Best Wi-Fi Extenders 2021

Expert picks to resurrect your dead zones

Our top pick: Which Wi-Fi extender is best?

The NETGEAR Nighthawk Tri-Band Wi-Fi Extender can push your Wi-Fi’s range up to 2,500 square feet. It’s a little pricey, but worth the price because of its powerful wireless performance and because it keeps all your devices connected without having to switch networks. (Some extenders create separate Wi-Fi networks instead of simply expanding your current one.)

Best Wi-Fi extenders comparison

ModelEthernet portsAntennasPrice*Learn more
Best overallNETGEAR Nighthawk EX80004 gigabit ports6$189.99View on Amazon
Best budget pickTP-Link N300 TL-WA855RE1 10/100 Mbps port2$17.99View on Amazon
Best for large homesTP-Link AC1750 RE4501 gigabit port3$69.36View on Amazon
Best for multiple usersLinksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+1 gigabit port4$98.90View on Amazon
Best for odd-shaped roomsNETGEAR EX61201 10/100 Mbps port2$56.56View on Amazon
Best overall
ModelNETGEAR Nighthawk EX8000
Ethernet ports4 gigabit ports
Antennas6
Price*$189.99
Learn moreView on Amazon
Best budget pick
ModelTP-Link N300 TL-WA855RE
Ethernet ports1 10/100 Mbps port
Antennas2
Price*$17.99
Learn moreView on Amazon
Best for large homes
ModelTP-Link AC1750 RE450
Ethernet ports1 gigabit port
Antennas3
Price*$69.36
Learn moreView on Amazon
Best for multiple users
ModelLinksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+
Ethernet ports1 gigabit port
Antennas4
Price*$98.90
Learn moreView on Amazon
Best for odd-shaped rooms
ModelNETGEAR EX6120
Ethernet ports1 10/100 Mbps port
Antennas2
Price*$56.56
Learn moreView on Amazon

What should you look for in a Wi-Fi extender?

The two things you should keep in mind while choosing a Wi-Fi extender are wireless standard and ports. These both determine the extender’s connectability.

Look for Gigabit Ethernet ports (as opposed to Fast Ethernet ports, which are slower) if you intend to connect a computer or console to your extender with a wired connection.

As for wireless standard—the higher the better for the most part. But know that getting an extender with a faster standard than your router may be a waste of money since the extender can’t add any speed to your existing network. It can only boost the network’s range.

NETGEAR Nighthawk EX8000: Best overall

Best overall

$189.99

Protocol: 802.11ac

Standard: AC3000

Ethernet ports: 4 gigabit

Antennas: 6

Bands: Tri-band (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 5 GHz)

USB ports: 1 USB 2.0

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S Wi-Fi extender doesn’t play around. It sports two bands—2.4 GHz and 5 GHz—for your devices to connect to, plus a third 5 GHz band dedicated to communicating with your router.

You’ll also get MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) technology with this Wi-Fi extender. This tech lets the NETGEAR Nighthawk communicate with several of your devices at the same time, as opposed to communicating with only one at a time.

We also love that the Nighthawk keeps the same SSID (service set identifier) as your router, so there’s no need to jump from your router’s network to your extender’s network as you move around the house. Yup, you won’t get caught in a Wi-Fi hiccup if you forget to swap over to the extender’s Wi-Fi network when you go upstairs.

Of course, all these features come at a price—but we think it’s worth it if you’re serious about extending Wi-Fi coverage throughout your house.

Pros

  • Employs MU-MIMO technology
  • Uses the same SSID as your router

Cons

  • Large size—8 x 10 x 5 in.
  • High price tag
  • Comes with only a USB 2.0 port

TP-Link TL-WA855RE: Best budget pick

Best budget pick

$17.99

Protocol: 802.11bgn

Standard: N300

Ethernet ports: One 10/100 Mbps

Antennas: 2

Bands: Single-band (2.4 GHz)

USB ports: None

If you’re willing to sacrifice some features for a more basic approach to a Wi-Fi extender, the TP-Link N300’s price is hard to beat.

While it’s missing a gigabit port and only operates on a single 2.4 GHz band, this Wi-Fi extender is still a good value if you’re not aiming for gigabit (1,000 Mbps) speeds and don’t need to connect a lot of devices to Wi-Fi.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another Wi-Fi range extender close to the TP-Link N300’s price—most run at least double or even triple what it costs.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Single band
  • No gigabit Ethernet port

TP-Link RE450: Best for large homes

Best for large homes

$69.99

Protocol: 802.11ac

Standard: AC1750

Ethernet ports: 1 gigabit

Antennas: 3

Bands: Dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)

USB ports: None

Though it looks a bit ungainly with its three-pronged design, the TP-Link RE450 earned superb reviews on Amazon for its ability to extend Wi-Fi signals through walls to other rooms and even other floors of the house.

While it lacks USB ports, the TP-Link RE450 still offers a gigabit Ethernet port and dual-band connection, so you can hook it up to your PlayStation 4 and destroy Fallen in Destiny 2 or use it to stream Netflix in 4K.

Pros

  • Strong signal indicator
  • Great Wi-Fi extension to other rooms and floors

Cons

  • No USB ports
  • Top-heavy design

Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream: Best for multiple users

Best for multiple users

$98.90

Protocol: 802.11ac

Standard: AC1900

Ethernet ports: 1 gigabit

Antennas: 4

Bands: Dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)

USB ports: None

Just like the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S, the Linksys RE7000 comes with MU-MIMO technology. But while both of these MU-MIMO Wi-Fi extenders are great for connecting multiple devices at the same time, the Linksys RE7000 comes in at a much lower price point than the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S.

It’s also much more compact than the Nighthawk, although other plug-in Wi-Fi extenders tend to be less bulky. If you’re prone to klutziness like us, the Linksys RE7000 might prove just enough to catch an unwary shin or snag your vacuum cord.

Pros

  • MU-MIMO technology
  • Fairly compact size

Cons

  • No USB ports

NETGEAR EX6120: Best for odd-shaped rooms

Best for odd-shaped rooms

$56.56

Protocol: 802.11ac

Standard: AC1200

Ethernet ports: One 10/100 Mbps

Antennas: 2

Bands: Dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)

USB ports: None

If you have a home office or area around the house that always seems to have a spotty connection, NETGEAR’s EX6120 will make for a quick and cheap solution.

Though it doesn’t beat the TP-Link N300 on price, it’s still one of the most affordable options of the bunch and its AC1200 standard can support much faster speeds compared to the N300.

You’ll want something a little more deluxe if you’re a competitive gamer or have dozens of Bluetooth appliances humming all day long. But this is the pick for you if all you need is to surf the net while lounging in that one comfy spot on the couch where the signal is always dropping.

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Low cost

Cons

  • No gigabit Ethernet port
  • No USB ports

Our verdict

We think the NETGEAR Nighthawk EX8000 is the best Wi-Fi booster, thanks to its MU-MIMO technology, tri-band Wi-Fi, four gigabit Ethernet ports, and six antennas. It’s a connectivity gold mine that can push your network to its furthest limits.

Wi-Fi range extenders FAQ

How can I increase my Wi-Fi signal strength?

Aside from grabbing a Wi-Fi extender, there are a few other steps you can take to boost your Wi-Fi signal strength.

  1. Put your router in a central location. You’ll want your router sitting in a part of your home where its signal can have the easiest possible access to your various devices. Of course, if your Ethernet jack sits in a remote corner of a bedroom, you probably can’t move your router. In this case, a Wi-Fi extender is a great solution.
  2. Move your antennas. Try adjusting your router’s antennas so they all point at different angles, with at least one sitting horizontally and another standing perpendicular. Is your router missing external antennas? You can try rotating it to better position its internal antennas instead.
  3. Move obstructions. Position your router so it’s not blocked by walls, doors, and furniture. You can also place it high up on a shelf or mount it on a wall to make the signal travel better. And keep it away from your microwave, which will interfere with the router’s 2.4GHz-band signal.
  4. Update your router. Check for any firmware updates for your router—it’s likely the manufacturer has published at least one update (unless yours is brand new). And if your router is still stuck on the 802.11b, g, or n protocol, it’s time to upgrade to one with at least 802.11ac. Take a look at some options in our guide to long-range routers and mesh systems.
  5. Move to the 5 GHz frequency. If you have a dual- or tri-band router, you’ve got the power to connect your extender to the 5 GHz band instead of the 2.4 GHz band. Swapping your extender to the 5 GHz band means you’ll probably have less interference because most wireless devices use the 2.4 GHz band. You can find out how to set up and swap to the 5 GHz band by checking your router’s online support articles.

Do Wi-Fi extenders really work?

Wi-Fi extenders work well when you need extra coverage to fill in the dead zones around an apartment or house with an odd layout or lots of rooms and hallways. But they are not always the fix you need. There can be other issues that lead to a weak Wi-Fi signal.

Sometimes the real problem is that your internet speed is too slow and it can’t support the bandwidth you need to handle all your streaming and downloading.

You may also be having problems because your router is placed in an awkward spot in the house, which doesn’t allow for the signal to reach everywhere you need it to go. Another thing to consider is your router itself may be old and out of date, so it isn’t equipped to handle faster speeds. In that case, consider investing in a long-range router or mesh wireless network.

What’s the difference between a Wi-Fi extender and a Wi-Fi booster?

There’s not a lot of difference between a Wi-Fi extender and a Wi-Fi booster. They both extend Wi-Fi to areas where the signal is weak.

Wi-Fi extenders typically plug into a wall, tapping into the Wi-Fi signal from a router and extending it to other points in your home. There are also Wi-Fi repeaters, which connect to your router and establish a second home network that you can log into when you’re out of range of the original router.

Sometimes Wi-Fi extenders, boosters, and repeaters are confused with each other. They all do the same thing—but extenders tend to be more efficient than repeaters since they simply boost your Wi-Fi signal without using extra bandwidth to set up a whole new network connection. Basically, stick with the term “Wi-Fi extender,” and people will know what you’re talking about.

Where should a Wi-Fi extender be placed?

To get the best out of a Wi-Fi extender, place it between the midpoint of your router and the computer or other device you’re trying to connect to Wi-Fi. It helps if the router and the extender are in clear view of each other, so avoid separating them by a wall or door and keep any metal appliances out of their way.

Naturally you’ll want your extender to be in a location where it can pick up your router’s Wi-Fi signal. You’ll also want it to be strategically positioned to direct your internet further in the direction of places where the original signal couldn’t reach. You can check the LED lights on the front of the extender to confirm whether the extender is catching a strong signal from your router.

Still stuck with slow speeds even after a tech upgrade? Maybe it’s time for a new internet plan. Enter your ZIP code to see what’s in your area.

Author -

After earning a degree in journalism at the University of Minnesota, Catherine McNally has been writing professionally for 10+ years. After falling head over heels into the black hole that is the internet in 1998, she taught herself to code websites and build computers. She has a soft spot for gadgets that make life easier (hello, Roomba!) and loves RPGs and MMOs. #PCMasterRace

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

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