Buying Guides

The Best Wi-Fi Extenders: Which One Is Right for You?

Joel Lee 08-10-2016

Slow Wi-Fi speeds can suck Why Is My Wi-Fi So Slow? Here's How to Fix It Need to download data fast, but have slow Wi-Fi? Why is this happening? Here's how to fix a slow Wi-Fi connection and speed it up. 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 Wi-Fi Reception in Your House Setting up a Wi-Fi router for optimum coverage isn't as easy as you think. Use these tips to cover your whole house with Wi-Fi! 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 Why does your internet suck? Here's how to fix an unstable internet connection by changing the settings on your Wi-Fi router. 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.


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? 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"? Here's How to Spot and Fix Them Wi-Fi can suffer interference and obstructions. Learn how to spot and fix wireless "dead zones" or "dead spots" in your home. Read More that lack signal.

But Wi-Fi extenders aren’t perfect. A Wi-Fi extender communicates in two directions How Do Wi-Fi Extenders Work? Wi-Fi Boosters, Explained Wi-Fi extenders (also called Wi-Fi boosters or Wi-Fi repeaters) can boost your wireless router's Wi-Fi signal. 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 What Are Powerline Adapters? 9 Things You Need to Know Powerline adapters turn electrical outlets into Ethernet network points. Here's what you should know before using them at home. 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

TP-Link AC750 Wifi Range Extender | Up to 750Mbps | Dual Band WiFi Extender, Repeater, Wifi Signal Booster, Access Point| Easy Set-Up | Extends Wifi to Smart Home & Alexa Devices (RE200) TP-Link AC750 Wifi Range Extender | Up to 750Mbps | Dual Band WiFi Extender, Repeater, Wifi Signal Booster, Access Point| Easy Set-Up | Extends Wifi to Smart Home & Alexa Devices (RE200) Buy Now On Amazon $29.99


You can certainly find cheaper Wi-Fi extenders than the TP-Link RE200 Dual-Band Extender, but you won’t find a cheaper device that supports the 802.11ac standard 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.

The Best Value Pick: Linksys RE6500 Extender

Linksys AC1200 MAX Wi-Fi Gigabit Range Extender / Repeater (RE6500) Linksys AC1200 MAX Wi-Fi Gigabit Range Extender / Repeater (RE6500) Buy Now On Amazon $49.99

Linksys sits far from the top of the list as far as the best wireless brands Which Wireless Router Brands Are Best? 5 Top Brands to Consider Not all wireless routers are made equal. Here are the most reliable wireless router brands that are worth your money. 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 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 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.


The Ultimate Pick: Netgear Nighthawk X4 Extender

NETGEAR WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX7300 - Coverage up to 2000 sq.ft. and 35 devices with AC2200 Dual Band Wireless Signal Booster & Repeater (up to 2200Mbps speed), plus Mesh Smart Roaming NETGEAR WiFi Mesh Range Extender EX7300 - Coverage up to 2000 sq.ft. and 35 devices with AC2200 Dual Band Wireless Signal Booster & Repeater (up to 2200Mbps speed), plus Mesh Smart Roaming Buy Now On Amazon $128.89

Netgear currently holds the Most Powerful Router crown with its Nighthawk models (what’s the difference between routers and modems? Modem vs. Router: The Differences and Why You Need Both When you're connecting your PC to the internet, what do you need: a Wi-Fi router, cable modem, or both? Here's what you need to know. 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.

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.

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 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 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 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 Internet connection too slow? 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 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!

Related topics: Computer Networks, Wi-Fi.

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  1. Marilyn
    March 15, 2020 at 2:14 am

    The internet modem is on the first floor in the middle of the house. The PS4 is on the 2nd floor back of the house...(house is small only 1200 sq ft . ) PS4 keeps disconnecting continually. Would an extender help?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.