The 9 Best Wi-Fi Extenders of 2020

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

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"Just plug in the extender and you’ll get advanced dual-band Wi-Fi with up to 2,000 square feet of coverage."
"Say goodbye to lagging connections and hello to the ultimate gaming experience."
"With a weather-resistant, IP66 rating you can make sure you'll always get strong Wi-Fi out in your backyard."
Best Wi-Fi 6:
TP-Link RE505X at Amazon
"Fast 802.11ax Dual-Band Wi-Fi gives you fast performance in busy and hard-to-reach corners of your home."
"Can be used to add Wi-Fi 6 coverage to your den or family room without replacing your main router."
"This handy little device lets you setup a quick bubble of extended Wi-Fi anywhere in your home or on the road."
Best Low Profile:
TP-Link RE305 at Best Buy
"Small and sleek, it’s got a look that will go into any home and won’t be catching your guest’s eyes."
"Get 1,000 feet of coverage at a price that's easy on your wallet."
"An affordable way to extend your Wi-Fi network when peak performance isn't critical."

If you've got an area of your home that has poor Wi-Fi coverage or even none at all, then getting one of the best Wi-Fi extenders can help you close the gap. These handy devices allow you to create an additional bubble of Wi-Fi in just about any area of your home that your main router can't quite reach, and they're usually a much simpler and more affordable way to go than replacing your entire router.

Of course, if you find that your router isn't reaching to the edges of your home in any direction, then you probably really do need to get one of the best long-range routers instead, as it will surely be easier than deploying Wi-Fi extenders in every corner of your home. For a situation where it's only one or two smaller areas that lack strong wireless coverage, however, a Wi-Fi extender can get the job done more quickly and more cheaply.

In fact, a Wi-Fi extender can even be a great way to get internet access into areas around your home, letting you enjoy the fresh air and sunshine on your back deck or by the pool while still being able to stay connected at speeds that will let you enjoy Netflix in full 4K and carry on crisp, clear, and uninterrupted video calls. There are even weatherproof units designed to be set up outside your home, although unless you have a really large outdoor space, you'll usually be fine just dropping a Wi-Fi extender by the patio door.

There's also more to the best Wi-Fi extenders than just wireless coverage; many also offer one or more wired Ethernet ports, making them a great way to get older non-Wi-Fi devices like game consoles online without the need to run extra cables from your main router.

So check out our collection of the best Wi-Fi extenders that will ensure that you get a strong wireless signal to every corner of your home.

Best Overall: Netgear Nighthawk X4 WiFi Mesh Extender (EX7300)

What We Like
  • Clear and speedy connection

  • Up to 2,200 Mbps

  • 2,000-square foot coverage

What We Don't Like
  • Slows down under load

If you’re looking for a reliable and powerful extender that fits your home, is affordable and easy to set up, and gives you a wide range to work with, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 is for you. Just plug in the extender and you’ll get advanced dual-band Wi-Fi with up to 2,000 square feet of solid Wi-Fi coverage.

Get up to 2.2Gbps so every device can deliver fast streaming, gaming, and web browsing. And because it can connect to up to 35 devices, there will be no complaints from roommates, family members, or guests, as they can use their tablets, phones, computers, and more free of interruption. Need a wired hookup? Kick it into full throttle using the wired Ethernet port and you’ll be ready to go. Plus, with seamless smart roaming, you can keep your existing network’s SSID to prevent confusion. 

"Technological advancements such as MU-MIMO and beamforming seem to help deliver strong wireless performance."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best for Gaming: Netgear Nighthawk X6S Tri Band WiFi Mesh Extender (EX8000)

What We Like
  • Coverage up to 2,500 square feet

  • Universal compatibility

  • Seamless roaming

What We Don't Like
  • Unexpected signal drops

  • High price

For serious gaming you need a fast low-latency connection, so if you want to ensure your games go uninterrupted while everyone else is watching Netflix, then you'll want to check out Netgear's Nighthawk X6S.

The tri-band Wi-Fi system will get you up to 3Gbps of bandwidth that works over an area of up to 1,000 square feet that can be expanded up to 2,500 by adding more units. Plus, you can expect seamless roaming with one Wi-Fi SSID, making setup painless and providing an easy connection to your devices. As with most Netgear devices, you’ll also have universal compatibility with any wireless router, gateway, or cable modem with Wi-Fi.

Say goodbye to lagging connections and hello to the ultimate gaming experience with this powerful range extender. The only thing that may put a halt on adding this to your cart immediately is the price tag, but for the coverage and bandwidth that this one delivers, it may be well worth it.

"With the four Ethernet ports, this is an ideal extender for plugging in game consoles, computers, and other devices that require steady bandwidth."Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

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

What We Like
  • Weather-resistant IP66 rating

  • Works with almost any router

  • Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Some features require an Orbi system

  • Not compatible with Orbi Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System

While you can use a strategically placed indoor Wi-Fi extender to get some Wi-Fi coverage outside your home, the usual brick and concrete construction of most homes will still block at least some of the Wi-Fi signal from getting through, so if you’ve got a large outdoor space and you want a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout, it’s hard to beat getting a range extender like Netgear’s Orbi RBS50Y that you can actually leave out in the open air.

Ordinarily, the Orbi name refers to Netgear’s excellent mesh Wi-Fi systems, but even though the RBS50Y uses the same branding, it actually works with just about any normal Wi-Fi router out there, and thanks to its IP66 weatherproof rating, it’s an extender you can plug in anywhere outside—within the limits of your existing router’s range, of course—and get a huge blanket of strong Wi-Fi for your backyard, poolside deck, or pretty much anywhere you like outside your home without worrying about rain, snow or sprinklers. 

The RBS50Y delivers strong performance thanks to the same tri-band mesh Wi-Fi technology that Netgear uses in its mainstream Orbi units, and a single Wi-Fi name offers seamless roaming for all of your devices, inside and out. The only downside is that it doesn’t come cheap, but it could be well worth it if you’ve got the kind of large outdoor area where you really want to keep on surfing and streaming. 

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

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’re already using an 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 router, or you’re planning to jump into this latest Wi-Fi technology, then you’ll want to look for a Wi-Fi extender that can also play along like TP-Link’s RE505X. While older Wi-Fi 5 range extenders will still work fine even with the most modern routers, you’ll lose the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 when your smartphones and tablets stray out of the range of your main router.

As an 802.11ax Wi-Fi extender, the TP-Link RE505X can keep your Wi-Fi 6 devices connected at the fastest speeds, even on the most congested networks, while also requiring them to draw less power to maintain a Wi-Fi connection. Of course, your devices will need to support Wi-Fi 6 to take advantage of this, but if you’re using the latest smartphones and tablets from companies like Apple and Samsung, you’re already there.

The RE505X also has a few other tricks up its sleeve, including an intelligent signal light that helps you figure out the best place to plug it in, along with a Gigabit Ethernet port that not only lets you extend the range of wired devices, but can also be used to turn the RE505X into a standard wireless access point. Plus, if you’re already using a supported TP-Link router, you can take advantage of the company’s OneMesh technology, using the RE505X to extend your network more seamlessly and manage it all from one place.

Best Technology: Netgear Nighthawk EAX80 8-Stream WiFi 6 Mesh Extender

What We Like
  • Can add Wi-Fi 6 to your existing network

  • Solid range

  • Four Gigabit Ethernet ports

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Requires Wi-Fi 6 clients for maximum benefit

Netgear’s Nighthawk EAX80 is one of the first Wi-Fi extenders to support the new 802.11ax standard, more colloquially known as Wi-Fi 6, and while the name would suggest it’s a great companion to Netgear’s Nighthawk RAX80 Wi-Fi 6 router, it’s actually compatible with most routers. It can also give you a nice bubble of Wi-Fi 6 coverage even if your main router doesn’t yet support the new standard, making it a great way to add Wi-Fi 6 coverage to your den or family room without replacing your existing router.

Wi-Fi 6 offers greater network capacity than older Wi-Fi standards, so you can support more devices without the need to worry about congestion. Although you’ll need 802.11ax Wi-Fi clients to take full advantage of this, the eight streams and MU-MIMO support let even older Wi-Fi 5 devices get maximum performance over 5GHz 802.11ac connections. 

The EAX80 offers up to 2,500 square feet of additional coverage from your main router, along with seamless smart roaming so your devices can use whichever router or extender offers the best performance, plus four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports so you can plug in your game console or streaming box for maximum speed.

"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

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

What We Like
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi

  • Solid 802.11ac Performance

  • Versatile with five wireless modes

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

Although it’s easy to write off TP-Link’s TL-WR902AC purely as a travel router, this versatile little device actually offers five different wireless modes, one of which is to act as a handy Wi-Fi range extender, letting you create your own little bubble of strong Wi-Fi just about anywhere you happen to be. 

With dual-band AC750 performance, it’s no slouch either, offering up to 433Mbps on the 5GHz band, which is easily more than enough if you only need to extend Wi-Fi to a small number of devices and leave the heavy lifting for the rest of the household to your main router. 

What’s great about the TL-WR902AC however is that you can also take it on the road with you, so if you find yourself in a hotel room, conference room, or coffee shop with weak Wi-Fi, you can easily use it to boost that as well. There’s even a built-in USB port for sharing files and media, and it’s powered over a standard microUSB connection, so you can run it straight from your laptop or tablet. 

Best Low Profile: TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender RE305

What We Like
  • Small and sleek design

  • Complete home coverage

What We Don't Like
  • Slower than other options

If you’re looking for a Wi-Fi extender that doesn't look like a bulky eyesore, our tests proved that the TP-Link RE305 is the way to go. Small and sleek, it’s got a look that will go into any home and won’t be catching your guests' eyes—some might even describe it as cute. With dual antennas and two bands, this extender runs at 2.4GHz (up to 300Mbps) and 5GHz (up to 867Mbps) and includes a fast Ethernet port that lets you connect to a wired device, making it perfect for all your devices whether they’ll be streaming, gaming, or browsing.

The TP-Link RE305 certainly isn’t the fastest extender on the market, but it promises full coverage of your home. Plus, it’s simple to set up and includes two LED lights that indicate whether or not you’re properly connected. Get all your needs met with this attractive and budget-friendly option.

"The RE305 is a value-priced, no-frills extender that promises quick setup, a low-key design, and typically smooth connectivity at a great price." — Brittany Vincent, Product Tester

Best Budget: Netgear EX3700 Wi-Fi Range Extender (AC750)

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

Finding the best Wi-Fi extender is all about adding range, and with the Netgear EX3700 you can expect 1,000 feet of coverage at a price that's easy on your wallet. Thanks to dual-band 802.11ac technology, our testing showed that it delivers speeds of up to 750Mbps, ensuring your Wi-Fi signal stays strong no matter where you are.

With two antennas for enhanced coverage, you have the option to create a new Wi-Fi access point or hotspot over a wired Gigabit Ethernet port, making this an ideal extender for the home that turns into a hotel when guests come for visits all around the year. You can even create a separate network just for the guests. The EX3700 also includes Netgear's signature Wi-Fi Analytics app, letting you check your signal strength or see what channels are getting particularly crowded.

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

Best Value: TP-Link RE200

What We Like
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi

  • Ethernet port

  • High speed mode

What We Don't Like
  • No Gigabit Ethernet

  • Slower AC750 speeds

If you’re looking for an affordable way to extend your Wi-Fi network and peak performance is not important, TP-Link’s RE200 offers some of the best value for the money, with dual-band Wi-Fi covering both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. While the maximum 733Mbps throughput isn’t going to win this one any performance records, realistically it’s more than enough for most home internet connections, especially at this price.

As a dual-band extender, the RE200 also has one other useful trick up its sleeve in that it can kick into a “High Speed” mode that maximizes throughput by using one dedicated Wi-Fi band as a “backhaul” and the other as an access point, which promises to deliver the kind of higher speed and lower latency required to handle gaming without lagging or buffering. 

The RE200 can quickly and easily be moved from room to room so that you can carry it around to extend Wi-Fi to different parts of your home when you need it. An Ethernet port also lets you connect wired devices in like game consoles, although it’s not Gigabit Ethernet, so if your devices support 802.11ac you’re probably better sticking with Wi-Fi. 

"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

Final Verdict

Netgear's Nighthawk X4 is a versatile Wi-Fi extender that's easy to plug in just about anywhere, but provides enough performance to meet the needs of most households. If you're looking for that extra boost for online gaming, however, then you'll want to take it up a notch to Netgear's Nighthawk X6S instead.

How We Tested

Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate Wi-Fi extenders based on design, range, performance, and features. We test reception and analyze their effective range, as well as each extender's included feature set and how well those features are implemented. We also consider the setup process and each unit as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.

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.

Bill Thomas is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They began writing for Lifewire in January 2018, but you can also find their work on TechRadar. Bill has also worked as an editor at Future.

Brittany Vincent writes for a variety of publications including Complex, IGN, Tom's Hardware, CNN Underscored, Mic, Mashable, GamesRadar, Destructoid, Kotaku, and GameSpot. She has also gained experience working with PR representatives to build relationships and obtain review products for her work.

Jeremy Laukkonen is a tech ghostwriter serving major trade publications. All of his life experiences have taught him the importance of breaking down complex technical subjects in understandable ways.

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. 

The Ultimate Wi-Fi Extender Buying Guide

As homes become smarter, people continue to add more and more Wi-Fi connected devices. Think about how many devices in your home use your wireless network—TV streaming sticks, smart TVs, smart home devices, Echo or Google Home speakers, security cameras, phones, tablets, and computers. It can easily add up to a dozen or more devices using your home’s Wi-Fi. It’s more essential than ever before to have a reliable signal in every corner of your home. A Wi-Fi extender can help promote a more stable connection in areas where your standard Wi-Fi signal from a router alone is lacking.

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 provide better coverage. They're also handy for pushing signal to backyards or decks where coverage is often attenuated by interference. But, how exactly does a Wi-Fi extender work? Do you even need a Wi-Fi extender? How do you select the right Wi-Fi extender product? We answer all of these questions and more in this guide. 

What causes Wi-Fi dead zones?

If you have certain rooms or areas in your home where the Wi-Fi signal is slow or almost non-existent, you may have a Wi-Fi dead zone. Does it take forever to load a page on the laptop in your bedroom? Is it almost impossible to watch Netflix in the basement? Dead zones and slow zones can cause your streaming sticks, laptops, and smart home devices to run poorly, inconsistently, or sometimes, not at all.

Think of your Wi-Fi signal like a sound wave, which 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 imagine your Wi-Fi signal in the same manner, it’s also going to weaken as it travels over longer distances, especially as it goes through doors, walls, floors, appliances, and other obstacles. 

Netgear Orbi
Lifewire / Bill Thomas

Do you need a Wi-Fi extender?

If you have a large home, a closed layout with a lot of walls, or if you have more than one floor, a Wi-Fi extender can be an ideal solution. It can also be helpful if you have a lot of people using your Wi-Fi, or if you have a lot of devices on your network. However, before investing in new equipment, you might want to try moving your router to a more central location, and especially keeping it away from any nearby obstacles or potential sources of electrical or radio frequency interference. If basic troubleshooting isn’t effective at eliminating dead zones, you probably want to look into a Wi-Fi extender.

In addition to extending your coverage area, some Wi-Fi extender products (like mesh systems) can also manage device traffic for you. Your devices are kind of like cars on a busy freeway, and the mesh system can direct traffic, telling one device to go this way and another to go that way. This lets every device on your network get the fastest possible connection, and you don’t experience congestion because you have too many devices trying to take the same path.

Types of Wi-Fi Extender Products

You have a few different options for extending your Wi-Fi signal. You can use a mesh Wi-Fi system, a Wi-Fi signal repeater, or a Wi-Fi signal extender, or even a whole new Wi-Fi access point. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

Mesh Wi-Fi Systems

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 signal range far beyond the range you’d get if you only had a single router. 

Mesh Wi-Fi System Pros

  • You get a very large coverage area.
  • You can typically control mesh systems with a smartphone application.
  • Mesh systems may include extra features like parental controls or security software.
  • Many mesh networks are compatible or come or equipped with smart home platforms like Alexa, Google Assistant, or IFTTT.
  • You can easily expand your mesh network with additional satellites.
  • Mesh networks are self-managing. They can often configure themselves, discover devices on their own, and find the fastest path for each device.
  • Mesh networks are self-healing, and the connection is usually stable because the nodes can automatically rediscover a fast and reliable data path.
  • Since mesh systems replace your existing router entirely and all of the modules are designed to work together, mesh systems guarantee that you won't have to worry about problems with interoperability.

Mesh Wi-Fi System Cons

  • The system involves more components.
  • A mesh system generally replaces your existing router entirely.
  • It’s often more costly than just a basic router.
  • Some mesh systems require a subscription for the premium features. 

Wi-Fi Repeaters and Extenders

Terms like "Wi-Fi Repeater" and "Wi-Fi Extender" get thrown around a lot, but these days they generally mean the same thing in practical terms — both are used to extend the Wi-Fi signal from an existing router into another section of your home or office. You may have also heard terms like Wi-Fi "boosters" or "amplifiers," and while there was a time that these described slightly different things, when it comes to modern consumer devices, they're all still essentially the same now.

Wi-Fi Repeater/Extender Pros

  • Since these are compatible with almost all existing routers, it means that you don’t have to purchase anything more than the repeater/extender itself.
  • You can typically keep your existing router.
  • You usually don't need to reconfigure your existing router.
  • It’s one of the most cost-effective solutions.

Wi-Fi Repeater/Extender Cons

  • The additional coverage range can be limited. So, if you’re trying to extend coverage to an entire floor, this may not be the best option.
  • Can only add and extend areas that already have some Wi-Fi coverage.
  • The repeater/extender is generally a relatively "dumb" device that doesn't add any features beyond what your router already does, so you’ll get fewer features than you’d get with a mesh system.

Wi-Fi Access Points

Since Wi-Fi repeaters and extenders only work if you can put them in an area that already has at least some Wi-Fi coverage, if you have a large home and need to bring Wi-Fi to an entirely dead zone of your house, you'll need to add an actual Wi-Fi access point. This is a device that you hardwire in to your network to create what is effectively an entirely new Wi-Fi network in a different part of your home, although if you use your existing SSID your devices won't notice the difference.

Since a Wi-Fi access point uses a wired connection, you'll either need to run Ethernet cables to wherever you plan to locate the access point, or invest in a Powerline network adapter to extend your network connection over your home wiring.

Wi-Fi Access Point Pros

  • You can add coverage to areas that your existing router can't reach at all.
  • Almost any Wi-Fi router can act as a Wi-Fi access point as well, so you have a wealth of options in terms of price, coverage, and performance.
  • You can keep your existing router, or purchase a better main router and repurpose your old one as a Wi-Fi access point.
  • The cost will vary depending on your needs, but since many budget routers make great Wi-Fi access points, you’ll likely pay less than you would for a whole-home mesh system.

Wi-Fi Range Extender Cons

  • You'll need to have a wired network connection where you want to place your Wi-Fi access point, which means either running cables or buying a Powerline network adapter.
  • Maintaining multiple router and access point configurations separately can be more complicated than a whole home mesh system.
Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System
Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen 

Dual-band vs. Tri-band?

These days, it’s very uncommon to see routers that only use single-band technology, since the 802.11ac standard requires at least one 5GHz band in addition to the standard 2.4GHz required to support older devices and smart home accessories. These are referred to as dual-band routers.

You'll also come across tri-band routers, which add an extra 5GHz band to allow you to reduce congestion for your fastest devices. The 5GHz band is faster, but doesn't have nearly as long of a reach as the lower 2.4GHz frequency, and its range is even more impacted by walls and other solid objects. However, since a given Wi-Fi device can still only use one band at a time, you don't get any benefit from a tri-band router unless you have a lot of devices that use the 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 or 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 standards and are competing for 5GHz bandwidth.

As a result, tri-band isn't necessary for everybody, so you can still find quality dual-band Wi-Fi extenders and mesh systems as well. An example of an excellent dual-band system is Google Nest Wifi. An example of a tri-band mesh network is the Orbi Mesh Wi-Fi System. The Orbi has the 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies, but it also has a third backhaul radio band, which it uses as a dedicated communication frequency between the router and the satellites to ensure that you get maximum speeds across your entire network.

Note that if you're adding a Wi-Fi extender, you don't need to worry about matching your router in terms of the number of available bands. The type of Wi-Fi extender you choose should be geared to the devices you need to deliver Wi-Fi access to, and in fact, you could even simply add a single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi extender if you were only concerned about extending coverage for smart home devices, since these almost never use the 5GHz band anyway.

Equipment cost and setup

A good mesh system with a router and one or more satellites is going to cost you at least $200, depending on the brand and features. You can set up the system yourself, and most mesh systems walk you through the setup process using an app or quick start guide. With a mesh system, you’re usually going to swap out your router for the mesh router (unless you already have a router with mesh technology, in which case you can purchase compatible satellites).

With a repeater/extender, you usually can keep your existing router, as many extenders are universally compatible. However, it’s a good idea to check the compatibility requirements before selecting a product, especially if you have an older router. You can DIY install a repeater or extender in less than an hour, and it usually just involves choosing optimal placement, plugging the device into a wall outlet, and connecting it to your network. Generally speaking, repeaters and extenders are typically a more affordable option, and unless you're looking for blazing-fast performance specs, you can find decent ones for around $50.

Number of devices

Although this is less of a concern with mesh systems, many Wi-Fi extenders support a specific number of devices. With range extenders and repeaters, that number might be pretty small. You might see a range extender that supports “up to 15 devices” or “up to 20 devices.” If you need support for more devices than the product specifies, it’s best to go with a different option. If you try to load too many devices onto a product, it’ll compromise performance and essentially defeat the purpose.

Coverage area

In the product’s description, you’ll often find a square footage amount that indicates the extender’s coverage range. Mesh systems tend to offer a larger coverage area than basic extenders, and you can easily find a mesh system that will provide coverage for up to 6,000 square feet. If you opt for an extender, you can expect to extend coverage by about 1,200 square feet. Some extenders have smaller or larger coverage areas, but 1,200 square feet is pretty common. If you're willing to wire in a Wi-Fi access point elsewhere in your home, you'll have a much wider range of options, since you can pick anything from a $50 budget router to a higher-end long-range router, according to your needs.

When choosing a product, also keep in mind that a mesh system represents total coverage, while a Wi-Fi extender represents additional coverage. Therefore, if you purchase a mesh system that covers 5,000 square feet, you’re replacing your router with a mesh router and satellites, so you have 5,000 square feet of coverage in total. 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.

Security

Wireless extenders should (at minimum) support basic wireless security protocols, like WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2, while newer Wi-Fi 6 extenders should also offer WPA3 support. Some extender products, especially mesh systems, also offer extra security features like guest access and firewalls, or even additional services like threat scanning, ad-blocking, and anti-malware.

App control

One of the huge benefits to mesh systems is their ability to self-manage the more difficult functions like channel and band selection, while also allowing you to control user-friendly features that enhance your Wi-Fi experience. For instance, your mesh system may allow you to prioritize certain devices for which you want the fastest connection. It may also allow you to send your friend a guest Wi-Fi password or block certain content.

Some mesh systems also allow for voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant, and certain models even have an assistant built-in. You can find repeaters and extenders with app control, but the applications may not be as feature-rich. 

Netgear EX3700 Wi-Fi Range Extender
Lifewire / Brittany Vincent

Brands and Manufacturers

You can find Wi-Fi extender products from a number of brands and manufacturers-- some of them you’ve likely never heard of, and others come from more familiar names. It’s best to go with a brand you trust. Here are a few of the more well known brands, and what they have to offer.

Google Nest

Google Nest has been a leader in the mesh Wi-Fi market for some time. The most recent Google Nest Wi-Fi system has speakers with Google Assistant on each of its satellite points. Nest Wi-Fi works seamlessly, it updates itself, and it includes extra features like screen time and content restriction. However, Google Nest Wi-Fi is on the pricier side.

Netgear 

When most people think of a wireless router, Netgear is one of the first brands that comes to mind. Netgear also offers several Wi-Fi extender products, including its Range Extender EX3700, Mesh Range Extender EX8000, and Orbi line of mesh Wi-Fi systems. The Netgear Orbi system is loaded with features, and it’s one of the better rated systems available. The Orbi Wi-Fi 6 probably has the fastest speeds you’ll find in a mesh system. Aside from the cost, one downside to an Orbi system is that some of the more advanced features, like Netgear Armor, require a subscription. 

TP-Link

TP-Link offers affordable Wi-Fi extender products like the AC750, which costs around $30 and has an impressive amount of functionality. It can serve as a signal booster or you can use it to create a mesh network if you have a compatible router (Archer A7). The AC700 only boosts coverage up to 1,200 feet, so the signal range isn’t as good as you’d get on mesh systems. TP-Link also sells its Deco mesh system, which is relatively affordable, and it includes features like Alexa compatibility and parental controls. TP-Link systems may not offer the speeds you’d get with some of the more expensive options though.

Eero 

Amazon’s Eero provides fast speeds, Alexa compatibility, and a streamlined app. However, the advanced filtering and security features require a subscription. 

Conclusion

Adding a Wi-Fi extender can have a huge impact on your Wi-Fi performance. Wi-Fi is such an essential part of daily life, and most people rely on a stable connection and fast speeds. A Wi-Fi extender takes some of the load off of your router, helping to give you the best possible coverage in every area of your house. 

Before deciding on a product, keep in mind the range. If you have a modern router, and you’re just looking to boost your signal in a single room, you can probably get away with an inexpensive extender like the Netgear Range Extender EX3700. However, if you’re experiencing connection issues on an entire floor of your home, or if you want to ensure the fastest speeds possible, you’ll want to invest in a mesh system like Google Nest Wi-Fi, Netgear Orbi, or Eero Pro.