It’s more crucial than ever to have a dependable internet connection at home. Nowadays, many of us work from home either part-time or full-time, and more and more people power their homes with smart technology.
Additionally, we all simply have more connected devices in general, including phones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs, and more. In the process of setting up and maintaining your technology, you may have found that your garage has a dead spot, a WiFi signal that is weaker than that of the rest of your home, or patchy coverage in your improvised home office. Additionally, the WiFi signal strength outside of your home may be appalling depending on its size.
How do WiFi extenders work?
As their name implies, these useful wireless gadgets help your WiFi network expand so that it can reach more rooms in your house. Most WiFi extenders connect to your current network by plugging into an AC outlet and can then rebroadcast it to areas that your router alone might not adequately cover. Generally speaking, putting the extender halfway between your router and the dead zone you’re trying to fix will yield the best results.
The majority of WiFi extenders, also known as “repeaters,” actually build a new WiFi network when rebroadcasting your current one, which is an important point to keep in mind. You will have to connect to different networks when in different parts of your home because that network will have a new name (it is frequently your default network’s name with an EXT appended, unless you change it).
You’re better off upgrading to mesh WiFi if you’d prefer to have one, much bigger network in your home. The default configuration of mesh systems includes a main router and access points, which together form a sizable WiFi network that should be usable throughout your entire home.
But it also means that the devices will likely be more expensive and complex. Mesh systems are significantly more expensive than a straightforward WiFi extender, and you might need to work with your ISP to make your home’s current network compatible with your new router.
What to look for in a WiFi extender
Today’s WiFi extenders can support single, dual, or tri-band WiFi, and they will inform you of the maximum speeds they can accommodate for each band. One dual-band device, for instance, might support speeds of up to 1300Mbps over its 5GHz band and 600Mbps over its 2.4GHz band, for a combined maximum speed of 1900Mbps. You should choose a WiFi extender with the highest speeds available for the best performance (and, as you might anticipate, these tend to be more expensive).
It’s crucial to keep in mind that WiFi extenders are not intended to increase speeds throughout your house. You might even discover that the network speed of the extender is slower than that of your router. Extenders, on the other hand, are made to expand the WiFi coverage throughout your house, making them perfect for completing voids.
Range, and number of supported devices
It’s crucial to pay attention to a device’s range because the name of the game is coverage area. You might only require up to 1,200 square feet of coverage, depending on the dimensions of your home and property. However, those who have larger homes will want to invest in an extender that can provide coverage for up to 2,000+ square feet.
Similar to this, those who own numerous devices will need an extender that can handle them all at once. You could get by with a less powerful extender if you spend the majority of your time on your phone or laptop and maybe have your smart TV online for a few hours of Netflix each day.
Tech enthusiasts and fans of the smart home should make an investment in one that won’t crumble under the weight of a few dozen connected devices. This is crucial if you intend to use your extender’s network to connect all of the devices in a specific area of your house rather than your WiFi router directly.
Here are a few popular WiFi extenders as of my knowledge cutoff:
Best for most: TP-Link AX3000 WiFi 6 extender (RE700X or RE705X)
The TP-Link AX3000 WiFi 6 extenders, namely the RE700X and RE705X, are popular choices for extending WiFi coverage in 2023. These extenders are designed to work with WiFi 6 (802.11ax) routers, providing faster speeds, increased capacity, and better performance compared to previous WiFi standards.
The TP-Link RE700X and RE705X both support dual-band WiFi 6 technology, offering speeds of up to 3000Mbps (AX3000). Here are some key features of these extenders:
WiFi 6 Technology: With WiFi 6 support, these extenders can deliver faster speeds and handle more connected devices simultaneously, making them suitable for modern smart homes and offices.
Dual-Band Operation: They operate on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, allowing you to connect devices based on the best available frequency band for optimal performance.
High-Gain Antennas: The extenders come equipped with high-gain antennas to amplify and extend the WiFi signal, improving coverage and reducing dead zones.
OneMesh Technology: TP-Link’s OneMesh technology enables seamless integration with compatible TP-Link routers, creating a unified network with a single WiFi name (SSID). This simplifies the network setup and enhances roaming capabilities.
Ethernet Port: Both models have a Gigabit Ethernet port, which can be used to connect wired devices, such as gaming consoles, smart TVs, or computers, for a stable and reliable connection.
It’s worth mentioning that the specific availability and popularity of these models in 2023 may vary. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information, I recommend checking with TP-Link’s official website or reputable technology retailers for the latest product offerings and customer reviews.
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Best budget: TP-Link AC1200 WiFi extender (RE315)
The TP-Link AC1200 WiFi extender (RE315) is indeed a popular choice for those seeking a budget-friendly option to extend their WiFi coverage. The RE315 is designed to enhance the range and signal strength of your existing WiFi network while being more affordable compared to higher-end models. Here are some features of the TP-Link AC1200 WiFi extender:
Dual-Band Support: The extender operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, allowing you to connect devices to the most suitable band for optimal performance.
AC1200 Speeds: With a combined speed of up to 1200Mbps (300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band), the RE315 provides sufficient bandwidth for everyday internet activities and streaming.
OneMesh Technology: Similar to other TP-Link extenders, the RE315 supports OneMesh technology, allowing it to integrate with compatible TP-Link routers and create a unified network with a single WiFi name (SSID).
Intelligent Signal Indicator: The RE315 features an intelligent signal indicator that helps you find the optimal location for placing the extender within your home, ensuring the best possible coverage and performance.
The TP-Link AC1200 WiFi extender (RE315) is generally well-regarded for its affordability and reliable performance within its price range. However, it’s always recommended to check customer reviews and compare it with other budget-friendly extenders available at the time of purchase to make an informed decision based on your specific needs and budget constraints.
Best premium: Netgear AX6000 WiFi 6 mesh range extender (EAX80)
The Netgear AX6000 WiFi 6 mesh range extender (EAX80) is considered a premium option for extending WiFi coverage with advanced features and high performance. It’s designed to work with WiFi 6 (802.11ax) routers, offering the benefits of faster speeds, increased capacity, and improved efficiency. Here are some notable features of the Netgear EAX80:
WiFi 6 Mesh Extender: The EAX80 supports WiFi 6 technology, providing faster speeds and better performance compared to previous WiFi standards. It can extend your existing WiFi network and create a seamless mesh network with compatible Netgear routers.
AX6000 Speeds: With combined speeds of up to 6000Mbps (up to 1200Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 4800Mbps on the 5GHz band), the EAX80 delivers high-speed connectivity for bandwidth-intensive activities like 4K streaming, online gaming, and large file transfers.
Mesh Technology: The EAX80 can be used as a standalone extender or integrated into a Netgear WiFi mesh system. When used in a mesh setup, it enables a unified network with a single SSID, allowing devices to seamlessly roam between the extender and the main router without interruption.
Multi-Gig Ethernet Port: The extender features a multi-gigabit Ethernet port, allowing you to connect devices with higher data transfer needs, such as network-attached storage (NAS) devices or high-performance gaming PCs, at faster speeds.
Smart Roaming and FastLane Technology: The EAX80 supports Smart Roaming, which intelligently connects your devices to the strongest WiFi signal as you move around your home. It also utilizes FastLane technology to dedicate one band as a dedicated backhaul, optimizing the performance of your extended WiFi network.
The Netgear AX6000 WiFi 6 mesh range extender (EAX80) is generally well-regarded for its high performance, advanced features, and compatibility with Netgear’s WiFi mesh system. However, due to the premium nature of this extender, it comes with a higher price tag compared to budget options. Consider your specific needs and budget constraints to determine if the EAX80 is the right choice for you.