The Best Wi-Fi Extenders to Buy in 2018

Wi-Fi extenders are important add-ons to your existing networking setup, especially if you have many devices at far away locations at home or at the office. Due to the variable nature of a router’s signal strength, having just a wireless router might not provide the needed coverage. If you’re looking to spend heavily on a single router, it may be more prudent to opt for the best Wi-Fi extender and a conventional router for the same price so that you get a benefit of both speed and coverage.

Choosing the best Wi-Fi extender is not too difficult as long as you keep certain criteria in mind. It should be remembered that most Wi-Fi extenders can also act as access points and some are even part of a mesh network for even more range. Generally, it is always recommended to opt for a dual-band setup or more. Having two bands greatly reduces the chances for interference and can also provide you with the band selection options for specific devices. The other important factor is speed. We generally find Wi-Fi extenders running at speeds lower than the router speed. This is to be expected as are increased ping times. Therefore, choose a Wi-Fi extender that offers the highest speeds possible. Finally, the presence of Ethernet and USB ports, though not always needed, can greatly help in connecting other devices such as media servers directly.

Taking the above criteria into account, we have narrowed down on the best Wi-Fi extenders that can offer great value for and performance for your money. We, therefore, present the 8 best Wi-Fi extenders available in the market today.

1.  NETGEAR EX6200

Offer
NETGEAR EX6200
  • Features: Dual-band (2.4 + 5); Dual-core ARM CPU; Dual high-gain 5 dBi antennas; Beamforming+
  • Wireless Protocols: 802.11ac
  • Data Transfer Rate: 1.2 Gbps
  • No. of Ethernet / USB Ports: 5 / 1 (1x USB 3.0)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 12.01 x 10.12 x 3.19 in

The NETGEAR EX6200 is easily one of the best Wi-Fi extenders available in the market today. With the most recent software update, it can be used both as a standalone router as well as a range extender. The EX6200 is a dual-band router that offers a maximum throughput of 1.2 Gbps. It also has 5 Ethernet ports if you wish to go the wired route. The USB 3.0 port helps in connecting storage devices for sharing media files across the network.

This Wi-Fi extender rarely lags in day to day operation thanks to its dual-core ARM CPU. Coverage should not be a problem thanks to the presence of dual high-gain 5 dBi antennas. Installing and setting up the EX6200 is easy but you might want to check for updates the first time you turn on the device.

While performance is not an issue, NETGEAR’s support for can be one. You get a free 90-day phone support but we’d advise you to check with NETGEAR as to what exact support options are applicable. There have also been a few issues in getting the router to work well with Apple and Sonos devices but NETGEAR has released a few updates recently, which hopefully addresses the problem.

  • Pros: Good speeds and coverage; Ample Ethernet ports
  • Cons: NETGEAR support; Reported incompatibility with Apple and Sonos devices

2. NETGEAR EX3700

Offer
NETGEAR EX3700
  • Features: Dual-band (2.4 + 5); Dual adjustable antennas; AP Mode
  • Wireless Protocols: 802.11ac
  • Data Transfer Rate: 750 Mbps
  • No. of Ethernet / USB Ports: 1 / 0
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 5.63 x 7.01 x 3.9 in

If speeds are not an issue, the NETGEAR EX3700 is one of the best Wi-Fi extenders under $50. You get dual adjustable antennas and a Gigabit Ethernet port for directly connecting your ISP’s router. Therefore, you can use it in AP mode or as a Wi-Fi extender. Setting up the EX3700 is very easy and the built-in software allows you to easily assign guest networks or configure connection options. The dual-band wireless AC offers up to 750 Mbps throughput — it is not very high but still should suffice if your main ISP line is less than this speed.

Setting up the router takes less than 2 minutes but make sure to follow the instructions step by step. The NETGEAR EX3700 also offers a Fastlane feature that basically just isolates each band. It is of not much use when only a few devices are connected but may be useful in crowded homes. Do note that if your main router has a higher speed, you will not get that level of performance from this due to speed limitations. Expect increased ping times as well.

  • Pros: Good value for money; Can work as dedicated AP
  • Cons: Slower speeds than most routers; Extender mode can result in speed drops and increased ping times

3. NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X6S

Offer
NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X6S
  • Features: Tri-band (2.4 + 5 + 5); Fastlane3; MU-MIMO; AP mode
  • Wireless Protocols: 802.11ac
  • Data Transfer Rate: 3 Gbps
  • No. of Ethernet / USB Ports: 4 / 1 (1x USB 2.0)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 8.1 x 10 x 5.2 inches

The NETGEAR Nighthawk Mesh X6S can work both as a mesh router and as a Wi-Fi extender. It offers excellent speeds and coverage thanks to its tri-band setup and can reach combined maximum speeds of up to 3 Gbps. The presence of the third band allows for wireless backhaul to the satellite to prevent speeds from reducing when multiple devices connect to the network. Unlike most wireless extenders, the Nighthawk X6S can extend the existing wireless network without the need for changing the SSID. This means the clients can roam wherever the nodes are present without having to change the network often. NETGEAR’s included software can help determine the signal strength at each node and can automatically select the best band and channel for the connected client.

While the Nighthawk X6S performs well without any hiccups, users have observed that it is better to set up the device in AP mode than in extender mode for maximum performance. Also, if you have configured WPS, you need to reconfigure it again for the 5 GHz band manually.

  • Pros: Good performance and range; Dedicated band for wireless backhaul
  • Cons: Works better in AP mode than extender mode; WPS needs to be configured separately for 5 GHz band

4. TP-Link RE305

Offer
TP-Link RE305
  • Features: Dual-band (2.4 + 5); Works with most routers and gateways; 2 antennas; AP Mode; TP-Link Tether app
  • Wireless Protocols: 802.11ac
  • Data Transfer Rate: 1.2 Gbps
  • No. of Ethernet / USB Ports: 1 / 0
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 3.07 x 3.15 x 2.44 in

The TP-Link RE305 is one the best cheapest Wi-Fi extenders available. The RE305 has a dual-antenna setup and supports dual-band wireless AC protocol for a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 1.2 Gbps. You can also directly connect the RE305 to your main router via Ethernet as it supports AP mode. The TP-Link Tether app helps monitor network activity easily and you can control settings such as guest access, device management, and scheduling.

The TP-Link RE305 works as advertised and you’ll have little trouble in getting it to work with your existing router or gateway setup. If you still need tweaking, you can adjust the angle of the antennas to ensure the broadest coverage.

  • Pros: Compact; Value for money
  • Cons: None as such

5. Google Wi-Fi System

Offer
Google Wi-Fi System
  • Features: Dual-band (2.4 + 5); 1,500 sq.ft. coverage per point; Network Assist; Family Wi-Fi controls
  • Wireless Protocols: 802.11ac
  • Data Transfer Rate: 1.2 Gbps
  • No. of Ethernet / USB Ports: 2 / 0
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 4.2 x 4.2 x 2.7 in

The Google Wi-Fi system acts as both a wireless mesh network system and also as a capable Wi-Fi range extender. Google Wi-Fi is compatible with modems from all major internet providers and each node of the system can provide coverage of up to 1,500 sq.ft. Setting up Google Wi-Fi is extremely simple and the device has a Network Assist feature that does all the background work to select the best channel and band for the client devices. It also offers a companion app for easy delegation of guest access and overall performance of the network.

While Google Wi-Fi is compatible with most router systems, it works best with the Google OnHub routers. Do note that activation of the 5 GHz band might take some time whereas the 2.4 GHz band is immediately available. This should be fixed in a future firmware update.

  • Pros: Good speeds and coverage; Easy setup
  • Cons: 5 GHz band does not get immediately activated

6. NETGEAR Orbi

Offer
NETGEAR Orbi
  • Features: Tri-band (2.4 + 5 + 5); Coverage up to 2.500 sq.ft. per node; Guest capability; Works with Amazon Alexa
  • Wireless Protocols: 802.11ac
  • Data Transfer Rate: 2.2 Gbps
  • No. of Ethernet / USB Ports: 3 / 0
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 6.7 x 8 x 3.1 in

Like Google Wi-Fi, the NETGEAR Orbi is also a Wi-Fi mesh network system that works as a Wi-Fi extender. The Orbi provides a coverage of up to 2,500 sq.ft. per node. Given such a large coverage area, you would be needing only about 2 nodes in total to cover most medium to large-sized homes. The Orbi supports wireless backhaul via the dedicated band to prevent any loss of bandwidth when additional nodes are added. With the built-in Alexa feature, you can easily create a guest network with a single voice command.

The Orbi has received good support in terms of new software features. The initial release of the Orbi firmware supported only wireless backhaul but the most recent version supports Ethernet backhaul as well, which is somewhat rare. This means you can connect the individual nodes to an on-wall Ethernet port without having to congest the wireless network. Overall, if the high price isn’t a problem, the NETGEAR Orbi is easily the best Wi-Fi extender available in the market today.

  • Pros: Good coverage; Dedicated band for wireless backhaul
  • Cons: Need to ensure that router and satellites are running the same updated firmware

7. D-Link DAP-1520

D-Link DAP-1520
  • Features: Dual-band (2.4 + 5); Easy setup; QRS Mobile App;
  • Wireless Protocols: 802.11ac
  • Data Transfer Rate: 750 Mbps
  • No. of Ethernet / USB Ports: 0 / 0
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 2.2 x 3.6 x 1.4 in

If you’re on a tight budget, the D-Link DAP-1520 is just what the doctor ordered. The DAP-1520 is a dual-band Wi-Fi extender that is easy to setup. Just plug into a wall socket and you’re ready to go. The speeds are not the highest out there but given the price, we can overlook that.

The bundled QRS software helps in easily monitoring the DAP-1520. It does not offer some of the advanced controls found in more costlier offerings but it does offer some settings for traffic monitoring. There are no Ethernet or USB ports so you can only use the DAP-1520 as a Wi-Fi extender and nothing else.

  • Pros: Easy to setup and install
  • Cons: Limited software functionality; No Ethernet or USB ports

8. D-Link DAP-1650

Offer
D-Link DAP-1650
  • Features: Dual-band (2.4 + 5); Range extender, Media Bridge, AP; QRS Mobile app;
  • Wireless Protocols: 802.11ac
  • Data Transfer Rate: 1.2 Gbps
  • No. of Ethernet / USB Ports: 4 / 1 (1x USB 2.0)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 4.3 x 5.7 x 3.6 in

The D-Link DAP 1650 is one of the best Wi-Fi extenders under $100. The design of the D-Link DAP resembles a compact small speaker. It is fairly well-equipped when it comes to features. You get dual-band wireless AC that offers speeds up to 1.2 Gbps. You also get 4 Gigabit LAN ports for wired connectivity along with a QRS app that enables you to control the extender from your mobile phone. The DAP 1650 can work as a range extender, media bridge, as an access point.

There is no external antenna on the DAP 1650 but the coverage should not be a problem. It is an excellent wireless extender when you consider the performance. The only gripe is that the automatic channel detection can sometimes result in interference from other neighboring routers broadcasting on the same channel.

  • Pros: Very good speeds and coverage; Good aesthetics
  • Cons: Signal interference due to auto channel selection

Final Thoughts

Dear readers, that would be all for our list of the best Wi-Fi extenders to consider buying today. As always, it is important that you take a good estimate of the required coverage and speeds before investing in a Wi-Fi range extender. If your devices do not require high-speeds or support only older wireless bands, it makes no sense to invest in a high-extender.

We hope that this article has addressed your needs. If you have additional questions, we’d like to hear from you. Post them in the comments below and we will do our best to provide a timely response.

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