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Slow Wi-Fi speeds can suck 4 Reasons Why Your Wi-Fi Is So Slow (And How to Fix Them) 4 Reasons Why Your Wi-Fi Is So Slow (And How to Fix Them) When you rely on Wi-Fi, speed issues can hurt -- and Wi-Fi speed issues aren't always easy to diagnose. Here are some things you ought to check. Read More , but do you know what’s even worse than that? Unstable Wi-Fi connections and unreachable Wi-Fi routers. If you suffer from either problem, Wi-Fi extenders can help.

I would much rather have a stable-but-slow signal than one that craps out or one that’s unreachable. If your Wi-Fi connection quality is lacking in any way, you may want to look into getting a Wi-Fi extender. In this post, you’ll learn what that is, how it can benefit you, and which one to buy.

Are Wi-Fi Extenders Right for You?

First of all, many things cause a poor Wi-Fi signal, and most of these problems can be easily fixed Wireless Feng Shui: How to Optimize Your House For Best Wi-Fi Reception Wireless Feng Shui: How to Optimize Your House For Best Wi-Fi Reception Setting up a Wi-Fi network should be an easy prospect, shouldn't it? I mean, a house is a closed-in box, and you'd think when you place a device that transmits wireless signals in all directions... Read More . Maybe all you need to do is reposition your router — move it to the center of your house, place it on a shelf, eliminate wireless interference and congestion How to Fix a Slow or Unstable Wi-Fi Connection How to Fix a Slow or Unstable Wi-Fi Connection One simple trick could speed up your Wi-Fi connection. We explain the issue, how to analyze Wi-Fi networks around you, and how to use the information to speed up your Wi-Fi connection. Read More . Small tweaks like that can drastically boost performance.

But if your Wi-Fi signal is still weak, unstable, or out of range, then you’ll want to consider using a Wi-Fi extender (also known as Wi-Fi repeaters and Wi-Fi boosters). A Wi-Fi extender wirelessly connects to your main router, then rebroadcasts that signal for greater coverage.

For example, let’s say your main router can only reach up to 150 feet but your computer is 200 feet away at the other side of your house — too far to connect. By setting up a Wi-Fi extender, your router’s signal can extend and reach even further, say by another 100 feet. Now your computer can connect!

Similarly, if your computer is sitting at the outside edge of your router’s signal, you might only get 1–2 bars. Place a Wi-Fi extender in the middle and your connection strength could shoot up to a full 5 bars.

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Image Credit: VectorZilla via Shutterstock
Image Credit: VectorZilla via Shutterstock

Wi-Fi extenders are quite handy in bigger apartments and houses. They’re especially useful for routers so far away you can’t establish an Ethernet connection (Ethernet is faster and more stable Wi-Fi vs Ethernet: Which Should You Use and Why? Wi-Fi vs Ethernet: Which Should You Use and Why? The world is going wireless. Does that mean it's all over for Ethernet? Read More than Wi-Fi). They’re also great when you have wireless dead zones What Is A Wireless "Dead Zone" And How To Eliminate It? What Is A Wireless "Dead Zone" And How To Eliminate It? We take Wi-Fi for granted, but it's not magic -- it's radio waves. These radio waves can be interfered with or obstructed, producing wireless "dead zones" or "dead spots." Read More that lack signal.

But Wi-Fi extenders aren’t perfect. A Wi-Fi extender communicates in two directions How Wi-Fi Extenders Work & 3 Best Ones You Should Buy How Wi-Fi Extenders Work & 3 Best Ones You Should Buy Wi-Fi extenders, which are sometimes called Wi-Fi repeaters or Wi-Fi boosters, boost the signal from your wireless router. Read More (one between the repeater and the router, two between the repeater and your device), so it needs twice the bandwidth of your internet connection to maintain your speed. If you don’t buy one that’s fast enough, your connection will be more stable but also slower.

If your walls are too thick or if you have too much interference, a Wi-Fi extender may not be effective. In that case, you could try using a powerline adapter instead 8 Things About Powerline Adapters You Need to Know First 8 Things About Powerline Adapters You Need to Know First Powerline ethernet adapters basically turn regular electrical outlets into ethernet outlets. As useful as this is, there are some things you should know before using them for your own home network. Read More . Powerline adapters let you transmit Ethernet data through your power outlets. Yeah, it’s really useful, so consider it.

But if you’re absolutely sure that you want a Wi-Fi extender, here are the best-in-class options currently available.

The Economical Pick: TP-Link RE200 Extender (UK)

wireless-extender-tplink-re200

You can certainly find cheaper Wi-Fi extenders than the TP-Link RE200 Dual-Band Extender (UK), but you won’t find a cheaper device that supports the 802.11ac standard Everything You Need To Know About AC Routers Everything You Need To Know About AC Routers While wireless standards lack a logical progression in terms of letters, the technology under the hood is notable, and with each new release we get one step closer to painless connectivity. Read More . You really want AC support. Wireless-AC lets the extender communicate using the 5 GHz band instead of the older 2.4 GHz band. In other words, less interference and a stronger signal. (But your router must be 802.11ac-compatible!)

This extender also comes equipped with an Ethernet port. That’s great for devices lacking Wi-Fi capabilities. Just remember that data is still relayed back to the router wirelessly, so don’t expect full Ethernet speeds. No other notable features in this model besides the AC750 performance, but that’s fine for how affordable this thing is.

TP-Link AC750 Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE200) TP-Link AC750 Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE200) Extends your network's Wi-Fi for reliable coverage in hard-to-reach areas Buy Now At Amazon $22.96

The Best Value Pick: Linksys RE6500 Extender (UK)

Linksys sits far from the top of the list as far as the best wireless brands Which Brands Are Best When Buying a Wireless Router? Which Brands Are Best When Buying a Wireless Router? Not all wireless routers are made equal -- and the same is true for router brands. Here are some of the more reliable brands along with a few that aren't so much. Read More are concerned, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible either. In fact, you’ll find that Linksys still puts out good products from time to time as long as you’re discerning. And yes, the Linksys RE6500 Dual-Band Extender (UK) is one of them.

With AC1200 performance it’s faster than the economical TP-Link option above, but also comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of the TP-Link’s one. This is great for eliminating wireless congestion and reducing the effects of Wi-Fi spectrum crunch Wi-Fi Spectrum Crunch: How to Beat Slow Speeds in Crowded Areas Wi-Fi Spectrum Crunch: How to Beat Slow Speeds in Crowded Areas Now that Wi-Fi is so ubiquitous, spectrum crunch is becoming a real and growing issue -- but it looks like MIT researchers may have found a solution to it. Read More . You can find other AC1200 extenders for slightly less money, but the extra ports are well worth the small bump in cost.

Linksys AC1200 MAX Wi-Fi Gigabit Range Extender / Repeater (RE6500) Linksys AC1200 MAX Wi-Fi Gigabit Range Extender / Repeater (RE6500) 2.4GHz & 5GHz dual bands Buy Now At Amazon $67.99

The Ultimate Pick: Netgear Nighthawk X4 Extender (UK)

Netgear currently holds the Most Powerful Router crown with its Nighthawk models (what’s the difference between routers and modems? Should I Buy a Cable Internet Wi-Fi Router, Modem, or Both? Should I Buy a Cable Internet Wi-Fi Router, Modem, or Both? Do you need a Wi-Fi router, cable modem, or both? Most people don't give it much thought because they can just ask friends and family for help when issues arise. Read More ). And if you’re the kind of person who splurges on the best of the best, you’ll also want to get a Nighthawk series extender like the Netgear Nighthawk X4 Extender (UK).

This beast delivers AC2200 performance and includes FastLane tech (for super fast connections). It also throws in Beamforming tech (for more reliable signal strength). It has one of the farthest broadcasting ranges of any current extender, and comes with one Gigabit Ethernet port. The Netgear Analytics App also helps to optimize your Wi-Fi network quality.

NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Extender (EX7300) NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2200 WiFi Range Extender (EX7300) Ideal for extending WiFi to devices like the iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, iPad Air 2, and MacBook Pro Buy Now At Amazon $95.00

Other Wi-Fi Issues You Should Check

A Wi-Fi extender may work wonders for your network, but you should also think about settling a few other potential issues that could crop up.

Start with these important first steps for any new router 10 Things You Must Do With a Brand New Router 10 Things You Must Do With a Brand New Router Whether you just bought your first ever router or upgraded your old one to a new one, there are several crucial first steps that you should take right away to set up properly. Read More to make sure your router is good to go. Next, check out which of these advanced router features 10 Crucial Features to Use in Your Wireless Router Setup at Home 10 Crucial Features to Use in Your Wireless Router Setup at Home Most wireless routers are equipped with a handful of amazing features that you probably aren't taking advantage of. Here are some of the more useful ones to start exploring right now. Read More are available and start using the ones that are relevant to you. And don’t forget to configure the security settings How to Configure Your Router to Make Your Home Network Really Secure How to Configure Your Router to Make Your Home Network Really Secure Default router settings put your network at risk, allowing freeloading strangers to squeeze nadwidth and potentially commit crimes. Use our summary to configure your standard router settings to prevent unauthorized access to your network. Read More .

After that, if your Wi-Fi is still slow, here are a few tips for boosting router speeds 10 Ways To Improve The Speed of Your Current Router 10 Ways To Improve The Speed of Your Current Router Here are a few simple router tweaks that could make a world of difference on your home Wi-Fi network. Read More . And while this last tip isn’t necessary, you may want to learn how to identify suspicious devices on your network How to Check Your Wi-Fi Network for Suspicious Devices How to Check Your Wi-Fi Network for Suspicious Devices Are you worried that strangers or hackers might be on your Wi-Fi network? Here's how you can check and how to do something about it. Read More .

What is your biggest Wi-Fi-related problem right now? Is it slow speeds, unstable connections, or something else? Got any other Wi-Fi tips? Share with us in a comment down below!

  1. likefunbutnot
    October 9, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    The right answer is never an extender. The right answer is always "Get another access point." I'm surprised this was not addressed in his article.

  2. Pandurangan K
    October 9, 2016 at 3:09 am

    How about the MI WIFI extenders? Where do they stand in your review? They cost damn cheap.

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