Best Wi-Fi Extenders Android Central 2021
If you're dealing with frustrating Wi-Fi dead zones, and upgrading your router isn't an option, the best Wi-Fi extenders should solve the issue. A range extender adds more Wi-Fi coverage to your existing network without needing to run an Ethernet line. It can also act as a middleman for devices with reduced Wi-Fi range. The TP-Link RE505X is the best overall range extender thanks to Wi-Fi 6 speeds, OneMesh compatibility, and a compact design. Still, we've laid out different extender types to fit every scenario.
- Best Overall: TP-Link RE505X
- Best Value: TP-Link RE220
- Best Wi-Fi 6 Upgrade: Netgear Nighthawk EAX80
- Best Mesh Compatible: Asus RP-AC1900
- Best Powerline: Netgear PowerLINE 1000
- Best Coverage: Linksys RE9000
Best Overall: TP-Link RE505X
The TP-Link RE505X ticks all of the boxes when it comes to finding the best Wi-Fi extender for most people. It supports Wi-Fi 6 for those that have already upgraded to the newer tech and still works with 802.11ac devices. This extender has a maximum throughput of 300Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1200Mbps at 5GHz.
Keep in mind that the extender must share this wireless connection with devices as well as the router backhaul. TP-Link has a trick for this called Fast Mode, which dedicates one of the Wi-Fi bands to the backhaul and one exclusively to connected devices. While this will cut overall speed down to the slowest band, it should still be enough for 4K streaming and browsing with a solid connection to the browser.
This router is a faulty common plugin design with two antennas on top. On the side, there is an Ethernet port that can be used for wired devices as well as a source to use RE505X as an access point. Finally, if you have a TP-Link router with OneMesh, you can keep your single Wi-Fi name with faster switching between the router and extender.
- Wi-Fi 6 compatibility
- Fast Mode has a dedicated backhaul
- Ethernet port for wired devices
- No tri-band Wi-Fi
Best Value: TP-Link RE220
If you're looking to add some stability to your Wi-Fi without a need for a ton of speed, the TP-Link RE220 is an excellent option with 802.11ac, Wi-Fi 5, wireless with speeds up to AC750. The speed breaks down into 433Mbps at 5GHz and 300Mbps at 2.4GHz. This extender can also operate in TP-Link's High-Speed Mode, which dedicates one of the bands to connect to your router with the other reserved for your Wi-Fi devices.
With a compact size and no external antennas, this Wi-Fi extender is aimed more at filling in an area with a spotty signal rather than covering a significant portion of your home. With an Ethernet port on the bottom, this is a great way to get a wired device connected like a desktop computer while avoiding adding antennas to the back of your PC or desk.
- Compact design
- High-Speed Mode improves performance
- No mesh features
- Relatively low speeds won't be ideal for HD streaming
Best Wi-Fi 6 Upgrade: Netgear Nighthawk EAX80
If you're looking for a fast Wi-Fi 6 extender that can keep up with your fast Wi-Fi 6 router, the Netgear Nighthawk EAX80 is an excellent option with AX6000 speeds. With 8 Wi-Fi streams and a dual-band connection, this router has a throughput of 1.2Gbps at 2.4GHz and 4.8Gbps at 5GHz thanks to a 160MHz band. Four gigabit Ethernet ports on the back let you connect many wired devices with Wi-Fi 6 speeds.
This extender has a desktop design that is nearly the size of a standard router making this a good choice for an entertainment center or home office but overkill for standard web browsing and most streaming at 1080p or lower. If you already have a compatible Netgear Nighthawk router with Nighthawk Mesh, you can use this extender with a single Wi-Fi name and easier configuration. It's the best Wi-Fi extender for someone who pays for top internet speeds but doesn't get consistent performance when far away from the router.
- Super-fast AX6000 speeds
- 4 Ethernet ports
- Single Wi-Fi name
- Nighthawk Mesh support
- Large size will be hard to blend in
Best Mesh Compatible: Asus RP-AC1900
Many manufacturers are rolling out mesh capabilities with their new routers so you can expand them without the need to buy a prepackaged mesh system. Asus has been dedicated to the AiMesh platform for years, and if you have an Asus router, there's a good chance it works with AiMesh. While it will work with any brand router, the Asus RP-AC1900 works best with AiMesh and brings some nice features like a single Wi-Fi name for every point. If you prefer, you can also split it off into individual names, so you know exactly which device you are connecting to.
This router delivers decent speeds for the price with a dual-band setup pushing AC1900 speeds. That breaks down into 600Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps at 5GHz. Four Ethernet ports around the back make it easy to get your wired devices connected. This extender is rather large and will be much harder to blend in than a smaller router, but it will be worth it to many users for the added performance and wired options.
- Works with AiMesh
- 4 gigabit Ethernet ports
- Coverage for large homes
- Large device
- Dual-band AC1900 speeds will be lacking for heavier users
Best Powerline: Netgear PowerLINE 1000
If you genuinely have a dead zone and even a standard extender can't solve the problem, you may need to look at other methods for connecting to the main router. Many extenders let you run an Ethernet line, but this can be cumbersome for many and not possible in some homes. One way to work around this problem is an extender that uses your existing power lines to connect to your router.
The Netgear PowerLine 1000 takes a wired connection from your router and transmits that connection over your power lines before broadcasting the signal. It ships with an adapter that plugs into your router and takes advantage of your PoE to extend your Wi-Fi to about 500 square meters or over 5000 square feet, which should certainly cover most homes.
It also ships with one adapter that plugs into any outlet and gives you consistent 1000Mbps speeds via its ethernet port, no matter how far away it is from the actual router. The benefit of Netgear's system is that it works without any software, and you can purchase more adapters if necessary (up to 16) and add them to your network. We recommend the PLP2000 model adapter, which gives you two ethernet ports and even has an extra outlet, so you can plug it in anywhere and plug another device in through it.
- Reach specific rooms without Wi-Fi signal
- Hits up to 1000Mbps per adapter
- Can incorporate multiple adapters throughout home
- Easy push-and-secure encryption
- Powerline speeds can be inconsistent
- Adapter can block off top outlet
- Only two Ethernet ports in total
Best Coverage: Linksys RE9000
The Linksys RE9000 looks more like a traditional Wi-Fi router than an extender thanks to its desktop design and four antennas sticking out of each corner. This bulky design has the specs to back it up with a tri-band Wi-Fi connection maxing out at AC3000. This speed is broken down to 400Mbps at 2.4GHz, 866Mbps on one 5GHz band, and 1733Mbps on the other 5GHz bands. One of these 5GHz bands is always used to connect to the base router allowing for a consistent and stable connection.
This extender also has support for MU-MIMO, which allows it to handle many wireless devices without delay, and four gigabit Ethernet ports allow you to connect your home office or entertainment center with ease. All of these connections are kept fast since the RE9000 always has one band dedicated to transmitting data to and from the router.
- Tri-Band Wi-Fi with a dedicated backhaul
- Fast AC3000 speeds
- Four gigabit Ethernet ports
- Up to 10,000 sq ft of coverage
- Large size with four antennas
Some homeowners don't want to upgrade the free router given by their internet provider; others did upgrade their router but still get frustrated by its performance the further you move from it. Regardless, the best Wi-Fi extenders assist your router in performing to the best of its ability, whether you need something fast, a ton of coverage, or just enough for browsing the web. If possible, pick an extender that will work with some sort of mesh capability in your routers, such as Asus' AiMesh or TP-Link's OneMesh.
Still, it's a good idea to get an extender that's fast enough for your devices, and at this point, you should be buying an extender that at least supports 802.11ac. Wi-Fi 6 is an excellent option for many people since many new devices are coming equipped with Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, and there's a good chance that your next new router will support Wi-Fi 6. Overall, the TP-Link RE505X is the best option for most people thanks to its fast speed and support for the newest wireless tech.
If an extender improves your signal but not your speed, consider starting fresh with a mesh system. Our router vs. mesh networking guide guide breaks down which users will benefit most from upgrading your entire system.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.
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