Best Wi-Fi Extenders 2020: Resurrect Your Dead Zones

Bottom line

Slow internet, weak Wi-Fi, and dead zones, oh my!

If you live in a sprawling, two-story house complete with the brick fireplace of your dreams, you may quickly find your Wi-Fi signal isn’t so dreamy in some parts of the house. (Who thought it would be a great idea to put the only Ethernet jack in the farthest corner of the house?)

Thankfully, a Wi-Fi range extender can give your Wi-Fi signal the push it needs to reach the upstairs bedrooms, the basement, and even the backyard.

6 best Wi-Fi range extenders

ModelEthernet portsAntennasPrice*Learn more
NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S EX80004 gigabit ports6$197.99View on Amazon
TP-Link N300 TL-WA855RE1 10/100 Mbps port2$15.99View on Amazon
D-Link Wireless AC1200 DAP-16504 gigabit ports4$79.99View on Amazon
TP-Link AC1750 RE4501 gigabit port3$139.36View on Amazon
Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+1 gigabit port4$90.95View on Amazon
NETGEAR EX61201 10/100 Mbps port2$39.99View on Amazon
ModelNETGEAR Nighthawk X6S EX8000
Ethernet ports4 gigabit ports
Antennas6
Price*$197.99
Learn moreView on Amazon
ModelTP-Link N300 TL-WA855RE
Ethernet ports1 10/100 Mbps port
Antennas2
Price*$15.99
Learn moreView on Amazon
ModelD-Link Wireless AC1200 DAP-1650
Ethernet ports4 gigabit ports
Antennas4
Price*$79.99
Learn moreView on Amazon
ModelTP-Link AC1750 RE450
Ethernet ports1 gigabit port
Antennas3
Price*$139.36
Learn moreView on Amazon
ModelLinksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+
Ethernet ports1 gigabit port
Antennas4
Price*$90.95
Learn moreView on Amazon
ModelNETGEAR EX6120
Ethernet ports1 10/100 Mbps port
Antennas2
Price*$39.99
Learn moreView on Amazon

Hold up, what is a Wi-Fi range extender?

A Wi-Fi range extender grabs your router’s Wi-Fi signal, strengthens it, and then rebroadcasts that signal to places in your house that wouldn’t otherwise get Wi-Fi.

In a big house or apartment, a Wi-Fi signal can get easily interrupted by walls, hallways, rooms, mirrors, metal objects, and appliances like microwaves that put out competing signals. A Wi-Fi extender plugs into your wall and works by picking up the internet signal of your router and rebroadcasting it to a wider area where the original signal had a harder time reaching.

6 best Wi-Fi extenders 2020

These range extenders are easy to install and fairly easy on the wallet (unless you want to grab the high-end NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S). Install one of these and it will make your life easier, especially if you’re trying to stream Venom from the backyard.

NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Extender

Best overall

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

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

Best for multiple users

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 Wi-Fi Range Extender

Best for odd-shaped rooms

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

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.

What’s the best Wi-Fi extender?

We think the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S is the best Wi-Fi booster, thanks to its MU-MIMO and tri-band technology, four gigabit Ethernet ports, and six antennas.

Get the NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S

(HighSpeedInternet.com utilizes paid Amazon links.)

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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