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The best Wi-Fi extenders in 2020

best Wi-Fi extender

The best Wi-Fi extenders let you add Wi-Fi coverage to any part of your home, eliminating dead spots in specific rooms without switching to an expensive mesh networking system. Whether you call them Wi-Fi extenders, signal boosters, or wireless repeaters, they all do the same thing: provide stronger Wi-Fi signal where you need it. These small and inexpensive Wi-Fi signal boosters plug into the nearest outlet to provide a quick solution for weak wireless signal and spotty coverage.

We've reviewed wall plug units that can be hidden behind the couch and desktop units that prioritize power over aesthetics, but the best Wi-Fi extender for you is the one that can be positioned to add wider Wi-Fi coverage where you need it, whether it's so you can get work done in a basement office or stream shows out in the backyard.

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. The best Wi-Fi extender for you will meet your coverage needs and be convenient to use, as well as fitting your budget.

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 more for top performance, try the Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000. It offers the best speeds available, has excellent reach and an array of convenient features.

The Netgear EX6200 Dual Band AC1200 WiFi Range Extender, which offers great signal boosting performance at a fantastic price. The desktop signal extender also has ports for connecting devices via Ethernet and USB, making it great for a home office or for the family printer or network attached storage (NAS).

For something easier to hide, the Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ is the best low-profile Wi-Fi extender, and has a sleek and simple design that can be easily tucked out of sight behind furniture or under a desk.

And for two story homes, the D-Link DAP-1720 Wi-Fi AC1750 Range Extender offers great signal boosting that's as good vertically as it is horizontally, making it a smart solution for multistory homes that lose Wi-Fi signal between floors.

If you want to extend your network, but not necessarily your Wi-Fi coverage, then consider powerline networking extenders, which use the wiring in your walls to extend connectivity throughout the the house. Basic units are wired only, but some have Wi-Fi built in. See Wi-Fi extenders vs powerline adapters: Everything you need to know to learn more.

The best Wi-Fi extenders you can buy today

TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Best Wi-Fi extender overall

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 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.

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

(Image credit: Netgear)

2. Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band WiFi Extender

A premium Wi-Fi extender with top performance

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-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

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-friendly alternative for large homes, offering a less expensive alternative to 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, delivering great speeds as far out as 85 feet. It's also got plenty of ports, with connections for Ethernet and USB that make it a cinch to attach printers, storage and other devices even when you're far from your base router.

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. It's the best value we've seen in Wi-Fi extenders, delivering superb bang for the buck.

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 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.

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, 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.

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.
  • 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 lab tests and hands-on usage in a real home. This mix of real-world use and controlled lab-condition 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.

  • 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