Reasons You Need A Wifi Booster
Getting reliable and fast WiFi around the entire house can be a challenge. Maybe theres a dead zone in an upstairs bedroom where your kids want to stream a movie, or maybe the signal drops in the backyard. WiFi has become as indispensable as electricity in many homes, yet WiFi performance can be temperamental. Given all the devices, metal appliances, and architectural features that can cause interference in the typical house, even the most powerful WiFi router can miss some spots.Here are five common scenarios where a WiFi booster can help improve your wireless experience:
Best Overall: Netgear Nighthawk X4
The Netgear Nighthawk X4 is the best overall Wi-Fi range extender for several reasons, even if its a little pricey. Its one of the fastest plug-in extenders around delivering stable AC2200 speeds, supports MU-MIMO technology to stream to several devices in your home, has four internal antennas, covers over 2,000 square feet, and has an ethernet port to hardwire something like a game console or PC.
We also love the X4s smart roaming feature. Most range extenders dont use the same Wi-Fi network name as whats already in your house and instead have an Ext at the end. As a result, devices will disconnect from your main router and connect to the extender as you move around your home. With the Nighthawk X4, that doesnt happen. Its all one fast, smooth, seamless experience.
Do Wifi Extenders Really Work
As long as you have a reliable internet connection in your home and place the extender in the best location, they are guaranteed to improve your WiFi’s signal range.
Keep in mind that they are not designed to stretch the signal throughout your entire home, though its tempting to think that because of the name. Extenders are more like spot fixers, designed to improve the dead zones in one or two areas.
Overall, wireless range extenders are an affordable and simple way of improving your WiFi network in small spaces.
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Do I Need A Special Router For The Extender
No, you dont. Most extenders are universally compatible with all routers so theyll work whether you purchase through your ISP or buy separately. However, some extenders are dual band, which means they use both the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz bands, but your router may only support the 2.3GHz band. Of course, you can still use the extender with your router, but your performance may be different than advertised for the unit.
The speed of your extender is entirely reliant on the speed offered by your router, so dont get a powerful extender expecting it to increase the speed of your internet connection that is not what they are designed to do. If your router is capable of 750Mbps, an extender with max 750Mbps speeds is a great fit.
Is It Difficult To Set Up A Wi
No, they are actually very easy to set up. They only take a few minutes to get it up and running. All you have to do is plug it in, connect it to your router, and enjoy a better signal. The trickiest part is determining where to set up your extender since it must be in range of your router but far away that it casts a strong signal to the area of your house that the router cant cover effectively.
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Which Is Better For Me Range Extenders Or Mesh Networks
After you have analyzed your WiFi network, consider how many weak signal and dead zone areas there are, the size of your home, and the number of floors your home has.
If you found one or two areas with poor signal, and you live in a small home or apartment with three bedrooms or less, a range extender will be plenty.
On the other hand, if you live in a single level home with more than three rooms, consider the location of the dead zones. Are they adjacent to each other or on opposite ends? Range extenders are able to stretch the coverage to improve the signal in adjacent rooms. However, it makes more sense to use a mesh network when the dead zones are on opposite sides rather than purchasing multiple extenders. This way you can have a consistent speed throughout your entire home and dont have to manually switch between multiple networks. In addition, there wouldnt be a huge price difference. A good extender will cost around $60, multiply that by two, and you are looking at $120. Some 3-unit mesh networks cost as low as $150, only a $30 difference.
Multiple level homes are more likely to have numerous areas with an unreliable signal they are larger and have more walls and floors interfering with the signal waves. To improve your internet signals coverage evenly through multiple floors, a mesh network would be the best option.
Best For Large Households: D
Do you need maximum coverage, yet are not interested in a secondary device or an expensive mesh network? In this case, we recommend looking into the D-Link DAP-1720 WiFi AC1750, a range extender that puts the emphasis on the range. It can reach 95 feet away with its extension, and while some setups and options beat that, they can be a bit more complicated.
Yet there is always a balance when picking out tech such as this. In this case, you are getting some extra range in exchange for a bit of performance consistency. Compared to other models listed here, especially our performance and all-around choices, the difference is clear, and you might eventually become frustrated with the performance if you are expecting a perfect setup. Effectively, you might want to invest more if performance is really what you are looking for.
The D-Link DAP-1720 WiFi AC1750 can reach ranges of 95 feet away from the device and advertises a combined speed between its two bands of 1750 Mbps . It has a gigabit ethernet port and a relatively easy setup compared to other range extenders.
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Powerline Networking: All In The Walls
An alternative to re-broadcasting existing Wi-Fi signal is to use powerline networking instead. The beauty of powerline networking is that it doesnt involve wireless technology at all. Popular in Europe, powerline networking gear can fill networking gaps by moving the data over your homes power cables that live behind its walls. All you need is an AC outlet at each end.
It might seem like magic, but powerline networking piggybacks its data signal on top of your homes 120-volt alternating current that runs through the homes electrical infrastructure that snakes through your house, making every AC outlet fair game.
The best powerline systems top out at up to 2Gbps of bandwidth and start at about $40. Our current favorite, the Editor’s Choice Netgear PLP2000, is a bit more expensive, but offers great connectivity, with category-leading performance and dual Ethernet ports.
They generally plug right into a wall outlet but the bulky powerline devices can cover up adjacent wall outlets and some systems offer a replacement outlet as compensation.
Be careful, though, because powerline gear uses two devices: a sender unit near where your router is and a receiver near where you need the data. They typically need to be no more than a few hundred feet apart. Unfortunately, the cabling in an older home can be so convoluted that you need to roughly double the distance between sender and receiver.
How Do I Know What Extender I Need
Like the purchase of, arguably, anything else, the decision is heavily based on the requirements of your situation. Many of the extenders that are available, while they seem like they are the perfect answer to your problem, can vary in compatibility and usefulness. For example, something like the NightHawk would be an expensive purchase for sure, but if you have a large area where it is crucial to keep a consistent connection, like an office space or hospital, the extended coverage becomes worth the price. At the same time in order to get the best range and performance out of this extender, it must be paired with other NetGear products. And NetGear are not the only ones to do this. With the increasing complexity of the hardware, which goes into these extenders, some companies will attempt to increase a level of exclusivity with their products to remain independent and influence buyers to maintain a certain commitment to them.
If you are ever in doubt of which to lean towards, or you are just unsure of the needed specifications, I would recommend going for something marked as universal. These extenders are made to be fully compatible with any current router and perform to the max of its abilities with your current setup.
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Best Wireless Range Extender For Deep Parental Controls
- Supports Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output streaming
- Easy to install
With so many of us working from home due to the coronavirus, many US homes have more apps than ever careening across their Wi-Fi networks. And some of these require not only a good amount of bandwidth, but a steady amount of bandwidth. When they don’t get it, that chat you’re having with your boss on your company’s voice over IP phone system suddenly sounds like one of you is underwater. The same goes for many consumer-grade apps, especially video streaming services like Netflix, and certainly the latest games.
Most folks figure they need to upgrade their Wi-Fi in that situation, so they either buy a new wireless router or upgrade their internet service . Well, hang on before you do that, because for well under $100 in most cases you have another option. Chances are, a range extender will get the job done. Aptly named, range extenders pick up your router’s Wi-Fi signal, amplify it, and rebroadcast the boosted signal.
Rock Space Ac1200 Wifi Extender Review: Design
Wi-Fi Rating: AC1200Size: 3.4 x 3.1 x 2.0 inchesNumber of Antennas/Removable: 2 external/NoWi-Fi Specs: 802.11ac dual bandPorts: 1 Gigabit EthernetPerformance at 15 feet: 175.4MbpsExtender Range: 75 feetEstimate Annual Costs: $4.90
The Rock Space AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender is small, unobtrusive and can help fill a home with wireless data. It has a two-prong plug, measures 3.4 x 3.1 x 2.0 inches and wont block an adjacent outlet. Its pair of adjustable antennas can add another 1.8-inches to its height.
The black extender has a distinctive sculpted front and its Ethernet port allows it to operate as a traditional wireless extender or as a wired access point. The device has three LEDs that light up to show that its turned on, is using its Wi-Fi Protected Setup process and its signal strength. When its blue, everything is fine, but if its red or blank, youll need to move the device closer to the router. Theres no way to turn the lights off, however.
On its sides, the Rock Space extender has cooling holes. Underneath, theres a recessed reset key. The device lacks an on/off switch.
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List Of Top Wifi Extenders
- External antennas for faster and reliable Wi-Fi
- Works with any Wi-Fi router
- Compact in size
- Simple to use
Verdict: Well, we can say this is a good option for people having a huge house. It has a great coverage range and a good signal band for users.
Netgear Wifi Mesh Range Extender Ex7700
Netgears EX7700 is yet another desktop router, but this one has an angular, faceted aesthetic that may appeal to gamers and other techies. The AC2200 tri-band extender has a respectable max speed of 2,200Mbps and can cover about 2,300 square feet. Setup is straightforward, especially thanks top the single-button WPS setup that can connect the extender automatically to your router. And Netgears mobile app lets you use your phone to sleuth out the optimal location to place it.
But the extender’s most compelling feature, though, is that the EX7700 establishes a mesh network connection with your main routerno matter the brand or modeland lets you seamlessly roam through the house without switching to a different SSID or network. Its certainly not the only extender on the market capable of doing this, but the list is short and this solid, dependable model rises to the top of the list of extenders that can use your routers network name regardless of brand.
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Solid Results From The 2022 Crop
Ready to see how the range extenders did? Let’s take a look.
These graphs show you the average download speeds by room and average upload speeds by room for a Wi-Fi 6 laptop connected to each extender. All five models I tested were able to deliver noticeable improvements to the connection, but some did a better job than others.
On the left, this first set of graphs shows you the average download speeds by room for each extender I tested. On the right, you’re looking at the average upload speeds. All of these speeds are to my Wi-Fi 6 test device, a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop from 2021.
So what jumps out? First, all five of these extenders did a decent job of boosting speeds in those last four rooms, down in the basement. With all of them, I had a faster connection throughout the house than I had when I connected through the router alone. The D-Link EaglePro AI struggled a bit with upload speeds in the basement, but still kept things above a minimum of 20Mbps or so.
That was with a Wi-Fi 6 device, though. How did the performance look with an older Wi-Fi 5 device from several years ago?
Again, this is average download speeds by room on the left, average upload speeds on the right — this time, to an older Wi-Fi 5 device.
Tips For Choosing A Wifi Extender
- It is best to select the same brand for your WiFi extender as your router. This generally ensures that the products have the same chipset and software.
- You may be attracted to an extender that offers simple setup. Thats fine, but bear in mind that more advanced models that provide throughput on multiple bands require a more complex setup, with separate bands needing individual setups.
- For maximum throughput, select a model that supports both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Older models with only 2.4 GHz offer little more than 50% of the routers signals, while extenders that also support the newer 5 GHz band provide stronger signals to weaker zones. The reason for this has to do with the need for the extender to simultaneously communicate with the base router and the client device. With one band, the network must perform both functions, but with two separate bands, one can talk to the router while the other services the targeted deficient zone.
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