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Best Overall: Netgear Orbi at Amazon
"Up to 5,000 square feet of solid, fast and reliable Wi-Fi coverage makes it well worth the price of admission."
Best Mesh: Eero Pro at Amazon
"The modular design that lets you mix and match pieces to get the exact coverage you need"
Best Design: Google Nest Wifi at Amazon
"You’ll get two stylish yet compact "points" to set up around your home."
Best Technology: Netgear Nighthawk EAX80 at Amazon
"Can be used to add Wi-Fi 6 coverage to your den or family room without replacing your main router."
Best Budget: Netgear EX3700 at Amazon
"Get 1,000 feet of coverage at a price that's easy on your wallet."
Best Low Profile: TP-Link RE305 at Amazon
"Small and sleek, it’s got a look that will go into any home and won’t be catching your guest’s eyes."
Best for Home: Netgear Nighthawk EX7300 at Amazon
"Just plug in the extender and you’ll get advanced dual-band Wi-Fi with up to 2,000 square feet of coverage."
Best Value: TP-Link RE200 at Amazon
"An affordable way to extend your Wi-Fi network when peak performance isn't critical."
Best for Gaming: Netgear EX8000 at Amazon
"Say goodbye to lagging connections and hello to the ultimate gaming experience."
Best for Large Homes: TP-Link TL-WPA8630 at Amazon
"This powerline adapter uses your home wiring to create Wi-Fi in places your router can't reach."
If you live in a large home or apartment or just need to amend dead zones in your Wi-Fi coverage you need one of the best Wi-Fi extenders. While not always necessary, the benefits of a Wi-Fi extender are pretty clear for anyone that needs to broaden the reach of their home network.
If you're setting up your first home network, feel free to check out our introduction to wireless networking to get started on the right foot.
Easy setup and excellent compatibility
Built-in Netgear Armor security software
Coverage up to 5,000 feet
Unexpected signal drops
Netgear’s Orbi is one of the most powerful and versatile mesh Wi-Fi systems available, designed to deliver fast performance to every corner of even a large home or office, thanks to its clever tri-band Wi-Fi design, and unlike most routers, it manages to look pretty good while doing it too. All told, Netgear’s Orbi can offer up to 5,000 square feet of solid and reliable Wi-Fi coverage.
Although the Orbi actually only offers up dual-band Wi-Fi for your devices, giving you maximum throughput of 866Mbps over 802.11ac on the 5GHz band and 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz side, it actually reserves the second 5GHz band as a dedicated “backhaul” channel to ensure that traffic between the base and satellite units remains fast. As our testing proved, this means you can get maximum Wi-Fi speeds regardless of which station your devices are connected to. This is especially great considering that each satellite unit offers up four Gigabit Ethernet ports, so you can easily hardwire in a PC, smart TV, or game console, as well as a USB port for sharing a printer or hard drive.
"You will have a hard time finding a better wireless router than the Netgear Orbi." — Bill Thomas, Product Tester
Easy to set up
Great wired speeds
Real-time content filtering & malware protection
Only one Ethernet port
Set up requires mobile app
Content filtering requires monthly subscription
The second-generation of Eero’s popular mesh Wi-Fi system, our testing showed that the Eero Pro is a really easy to use solution that can provide coverage for your entire home. Unlike traditional Wi-Fi extenders, the Eero system comes in a modular package that lets you mix and match pieces to get the exact coverage you need, while also offering a really easy setup and robust parental controls through the mobile app.
The main Eero Pro base station provides tri-band Wi-Fi, with a single 2.4GHz and two 5GHz channels that give you enough bandwidth for a whole home full of Wi-Fi devices, along with MU-MIMO to ensure that each of them gets the fastest speeds possible. The base unit promises 1,750 square feet of coverage by itself, and you can add additional Eero Pro or Eero Beacon modules as needed, each of which will add another 1,750 or 1,500 square feet, respectively.
The Beacon modules simply plug into a wall outlet, so they’re nice and discrete and easy to setup, but they lack Ethernet ports so you won’t be able to use them to extend wireless devices. If you need that, you’ll need to use additional Eero Pro modules as extenders instead, which provide two Gigabit Ethernet ports each plus more range, but they’re also more expensive and can be more awkward to place.
"If you need to extend your Wi-Fi network through a very large space, or you have a history of Wi-Fi dead zones, our hands-on testing shows that the Eero Pro can get the job done." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester
Compatible with original Google Wi-Fi towers for extra beacons
Up to 2,200 square foot coverage per tower
Easy setup and management
Can’t connect to hard-wired devices
Setting up a mesh network may seem like a daunting endeavor but thanks to Google, it doesn’t have to be. With the Google Nest Wifi, you’ll get two stylish yet compact "points" to set up around your home.
Connect one to your modem and let the other act as an extender giving you up to 4,400 square feet of solid, mesh-style Wi-Fi. Plus, you can add more to increase your coverage, meaning you won’t have any issues staying covered across your home or office. Already have the original Google WiFi? No problem. The Nest is compatible with Google WiFi and other Nest devices.
Though you won’t be able to connect any hard-wired devices, you can ensure that all your Wi-Fi-capable ones will have no issue connecting. Easy to set up thanks to Google’s intuitive app, you’ll have no issues managing and changing your settings. Set up your very own mesh network with the stylish, simple, and reliable Google Nest Wifi.
"Eero Pro is one of the first mesh systems to offer direct support for Apple’s HomeKit, which allows it to provide better security for all of your HomeKit-compatible smart home and IoT devices." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Can add Wi-Fi 6 to your existing network
Four Gigabit Ethernet ports
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 pretty much any other router, and can even 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 main 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 8 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 let you can plug in your game console or streaming box for maximum speed.
"The latest smartphones from both Apple and Samsung already include Wi-Fi 6 support, and it’s not just about faster speeds—you’ll also get better range and improved battery life when using Wi-Fi 6 connections." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Enhanced Wi-Fi coverage and signal strength
Wi-Fi Analytics app for all status updates
Difficulty connecting to 5GHz band
Finding the best Wi-Fi extender is all about range, and with the Netgear EX3700, you can expect 1,000 feet of coverage at a price that's easy on your wallet. Dual-band and supporting 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, our testing showed that 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
Small and sleek design
Complete home coverage
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
Clear and speedy connection
Up to 2,200 Mbps
2,000-square foot coverage
Slows down under load
If you’re looking for a reliable and powerful extender that fits your home, is easy to set up, and gives you a wide range to work with, the Netgear Nighthawk EX7300 is for you. Just plug in the extender and you’ll get advanced dual-band Wi-Fi with up to 2,000 square feet in 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.
High speed mode
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.
"Some dual-band and tri-band Wi-Fi extenders and mesh systems actually reserve one of their Wi-Fi bands to be a "backhaul" channel to maintain a dedicated connection back to the main router. This can make a big difference in performance if you have a busy Wi-Fi network since your extender is only as good as its connection to your router." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
Coverage up to 2,500 square feet
Gaming can take up a ton of bandwidth, so if you want to ensure your games go uninterrupted while everyone else can still enjoy their devices, then the Netgear EX8000 is worth a look.
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.
Three Gigabit Ethernet ports
Can extend Wi-Fi into dead zones
Takes up two outlets
No passthrough plug
Sensitive to electrical wiring issues
While most Wi-Fi extenders simply act as repeaters that work over your existing Wi-Fi connection, TP-Link’s TL-WPA8630 takes a different approach; it’s a powerline adapter, which means that it uses your home wiring, extending the signal through the copper in your walls, setting up its own Wi-Fi network on the other end.
The AV1300’s AC1350 Dual-Band network offers up to 1,300Mbps of throughput across both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, which means you’ll also get much faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi into places that the higher frequencies usually can’t penetrate. It can easily clone the SSID and password from your router so that all of your Wi-Fi devices can connect to it seamlessly whenever it offers the better signal, and it also offers three Gigabit Ethernet ports, so you can use it to extend access to wired devices as well.
The main advantage to this is that since the TL-WPA8630 doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi at all you can extend your wireless network coverage into complete dead zones, and it can be a much more cost-effective solution than buying a more expensive router just to get that extra coverage. The only caveat is that since the signal runs over your electrical wiring, maximum throughput can be hampered by household wiring issues.
"A Powerline Network Adapter can be a great way to extend coverage into areas where your Wi-Fi can't quite make it, but if you're looking to get maximum speeds, you'll want to make sure your home wiring can handle it." — Jesse Hollington, Tech Writer
If you're keen to extend the reach of your Wifi router, the Netgear Orbi brings together an excellent combination of wireless coverage and ease of use.
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.
Wi-Fi compatibility - Since an extender’s job is to rebroadcast your router’s signal, splurging on a fancy extender won’t get you very far if your router doesn’t support the latest standards, but if your router doesn’t support at least 802.11ac, you should consider upgrading anyway.
Single- or dual-band - Dual-band extenders feature a 2.4GHz band and a 5GHz band. If your router has dual bands, you’ll want to get an extender to match, ensuring the fastest speeds.
Security - If security is an issue—and it should be—buy an extender with the latest Wi-Fi Protected Access version, which is WPA2-PSK (AES). This encryption method prevents just about anyone from breaking into your network.
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 promote 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.
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 too much distance, especially as it goes through doors, walls, floors, appliances, and other obstacles.
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. 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. Therefore, everything on your network has the fastest possible connection, and you don’t experience congestion because you have too many devices trying to take the same path.
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. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
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.
A Wi-Fi repeater is pretty much what it sounds like—it’s a device that repeats the Wi-Fi signal. It works by rebroadcasting the signal to a larger area.
Wi-Fi range extenders boost your Wi-Fi coverage by linking into your network. Unlike a repeater, which creates a new wireless network, an extender taps into your existing network.
These days, it’s less common to see single-band technology. Most of the products you’ll see will be either dual-band or tri-band. Dual-band simply means two signal frequency bands, and tri-band means three signal frequency bands. Traditionally, dual-band routers have a 2.4GHz band and a 5GHz band, while tri-band routers have one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands. The 5GHz band is faster but it doesn’t have as long of reach, the 2.4GHz band tends to have a longer reach but is not as fast.
While tri-band does offer the benefit of a third band, you can find quality dual-band and tri-band Wi-Fi extenders. An example of an excellent dual-band system is Google Nest Wi-Fi. An example of a tri-band mesh network is the Orbi Tri-Band 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.
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 could purchase compatible satellites).
With a repeater or 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 you can find a decent product for around $50.
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.
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.
When choosing a product, 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.
Wireless extenders should (at minimum) support basic wireless security protocols, like WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), WPA2, and/or WPA3. 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Amazon’s Eero provides fast speeds, Alexa compatibility, and a streamlined app. However, the advanced filtering and security features require a subscription.
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.