Best TP-Link WiFi Extenders

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

21 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
348 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best TP-Link WiFi extenders

Last Updated November 2019

Sometimes the fastest broadband connection still doesn’t seem fast enough. While you may want to blame your internet service provider, the culprit is likely in your own home. WiFi routers often are limited in how far their wireless signal reaches, or the signal may be blocked by structural elements and signal interference. A WiFi extender can often solve the problem by drastically increasing the reach and reliability of in-home WiFi. When properly placed, WiFi extenders can knock out dead zones and enhance reception through the house.

TP-Link has established itself as a trusted WiFi network hardware provider and has several WiFi extenders available, from simple plug-in powerline extenders to extenders with multiple vectored antennas that look almost like a second router. They offer powerline extenders and beamforming extenders, which may have a number of features to connect multiple devices to your network and help your signal reach your entire home.

What is the best TP-Link WiFi extender available? That depends on your unique situation and needs. Continue reading our buying guide for details on TP-Link WiFi extenders, tips on how to use them, and a few product suggestions to help guide your decision.

Pay attention to the LED indicator lights of your WiFi extender. The user manual will explain the meaning of different LED colors or blinking patterns.

Key considerations

A WiFi extender functions as a bridge from one part of the house to another, using a direct connection to the router — either by a cable or antenna, or with the wiring in the walls — to receive and transmitting the WiFi signal from the router to the area covered by the extender. While TP-Link’s extenders are not components of a mesh network — and almost without exception are not meant to be — they’re an improvement upon earlier-generation WiFi repeaters, which are vulnerable to interference from the same obstacles that are blocking the signal of the router. A WiFi extender is the best way to improve the range of your router, but there are some important things to know as you prepare to select a TP-Link WiFi extender.

Do you need a WiFi extender?

Smaller homes and apartments may not need a WiFi extender. If the router is placed in a spot that has a lot of interference from other wireless signals (like Bluetooth devices or TVs), moving it to a different location may drastically improve the signal. If this doesn’t work, a WiFi extender can improve reception, but it is possible that the issue is not range but interference — in which case the extender will not improve the signal.

What type of WiFi extender should you get?

A WiFi extender may cover less area than the router does, and it can’t be placed too far away from the router or it will not be able to receive the signal. TP-Link offers two primary types of WiFi extenders, which can be combined for a stronger signal.

Choosing the right type of WiFi extender for your home means considering your range needs and potential obstacles

Powerline

These extenders use an electrical circuit within the walls of your home to transmit and receive a signal. TP-Link’s powerline extenders use 2x2 MIMO antennas (multiple-input, multiple-output) to receive multiple signals and combine those data streams into a single high-speed stream. The receiver unit cannot be further than 300 meters away from the base unit, which is connected directly to the router via ethernet cable. These models often have streamlined designs that plug directly into outlets.

Beamforming

TP-Link’s beamforming extenders use an array of two to four antennas to receive and transmit a WiFi signal. The extender must be within reception range of the WiFi of the router signal to ensure it will rebroadcast the signal clearly. These are generally better suited to transmitting a signal a long distance.

Combined coverage

Using multiple extenders in different configurations can extend the WiFi signal of the router around tricky reception areas (say, a bulky washer-dryer combo between the router and a home office). Setting up a powerline extender that transmits the signal along an electrical circuit can surmount one obstacle and one or two additional beamforming extenders to provide complete coverage to large areas.

Are the data speeds of the extender the same as data speeds of your router?

TP-Link’s WiFi extenders receive specific data speeds and retransmit at a maximum rate that varies depending on the model. What that means is that if your router is capable of providing downstream speeds of 1 gigabit per second (gbps) but your extender is a TP-Link RE450/AC1750, the fastest WiFi speed you’ll get in the extender’s area (barring any signal interference) is 450 megabits per second (mbps) on the 2.4-gigahertz (GHz band (and up to 1,300 mbps in the 5-GHz band). While your router may be faster, this is fairly fast. TP-Link’s extenders don’t go below 300 mbps.

Note that a faster WiFi extender will not improve on the speed of a slower router. So a TP-Link AC2600 that offers max speeds of 800 mbps in the 2.4-GHz band may be overkill if a router is slower than 1 gbps. On the other hand, you’ll get nearly the same amount of speed from the extender as from the router, and a newer extender future-proofs your home for the next high-speed router you purchase.

Is it compatible with your router?

While TP-Link WiFi extenders are compatible with routers by many different manufacturers, they need to be capable of the same speed and offer the same frequencies as the main router.

Massive coverage and speed


Getting 4K-compatible bandwidth from a wall plug extender seems like a pipe dream, yet here it is: a compact extender that delivers dual-band WiFi at 800 to 1,700 mbps throughout the home. Beamforming quad antennas and future-proof MU-MIMO technology mean this extender will be around for a long time.

Features

TP-Link WiFi Extenders have a variety of configurations, giving users a wide choice of extenders to meet the needs of the space they want to provide WiFi coverage to. Though there are different style routers offered by TP-Link, they sport similar features that can help improve the WiFi signal throughout your home.

Antenna

The antennae of smaller extenders may be enclosed within the outer case, while larger desktop-sized extenders often have external antennas that can be moved in different directions.

Ethernet ports

Even the smaller plug-in extenders will have at least one ethernet port, which can be used to connect devices that aren’t wireless, such as older printers.

Outer case

The protective outer case keeps the circuitry of a TP-Link extender free from dust and offers some protection against drops and bumps.

Interface

In most cases, any indication of activity or issues with a TP-Link extender will be communicated through its on-board LED lights. Some TP-Link models have a touchscreen interface that provides more direct information on the status of the extender.

Tether

This smartphone app for iOS and Android devices, developed specifically for TP-Link networking hardware, provides an easy way for users to set up and manage TP-Link Wi-Fi extenders.

WiFi Auto-Sync

TP-Link’s routers have features that keep the entire extended network in sync when new hardware is installed or changes are made to the network. Their Auto-Sync system also allows you to quickly and seamlessly add a WiFi extender to your network.

EXPERT TIP

The beamforming antennas on many TP-Link Extender models can be aimed in different directions to fine-tune WiFi signal.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

A dual-band extender will make it possible to carry a device from one coverage area to another without having to manually reconnect the device to WiFi.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Use the TP-Link smart signal indicator during setup to find the best spot to set up the extender and maximize WiFi coverage.


Staff  | BestReviews

Essential accessories

Cable modem: Netgear CM500 Cable Modem
Cable internet subscribers may want to upgrade their cable company-provided modem to this modem, compatible with almost all major cable operators. This 1-gbps capable modem delivers high broadband speeds directly to the main router. Even better, you may knock out that device rental fee that your internet service provider has been charging you.

Dual-band router: TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router
Still using an older, slower router? Upgrading to a faster one when you get WiFi extender will keep your internet up-to-snuff for years. This 1-gbps router provides access to two frequencies, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, so the signal reaches your extender at the fastest available speed.

Ethernet cable: Cable Matters Cat6 Snagless Ethernet Cable
A reliable, secure and fast ethernet cable allows you to connect non-wireless peripheral devices to a WiFi extender. This pack of five cables is likely enough for your whole household.

Ethernet splitter: TP-Link 5 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch
If your WiFi extender has only one ethernet port, consider plugging an ethernet splitter into it. This five-port splitter and network switch instantly expands available ethernet ports so that multiple non-WiFi-capable devices can be connected to the network.

TP-Link WiFi extender prices

Powerline-based TP-Link WiFi Extenders provide the fastest entrée into the world of WiFi network expansion and can be found for $18 to $40.

Faster powerline extenders (up to 1,200 mbps) and basic desktop antenna-based extenders are priced between $50 and $140.

TP-Link’s fastest and widest-ranging extenders include multiple beamform antennas and are available for between $150 and $179.

Apartment-ready WiFi booster


This powerline-based WiFi extender offers all of the key features of its bigger siblings, like dual-band capability, and up to 500 mbps in speed at a very attractive price point. It’s incredibly easy to set up, so even inexperienced users will be up and surfing the web in almost no time.

 

Tips

  • WiFi extenders measure their coverage area in square feet, not linear feet, so you’ll need to calculate the needed coverage area accordingly.
  • Obstacles like solid walls, metal objects, and kitchen appliances can interfere with the signal of a WiFi extender.
  • Situate a WiFi extender about halfway between the router and the location of the device you want to connect.
  • The base unit and receiving unit of a powerline extender must be plugged into the same circuit to work correctly.
  • Choose a WiFi extender that delivers the same or higher internet speed as your router so that performance remains nearly the same.

Other products we considered

TP-Link offers WiFi range extenders with a multitude of speed, antenna and range configurations, and there are a few noteworthy models that didn’t make our top picks.

One extender that caught our attention is the TP-Link Long Range Outdoor WiFi Transmitter with its weather-resistant outer case. More importantly, it has the capability to transmit a WiFi signal over much longer distances, making it an outstanding option for getting WiFi out to a she-shed.

And for speed junkies, the TP-Link AC1200 WiFi Range Extender provides a 300-mbps to 867-mbps dual-band boost, which is one of the fastest extender speeds one could expect in its class.

TP-Link WiFi Extenders can extend WiFi coverage from as little as 3,200 square feet to more than 10,000 square feet, depending on the model.

FAQ

Q. What are the disadvantages of using a powerline-based TP-Link WiFi Extender?
A.
The biggest disadvantage of a powerline-based extender (which uses the copper wires in your walls to transmit WiFi signals back and forth) is speed. Powerline extenders have transmit speeds around 200 mbps, though they have improved significantly over the past decade. This is still twice as fast as an ethernet connection, but nowhere near the speed of a direct connection using a coaxial cable. Using a coaxial cable, an extender may be able to deliver speeds up to 1 gbps.

 

Q. Can I use my TP-Link Extender as a WiFi hotspot for other devices?
A.
Some TP-Link models have a feature that enables them to be configured as a WiFi access point. An extender with this capability can be plugged into an existing wired (not wireless) network to create a WiFi hotspot in a specific area. This is often used by businesses that have an extensive wired network and want to offer wireless services in certain parts of their building, but home users may find a need for this feature, too.

 

Q. Do I need to keep the extender plugged into an ethernet connection at all times?
A.
No, a direct ethernet connection is only needed when plugging the extender into a computer for its initial setup and for updates to its firmware. Newer TP-Link models do not need to be connected to a computer for this process at all and can wirelessly connect to the router using the WPS buttons on each device. TP-Link desktop models often have more than one ethernet port, similar to the ethernet ports on your router, but these are only used when you need to directly connect a peripheral device to the network, such as a printer.

The team that worked on this review
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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