Features 5 Gigabit ports. Speedy Dual-Band coverage. Consistently strong signal eliminates dead spots. Optimized for mobile devices, gaming consoles, and smart TVs. Easy set up.
A bit pricey, but worth the investment.
Reliably covers a large area. Optimized for 4K content and smooth gaming. Simple set up. Consistently speedy Wi-Fi speeds. Beamforming where a strong signal is needed the most.
This relatively chunky socket-based style might be a dealbreaker for some.
Great price, especially for what you get. Sets up in seconds; surprisingly adept at eliminating dead spots and boosting range. Addition of an Ethernet port for directly attaching wired devices such as video game consoles is a plus.
Easy to set up, but instructions are not much help if you do run into trouble.
Extremely simple to extend a Wi-Fi network. Each Satellite extends a network 2,500 feet in any direction. Wireless installation. Ultra-high speed Wi-Fi. Excellent security suite.
An expensive, but rock-solid Wi-Fi extender system.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you’re one of the millions of people who spend hours each day online, you know just how essential a good WiFi signal is — and just what a show-stopper it can be when you’ve got poor WiFi reception. It’s time to face facts: In the digital age, WiFi dead spots can be a real liability.
If your wireless router is good, but not great — that is, if you have decent WiFi coverage, but one or two low-reception areas in your home — a WiFi extender can fill your coverage gaps and revolutionize your browsing experience. WiFi extenders, sometimes referred to as repeaters, are placed at the edge of your coverage range; basically, you’ll put one as far away from your primary router as you can while still allowing it to get a good signal. Once connected, your WiFi extender will then re-broadcast your WiFi signal, providing coverage to other devices in areas that previously got low reception.
WiFi extenders are ideal for “almost perfect” wireless networks, so if you’ve got a few trouble spots in your home that need a better signal, we’ve got your back. Read on for everything you need to know about WiFi extenders, and how to pick the perfect one for optimizing your WiFi.
A WiFi range extender rebroadcasts wireless internet signals from the base router to areas of the home where reception dips significantly below baseline. For example, if a consumer experiences a constant signal of 90 Mbps (as promised by the service provider) in the same room as the wireless router, but he receives only a fraction of that — say 10 Mbps — in a second-floor bedroom, an extender could remedy the problem.
Extenders helpful in homes where walls or interference from other devices lead to dead spots for WiFi reception. Devices offering easy setup can range from $29 to $120, with the sweet spot hovering in the $80 range.
Prior to choosing a WiFi range extender, it’s important to establish proper “benchmarks” for your home WiFi throughput. Basically, this means identifying the areas in your home where WiFi signals are weakest.
We recommend this series of steps:
Download an app to your mobile device for portable testing. Ookla and Speed Test are two of the more popular WiFi speed testers, and both are available for IOS and Android for a minimal cost (or free).
Run a throughput test in the general area of your wireless router and note the results.
Visit the spot (or spots) in your home where WiFi reception is slower. There is no hard and fast rule, but if your tests in areas away from your router are less than half of your base signal, it’s time to consider a range extender.
Purchase and install your WiFi extender. (See “How to Set Up Your Extender” for more details.) Buyer note: not all range extenders are built equally. Many promise the ability to extend a signal up to 10,000 square feet, while others have the ability to take signals from multiple bands of the router and combine them to create a more powerful repeated signal.
Retest your throughput speed in the area that previously experienced less-than-optimal WiFi. If you don’t see a significant boost, it’s possible you may need a different range extender.
In some cases, a standard WiFi range extender will not bring new bandwidth life to spotty areas of reception. If a building’s architecture prohibits central location of the extender, for example, you could run into this problem.
In such scenarios — alternatives such as AC or powerline-based — WiFi extenders should be considered. Generally, AC-based extenders cost slightly more than their non-AC counterparts. However, as more companies enter the market, we expect prices to continue to drop.
Powerline solutions come in pairs, with a base unit that plugs into an outlet near the router, and a second unit that sits in an area with poor bandwidth throughput. The unit close to the router plugs directly into the router via Ethernet cable; the signal travels through the home’s electrical circuitry to the extender.
By and large, this method can provide the best throughput to weak or dead bandwidth zones. However, the AC-based solution has its drawbacks:
The powerline approach is only as good as the home’s electricity circuitry. In older homes where the wiring has not been updated, an AC extender is likely the wrong choice for extending WiFi signals.
“Multimedia over Coax Alliance,” or MoCA is a WiFi extending alternative that utilizes your home’s preexisting coaxial cable wires to directly carry your network from your router to other MoCA WiFi adapters elsewhere in the building. This method is an excellent solution to frustrating architectural problems that may prevent a traditional WiFi signal from easily traveling through your home, while providing faster network speeds and a far more reliable connection at the same time.
Mesh networking is another alternative method of ensuring that your home is completely blanketed by your network’s WiFi signal. In a nutshell, a mesh network relies on a system of mini-routers, or nodes. The node closest to your modem connects to the internet, and broadcasts the signal to the other nodes in your network, which in turn, locally amplify the WiFi signal it receives. Costing between $200 and $400 on average, mesh networking solutions aren’t cheap, but if a system of nodes are positioned and installed correctly, your WiFi coverage issues will be a thing of the past.
Note that other devices and appliances, including surge protectors, microwave ovens, and cordless phones, may weaken any WiFi signal in its path.
How much should you expect to pay for a good WiFi extender? As mentioned above, you could spend anywhere from $30 to $120 for a good one. Many great ones cost around $80.
The cost will vary based on the answers to these questions: