Best Wi-Fi Extenders 2021

Clear out those annoying dead zones with one of the best Wi-Fi extenders you can get.

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

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S is our top pick because it has an incredible range of 2,500 square feet. It packs three bands (one 2.4 GHz, two 5 GHz), four Ethernet ports, and a USB-A port. Sure, it’s rather pricey, but there’s enough connectivity here to make your router jealous.

Pro tip:

Do you have an internet connection that matches your Wi-Fi network’s speed? Use our speed test tool to determine your plan’s current speed and then enter your zip code below to find a better plan.

5 best Wi-Fi extenders

Best Wi-Fi extenders

ModelEthernet portsAntennasPrice*Learn more
Best overallNETGEAR Nighthawk X6S46$329.99View on Amazon
Best budget pickTP-Link N300 TL-WA855RE12$14.99View on Amazon
Best for large homesTP-Link AC1750 RE45013$61.96View on Amazon
Best for multiple usersLinksys RE7000 Max-Stream14$82.94View on Amazon
Best compact extenderNETGEAR EX612012$56.70View on Amazon

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

There are three essential aspects to consider when choosing a Wi-Fi extender: range, Wi-Fi specification, and ports.

First, be sure the extender supports a recent Wi-Fi specification like Wi-Fi 5 (Wireless AC) and Wi-Fi 6 (Wireless AX). Wi-Fi extenders based on Wi-Fi 4 (Wireless N) are fine if you’re on a budget, and range is more important than speed.

Second, you want a Wi-Fi extender that actually extends your Wi-Fi network a decent amount. Some product listings make this information front and center, while others require a little digging on the manufacturer’s website.

Finally, keep an eye on the port count. Most typically ship with one Ethernet port supporting 1,000 Mbps, which you can utilize for computers, consoles, and other devices.

Best overall—NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S

Best overall

$329.99

The specs

  • Standard: 802.11ac
  • Type: AC3000
  • Antennas: 6
  • Band 1: Up to 400 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
  • Band 2: Up to 866 Mbps (5 GHz)
  • Band 3: Up to 1,733 Mbps (5 GHz)
  • Range: 2,500 sq. ft.
  • Ports: 4x Ethernet (1 Gbps), 1x USB-A (480 Mbps)

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S Wi-Fi extender (EX8000) doesn’t play around. Like a mesh network node, it’s packed with three bands: one dedicated 5 GHz band that communicates only with your router, and two (2 GHz and 5 GHz) bands for your devices to use.

The dedicated 5 GHz line is ideal because the X6S doesn’t use the same band to communicate with the router and your devices. The direct line to the router is clean and uninterrupted, which translates to a faster, more stable connection for your wireless devices.

This extender also supports MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) technology, allowing the extender to communicate with devices simultaneously. The older SU-MIMO (single-user MIMO) tech can handle only one connection request at a time.

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
  • Dedicates one band for the router only

Cons

  • Has a high cost
  • Doesn’t use USB 3.2

Best budget pick—TP-Link TL-WA855RE

Best budget pick

$14.99

The Specs

  • Standard: 802.11n
  • Type: N300
  • Antennas: 2
  • Band 1: Up to 300 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
  • Range: 886 sq. ft.
  • Ports: 1x Ethernet (100 Mbps)

If you’re willing to sacrifice some features for a more basic approach to a Wi-Fi extender, the price of TP-Link’s TL-WA855RE is hard to beat.

This extender provides just one 2.4 GHz band supporting speeds of up to 300 Mbps to keep the price low. The Ethernet port is old-school, too, limiting the wired connection to 100 Mbps. From what we could tell, the range is only 886 square feet, far lower than other extenders on our list.

One neat feature is the extender’s ability to switch to access point (AP) mode. Generally, extenders repeat your router’s Wi-Fi network, including the name (SSID). With AP mode, you connect the extender directly to the router using an Ethernet cable. In turn, the extender creates a new Wi-Fi network outside your router’s reach.

Overall, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another Wi-Fi range extender close to the TL-WA855RE’s price—most run at least double or even triple what it costs.

Pros

  • Has a low price tag
  • Supports AP mode

Cons

  • Provides just one band
  • Doesn’t have a wide range

Best for large homes—TP-Link RE450

Best for large homes

$61.96

The Specs

  • Standard: 802.11ac
  • Type: AC1750
  • Antennas: 3
  • Band 1: Up to 450 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
  • Band 2: Up to 1,300 Mbps (5 GHz)
  • Range: 2,000 sq. ft.
  • Ports: 1x Ethernet (1 Gbps)

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

One hidden feature we love about this extender is the High Speed Mode. Usually, a router and extender send and receive data using the same band. With High Speed Mode, the extender uses one band to communicate with the router and one band to communicate with wireless devices.

While it provides a gigabit Ethernet port, we’re not fond of this port residing on the extender’s side. You can pair it with your router by pressing the RE button on the front (and the WPS button on the router), or you can wire it directly to your router if you don’t mind the cable.

Pros

  • Provides a great range
  • Combines both bands in High Speed Mode

Cons

  • Places the Ethernet port on the side
  • Features a top-heavy design

Best for multiple users—Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream

Best for multiple users

$82.94

The Specs

  • Standard: 802.11ac
  • Type: AC1900
  • Antennas: 4
  • Band 1: Up to 600 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
  • Band 2: Up to 1,300 Mbps (5 GHz)
  • Range: 2,500 sq. ft.
  • Ports: 1x Ethernet (1 Gbps)

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

The big difference between this model and the Nighthawk is speed and connectivity. The RE7000 reduces the antenna count by two, limiting its maximum speed to 1,300 Mbps. It also doesn’t have the third 5 GHz channel or a USB-A port, as seen on the Nighthawk.

The result is a Wi-Fi extender that has the same range but has a far cheaper price point. It’s also much more compact than the Nighthawk, although other Wi-Fi extenders tend to be less bulky. If you’re prone to klutziness, the Linksys RE7000 might prove just enough to catch an unwary shin or snag your vacuum cord.

Pros

  • Provides a great range
  • Includes a gigabit Ethernet port

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a USB port

Best compact extender—NETGEAR EX6120

Best for odd-shaped rooms

$56.70

The Specs

  • Standard: 802.11ac
  • Type: AC1200
  • Antennas: 2
  • Band 1: Up to 300 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
  • Band 2: Up to 900 Mbps (5 GHz)
  • Range: 1,500 sq. ft.
  • Ports: 1x Ethernet (100 Mbps)

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.

Of all the Wi-Fi extenders on our list, the EX6120 is the least wide and shortest. It’s slightly longer than the Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream unit, but it’s still a great compact solution that will blend into your surroundings better than the competition.

Outside its compact size, the EX6120 has a decent range and speed for the price. The Ethernet port supports only a maximum of 100 Mbps, which is fine so long as your wireless connection between the router and extender stays strong.

Pros

  • Features a compact design
  • Provides a decent range

Cons

  • Supports 100 Mbps wired connections only
  • Doesn’t include a USB port

Our verdict

We think the NETGEAR Nighthawk EX8000 is the best Wi-Fi extender you can get. It packs three connections—one of which is a dedicated wireless line to your router—along with four gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB port. Sure, it costs a pretty penny, but it’s an excellent way to expand your current network without purchasing an expensive router.

Of course, the other Wi-Fi extenders on our list are great too. Each does an excellent job addressing a specific scenario, like multiple users, large homes, and budget-minded individuals. To complement your fast Wi-Fi network, enter your zip code below to see if there’s a plan with better speeds offered in your area.

FAQ about Wi-Fi extenders

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, house, or office. 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 you placed the router in an awkward spot, which doesn’t allow 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 an extender, a repeater, and a booster?

The three terms are typically used synonymously because their applications are identical but carry out their tasks differently. Of the three, a booster aims to amplify your Wi-Fi network’s reach versus filling specific dead spots lurking outside your router’s reach.

A Wi-Fi repeater is a device placed within your router’s broadcast area. It captures and retransmits this signal, creating a separate wireless network (SSID). This method is excellent for filling Wi-Fi dead zones, but your device must disconnect from this secondary network to access your primary Wi-Fi network.

A Wi-Fi extender is a device that can be placed within your router’s broadcast area. It captures and retransmits the signal, but it does not create a separate wireless network like a repeater. Moreover, you can hardwire an extender to your router using an Ethernet cable. You do not need to configure your devices to connect to a Wi-Fi extender.

Both models typically connect directly to a power outlet. They also ship with at least one Ethernet port to support wired devices.

Finally, a Wi-Fi booster plugs directly into your router. It amplifies your Wi-Fi signal using antennas that are stronger than what’s installed in your router.

Where should I place a Wi-Fi extender?

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 to position it so that it sends your internet signal into places where your router couldn’t reach. You can check the LED lights on the front of the extender to confirm whether the extender is catching a solid signal from your router.

What do “AC3000” and similar labels mean?

The letters in these labels signify a Wi-Fi standard. For instance, an AC3000 type is based on Wireless AC (aka Wi-Fi 5), while an N300 type is based on Wireless N (aka Wi-Fi 4). Right off the bat, you know what generation the device supports.

The numbers, however, aren’t as easy to decipher. They combine the maximum speed of all bands and then round up. So an AC1700 type device supports up to 800 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and up to 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, totaling 1,667 Mbps. Round that number up, and you have 1,700.

Keep in mind that Wi-Fi broadcasts in streams. With an AC1700 type device, the 2.4 GHz band broadcasts in four streams at 200 Mbps each (800 Mbps total). The 5 GHz band uses two streams at 433.5 Mbps (867 Mbps total).

Your wireless device must have the correct number of antennas to support all these streams. If not, you’ll experience slower speeds.

Why doesn’t my device see the advertised combined speed?

Your device will never see the advertised combined speed because the number is pure marketing.

For example, the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S advertises speeds of up to 3,000 Mbps. This number is the sum of all three bands combined:

400 Mbps + 866 Mbps + 1,733 Mbps = 2,999 Mbps

In the real world, your wireless device will only connect to one band at a time. In the case of NETGEAR’s X6S, it supports two incoming and two outgoing streams on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. This 2×2 configuration is used in most laptops, smartphones, and tablets. However, you’ll never see these maximum speeds due to interference, distance, and so on.

The extender’s third 5 GHz band, advertising a maximum of 1,733 Mbps, uses a 4×4 configuration. You’ll need a laptop adapter or desktop add-in card to support this connection.

Here’s a handy chart to better explain NETGEAR’s advertised speed:

Band# of streamsMbps per streamTotal Mbps per band
2.4 GHz2200400
5 GHz2433867
5 GHz44331,733
Total:2,999

What if an extender doesn’t solve my Wi-Fi issues?

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

Put your router in a central location

You should place your router in an area 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.

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.

Move obstructions

Position your router so walls, doors, and furniture do not block it. 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 2.4 GHz band.

Update your router

Check for any firmware updates for your router. Manufacturers typically publish at least one update (unless yours is brand new). However, if your router is based on the older 802.11b/g/n standards, you should upgrade to a router that supports 802.11ac. Take a look at some options in our guide to long-range routers and mesh systems.

Move to the 5 GHz frequency

If you have a dual- or tri-band router, you can 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 learn how to set up and swap to the 5 GHz band by checking your router’s online support articles.

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 -

Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel columns to internet guides and reviews. She's a lead writer on internet and technology for Reviews.org and believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, that everyone should have access to. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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