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The best Wi-Fi extenders in 2020

best Wi-Fi extender

We've tested more than a dozen of the best Wi-Fi extenders to help you fix your Wi-Fi dead spots and boost signal strength to every corner of your home. These small and inexpensive Wi-Fi signal boosters provide a quick solution for weak wireless signal and spotty coverage.

Based on our rigorous evaluations, which include in-depth lab tests and hands-on usage in a real home, the best Wi-Fi extender on the market is the Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000. It offers fast speeds, excellent reach and an array of features that make it easy to use.

We meticulously test every Wi-Fi extender we review to get a clear picture of how well each device performs. This testing is performed in our testing facility and our reviewer's suburban home, in addition to hands-on use.

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 use 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.

Overall, our rating criteria include design, range, throughput,  setup, and which settings you can adjust. In the final analysis, though, it all comes down to value — which extender provides the most for the lowest cost.

The best Wi-Fi extenders you can buy today

Best Wi-Fi extender - Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band WiFi Extender

(Image credit: Netgear)

1. Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band WiFi Extender

The best Wi-Fi extender overall

Antennas/Removable: 6 internal/No | Wi-Fi Spec: AC3000 802.11ac tri-band | Ports: 4 gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 | Size: 8.9 x 6.7 x 3.7 inches

Top performance
Software is easy to set up
Excellent assortment of ports
Huge device
Expensive

The Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band Extender emerged as the best Wi-Fi extender we've tested by a large margin, with faster data speeds and an enormous range.

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. You can even use multiple X6S extenders to create a mesh network for larger homes. It's big and expensive, but it's worth every penny.

Read our full Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band Extender review

TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Best Wi-Fi extender for large homes

Antennas/Removable: 4 external/No | Wi-Fi Spec: AC2600 802.11ac dual-band | Ports: 1 gigabit Ethernet | Size: 6.3 x 3.0 x 1.8 inches

Good performance
Excellent interface
Phone/tablet app
Can block adjacent outlets

The TP-Link RE650 takes a top position as the best Wi-Fi extender we’ve tested with a plug-in design, and our pick as the top extender for big homes. It packs a lot of power, and delivers great speeds at up to 75 feet.

That performance came second only to our top overall pick, but the TP-Link RE650 offers competitive speeds in a handy plug-in 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.

Netgear EX6200 Dual Band AC1200 WiFi Range Extender

(Image credit: Netgear)

3. Netgear EX6200 Dual Band AC1200 WiFi Range Extender

Best Wi-Fi extender value

Antennas/Removable: 2 external/Yes | Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac dual band | Ports: 5 Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Size: 9.7 x 6.9 x 1.2 inches

Excellent performance
Horizontal or vertical orientation
Assortment of ports
Good range
Big and bulky

The Netgear EX6200 gets a nod as the budget-firendly alternative for large homes, offering a less expensive alternative to the TP-Link RE650 that gets our top recommendation. The desktop design is a bit unusual for a category dominated by little plug-in devices, but it also allows for some of the best Wi-Fi extender performance we've seen.

It lacks a few features, most significantly a dedicated backhaul channel for data, but it balances that omission with a great price. On top of that, you'll get excellent performance, great range, and a flexible setup that can position the extender horizontally or vertically.

Read our full Netgear EX6200 Dual Band AC1200 WiFi Range Extender review.

Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender

(Image credit: Linksys)

4. Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender

A great Wi-Fi extender with a low profile

Antennas/Removable: 4 external/No | Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac dual band | Ports: 1 Gigabit Ethernet | Size: 4.9 x 3.2 x 1.7 inches

Simple design
Dual-band operations
Practical software
Gets hot
Unexceptional performance

Need to beef up your Wi-Fi network 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 performance 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.

Read our full Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender review.

D-Link DAP-1720 Wi-Fi AC1750 Range Extender

(Image credit: D-Link)

Best for two-story homes

Antennas/Removable: 3 external/No | Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac dual band | Ports: 1 Gigabit Ethernet | Size: 6.4 x 3.3 x 1.5 inches

Two-prong plug
Good multistory performance
Easy setup with mobile app
Can block adjacent outlet
Spotty performance

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.

Read our full D-Link DAP-1720 Wi-Fi AC1750 Range Extender review.

Do I need an Wi-Fi extender, booster or a repeater?

Confused about the difference between Wi-Fi extenders, signal boosters, and wireless repeaters? While each term gets used frequently, this is one bit of tech jargon that shouldn't be confusing, because they all mean the same thing. 

A Wi-Fi extender works by rebroadcasting your Wi-Fi signal, both strengthening poor signal and expanding the area it covers. So, calling a Wi-Fi extender by another term, such as a wireless repeater or range extender, is entirely correct.  As long as you set up your Wi-Fi extender for the best signal, it won't matter what you call it.

The one time it may not be quite so simple is with a mesh router system.  What is a mesh router?  Like a Wi-Fi extender, mesh routers also extend the Wi-Fi coverage in your home, but instead of just repeating your wireless signal, they use a more complex system of individual devices producing signal, multiple data channels and automatic configuration, providing more seamless coverage and better overall performance. Check out our list of the best mesh Wi-Fi kits to learn more more. 

Best Wi-Fi extender tips for shoppers

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • prashB
    Hi Tom, I use Wi-Fi at home, coffee shop and library and carry Wi-Fi booster around. Do you know of a Wi-Fi booster/extender that once programed to a Wi-Fi router saves its info and when configured to other weak public Wi-Fi router saves its info as well. A Wi-Fi booster than can save more than 1 router info in it. So that next time when plugged in within a range of 1 of the pre-configured router does not need to re configure again.
    Example… the way our laptops store various Wi-Fi routers security info and when within a range just connects it.
    Currently I have Netgear WN3500RP configured to my home. It works fine there. When I decided to take it to a coffee shop and use there had to factory reset it to configure it to the
    coffee shop. I do not want to factory reset every time I configure to a new place.
    Reply
  • dolandr
    I just got this and set it up but it wouldn't see my 2.4ghz network at all! I had to click the text that reads "I don't need a second network". Will it not work as well because of that?? Also, is it supposed to improve speeds when doing a speed test because it didn't, in fact it got 32mbps versus 44mbps before right I bought it. Is there maybe a router setting I should do for it to see my 2.4? (I have a Netgear router)
    Reply
  • Sonja_
    Wow, RE6500 as best buy. You are very lucky or this paid review, no offense. I have that crap and it breaking whole network, DC every so, breaking connections between my devices and router, WPS not working at all. If you want more just go at Amazon and read 1 star reviews. There are no problem there I have not experienced. It even broke casting radio via router to Chromecast somehow. Could not listen more than 30 sec. Setup is story for it self, you can try same thing 5 times and it won't work, but 6th it will. It is like playing lottery, and yes, speed, my internet speed was dropped to 1/3 of my max speed, still RE6500 was showing that it is on perfect spot. DO NOT BUY THIS.
    Reply
  • nasty62nick
    I bought the RE6500 and got it set up without difficulty but was surprised to find out that it does not offer the option of using MAC address filtering on the extended network. There has been some discussion about using MAC address filtering on the router and virtual MAC addresses assigned by the extender to achieve this but I don't have any spare spots in my router's permitted MAC address list. My old Netgear extender had no problem using MAC address filtering but it crapped out on me six months after the warranty expired.
    Reply
  • durland
    Thanks, Tom. I'm taking your suggestion for best extender and clicking BUY.
    Reply
  • mr_dj80
    I can't believe nobody has commented this yet. Your wifi range chart says the TRENDNET TEW-822DRE comes in second place with 150 feet. But in your review comment, you say it comes in third with 125 feet.

    So, WHICH IS IT??? ;-)

    I personalli am looking for a long range, but still cost/efficient wifi booster solution and was just about to buy the Trend 822dre based on your range chart.

    But undtill confirmed, it seems I can't depend on the information provided! :-(
    Reply
  • Nick_150
    thanks tom for this article. Very helpful as I've tried 3 different extenders so far but not this one
    Reply
  • kerumbo
    The Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 rescued our changeover to gigabit wifi, which involved moving the router/modem to a different floor than my home office and past a weight-bearing wall. Throughput for the main floor's TV was over 250mbps, but my "work" computer upstairs was barely online. Our new "fast" wifi would have been worthless to me personally if not for the range and speed that this range extender gave me -- I got about 150 gigabits from the extender. Now the bad news: The EX7000 flat-out died in less than 2 months. I liked it enough to buy a second one, this time with the kind of add-on warranty that I normally refuse. So it was great, until it turned to crap.
    Reply
  • optimisjoe
    About a year ago, I looked for cheaper alternatives including messing around with my router settings and trying different antennas and after my second attempt, luckily, I found these ASUS Antennas on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PA1WCL4) that seemed to do the job perfectly. The reviews are pretty good and I would personally recommend them to anybody but nobody seems to be selling them on there anymore. I did find them on eBay however: http://cgi.ebay.com/122536401882
    Reply
  • RichSad
    Hey Tom, I moved to an office in the farthest corner of my house in the basement. My TP-Link AC3150 WiFi router couldn't be relocated and I had trouble with 5GHz signal strength. Based on the positive reviews I saw of TP-Links earlier Range Extenders I decided to go bleeding edge with their new RE650 AC2600. WOWZA. It effectively tripled my speed on 5GHz. It's an awkward shape. I got it on Amazon with a $20 coupon so paid $109. Okla speedtest reports nearly 3X faster on 5GHz and 2.5X on 2.4GHz with no noticeable degradation anywhere on the network. I'd encourage you to test this model in the future. I can't speak for distance or some of the other criteria you measure on, but as far as getting it done this thing works better than I could have hoped.
    Reply