How Do We Test Wifi Extenders
TechRadar tests Wi-Fi extenders in a variety of ways, from how easy they are to connect and setup, what apps or software they might come with, and of course, how much increase you get to the range of your wireless internet.
Features will be noted, we check to see if Wi-Fi 6 is supported, as well as if they’re able to connect to any existing router and if the products are Dual-band or Tri-band compatible. As a Wi-Fi extender is designed to support an existing router, and not act as a dedicated router in itself, you’ll likely want to check if your wireless router isn’t up to scratch before you spend serious money on an extender.
A series of benchmarks are used to determine how effective a Wi-Fi extender is, using applications like the Ookla Speed test and the Steam game download client to test how many megabytes per second of data is achievable in different locations of a home, such as right beside the extender itself and behind partition walls that could block a signal.
The Second Floor Lacks Internet
You picked the perfect, inconspicuous location to install a wireless router: downstairs in the family room on the entertainment center. But as anyone in an upstairs bedroom discovered, the walls and physical distance between the router and the people using it is too much.
Think vertically when it comes to the spaces where youre looking to add coverage. Install a Wi-Fi extender in the upstairs room thats closest to being directly above where the router is located.
For instance, if your daughters bedroom is directly above the family room where the router is located, plug the wireless extender into one of the outlets in that room rather than in the master bedroom down the hallway. The strong signal received close to the router will easily bounce coverage to the other upstairs Wi-Fi users.
Connecting Devices In Dead Spots
If your wifi extender is setup properly and has a good connection with your wifi router, you shouldnt have any issues connecting to your devices that are in dead spots . If your extender cant connect the device, try to move the device closer to the extender until you see a green or amber light up on the client device.
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How Does A Wifi Extender Work
While its tempting to think of a WiFi range extender as a device that can beam fast, reliable WiFi throughout your home, its more like a spot fix for the dead zone in your bedroom or attic-turned-home office.
To get the best results, you have to plug the extender into a power outlet midway between your router and the dead-zone area. The extender can then pick up the WiFi signal from your router and push it deeper into your home.
But youre likely to notice a significant drop in throughput speeds in the extended network, says Kannan Athreya, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at Ohio State University.
Thats in part because an extender relies on the same frequency band as the router itself. So now the data that originally would have come directly from the access point to your connected device is going through an intermediate step, Athreya says.
That extra step can reduce the speed of your WiFi signal by about half. So, for example, if youre standing right next to your WiFi router and get 50 megabits per second , the speed in your extended network will be about 25 megabits per second. And thats in an ideal world, where the WiFi signal from the router hasnt been degraded by obstacles such as thick walls and large appliances.
How Does Wifi Range Extender Work
Most home use consumer wifi extenders are wireless repeaters. The range extenders receive wireless and repeat the signals into the air. Now because you can place the repeaters away from your main router, having a range extender can effectively increase the overall coverage of your wireless transmission.
However, the increase in area coverage comes with a cost. The overlapped or common areas between the repeater and the router can suffer performance issues. As the same transmissions occur over the same frequency and channel.
Signal Booster vs Range ExtenderSome people confuse signal booster with most commercially sold retail wifi range extenders. Signal boosters are usually attachments to your router or computer devices to amplify or increase the signal strength. Range extenders are typically stand-alone devices that repeat the signals of your network.
Signal boosters can be limited in ways that even if your routers can send signal to the devices, your client devices may not have the ability to transmit that information back. However, they can be great for 1 way transmissions. Signal boosters can still suffer performance issues if the wireless signal is blocked by multiple walls or metals.
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Where Should I Put It
Just like how router placement is key for maximum signal strength, you need to make sure your extender is in the best possible place to actually do its job. This is fairly easy to figure out.
Linksys and Netgear both make WiFi extenders, and both companies have the same advice for extender placement: Meet in the middle. Put simply, you need to identify where your WiFi dead zone is and place the extender at a halfway point between the router and the dead zone. The extender needs to be close enough to the router to extend its signal and close enough to the dead zone to make a difference.
Netgear Ex8000 Nighthawk X6s Ac3000 Tri
The Netgear EX8000 is a powerful and full-featured Wi-Fi range extender, but its also somewhat pricey, typically costing around $200. Even so, you might find it a good value if you need a lot of range or are looking to fill multiple Wi-Fi dead spots. Its a tri-band extender with speeds up to AC3000, and should be capable of delivering 4K UHD video wirelessly. Netgears monolith-shaped housing hides an antenna design that should give you solid coverage from the garage to the backyard.
Because of the EX8000s fairly large footprint, its able to offer four Ethernet connectionsyou can plug wired devices directly into this extender, giving you a wired hub far away from your homes router with about 2800 square feet of additional coverage.
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Netgear Wifi Mesh Range Extender Ex7300
Youre going to want to match two values between the router you have and the extender you want to buy: the Wi-Fi generation, and the Wi-Fi speed. The generation will generally be either Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 . The speed is expressed as a function of that connection: if the extender is marked as AC750, that means its using 802.11ac at up to 750 megabits per second. If it says AX1800, its using 802.11ax at up to 1800 megabits .
You can buy an extender thats newer and/or faster than your router, and it will work fine. But youll be paying for something that you dont really need, since the extender wont be able to speed up the connection from the router itself.
Do Wifi Boosters Work With Hotspots
A hotspot captures the signal from your nearest cell phone tower and converts it to WiFi, which you can then use to connect your devices. This can either be a specific mobile hotspot device or your cell phone can act as a mobile hotspot. Unless you have a fantastic signal coming from the tower, this signal could be rough. WiFi boosters extend the coverage or range of WiFi hotspots. A signal booster will amplify the signal coming into your hotspot and allow your hotspot to work more efficiently. Its a good option for reaching areas of your home that the hotspot does not adequately cover.
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About Our Trusted Experts
Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He’s installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network deployments.
Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. His areas of expertise include smartphones, wearable gadgets, smart home devices, video games, and esports. He reviewed several of the WiFi extenders on our list.
Brittany Vincent writes for a variety of publications including Complex, IGN, Tom’s Hardware, CNN Underscored, Mic, Mashable, GamesRadar, Destructoid, Kotaku, and GameSpot. She reviewed some of the WiFi extenders featured on our list.
Erika Rawes has written for Digital Trends, USA Today, Cheatsheet.com, and more. Previously a personal finance writer and freelance tech writer, Erika has tested more than 50 consumer technology products, ranging from kitchen gadgets to WiFi extenders, cameras, and more.
Andy Zahn has been writing for Lifewire since April 2019. He is a consumer technology expert who has tested several of the products on this list.
Wifi Extender With Lan Port Or Hardwire
If your WiFi extender has LAN ports and its actually in a position where you can hardwire ethernet cable connection. You should always do it. By routing some of the wireless connection into hardwire, you free up some of the air time and generally improve the speed of your entire network.
This is true for the devices that exist within the overlapped area between your router and range extender, it makes sense to try to hardwire them wherever possible. This can prevent the wireless packets being transmitted duplicated times between your devices.
With our previous example with the living room and bedroom, lets say you also have a TV inside the kitchen, it can be beneficial to hardwire the streaming devices such as Apple TV or Chromecast to the range extender. Instead of connecting the devices wirelessly to either the main router or the range extender.
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How A Wifi Extender Works
If theres one area of the house youve learned to avoid when you want to stream a show, play a game, or scroll on your phone, you might have a dead spot. This is an area your WiFi signal cant reach. Fortunately, theres a solution called a WiFi extender. These inexpensive devices can enhance your WiFi coverage, helping prevent dead spots and poor coverage.
A WiFi extender expands your existing WiFi network, helping you achieve better coverage and improve connectivity. They work best in limited areas where your WiFi coverage may be spotty, like remote bedrooms, garages, or backyard areas. If you want to improve coverage at home, WiFi extenders are often an affordable solution.
In this guide, learn what a WiFi extender is, how a WiFi extender works, how far a WiFi extender works, and what to look for in a device.
Want To Boost Your Wi
If you live in a large or multi-storey home, you may have wi-fi black spots. These are areas of your home that the wireless signal from your router isnt able to reach.
To access the internet throughout all areas of your home, you’ll need a device to increase or spread the wireless signal. Most products on the market have the same effect, but go about it in a different way. Ultimately, they pick up your existing wireless signal from your router, then redistribute it.
There are a couple of different options available to boost your wi-fi, but your choice depends on the environment where the network will be. The options could be a more powerful router, a wi-fi extender, a powerline adaptor or a wi-fi system. Every home is different, and each of these types of devices has advantages and disadvantages. With our expert advice, well help you make the best decision.
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Do I Need A Wifi Extender
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you have problems with WiFi connectivity in your home. You’re most likely encountering dead zones in areas that are far away from the router, or spots in your home where your devices just won’t connect to the network with any kind of stability.
That said, the range of your network signal might not be the culprit here. There are plenty of reasons why your WiFi signal could be funky. For example, plenty of people keep the same router around for years without replacing it, which is absolutely not the way to do it. If your router is more than three or four years old and your internet is acting up, you should probably replace it before doing anything else.
Even if your router is top-notch, it won’t do you much good if it’s placed poorly.
As an expert explained to HuffPo, physical distance between a router and a device isn’t the only thing that can hamper its signal strength. Routers should be placed in a central location and preferably up high. You should also keep it away from metals and thick walls.
It might be prudent to arrange an appointment with a specialist from your service provider before trying to fix the problem yourself.
What Is A Typical Wifi Extender Price
Plug-in models typically cost less than $50 or just half that on sale. But even the best WiFi boosters are usually priced under $200. Think about whether you need a desktop WiFi extender, or if a simple plug-in model will suffice. Determining which one is best for your situation will also give you a good idea of how much you can expect to pay.
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Ultimately, you’ll find a wide variety of price points when searching for the best WiFi booster. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the more expensive models will also have more features whether that’s more ports, antennas, or higher link rates. Plug-in models are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, but don’t expect them to be packed with features.
Desktop models don’t have size limitations, so they can include better antenna placement as well as internal hardware.
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Netgear Wn2500rp Wifi Range Extender N600
- Extends range of 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi signals from existing WiFi routers
- FastLane provides high-speed WiFi over a single band, ideal for HD gaming and video streaming
- 4-port Ethernet for wired devices.
- Works with any wireless a/b/g/m router to extend wireless connections
- Dynamic LEDs display real-time network connection status and optimal extender placement