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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
Easy to set up
5GHz performance suffers
No outlet pass-through
TP-Link’s RE200 extender is a good option for anyone with modest performance needs and an even better choice for anyone with a compatible TP-Link OneMesh router.
There’s nothing quite like setting up your Wi-Fi network only to find that it doesn’t reach every corner of the home. Whether it’s due to the power of your router, the size of your dwelling, or the walls and other obstructions within, a dead zone can put a real cramp on your ability to stream media, do work, and avoid maxing out your phone’s data plan.
Luckily, Wi-Fi range extenders can help alleviate the issue by rebroadcasting your Wi-Fi signal to the furthest reaches of your home. On the low end is something like the TP-Link RE200 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender, a simple, affordable plug-and-play model that doesn’t require much tinkering or tech know-how. However, it also doesn’t have a lot of advanced features or top-end performance.
Still, if you have a smaller home and/or modest internet speeds, this easy-to-use $30 device could do the trick. I tested the TP-Link RE200 AC750 in my house for several days, streaming media, playing online games, and testing the speeds from various distances.
Some Wi-Fi extenders are as large as the typical router 404, or even larger—but not the TP-Link RE200. This sleek little plug-in model is just 4 inches tall and about 2.5 inches across, with a curvy design that has an attractive textured finish.
It doesn’t have a pass-through plug for your wall outlet, but thankfully the compact design should only take up one plug on your outlet, leaving the other one free. The RE200 also doesn’t have external antennas, so you don’t need to worry about them getting in the way.
There’s a small WPS button on the front for easy connectivity to your router, as well as signal lights to indicate the quality of your router connection and the status of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. On the bottom of the device is a single Ethernet port, which you can use to plug in a wired device to give it internet access, as well as a button for resetting the extender to its original factory settings.
It doesn’t have a pass-through plug for your wall outlet, but thankfully the compact design should only take up one plug on your outlet.
You have three different options for setting up the TP-Link RE200, all of which are pretty straightforward. With all three options, you’ll begin setup in close proximity to your router. The first setup option, which is what I chose, is to use TP-Link’s Tether app for iOS or Android devices. You’ll connect to the extender’s own Wi-Fi network, as indicated in the instructions, and then complete the steps to link to your home Wi-Fi network(s).
Another option is to use a web browser on your computer, with a pretty similar process thereafter via the web interface. Finally, the third option is to simply press the WPS button on your router (if it has one) and then press the WPS button on the extender. This is the simplest option, if your router supports it.
Once setup is complete, then it’s time to find a new location for the extender. TP-Link recommends plugging it in roughly halfway between your router and the dead zone in your home—and if the extender shows a green light on the Wi-Fi indicator once fully powered on, then it’s in an ideal location to repeat the signal. If you find that you have better connectivity in your previous dead zone, then you’re all set. If not, then experiment with other locations to try and find the sweet spot in your home to maximize the impact.
The TP-Link RE200 is capable of delivering speeds up to 300Mbps on 2.4GHz networks and 433Mbps on 5GHz networks, but your actual speeds will depend on factors such as the quality of your internet connection, your modem, and your router. That ought to cover entry-level and mid-range broadband connections, but if you pay for incredibly fast internet—say, 1Gbps or Gigabit internet—and routinely get strong speeds, then you’ll want a more capable extender.
I primarily tested the TP-Link RE200 in my office in my house, where I routinely see slower and sometimes inconsistent Wi-Fi speeds than when in closer proximity to my router. The RE200 clearly had an impact on both the speed and steadiness of the connection, with both my 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks showing full bars and typically delivering up to double the speed or more compared to my router’s own networks.
For example, in one test I registered 23Mbps download speed on the 2.4GHz network and 30Mbps on the 5GHz network in that room, but then pulled 63Mbps on the extender’s 2.4GHz network and 60Mbps on the extender’s 5GHz network. And the wired Ethernet port on the AC750 often boosted speeds further, providing 88Mbps download in that same testing window.
The 5GHz performance was a bit underwhelming, though, with other tested extenders better able to maintain the faster speeds allowed by the Wi-Fi band. You usually see less range but faster speeds with 5GHz networks, and distance testing showed that the 5GHz connection became much less consistent the farther I pulled away from it.
With the extender’s 2.4GHz network, I measured speeds of 45Mbps at 25 feet, 23Mbps at 50 feet, and 17Mbps at 75 feet. But with the 5GHz network, the speeds and stability fell much faster, with 23Mbps at 25 feet, just 7Mbps at 50 feet, and then a slight uptick to 11Mbps at 75 feet.
The 5GHz performance was a bit underwhelming, though, with other tested extenders better able to maintain the faster speeds allowed by the Wi-Fi band.
When it came to gaming, I saw pretty smooth performance while playing Rocket League over both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, measuring around 38-42 ping on both networks. The ping dropped a little bit via the wired Ethernet connection, but curiously also introduced little spurts of lag that weren’t as common via the extended Wi-Fi networks.
There is one big annoyance with the TP-Link RE200, however: if you don’t have a compatible TP-Link router, then the extender will create separate versions of your networks. For example, “Home” would be joined by “Home-EXT.” With a compatible TP-Link router, though, the extender would keep the same name and your phone, laptop, and other devices would just maintain a steady connection throughout your house’s mesh network.
My older TP-Link router isn’t compatible with the company’s OneMesh platform, so I had to deal with the separate networks. That creates an issue when you’re still connected to the EXT network but are closer to your router, or vice versa, and then the speeds start to suffer. It adds a manual layer of hassle to the experience.
Price is definitely one of the strongest suits here. 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. It may not be a seamless mesh network if you lack a recent, compatible TP-Link router, however, and it won’t hit the higher speeds that some pricier extenders provide. You can do better, but you’ll probably have to spend a lot more to do so.
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.
There’s a $100 difference in price between these plug-in extenders—and given that the price on this device is just $30, that’s a pretty significant multiplier. No doubt, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 (see on Best Buy) has some major advantages, ranging from higher overall speed capabilities to steadier 5GHz performance and seamless mesh networking. Is it worth the extra $100? Absolutely. But if your internet needs are modest and you don’t want to shell out major cash to stretch your Wi-Fi a little bit further, then TP-Link’s cheap RE200 can get the core job done.
Small, cheap, and potentially good enough to get the job done.
If you have modest broadband speeds and just need a little help to stretch your Wi-Fi network into certain spaces, then the TP-Link RE200 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender may be an appealing option. It’s definitely less appealing if you can’t take advantage of TP-Link’s OneMesh hardware platform, and it won’t be able to replicate the full extent of a very high-speed broadband connection. Still, for a lot of people, this cheap, simple extender could be enough.