Best Wi-Fi Extenders 2019: Resurrect Your Dead Zones

by | Dec 24, 2018 | Equipment Guides, Internet Speed Guides

These five Wi-Fi extenders are like defibrillators—they’ll jolt your Wi-Fi signal back to life, even in the farthest corners of your home.

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

If you live in a sprawling, two-story ranch 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.

Best Wi-Fi Range Extenders

ModelEthernet PortsAntennasPrice*Learn More
NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S EX80004 gigabit ports6$$$$View on Amazon
TP-Link N300 TL-WA855RE1 10/100 Mbps port2$View on Amazon
D-Link Wireless AC1200 DAP-16504 gigabit ports4$$View on Amazon
TP-Link AC1750 RE4501 gigabit port3$$View on Amazon
Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+1 gigabit port4$$View on Amazon
ModelNETGEAR Nighthawk X6S EX8000
Ethernet Ports4 gigabit ports
Antennas6
Price*$$$$
Learn MoreView on Amazon
ModelTP-Link N300 TL-WA855RE
Ethernet Ports1 10/100 Mbps port
Antennas2
Price*$
Learn MoreView on Amazon
ModelD-Link Wireless AC1200 DAP-1650
Ethernet Ports4 gigabit ports
Antennas4
Price*$$
Learn MoreView on Amazon
ModelTP-Link AC1750 RE450
Ethernet Ports1 gigabit port
Antennas3
Price*$$
Learn MoreView on Amazon
ModelLinksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+
Ethernet Ports1 gigabit port
Antennas4
Price*$$
Learn MoreView on Amazon

Hold up, what’s a Wi-Fi extender?
We’re glad you asked! A Wi-Fi extender (also called a repeater) 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.

5 Best Wi-Fi Extenders 2019

If your Wi-Fi signal doesn’t make it to the farthest corners of your house, you could buy another router, sure. But why do that when a Wi-Fi extender will do the trick?

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

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
Best Budget Pick
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

What do I need gigabit speeds for?
If you’re just reading spam emails from Nigerian princes or snooping around your high school girlfriend’s Facebook page, you don’t need gigabit internet speeds. But if you’ve got a large family who all stream and game, share a file server with friends, or livestream on Twitch, you’ll want gig speeds. Get more info in our guide to how much speed you need.

Best Features
Protocol: 802.11ac Standard: AC1200 Ethernet Ports: 4 gigabit Antennas: 4 Bands: Dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) USB Ports: 1 USB 2.0

Two of the D-Link DAP-1650’s features caught our eye: it doubles as a media server and works as an internet access point.

If you decide to hop in a Destiny 2 crucible match or stream The Big Lebowski on Netflix, you’ll probably want to hop off that Wi-Fi connection and plug your Ethernet cable straight into your laptop instead. With the D-Link DAP-1650, you can enjoy that wired connection without having to sit five feet away from your router.

To top it off, you can set up the D-Link as a media server. No more gathering six family members around your tiny cellphone screen to look at family photos.

Instead, everyone can open up the media server on their own phone, laptop, or tablet and “Ooo!” and “Ah!” over those pics—even Grandma Midge who lives seven states away. (You can also make it an iTunes server, if that’s your jam.)

Pros

  • Doubles as a media server
  • Works as an access point

Cons

  • Only has a USB 2.0 port
Best for Large Homes
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
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

Want to know more?

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. The closer your devices are to your router, the stronger the Wi-Fi signal they’ll receive. 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 to see if you get a stronger signal. Is your router missing external antennas? You can try rotating it to better position its internal antennas instead.
  3. Move obstructions. We’re all for Gandalf shouting “You shall not pass!” at the Balrog in Lord of the Rings, but not when it comes to our Wi-Fi signal. To make sure your Wi-Fi signal passes through, position your router so as few walls, doors, and furniture stand between it and your device as possible.
  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.
  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. But we get it, the price is a little high, and each home has different needs. So, here are our picks for best Wi-Fi repeater:

  • NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Extender—Best Wi-Fi Extender Overall
  • TP-Link N300 Wi-Fi Range Extender (TL-WA855RE)—Best Budget Wi-Fi Extender
  • D-Link Wi-Fi Dual-Band Range Extender DAP-1650—Best Wi-Fi Repeater Features
  • TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE450)—Best Wi-Fi Extender for Large Homes
  • Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender—Best Wi-Fi Extender for Multiple Users

How do Wi-Fi extenders work?

A Wi-Fi extender, or repeater, acts as a bridge between your wireless device and your router. It takes your router’s Wi-Fi signal, strengthens it, and then extends its range to the far corners of your house.

Sometimes Wi-Fi extenders and repeaters are confused with Wi-Fi boosters. Wi-Fi boosters are typically devices that directly attach to your modem or router to increase its Wi-Fi signal strength, while extenders and repeaters send the signal across several points throughout your home.

Will faster internet speed fix my Wi-Fi?
If the main problem with your Wi-Fi connection is that it’s so slow that it keeps dropping out, then a faster internet plan could have a huge impact on your Wi-Fi’s performance.

But if your problem is that you can’t even get a Wi-Fi signal in certain parts of your house, then faster internet won’t change much. That’s where a Wi-Fi extender comes in: it’ll extend the range of your Wi-Fi signal from your basement to your upstairs guest room.

Four-story home? Concrete walls? Backyard movies? No problem.

Whether you need a Wi-Fi signal for your man cave in the basement or your she shed in the garden, a Wi-Fi range extender will keep you connected. And you won’t need to wrangle a rewiring project or shell out a boatload of cash for it either.

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.

About the 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

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