from various range extenders, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

First, get it from a vendor that is well known and has strongly-reviewed products. Products that are poorly reviewed probably aren’t going to help your bandwidth issues and will only cost you money and undue stress.

If the site you’re searching looks like a well-established company site and they’re not trying too hard to sell you something, chances are they are reputable. Click links and browse product reviews on the main website as well as third-party sites such as Google, Facebook or Amazon.

If the site you’re searching looks like a well-established company site and they’re not trying too hard to sell you something, chances are they are reputable. Click links and browse product reviews on the main website as well as third-party sites such as Google, Facebook or Amazon.

Check the specs on your router and try to purchase an extender with the same specs. This will ensure compatibility and enhance the performance of your new device.

For example, you might find a good deal on an 802.11g extender, but it will be much slower than your 802.11n router.

Lastly, consider where you’ll want to place the WiFi extender. Obstructions can degrade your WiFi performance. Look for the sweet spot that is close enough to your router to connect, but also positioned to avoid obstructions and maximize signal strength throughout your home.

Fortunately, you'll have some flexibility in placement because WiFi extenders are small items — the size of your router if not smaller — and there are two types. You can opt for the plug-in, which easily plugs into any wall outlet, or you can choose the desktop version, which resembles the router. Some extenders will have antennas to help connect. While the plug-in version is too small to have any additional connections, you can find some desktop versions with USB and LAN ports.

Here are the 5 Best WiFi Extenders

To help you narrow down your search, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 home WiFi extenders available today.

To help you narrow down your search, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 home WiFi extenders available today.

We based our choices on a few things: how simple each device is to set up, how strong the rebroadcasting powers are as well as how far they can reach and at which speeds.

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Best Wi-Fi extenders of 2021: top devices for boosting your WiFi network

best wi-fi extenders

The best Wi-Fi extender might be the ideal solution to your network blues. If you’re having trouble with your wireless network’s reach, the purpose of a Wi-Fi extender is to help stretch your wireless signal further. That means that by getting one, you can cover weak spots in your coverage area, boosting connectivity there and ensuring uninterrupted connection wherever you bring your laptop.

While it’s true that investing in one of the best wireless routers is a surefire way to upgrade your home or office network, it’s not always going to be the most cost-effective solution. Getting the best Wi-Fi extender might be enough to push your Wi-Fi signal out and extend its boundaries further, which means that you’ll get better network coverage without springing for an entirely new router. As an added bonus, the best Wi-Fi extenders can also help reduce the load on an overcrowded wireless network.

Nobody deserves mediocre Wi-Fi. If you’re dealing with one in your office or in your home, one of the best Wi-Fi extenders is a great place to start. Take a look at our picks below. If you’re in need of a little extra, you could also try looking at the best mesh Wi-Fi routers or the best Wi-Fi 6 routers for even better performance.

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Network extender for wifi

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