But Wi-Fi was not made in a perfect world. The Netgear EX6250 showed promise as one of the least expensive (about $90) mesh extenders capable of working with all routers. But a mesh Wi-Fi kit or even our upgrade extender pick is a better choice if you want to maximize speeds. If you find that your internet speed is subpar everywhere in your home, it may be worth revamping your entire system.
If you already have or don’t want a speaker, Netgear also offers Orbi satellites in desktop, wall-plug, or outdoor tabletop versions depending on your needs. It lacks an Ethernet port for connecting devices (such as desktop PCs or gaming consoles) to improve performance, so it’s strictly wireless-only. The Nighthawk’s huge size may rival that of a cereal box, but it holds six internal antennas, providing a strong signal and near-blanket coverage. As mesh systems become more popular, they’re becoming more affordable too—though new systems will still cost much more than the average extender. Eero Pro mesh WiFi system (1 Pro + 2 Beacons), This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. It extends your existing network under the same name, improves both reliability and speed in dead zones, and covers a larger area than standard extenders. We spaced the six client laptops so that they should naturally try to connect to the router or extender, whichever was closer, but we also grouped them close enough that some of the laptops could switch if necessary. With lagging internet speeds, it can be difficult to determine whether your entire router needs to be replaced or if you can just opt for an extender. This test measured throughput and speed, and—more important—put a constant load on the router that the other devices on the network had to work around. In contrast, our test router alone dropped the connection to our test laptops nearly a dozen times. TP-Link’s Archer RE505X Wi-Fi 6 extender is expected in March 2020 and will be priced around $70. Plus, it has a smart light indicator that helps you find the perfect placement if you’re unsure of the right area to put your extender. To choose these Wi-Fi extenders, we surveyed the market, evaluated models based on coverage, speed, cost, and design, and tested a few ourselves. At a typical price of $25, it’s a simple fix that costs a lot less than a major hardware upgrade. The TP-Link RE300 doesn’t have onboard Ethernet but does offer slightly better wireless coverage.
The majority support 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz frequency bands and are known as dual-band devices, but some cheaper options are only single-band and use 2.4 Ghz frequency to transmit data. The Netgear has two 5 GHz channels rather than one, and that extra channel serves exclusively for communication between the extender and the router, freeing up the other 5 GHz channel and the 2.4 GHz channel to serve your laptops and other devices.
If you have older devices that can connect only on the 2.4 GHz band, for example, you should use the 5 GHz band for the communication between the extender and the router.
Wi-Fi range extenders are sometimes called Wi-Fi boosters, Wi-Fi repeaters, internet boosters or Wi-Fi … Many of today’s extenders are now discreet units that look more like a nightlight or air freshener, but the RE650’s four antennas make it clear that it’s broadcasting something. But if you’re thinking about buying the EX7700 as well as a new router, you’re better off just starting from scratch with a dedicated mesh-networking kit. Also, it’s priced too high compared with the TP-Link RE300 and RE220. Plus, its four ethernet ports allow for multiple devices to hook up to the wired connection. The TP-Link RE300 was slightly better at our tests than the RE220 when OneMesh was off. However, single-band extenders have a farther range that can provide better coverage in spaces with many obstacles, such as walls and furniture. A lot of interesting Wi-Fi technologies are on the horizon. It also has an impressive total of five ethernet ports for when you need wired connection for devices like a hardwired printer, smart TV, or gaming console. Despite its sleek, compact design, it doesn’t sacrifice on any features—including dual-band AC1900 speeds, an ethernet port, and promised coverage area of up to 10,000 square feet. The Asus RP-AC55 test results show that it favored the test laptops that were downloading large files and streaming 4K videos over the three test laptops that were browsing; if you were Web surfing on that network at the time, you’d complain of longer waits and “slow Internet.” The Netgear EX7300 was in last place, producing a generally unpleasant experience all around, as shown by its much longer than average latencies.
It also keeps the same space-saving design with similar features as before, with three antennas and a dedicated ethernet port, but adds cloud-based app support for easier setup and configuration.
For the same price as a router plus the EX7700, a mesh-networking kit gives you even more value. It all happens automatically, so you don’t have to fiddle with settings once you’ve joined the network. How we test gear. If you have a good router that’s just one or two years old and you need faster or more reliable Wi-Fi in an area bigger than just one room, the more expensive Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 is a better choice than the simple TP-Link extenders. The TP-Link RE300 is more expensive, larger, and lacking an Ethernet port, but it performs slightly better than the RE220 in some situations. The next best options to improve your existing Wi-Fi router’s performance—our powerline networking pick or our upgrade Wi-Fi extender pick—are faster and maintain more stable connections than the RE220, but either one costs roughly five times as much for a relatively small improvement in most homes. The RE220 with OneMesh enabled is next down the chart, with latencies that were seconds longer than those of the EX7700; the RE300 with OneMesh disabled performed a bit worse than that. Usually, when you set up a Wi-Fi extender, you have to set up a different network name, or SSID (like “routername_ext”), and manually connect devices to it. This expansive coverage was impressive enough, but the power to manage the network through the app is another bonus. If that’s a regular issue, you can even set schedules for certain devices to access the internet.
After more than 30 hours of research and testing, we found that the inexpensive TP-Link RE220 will make your network noticeably more reliable in a small area. All you have to do is enter the common network name (SSID) on your phone or device, and your phone or device will automatically connect to the extender or router and choose between the 2.4 and 5 GHz channels based on whichever connection is the most efficient as you roam around your home. Even more than raw speed (in Mbps), high latency—basically just delays in the connection on your network—can cause slow browsing. While the Eero Pro with two beacons claims to cover a 5,500-square-foot home, if you don’t need nearly that much square footage covered, the standard Eero router for 1,500 square feet is a good alternative for much less. The TP-Link RE300 is larger and more expensive than the RE220, but it offers slightly more reliable Wi-Fi coverage, with zero dropouts in our testing. Several Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 extenders were introduced at this year’s CES trade show. Kits have a unified administration page or mobile app, which is a lot easier to manage than two separate ones (one for the extender and one for your standalone router).
Instead of just testing for the maximum throughput from a single laptop, we used six laptops, spaced around our New York test facility, to simulate the real-world activity of a busy home network.
At around $120, the Netgear Nighthawk X4 EX7300 is a mesh extender priced and positioned between the EX6250 and the router-like EX7700.
Jim Salter contributed to previous versions of this guide. Version 3 of the RE200 can be updated (via firmware) to work with OneMesh; you can check the label on the back of the extender to verify which version of the hardware you have. Just like the RE220, the RE300 reduced latency—the time you’re waiting for Web pages to begin loading—by a significant amount, especially when our test network was at its most congested. An extender should simply be placed somewhere where it can reach the router’s signal, so that it can then rebroadcast it to cover more area. Higher-end tri-band extenders, which feature two 5-GHz bands and one 2.4-GHz band, cost more but give you the best coverage with the least interference. Unlike the regular Wi-Fi extenders, which improved our test network’s reliability but gave up some speed, the EX7700 improved our Wi-Fi in every way. This result shows that mesh isn’t a panacea in all situations, and for now, we recommend using the RE300 with OneMesh turned off. The 6 Best Routers To Flood Your Home With Wi-Fi, This Hobbit Sword Lights Up in the Presence of Wi-Fi, Flight Delayed Due to Name of Wi-Fi Hotspot. If you already have a router and just want to add the satellite as a two-in-one extender and smart speaker, it’s rated to cover an additional 2,000 square feet with speeds up to 2.2Gbps.