The 9 Best Wi-Fi Range Extenders of 2021

Increase the Wi-Fi range in your home or office with these extenders

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If you’re having a problem getting Wi-Fi in every room of your house, our experts say you should probably just buy the Netgear Nighthawk X4 EX7300, as it offers the path of least resistance. It has the coverage, speed, and compatibility most people need, with a straightforward app-based setup process.

Range extenders like the Nighthawk work by connecting wirelessly to the router you already have in an area where your Wi-Fi signal is strong, and rebroadcasting that signal to parts of your house where the signal is weak or nonexistent. With a Wi-Fi range extender, you can boost a weak Wi-Fi signal, and even bring high-speed wireless connectivity to parts of your house that previously had no coverage.

The Rundown
This is our favorite Wi-Fi extender because it provides excellent performance and coverage for a decent price.
It's a great option if you just need a little extra range to connect a handful of wireless devices.
Best Wi-Fi 6:
TP-Link RE505X at Amazon
The TP-Link RE505X lets you enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 throughout your home, instead of just in the immediate vicinity of your router.
Best for backyards:
Netgear Orbi RBS50Y at Amazon
It’s weather-resistant and works with just about any router.
If you’re looking for the best range extender to slot into a high speed, high traffic Wi-Fi network, this is it.
The TP-Link RE650 is a range extender that puts the emphasis on range, with a maximum coverage area of up to 2,800 square feet.
Best Powerline:
Netgear PLW1000 at Amazon
It creates a remote Wi-Fi network that connects back to your router through your home's electrical wiring.
The TP-Link TL-WR902AC is a travel router that’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s the best option if you have fairly basic requirements.

Best Overall: Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2200 Wi-Fi Mesh Extender (EX7300)

Nighthawk X4 EX7300 Wi-Fi Range Extender
4.5

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    3/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    4/5
  • Network Performance
    5/5
  • Software
    4/5
What We Like
  • Great wireless performance

  • Simple to use

What We Don't Like
  • Blocks power outlet

  • App setup is a bit clunky

If you’re happy with the overall performance of your router and just want better Wi-Fi coverage, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 will get the job done. This is our favorite Wi-Fi extender because it provides excellent performance and coverage for a decent price, and it isn’t too difficult to set up. Our tester Andrew said "Netgear’s Nighthawk X4 is one of the best all-around Wi-Fi mesh extenders you can buy for your home."

This extender has a range of up to 2,000 square feet, which makes it great for extending a network to a different floor or the distant corners of a large home. It’s also able to handle a lot of devices at once. The AC2200 part of the name means it can deliver 2.2Gbps of bandwidth at once (we've got an explanation of what that actually means here), which is enough to stream Netflix in 4K, video chat on FaceTime, and maintain a competitive edge in online games, on several devices all at once. Realistically, your internet connection won't be this fast, but if you pay extra for a super fast connection, it's worth bearing in mind this unit will support it.

It's designed to plug directly into a wall socket, and it supports WPS push-button setup, which makes it really easy to set up and use. It doesn’t have an outlet pass-through, so it does take up one outlet, but it leaves the other free.

If you have any devices that don’t have Wi-Fi, this extender has you covered there as well. The Nighthawk X4 includes an Ethernet port that allows you to use a network cable to connect a smart TV, game console, or anything else requiring a wired connection.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC2200 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

"The Netgear Nighthawk X4 Wi-Fi Mesh Extender finds a pretty ideal middle ground in the Wi-Fi extender market, delivering a strong performance that’s better than what you’ll likely get from a cheap, entry-level extender."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Netgear Nighthawk EX7300

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Value: Netgear EX3700 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender

NETGEAR EX3700 Wi-Fi Range Extender (AC750)
3.8

Our Ratings
  • Design
    3/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    4/5
  • Network Performance
    4/5
  • Software
    4/5
What We Like
  • Enhanced Wi-Fi coverage and signal strength

  • Wi-Fi Analytics app for all status updates

What We Don't Like
  • Difficulty connecting to 5GHz band

If you’re working on a budget, the Netgear EX3700 is worth a look. It doesn’t have the range or speed offered by many of the other extenders on this list, but it’s a great option if you just need a little extra range to connect a handful of wireless devices.

The ideal scenario for this extender is expanding a spotty wireless network into a guest room or home office where you expect to connect only a few devices at a time. It can provide a maximum of 1,000 square feet of coverage, and it can handle about enough bandwidth to stream in 4K, video chat, and download big files on a couple devices at once without a lot of slow down.

Our reviewer Brittany said it "offers decent network connectivity, but has somewhat barebones options and strange design decisions".

If you have smart home devices that have trouble connecting to your network, this extender can help with that as well. Smart home devices require a connection to your network, but they don’t use up a lot of bandwidth. 

This extender has a small size to go along with its low price, and it’s designed to be plugged directly into a power socket. It leaves the top outlet free for your other electronics, but it does use up the bottom one as it doesn’t have a pass-through. It does include a single Ethernet port though, which makes it a great option for your home office if you have a computer that doesn’t support Wi-Fi.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC750 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

"The Netgear EX3700 Wi-Fi Range Extender (AC750) is a serviceable device that's perfect for anyone on a budget." — Brittany Vincent, Product Tester

Netgear EX3700

Lifewire / Scot Braswell

Best Wi-Fi 6: TP-Link RE505X AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender

TP-Link RE505X AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender
4

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    2/5
  • Network Performance
    3/5
  • Software
    5/5
What We Like
  • Advanced Wi-Fi 6 Technology

  • Intelligent Signal Indicator

  • Can be used as a wired Access Point

What We Don't Like
  • Optimal performance requires Wi-Fi 6 devices

If you have a blazing-fast internet connection and like to buy all the latest gadgets and devices, then the TP-Link RE505X offers one key feature you absolutely need: Wi-Fi 6. The latest and greatest Wi-Fi technology, also known as 802.11ax, offers theoretical speeds almost three times faster than Wi-Fi 5. The catch is that your router and your devices also need to support Wi-Fi 6 or you won’t see any benefit.

Jargon aside, what this means is that Wi-Fi 6 is both faster and more efficient than Wi-Fi 5, which means it allows more devices to connect at once without experiencing slowdown. Devices also use less power when connected to Wi-Fi 6, which can translate to longer battery life. Apple brought Wi-Fi 6 to their phones starting with the iPhone 11, and it’s also supported in the latest laptops, game consoles, and other devices.

If you have one of these devices, get this - The TP-Link RE505X lets you enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 throughout your home, instead of just in the immediate vicinity of your router.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AX1500 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

"I was able to get the extended signal all over my house—in every bedroom, closet, and even outside in the backyard." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

TP-Link RE505X

Lifewire / Erika Rawes

Best for backyards: Netgear Orbi RBS50Y Outdoor Satellite Wi-Fi Extender

Netgear Orbi RBS50Y Satelite Wi-Fi Extender
4.5

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    5/5
  • Network Performance
    5/5
  • Software
    5/5
What We Like
  • Weather-resistant

  • Works with almost any router

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Some features require an Orbi system

Any range extender can technically spread a Wi-Fi signal outside, especially if you place it near a window, but very few are rugged enough to actually brave the elements. If your goal is to cover a large outdoor area with Wi-Fi, the Netgear Orbi RB50Y is the best option. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s weather-resistant, works with just about any router, and has three data bands which means it can handle a lot of connections at once with ease.

The Orbi RBS50Y has a durable IP66 rating, which means it’s capable of withstanding high-pressure jets of water from multiple directions. You could technically hit this extender with your garden hose without interrupting the Wi-Fi signal, so a little rain and wind is unlikely to phase it. Just avoid knocking it into the pool, and you’ll be fine.

In addition to being weather-proof, the Orbi RBS50Y also provides great connectivity. It can cover up to 2,500 square feet, has three data bands, and has 3Gbps of bandwidth to share among your devices. With those specs, your network is likely to be just as strong and fast outside as it is inside.

Our reviewer Andy said: "The Netgear Orbi RBS50Y is one of the most robust Wi-Fi extenders on the market. Though pricey, it’s an ideal way to expand your Wi-Fi network to your backyard."

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC3000 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: None

"I found myself crossing my yard, driveway, the fenceline into the goat pasture, through a patch of woods all the way to the edge of the marsh where the signal started to cut out." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Netgear Orbi RBS50Y Outdoor Satellite Wi-Fi Extender

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best Performance: Netgear Nighthawk EAX80 AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Extender

Netgear Nighthawk AX8 EAX80 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender
4

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    5/5
  • Network Performance
    5/5
  • Software
    5/5
What We Like
  • Can add Wi-Fi 6 to your existing network

  • Solid range

  • Four Gigabit Ethernet ports to plug in TVs, consoles and other devices

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

The Netgear Nighthawk EAX80 is fast - but expensive. This would likely be our pick for the best range extender if it wasn’t for the price, which is on the high side. But if you’re looking for the best range extender to slot into a high speed, high traffic Wi-Fi network, this is it.

This extender blankets an area of up to 2,500 square feet with a high-speed Wi-Fi 6 network. Its capabilities rival many high-end, standalone routers, which means you can expect the same speeds and strong connections from devices connected to this as devices connected to your main Wi-Fi network.

The AX part of the name refers to Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, while the 6000 means this extender can handle up to 6Gbps of data at once. It also supports beamforming, which allows compatible devices to form a stronger connection, and has four Ethernet ports for connecting devices via a cable - something you'll ideally want to do for the best speeds for devices like a streaming TV or console.

It's very fast, but bear in mind you may not need or be able to use that extra speed.

During testing, our reviewer Andrew warned, “Spending more than $200 on an extender doesn’t make much sense unless you’re adding it to a top-of-the-line system."

Your connection speeds will depend on your internet connection and main router, but this extender is ready to handle just about anything you can throw at it.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

"I wasn’t prepared for the blistering 406Mbps speed registered by my laptop when plugged into one of the Ethernet ports on the back of the Netgear Nighthawk AX8."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (EAX80) Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Extender

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward 

Best Range: TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender

TP-Link RE650 Wi-Fi Range Extender
What We Like
  • Four antennas offer great range

  • Fast throughput

  • Gigabit Ethernet port

What We Don't Like
  • A bit bulky

If you have a big house with several rooms, or even whole floors, that are out of range of your main router, then you probably want to prioritize range over everything else. The TP-Link RE650 is a range extender that puts the emphasis on range, with a maximum coverage area of up to 2,800 square feet. It also has plenty of bandwidth and supports beamforming for especially strong connections.

This is a good extender to choose if you need to extend Wi-Fi to a busy part of your house, or you have a large house with several rooms that need coverage. It has better overall range than the other options, and it’s capable of handling a lot of data at once. That makes it a good fit for covering a family room or busy home office, with a bunch of devices all connected at once. It also has a single Ethernet port, which is great for connecting a computer or game console.

While the TP-Link RE650 is powerful and lets you extend your Wi-Fi over a large area, it’s also very easy to use and set up. It uses an app-based setup procedure that walks you through the process with on-screen prompts, and even includes a signal indicator to take all the guesswork out of choosing where to install the extender. That means you don’t need to worry about trying to get the best connection, even if you don’t have a lot of experience with networks.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC2600 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 1

Best Powerline: Netgear PowerLINE 1000 + Wi-Fi Range Extender (PLW1000)

Netgear PLW1000
What We Like
  • Powerline technology offers extended range

  • Includes Gigabit Ethernet port

What We Don't Like
  • Performance is dependent on quality of home electrical wiring

Most range extenders work by capturing the Wi-Fi signal from your main router and rebroadcasting it, but that isn’t always possible. If you’re trying to extend Wi-Fi to part of your home where the signal is blocked by something like brick walls or appliances, then a powerline extender like the Netgear PowerLINE 1000 can solve your problem.

The Netgear PowerLINE 1000 sends a network connection through the electrical wiring in your house to an adapter, which creates its own Wi-Fi network at the other end. Devices that connect to the network are then connected to your main router through the electrical wiring in your house. It supports up to 1Gbps of bandwidth, which makes it a good solution for spreading a Wi-Fi signal to a small home office or guest bedroom where a connection would otherwise be impossible.

In addition to creating a remote Wi-Fi network that connects back to your router through the electrical wiring, the PowerLINE 1000 also includes an Ethernet port for connecting a smart TV, game console, or computer that doesn’t support Wi-Fi. You can also add up to 16 adapters to the system to bring both wired and wireless connectivity to different parts of your home.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC1000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

"Powerline network adapters can offer a range of close to 1,000 feet, but keep in mind that this depends on how your electrical circuits are laid out, and it's not a straight line but rather the distance that the signal travels along your home's wiring." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer

Best Portable: TP-Link TL-WR902AC AC750 Travel Router

TP-Link TL-WR902AC Portable Wireless Travel Router
5

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    5/5
  • Network Performance
    5/5
  • Software
    5/5
What We Like
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi

  • Solid Performance

  • Versatile with five wireless modes

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for a large number of Wi-Fi devices

The TP-Link TL-WR902AC is a travel router that’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Its main purpose is to provide a strong Wi-Fi signal on the road, but it can pull double duty at home as a personal, portable Wi-Fi extender. If you travel a lot and also have a room or two in your house that could benefit from a stronger Wi-Fi signal, this extender could solve two problems at once.

Unlike most Wi-Fi range extenders, the TL-WR902AC is really small. In fact, it tips the scales at about 8 ounces. According to one of our reviewers, “It’s so small that it easily fits in my pants pocket,” and “It seems to be made of quite durable plastic, so you needn’t worry about it breaking en route.” It’s also powered through a micro-USB port, which means you don’t need to pack a special power adapter. It will run off just about any USB power supply, like your phone charger, or even a portable power pack.

This extender’s range and bandwidth are on the low end, which means it doesn’t extend Wi-Fi very far, and you can’t connect too many devices at once. It has plenty of bandwidth to stream in 4K though, if you connect it to a fast-enough internet connection, and portability is the bigger concern anyway if you’re just trying to stream Netflix in a hotel. Then when you get home, you can use it to boost the Wi-Fi signal in your house as well.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC750 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

"I was able to use it throughout a medium-sized house and around the yard beyond up to about 100 feet." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

TP-Link TL-WR902AC Travel Router

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best Budget: TP-Link RE200 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender

TP-Link RE200 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender
3.5

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    4/5
  • Network Performance
    3/5
  • Software
    4/5
What We Like
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi

  • Ethernet port

  • High speed mode

What We Don't Like
  • No Gigabit Ethernet cable ports

If you don’t need to connect a lot of devices, or speed isn’t really important, the TP-Link RE200 is a budget option that still gets the job done. The TP-Link RE200 comes with an extremely attractive price tag, it’s easy to set up and use, and has plenty of bandwidth for multiple devices to casually surf the internet, or more intense use on a single device. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s the best option if you have fairly basic requirements.

This extender plugs directly into a power outlet, but it’s quite small, so it doesn’t block the other outlet. It also supports WPS for one-touch connections, or you can have the TP-Link app walk you through the process if you prefer.

The TP-Link RE200 has plenty of bandwidth to stream high definition video, download big files, and play games, as long as you don’t need to do all of those at once on a bunch of different devices.

Wireless Spec: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC750 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 1

"At just $30, this compact, easy-to-use adapter sets up easily and works as advertised, extending Wi-Fi access into dead zones in your home." Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

TP-Link AV1300 Powerline

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward 

Final Verdict

The Netgear Nighthawk X4 (view at Amazon) has decent range and can handle a lot of devices at once, so it’s the best option for most people. If you have a Wi-Fi 6 router and a really fast internet connection, then you’ll find the TP-Link RE505X (view at Amazon) more satisfying, and the Netgear Orbi RB50Y (view at Amazon) is your best bet if you specifically want to extend your Wi-Fi network outdoors.

FAQ
  • How do you know if you need a Wi-Fi extender?

    Do you have any “dead zones” in your house where the Wi-Fi doesn’t work, or rooms where the signal is so weak your phone won’t stay connected? If you do, then a Wi-Fi extender can help bring the Wi-Fi from an area where it’s fairly strong to those areas where it doesn't work very well. The best Wi-Fi extenders can even speed up your Wi-Fi connection in areas of your house where it’s weak and slow.

    Just keep in mind, Wi-Fi extenders are designed only to fill in one specific area. Think of it like your router creating a bubble of Wi-Fi, and then the extender creating a second bubble near the edge of the original one. If you’re having coverage problems in multiple areas in different parts of your home, you’ll need multiple extenders or a long-range router.

  • What causes Wi-Fi dead zones?

    Think of your Wi-Fi signal like a radio playing- it gets quieter as it travels and goes through walls, doors, and floors. If you play music in one room, and then travel to the opposite side of your home or go downstairs to the basement, you may only be able to hear the music faintly (or not at all). When you turn the radio on, you can hear the sound with less interference on certain channels, and it may even play a bit louder on a specific channel. 

    If you think of your Wi-Fi signal in the same way, you'll realize it’s also going to weaken as it travels over longer distances, especially as it goes through doors, walls, floors, appliances, and other obstacles. 

  • What is the difference between a Wi-Fi extender, a mesh Wi-Fi system and a Wi-Fi repeater?

    In most cases, Wi-Fi extenders, Wi-Fi repeaters, and Wi-Fi boosters are all simply different names for the same type of device. All serve the same goal of increasing the range of your wireless network, although it’s important to keep in mind that not all Wi-Fi extenders work quite the same way or offer the same features. For example, while most Wi-Fi extenders connect to your main router over Wi-Fi, some connect through your home’s electrical wiring. So be sure to read the fine print and check the system requirements when picking a Wi-Fi extender for your particular needs. A mesh Wi-Fi system is also known as a whole-home Wi-Fi System. It uses a central router that connects to the modem and one or more satellite routers (or nodes) that all act as access points for the Wi-Fi signal. This way, you can place the different nodes around your home and extend your coverage far beyond the range you’d get if you only had a single router. 

  • Do Wi-Fi extenders work with any router?

    Unlike mesh Wi-Fi systems, Wi-Fi extenders are designed to work with almost any router, in much the same way as any other wireless device. If you’re concerned about performance, make sure the extender supports the same version of Wi-Fi as your router. For example, if your router supports Wi-Fi 6, getting an extender that supports Wi-Fi 6 will provide the best experience.

  • How big an area will an extender cover?

    In the product’s description, you’ll often find a square footage amount that indicates the extender’s coverage range. If you opt for an extender, you can expect to extend coverage by about 1,200 square feet.

    If you purchase an extender with 1,200 square feet of coverage, that coverage is in addition to your router, so if your router provides 2,000 square feet of coverage, you can expect about 3,200 square feet of total coverage—assuming you place the Wi-Fi extender at the very edge of your existing router's range. In most cases, you'll likely end up with some overlap.

What to Look For in a Wi-Fi Extender

Whether it's just a proliferation of laptops, tablets, and smartphones or a full smart home ecosystem, today's homes have more Wi-Fi connected devices than ever before. Think about how many devices in your home use your wireless network—TV streaming boxes, game consoles, smart TVs, smart home devices, Echo or Google Home speakers, security cameras, phones, tablets, and computers. It can easily add up to dozens of devices all vying for a piece of your home’s Wi-Fi signal. This makes it more essential than ever before to have a reliable signal in every corner of your home. A Wi-Fi extender can provide a more stable connection in areas where your router can't deliver a powerful enough signal on its own.

Netgear Orbi
Lifewire / Bill Thomas

If you have a multi-level home, a large amount of square footage, or you simply have areas in your home that don’t get a good signal for one reason or another, a Wi-Fi extender can help improve your coverage. They're also handy for pushing a signal to your backyard or deck, where coverage is often weaker due to interference.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network (WAN) deployments.

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. His areas of expertise include smartphones, wearable gadgets, smart home devices, video games, and esports. He reviewed several of the WiFi extenders on our list.

Brittany Vincent writes for a variety of publications including Complex, IGN, Tom's Hardware, CNN Underscored, Mic, Mashable, GamesRadar, Destructoid, Kotaku, and GameSpot. She reviewed some of the WiFi extenders featured on our list.

Erika Rawes has written for Digital Trends, USA Today, Cheatsheet.com, and more. Previously a personal finance writer and freelance tech writer, Erika has tested more than 50 consumer technology products, ranging from kitchen gadgets to WiFi extenders, cameras, and more.

Andy Zahn has been writing for Lifewire since April 2019. He is a consumer technology expert who has tested several of the products on this list.

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