Most of the time, with broadband service providers trying to keep costs low, the router that you get provided is usually pretty lackluster, cutting out at longer ranges and not being able to take the number of devices you have connected to it. If you’ve bought a third-party router you’re still able to encounter these problems, especially in a large house packed full of devices that can interfere with your wireless connection as well as a number of walls for those signals to pass through. However, there is a solution – WiFi extenders.
WiFi extenders pretty much do exactly what their name suggests; improving your wireless network overall, increasing that range to ensure you’re getting the speeds you’re paying for. Placing these near your devices will, of course, strengthen that signal but also cut through any that are struggling with interference issues.
How We Picked
In the world of wireless, there’s a bunch of jargon and terminology that makes things much harder to understand, and this is similarly shown with WiFi extenders. To help you, we’ve narrowed down a list of the five best WiFi extenders on the market, eliminating the need for you to learn said jargon and potentially get confused in the buying process. To narrow down our selections we focused on three pain points that individuals encounter and how the best WiFi extender can solve these problems. These three factors are; range, speeds, and the space required to house devices like the ones in question. Thus, we focused on how the best WiFi extenders can increase your wireless signal range, the wireless standard they’re working off, and the design of the device. To help you even further, we’ve given some of the best WiFi extenders awards to aid you who are budget conscious or just want to get straight to our best overall pick.
Best WiFi Extender 2020 & 2021
Huge range extension
Can connect up to 50 devices
NETGEAR produces some of the best networking devices on the market so no surprise they feature throughout this list of the best WiFi extender. This EX8000 variant from their WiFi extender line is a superb choice for many increasing wireless range dramatically, boosting the speeds around your whole home.
Looking at that wireless range extension, it’ll improve coverage by up to 2500 square feet, which is probably a little overkill for most but ensuring your connection is strong throughout your whole house. Moreover, if you’ve got a family with a plethora of online-enabled devices, this WiFi extender allows connection for up to 50 bits of tech such as laptops, smartphones, speakers, IP cameras, tablets, IoT devices, and more making it not only powerful in terms of rage, but also with the number of devices you can hook up to this WiFi extender.
Moving to the all-important speeds that you can expect from the EX8000 WiFi extender, it sports AC3000 architecture providing up to 3000Mbps straight to your connected devices. Additionally, with tri-band and patented FastLane3 (TM) technology, 4K streaming and online gaming will be a breeze, removing the annoyance of dropped connections and any potential buffering that could have occurred without this WiFi extender. If you are, however, looking to plug your PC, games consoles, etc. in via ethernet you can with the 4 Gigabit ports on the back of the box, potentially increasing those speeds even further and eliminating any interference that may occur.
Overall, The NETGEAR EX8000 is a WiFi extension powerhouse. It can increase your range up to 2500 square feet, have up to 50 devices hooked up to it, and supply speeds of up to 3000Mbps, making it more than capable of coping with whatever you require of it. Being NETGEAR, you also know you’re getting a quality product that’s somewhat futureproof, making this WiFi extender one that will last the test of time.
Only one Ethernet port
If you’re on a budget somewhat but want a strong, stable WiFi connection throughout your home, TP-Link has a number of quality WiFi extenders that do the job well and won’t cost an arm and a leg.
This RE650 WiFi Extender variant is probably the best value pick from their wide selection, showcasing similar features than that of the aforementioned NETGEAR pick but coming in at a lower price. Taking a look at those specs, it takes advantage of 4-Stream and 256 QAM technologies, as well as its dual-bad architecture, to create lightning-fast AC2600 connections. 4-Stream adds an extra data stream to both the 2.4GHz and 5GHZ bands, and 256 QAM expands their capacity. Moreover, for boosting your router’s range, the RE650 utilizes a quad-antenna design which enables you to receive the same signal strength from multiple rooms away as if you were right next to your router.
The design of this WiFi extender is a little different from the NETGEAR we talked about earlier with it simply plugging straight into the wall instead of another box to place somewhere on your shelf. In addition, it also has a Gigabit port on the side of the device, which is great for those who want to hook something up via ethernet and hopefully take advantage of a slight boost in speeds.
All in all, this TP-Link RE650 WiFi Extender comes up with the goods both in terms of improving your WiFi range and keeping your connection stable due to its four antennae and AC2600 architecture. It still is a bit pricey compared to the more budget options but with it coming in way under the price of our best overall WiFi extender pick and still offering a similar approach, it’s great value overall.
Connect up to 20 devices
Limited in terms of speeds
While NETGEAR has some high-end WiFi extenders, their budget selections are similarly great, providing some solid improvements for your wireless range and boosting speeds. The EX6120 is one of said products improving your coverage by up to 1200 square feet as well as the ability to link up 20 devices. To ensure you’re also getting the speeds you’re paying for, its AC1200 architecture provides up to 1200Mbps performance using a dual-band approach. Furthermore, with NETGEAR’s patented FastLane(TM) technology built into this budget WiFi extender, your devices will receive the strongest connection based on their position and speeds they’re drawing.
Looking at the design, we can see that it sports a similar overall look compared to our best value pick plugging directly into your outlet for a discreet approach. Again, akin to that pick, you can take advantage of the one ethernet port to plug your devices directly into to aid the removal of any potential interference. It also takes advantage of two antennae, two short of the TP-Link, but still coming together to detail some top range extension.
To conclude this budget WiFi extender, it doesn’t have the top specs or features that our best value and best overall picks have but it still has enough to get by, even in quite a large home. It can increase your range by up to 1200 square feet and with its dual-band AC1200 foundations, you’ll still be able to broadcast speeds of up to 1200Mbps which is more than most individuals need. For the price, it’s hard to complain and will remove most wireless frustrations you have.
Massive range extension
Five Ethernet ports
A bit pricey
Of course, with NETGEAR and TP-Link dominating this list, here’s another NETGEAR pick to add to the pile of the best WiFi extender. This time it’s the EX8000’s little brother, the EX7000, and from the model number alone, you know you’re getting a solid WiFi extender.
Naturally, you’re not going to get the EX8000 power but what you are getting is a WiFi extender that has enough clout to secure a wireless connection that stable up to up to 2100 square feet as well as providing up to 1900Mbps speed for your connected devices. This is due to the fundamentals of the included AC1900 and FastLane(TM) technology as well as being dual-band.
Moving to the design, it has three external antennae boosting those range capabilities as well as five ethernet ports for you to slot your devices into if you’d prefer to have a wired connection. It is another of the classic box-like designs we’ve come accustomed to so if you want to stay away from that, a WiFi extender that plugs directly into the wall may be the route you want to go down.
Connect up to 32 devices
No Ethernet ports
This WiFi extender from TP-Link offers a more simplistic approach to WiFi extension, simply offering just that. There’s no real bells and whistles attached to this thing and while some may steer away because of that, if you want a WiFi extender that’s super easy to set up and does the job well, there’s not much reason to look elsewhere. Being simplistic doesn’t necessarily mean lackluster though and with its range capabilities of up to 1500 square feet coupled with its dual-band nature and 32 device connection capabilities, you won’t be disappointed with its power.
Being so simplistic allows it to have a very minimalist design, plugging directly into the wall and having a slimline frame, giving you the opportunity to hide it away. However, there are caveats and that comes in the form of the lack of ethernet ports which many like to take advantage of. On the other hand, if you’re not too bothered about a wired connection, it really shouldn’t put you off opting for this WiFi extender.
All in all, this is a great WiFi extender for those who just want to plug it in and get going. It lacks any ethernet ports but shouldn’t put you off too much, and with the range improvements you’ll receive, it’s well worth the price you’ll be paying.
Things To Consider
Probably the main reason you’re wanting to get your hands on a WiFi extender is that you want to boost the range of your wireless router. This is certainly what WiFi extenders are designed for, but there’s a huge difference between the best WiFi extenders and some that really don’t have the power necessary to do the job. The former could increase your wireless range by up to 3,000 sq. feet whereas the latter could only increase it by 500, pretty much making it redundant for those in larger areas. Naturally, you’re probably going to be paying a premium for WiFi extenders that improve your range dramatically but that could be the price required to get the job done.
WiFi standards are always a tricky thing to get your head around but to put it simply, the better the WiFi standard, the more speeds you’re likely to receive from your router. There are three main standards you’re likely to encounter 802.11a, 802.11b/g/n, and 802.11ac, with 802.11a offering the least capabilities and 802.11ac with the best. Whichever your router is currently sporting you’re going to want to match that with your WiFi extender to ensure you’re getting the speeds your paying for. You certainly don’t want to be choosing an 802.11a WiFi extender when your router is boasting 802.11ac for example as you’ll only be disappointed with your results.
WiFi Extender Design
The design of your WiFi extender is probably something that you don’t immediately think about but there are stark differences in approach from various companies and models with some opting for a more router-like look and feel and some sporting minimalist nature. For those WiFi extenders that are more on the router side, you’re usually going to need a bit of extra space, maybe on a shelf, making it sometimes cumbersome. However, opting for a minimalist WiFi extender will enable you to just slot it into a plug socket and remove the need to make room for another device in your specified space. There are pros and cons to each of the designs as shown in our picks above, therefore, it’s up to you what you’d like to sacrifice to get the setup you want and need.
Overall, selecting the best WiFi extender on the market is pretty simple in our eyes, you just have to go for the NETGEAR WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX8000 as it strengthens your wireless connection to the best it can really be. With the tri-band and patented FastLane3 (TM) technology it’s pretty futureproof too, so spending that little extra on this bit of kit will surely be worth it in the long run. However, if you’re more budget-minded there’s no reason why the NETGEAR WiFi Range Extender EX6120 shouldn’t be your go-to. You’ll be able to increase your wireless range by 1200 square feet as well as having that NETGEAR tech built-in, so coming as at such a low price there’s not much to complain about.