The best Wi-Fi extenders can stretch your Wi-Fi coverage, eliminating dead spots and providing stronger signal the rooms that your router can't quite reach. Whether you call it a signal booster, a wireless repeater or a Wi-Fi extender, these small and affordable devices provide stronger Wi-Fi where you need it, without the expense of upgrading to a mesh networking system.
We've reviewed several popular Wi-Fi extenders, from inexpensive wall plug units that can be hidden behind a couch to desktop units that prioritize power over aesthetics. There are plenty of functions and features to consider, but the best Wi-Fi extender for you is the one that can be positioned to expand your Wi-Fi coverage to where you need it. Big or small, cheap or expensive, we've tested them all to give you the best advice when shopping for a Wi-Fi extender.
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The best Wi-Fi extender for you will meet your coverage needs and be convenient to use, as well as fitting your budget. Overall, our rating criteria include design, range, throughput, setup and which settings you can adjust. But our recommendations aren't purely about speed and coverage, but also price, so you can find the right device without spending too much money.
The best Wi-Fi extenders for going back to school
When you're likely to have children from elementary school to college trying to handle online classes while parents work from home, you need the best Wi-Fi coverage you can get, and you need it in every room of the house. A good Wi-Fi extender can stretch your network to the farthest reaches of the house, delivering great speeds for all of your devices.
Check out all of our picks for the Ultimate back to school guide 2021.
What are the best Wi-Fi extenders?
Based on our in-depth lab tests and hands-on usage in a real home, the best Wi-Fi extender on the market is the TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender. It has great range and performance in a plug-in design that's easy to install in most any room. It also has a handy smartphone app that makes managing your network easier.
If you're willing to pay for top performance, the Editor's Choice Netgear AX1800 4-Stream Mesh Extender (EAX20) is the most capable extender we've reviewed, with Wi-Fi 6 speeds and built-in mesh support, but it's a larger desktop model that's not as easy to hide.
The best Wi-Fi extenders you can buy today
The TP-Link RE650 takes a top position as the best Wi-Fi extender overall, with a convenient plug-in design, and long range for big homes. It packs a lot of power, and delivers great speeds at up to 75 feet. Really, our only problem with the TP-Link RE650 is that the plug-in unit is large enough that it will probably block adjacent outlets, but that's a small quibble for the excellent performance this extender provides.
That performance came second only to our top overall pick, but the TP-Link RE650 offers competitive speeds in a handy, easy-to-install design. With four external antennas and dual-band wireless-AC support, the TP-Link RE650 is a great choice for large homes. You can also set up and monitor your extended network with TP-Link's handy Tether app, which puts advanced settings and security tools right on your phone or tablet.
Read our full TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender review.
With Wi-Fi 6 speeds and even mesh capability built right in, the Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20) was already a contender for the best Wi-Fi extender you can get. While not everyone will be excited about it's large desktop design – without a plug-in design, there's no hiding this extender behind the couch or in the corner – and a price that's more expensive than some routers, the proof is in the performance. And boy, does the Netgear EAX20 deliver, with category-leading speeds and an awesome 95-foot range.
The Netgear EAX20 does one thing and does well: it extends networks that are faster and have a longer range than the competition. Throw in a handful of customization options, and add a layer of online security to help protect your home network, and it's not hard to say that this admittedly pricey extender is worth every penny.
Read our full Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20) review.
For an affordable, but capable Wi-Fi extender, you might want to consider the Rock Space AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender. With solid basic Wi-Fi performance and dead-simple setup, this little Wi-Fi extender is a great way to cover the odd dead spot in your Wi-Fi coverage, or to push stronger wireless signals out to your back patio or garage.
With a compact plug-in design and adjustable antennas, you can easily tuck the Rock Space extender out of the way, and setup can be done in just minutes, with no extra app to worry about. And with solid middle of the road performance that works as well between floors as it does room-to-room, it's also a great choice for townhouses and other multi-floor homes. Just don't expect blazing speeds or advanced customization options – this is strictly for basic Wi-Fi.
Read our full Rock Space AC1200 WiFi Extender review.
The Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band Extender emerged as the best-performing Wi-Fi extender we've tested by a large margin, with faster data speeds and an enormous range. It's also got some tricks up its sleeve that other extenders might not match, like the ability to use the X6S with any standard router to make a real mesh network, giving you more seamless coverage throughout the house. You can even add additional units to expand that mesh network far and wide.
The Nighthawk X6S uses a desktop design that's much larger than the average plug-in signal booster, but that size allows for more antennas (six in total) and beefier hardware that offers tri-band coverage out to 168 feet. It's big and expensive, but it's worth every penny.
Read our full Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band Extender review.
Need to beef up your Wi-Fi network coverage and range, but don't want an extender that stands out? The Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi range extender is compact and low-profile, with a design that won't block other outlets or stand out as a garish tech product. It's easily the best Wi-Fi extender we've seen for people that want an unobtrusive design, instead of an antenna-festooned brick that blocks adjacent outlets.
But aside from the subtle design, the Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ offers solid throughput speeds and set-up assistance that helps you find the right spot for optimal performance. The overall performance is pretty good, but that set-up assistant makes it a great choice for anyone that wants a little help getting things set up just right.
D-Link's DAP-1720 is easy to set up, provides a convenient mobile app for managing device settings and can help fill a home with Wi-Fi. Handy features like a built-in Ethernet port that can handle Gigabit speeds, and a physical on/off switch make it a capable tool for extending the reach of your router, but it serves up patchy performance and is so large that it risks blocking adjacent AC outlets.
Despite some irregular performance, the D-Link DAP-1720 does particularly well when pushing signal to a floor above or below. That verticality makes it one of the best Wi-Fi extenders available for getting signal to every floor of a multistory home, making it the perfect choice for anyone who finds their Wi-Fi signal dropping out when they go up or down stairs.
Read our full D-Link DAP-1720 Wi-Fi AC1750 Range Extender review.
Do you need a Wi-Fi extender?
If you find yourself running into dead spots in your home Wi-Fi coverage, whether it's a room where you can't get a stable connection, or if you lose signal as you go up to the next floor of your multi-story home, then you're a good candidate for a Wi-Fi extender. Wi-Fi extenders are great for giving you a little more signal with a little more range, enough to reach that far room or give your Wi-Fi a little oomph to make it to the next floor.
However, if you have large portions of your home or property that don't get adequate Wi-Fi, you may need to step up to one of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems, which use multiple devices to create a larger shared network. If you have multiple rooms with spotty coverage, or a far end of the house that your router can't reach, or want to extend your coverage out to the backyard or garage, then a mesh kit is the better choice.
How to choose the best Wi-Fi extender for you
- How Much Should a Wi-Fi Extender Cost? The cheapest Wi-Fi repeaters will often sell for less than $50, and our current budget pick sells for half that. Newer signal boosting devices have support for the latest wireless standards and offering technologies like beam-forming and Mu-MIMO for enhanced performance will often cost more, but even the best extenders can be had for less than $200. And watch out for cheap discount range extenders, like the one in our Super Boost Wireless-N Wi-Fi Repeater review. The attractively low price also brings extremely poor performance.
- Plug-In or Desktop? While most signal boosters use small plug-in designs that connect directly to a wall outlet, they aren't the only option. Some of the best Wi-Fi extenders use larger designs that sit on a desk or shelf, more like a traditional router. These larger devices don't have the same size and weight limitations of plug-in units, allowing for better antenna placement and better internal hardware. Plug-in models, on the other hand, will often be less expensive and more convenient to install.
- Match Wi-Fi Standards: While you may not pay much attention to which wireless standard your router uses, it will definitely have an impact on how helpful your extender is. If your wireless router uses the current 802.11ac standard, you’ll want to be sure your extender does, too. The older 802.11n standard is slower and often is limited to one band, which will create a bottleneck in your Wi-Fi coverage, slowing down all of your browsing and streaming. But that's a problem only if your router is offering better speeds. If you have an older wireless-N router, then a matching extender will do the job just fine.
- Placement Is Everything: Both wireless routers and Wi-Fi extenders use radio waves to share data back and forth with your internet connection. You need to find somewhere that's close enough to the router to grab a strong signal to rebroadcast, but far enough away to extend the network's range to where it's needed. Need more help? Check out our guide to Wi-Fi extender placement.
- Consider an Upgrade: If your wireless router isn't providing the speeds or coverage you want, it may be better to skip the Wi-Fi extender entirely and get a new router. Newer models offer better performance, and mesh routers will let you expand your wireless coverage across even the largest home. (One of our editors traded in his router-and-extender combination for a Netgear Orbi mesh system. See why he says "This mesh router is the best thing I bought during the pandemic.")
How we test Wi-Fi extenders
Every Wi-Fi extender we review is evaluated based on a combination of in-depth performance tests and hands-on usage in a real home. This mix of real-world use and controlled benchmark testing gives us a clear picture of how well each device performs.
We use Ixia's IxChariot testing software to measure throughput at a variety of distances and environmental conditions. This includes testing with the extender placed at 50 feet and 75 feet from the router. The software simulates traffic in a busy wireless network while measuring data flow back and forth. The results are shown in megabits per second (Mbps) at a distance from the extender, with higher numbers indicating better performance.
Measuring the throughput at various distances also lets us determine the effective range of the extender, giving you a better understanding of how well a device will do in covering the farthest corners of your home.
We also use each product in a real home, which has signal-thwarting brick walls and the sort of sturdy construction that basic routers struggle to contend with. In that environment we use the network for everything from listening to music and streaming video to performing additional tests and even writing the review.
All of our reviews include additional details about the set-up process, the quirks and cool aspects of design, and all of the settings and management functions the device offers. If you want to learn more about any of the best Wi-Fi extenders listed above, just check out the full reviews for more detailed information.
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