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Slow Wi-Fi speeds can suck, 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. 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. 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.
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 than Wi-Fi). They’re also great when you have wireless dead zones that lack signal.
But Wi-Fi extenders aren’t perfect. A Wi-Fi extender communicates in two directions (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. 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
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. 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 sits far from the top of the list as far as the best wireless brands 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. 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 currently holds the Most Powerful Router crown with its Nighthawk models (what’s the difference between routers and modems?). 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 to make sure your router is good to go. Next, check out which of these advanced router features are available and start using the ones that are relevant to you. And don’t forget to configure the security settings.
After that, if your Wi-Fi is still slow, here are a few tips for boosting router speeds. And while this last tip isn’t necessary, you may want to learn how to identify suspicious devices on your network.
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!