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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
Wi-Fi 6 capable
Remote control with Tether app
OneMesh is only compatible with select routers
Wi-Fi 6 router needed for optimal performance
The TP-Link RE505X is a reliable dual-band Wi-Fi extender that offers cool perks like Wi-Fi 6, app setup, and OneMesh technology, but the device has yet to reach its full potential due to current compatibility issues.
Wi-Fi Extenders like TP-Link’s RE505X serve as an easy and affordable means by which to extend your Wi-Fi signal range. The TP-Link RE505X costs around $90, which is inexpensive when compared to a modern Wi-Fi router, but on the higher end of range extenders. This is because it offers Wi-Fi 6 compatibility, dual bands, and other features that you typically won’t find in a budget Wi-Fi extender. Should you pay a premium for these features? Is the TP-Link RE505X worth it? I tested the RE505X for two weeks to see how its design, performance, range, software, and price stack up against other options on the market.
The RE505X Wi-Fi Extender is a white rectangular box that plugs into a wall outlet. It’s somewhat large, measuring almost 5 inches tall, just under 3 inches wide, and just under 2 inches in thickness, but it has a monotone color scheme and minimal branding that render it unassuming. It’s not colorful or loud in appearance, so even though it has two rather large antennas protruding from the sides, you still don’t really notice the device once it’s plugged into the wall. You can pivot the antennas down, as they swivel 180 degrees vertically.
On one side of the RE505X sits the WPS button and the indicator lights, while the other side houses the extender’s only Gigabit Ethernet port. There’s venting along the top and sides, along with a tiny reset button. The overall build quality is exceptional, and you can feel this is a high quality, well-built device.
The RE505X is a Wi-Fi 6 capable range extender. It can extend the Wi-Fi 6 signal from a Wi-Fi 6 router like the TP-Link Archer AX6000, but it can't give you an extended Wi-Fi 6 signal if you don’t already have a Wi-Fi 6 capable router in your home. If you have a Wi-Fi 5 router, it will extend the range of that signal, not create a Wi-Fi 6 signal. The RE505X is a dual-band AX1500 extender, meaning it can get up to 1200 Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. These are theoretical speeds though, and you are unlikely to see speeds this high as it cannot give you any speeds higher than your ISP delivers. On the plus side, the extender boasts adaptive path selection, which means it chooses the fastest connection to the router automatically. The extender does not, however, claim to have OFDMA or MU-MIMO—two features that are standard in Wi-Fi 6 routers.
You can customize how you want to use the RE505X, as it offers different modes. If you use the RE505X as a regular range extender, you’re basically grabbing your existing Wi-Fi signal and extending it to a larger coverage zone. You can also choose to use the RE505X as an access point, which turns a wired connection into a dual-band wireless signal.
OneMesh technology is probably one of the cooler features this unit offers. OneMesh lets you create a mesh network using existing TP-Link routers and extenders like the RE505X. The only problem with this feature is that only a handful of routers are currently compatible: The TP-Link Archer A6, C6, A7, and C7, none of which have Wi-Fi 6 technology.
On the bright side, TP-Link’s AX1100, AX6000, AX10, AX20, AX1500, and AX1800 routers are supposed to be getting OneMesh compatibility in a future firmware update. TP-Link has shown a pattern of putting out Wi-Fi 6 products before all of the features ready and in place. The brand put out its Archer AX6000 router before it had WPA3, and customers had to wait to get WPA3 with a firmware update. Now, with the RE505X, customers have to wait for OneMesh compatibility with Wi-Fi 6 routers, like the AX6000 router.
TP-Link has shown a pattern of putting out Wi-Fi 6 products before they completely have all of the features ready and in place.
I tested the TP-Link RE505X in my home, which is located in the Raleigh/Cary, NC area. I have Spectrum as my internet service provider, and my Wi-Fi speeds max out at 400 Mbps. My home is two levels, and at 3,000 square feet, it’s large enough to experience dead zones and slow zones with shorter range routers. The upstairs bedrooms, garage, and backyard are particularly prone to drop offs.
Like most other people working from home during the pandemic, network activity in my home has been especially heavy over the past few months—my kids are using cloud applications for virtual school, the adults in my house are working from home, more gaming is going on, and more Netflix streaming is happening than usual.
The RE505X is supposed to be able to handle up to 25 devices. I connected two PS4s, one gaming PC, three FireTV devices, three laptops, and two iPhones. Speeds remained steady at around 80 to 100 Mbps on the 5 Ghz band, and at around 20 Mbps over 2.4 Ghz. Even when I switched out my home router for a Wi-Fi 6 capable router, the speed remained under the 100 Mbps threshold. I was able to use multiple devices simultaneously without experiencing any drop offs, but I did see Speedtest results fall off when multiple people were on the EXT network at the same time.
The RE505X is supposed to be able to extend signal range by around 1,500 square feet. I found this to be an accurate representation. I was able to get the extended signal all over my house—in every bedroom, closet, and even outside in the backyard.
I was able to get the extended signal all over my house—in every bedroom, closet, and even outside in the backyard.
The Tether app makes setup super easy. Creating an extended network using the RE505X is self-explanatory using the app, and you can easily switch to access point mode at the press of a button. The Tether app allows you to customize your signal range, and indicate whether you want a longer range using more power or a shorter range signal that uses less power. The app also has features like location assistance to help find the best possible placement for your extender, as placement selection can be one of the more difficult parts of the setup process.
For $90, the TP-Link RE505X is priced in the upper-midrange. You can find a cheap, single band extender that doesn’t have a ton of features for as little as 20 bucks. Many Wi-Fi extenders and even inexpensive (or older) Wi-Fi routers support access point mode, so it’s not worth paying $90 for the RE505X simply for an access point. The Wi-Fi 6 capability, dual-band support, and OneMesh technology are what sets the RE505X apart, making it more costly than a budget unit.
The Netgear AX8 is also a Wi-Fi 6 range extender, but it’s a much higher tier unit than TP-Link’s RE505X. The AX8 has a dual core processor, MU-MIMO, four antennas, four LAN ports, and you can use it to easily create a mesh network with your existing router. If you have a high-end Netgear router, like a Netgear RAX120, the Netgear AX8 is an excellent addition, and you’ll get a premium whole-home networking experience. However, this premium experience will cost you, as the AX8 alone costs around $250.
The TP-Link RE505X is for those who want an affordable way to extend their 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz signals, while also getting a bit of future proofing. For those who have an existing TP-Link router, like the Archer A7, an
A dual-band Wi-Fi 6 range extender with some useful perks.
The TP-Link RE505X reliably extends a Wi-Fi signal, but the device is currently limited by the lack of compatible OneMesh products.
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