In-Depth Guide to the Best WiFi Extender
Wireless connection can be pretty unreliable sometimes, no matter what kind of router you have got.
For example, if your business is located in a large environment, a single router might not provide enough coverage, especially if there are various devices connected at the same time.
Instead of moving your laptops and other devices closer to a router, consider this better solution – a WiFi extender.
This robust and handy device will make sure you have Internet access in the entire office. They are easy to set up, there is a variety of different models, and they work perfectly in every environment.
This article will present you the functionality of WiFi extenders, giving you the examples of five best models that will shoo the bad connection.
Let’s get started.
How Does a WiFi Extender Work?
WiFi extender, WiFi repeater, and WiFi booster are all the names that describe the device that connects to your wireless network and re-broadcasts the signal. That way, the wireless connection is extended throughout the room where the signal is low.
Although WiFi extender and repeater have the same function, there is a significant difference between them.
WiFi repeater connects to your Internet wirelessly, the way smartphones and tablets do. Since the connection to your router is wireless, you might be facing some inconveniences – for example, microwave, thick walls, cordless phones, and electronic devices, in general, can interfere with the connection and cause it to slow down.
On the other hand, a WiFi extender connects to the router via the wired connection, providing a more stable signal than the repeater. You can use either Ethernet or coaxial cable to connect, and a wired connection will make sure a WiFi extender always provides a reliable and robust signal.
A wired connection won’t be disrupted by other electronic devices, which is the case with repeater – that said, WiFi extender is an excellent solution for enriching your Internet speed in your home or office.
How to Setup WiFi Extender?
Setting up a WiFi network extender is more straightforward than it used to be a couple of years ago. Most contemporary routers support WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), which allows you to set up and connect the router with another wireless device more easily.
Let’s have a look at five steps of connecting the WiFi extender using WPS:
- Step 1: Unpack the extender and plug it into the electrical outlet (make sure it’s close to the router).
- Step 2: Press the WPS button on your WiFi extender first, and then do the same thing with your router. If the connection is established correctly, the LED light will turn green or blue, depending on the model. Also, if you’re using a 5G connection, repeat the button-pressing process.
- Step 3: Once you’ve set up the extender, you should move it to the outlet which is between the router and the device (the laptop, for example). Again, you need to make sure that it’s in range with the router – if it’s not, the LED light will turn red, and you won’t be able to connect.
- Step 4: Connect to the WiFi extender using your laptop – it will be shown under the same name as your Wi-Fi router name, plus EXT, for example, MyNetwork_EXT. You will use the same password as your router’s.
- Step 5: If you still can’t connect, get closer to the Wi-Fi booster, and try again.
In case your router doesn’t support WPS, you can connect using the Installation Assistant, offered by most WiFi extender manufacturers. It’s done online in most cases, and you need to be connected to the extender before you access the Assistant. Next, you’ll follow the instructions until the installation is complete.
However, before you purchase a WiFi booster, make sure it matches your router’s specs – that way, you’ll achieve a better connection.
What are the Limitations of the Best WiFi Range Extender?
Even though WiFi booster is considered the best option for covering dead zones (corners with no Internet connection), they still come with some limitations.
Namely, extenders use a separate network SSID (Service Set Identifier), so that the WiFi speeds are typically half of what you get from your primary router.
In most cases, especially when it comes to dual-band extenders, the devices that are connecting tend to “fight” for the bandwidth with the router. Hence, although your WiFi signal becomes improved, you might be facing some speed inconveniences.
What is the Best WiFi Extender?
There are various types of WiFi extenders suitable for everyone’s needs. They come in multiple shapes, sizes, and features, and they’ll get the job done in a way that they’ll enhance your WiFi signal and speed.
Before we give you a list of the best WiFi extender models, we’ll give you a straightforward guide on what to look for when buying the WiFi booster for the first time:
- The price: The price depends on multiple factors – for instance, simple WiFi repeaters are usually cheap (less than $50), while more enhanced extenders that use the newest standards and technologies cost between $100 and $200.
- The type: Based on your needs, you’ll choose between a plug-in and desktop extenders. The first category includes simply-designed devices that are plugged into the outlet, while the second one represents a more improved designed solution that lies on a desktop or shelf, just like the ordinary router.
- The Wi-Fi standards: Before you buy the extender, check your network specs. Make sure your booster matches the router’s features so that it delivers the right performance.
- The place: Go around your home or office and find the best place for your new WiFi booster. That’s quite a vital segment since the extender won’t give you the expected results if it’s not put in the right place.
- The upgrade: If you didn’t find the extender that meets your router requirements, the best solution would be purchasing a new router. That way, you’ll avoid the expenses for the booster, and a new router can provide you with a top-notch experience.
Now that you’re prepared for buying let’s see five WiFi extender reviews that may help you find the best solution for your needs.
1. Netgear AX1200 WiFi Range Extender (EX6200)
Unlike most WiFi extender models that are small and easily-mountable, Netgear AX1200 is a big, router-alike WiFi signal booster. It’s one of the most powerful solutions available today, providing the ultimate range and performance for iPads, smartphones, laptops, computers, and other devices. The maximum range of this extender is about 75 feet.
- MU-MIMO: Multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output, or simply MU-MIMO function supports the environments where multiple users want to access the wireless network at the same time. So, this extender may be suitable for business environments (cafés, restaurants, or offices) which need wider network range.
- 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports: Ethernet allows you to connect the extender directly to a router and provide the best performance in that way. You can also connect Bly-ray players, smart TVs, game consoles, or streaming players to a Wi-Fi network.
- FastLane Technology: All Netgear’s WiFi extenders come with FastLane technology which lets you select one WiFi band to connect to the router and use the other one to connect to your devices. That way, you can establish a high-speed connection, suitable for HD streaming and gaming.
- Impossible to mount on the wall: You can’t install it on the wall, and it takes a lot of space since it’s quite a big device.
- No dedicated backhaul channel: Wireless backhaul is the use of the wireless connection to get data from an end user to a node in a major network. The lack of it means that the extender sometimes won’t provide you with the highest speed.
2. TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE450)
If you want a WiFi booster that takes less space and provides outstanding performance, consider TP-Link AC1750 (RE450). It’s got three adjustable antennas that can be set in a way to deliver optimal performance and reliable connection. Plus, an intelligent LED light will indicate if you’ve properly set the extender – a blue light shows a strong signal, while the red light means that you need to move the extender closer to the router.
- Outstanding coverage: People usually underestimate the power of smaller devices (it’s like a 6-inches smartphone, but thicker) – however, it’s got a wide coverage features, which allow it to spread the signal to a long distance. It’s quite suitable for larger homes.
- Easy installation and mobility: It’s very easy to set it up – you can do it either via WPS or connecting to its SSID using a laptop or computer. Since it’s mobile, you can take it with you, when, for example, going on a vacation – we all know how a hotel’s Wi-Fis are weak.
- AC generation: TP-Link RE450 uses 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology, which provides excellent performance and dual-band Wi-Fi, suitable for downloading larger files, gaming, and streaming.
- No pass-through outlet: The bad thing about this booster is the lack of pass-through outlet – that way, it takes up the whole outlet, and you won’t be able to plug anything else in.
- Only one LAN port: Unlike its competitors, which usually come with multiple LAN ports, TP-Link has got only one.
3. Linksys RE9000
If you want to experience top-speed WiFi performance, have a look at this innovative, tri-band WiFi extender – Linksys RE9000. It’s got a futuristic design, and we can say that it looks like a small version of International Space Station – it’s robust, and it impacts all the zones found in your home.
- Tri-band extender: Dual-band extenders are super-fast, but the tri-band ones are even faster – this is the best WiFi booster that’s got a dedicated backhaul band, which assigns a single 5GHz WiFi band to your router. That leads to freeing up the remaining two bands (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz) which are focused on your gaming consoles, and other connected devices.
- Spot Finder: Spot Finder technology allows you to find the best spot to place your extender. As you install it to your computer, you can take the extender and move it around – once you’ve found the best place, the indicator will turn green and show ‘Just Right.’
- Excellent signal range: Linksys RE9000 extends the range of your WiFi router up to 10,000 square feet and eliminates all the dead zones.
- It’s bulky: This is not a huge drawback, but it still takes a lot of space, which is not suitable for everyone.
- Expensive: The features of this “extraterrestrial” machine do have a price – spending 150 bucks on WiFi extender is not a budget-friendly solution.
4. D-Link DAP-1720 Wi-Fi AC1750 Range Extender
D-Link DAP-1720 is a powerful and easy-to-use WiFi network extender. It’s suitable for home use, and its dual-band technology makes sure the network is rebroadcasted in both channels – 5GHz and 2.4GHz. It’s also got a MU-MIMO feature, which makes it possible to handle multiple simultaneous connections at the same time.
- Mobile app: There is a mobile app that allows you to monitor the extender’s performance via your smartphone.
- Suitable for multistory homes: This WiFi booster is an excellent choice for multistory homes – it brings an enhanced connection and covers the dead zones efficiently. It’s got a range of 95 feet.
- Ethernet port: Although it’s got only one Ethernet port, it functions very well – it’s suitable for connecting Xbox, or any other gaming console or device.
- Frequent loss of connection: Many users complain that this extender often loses connection with the primary router, which is quite annoying.
- Two-prong plug: Even though it’s safer than a three-prong plug, some users complain about the electrical issues caused by this device. Also, it may block an adjacent outlet, preventing you from plugging something else in it.
5. Google WiFi
If you’re looking for the all-in-one WiFi solution, pay attention to Google WiFi. It represents a WiFi mesh technology, which consists of the main router that connects to the modem, and a series of satellites which are placed around your home or office – that way, you won’t need extra extensions, and it can be used even as the outdoor WiFi range extender.
- Sophisticated design: This device’s design is quite modern and classy, which makes it suitable for every environment. Besides, it’s not that huge, and it won’t take much space, unlike some of its competitors.
- Reliable coverage and speed: Google WiFi covers a wide surface area, and you can choose 1-3 WiFi points based on your needs. One point is enough for small home or apartment (500-1500 square feet), two points are suitable for medium homes or offices (1500-3000 square feet), and three points will be enough for a large space (3000-4500 square feet). Besides, the speed is always impeccable.
- Guest networking: Like almost every router, this one’s also got a guest networking which allows you to set limited network access for guests. It’s also suitable for parents who want to limit the Internet connection to their children.
- No USB connectivity: The lack of USB connectivity doesn’t allow you to connect to printers or external storage devices.
- Dual-band technology: This should be the good side, but a device like this one should contain a tri-band feature. Dual-band might provide less speed when connected to the satellites.