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Best Wi-Fi extenders of 2021: top devices for boosting your WiFi network

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Included in this guide:

A set of wi-fi extenders against a gray background with the words best Wi-Fi extenders next to it
We’ve gathered up the best wi-fi extenders for you to check out. (Image credit: Future)

Take a look at one of the best Wi-Fi extenders on the market if you’re having problems with your internet. Also known as Wi-Fi boosters or repeaters, these add-ons are a great way to not only extend the outer reaches of your internet connection but also take care of any weak or dead spots you may have in your area of coverage. And, if you’ve tried one before, just know they’ve come a long way since first being introduced and can really improve your network.

Not only is getting a Wi-Fi extender a great way to improve your internet’s reach, but it’s an affordable way to do so since you won’t have to replace your current router. That’s not to say that they’re the right solution for every situation. If you’re using an older router and want to cover a large home or office, upgrading to a mesh Wi-Fi router might be the ideal solution. Or, if you’re looking for better overall speed, consider something with Wi-Fi 6 support. However, most people’s routers are fine but just need a little help. So, adding a Wi-Fi booster is the more reasonably priced way to go.

Now that kids are back in school, you don’t want anyone blaming your network for not finishing their coursework. To help solve your network blues, we’ve rounded up our top picks of best Wi-Fi boosters here. If you’re not sure whether you should buy a Wi-Fi extender or not, we’ll discuss the differences as well. And, make sure to check out our included price comparison tool to get the best deals available. 

Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: Netgear)

1. Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band WiFi Extender

The best Wi-Fi extender in 2021

Specifications
Bands: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4/5GHz simultaneous
Connectivity: 4 x RJ-45 10/100/1000M LAN ports
Features: Tri-band
Reasons to buy
+Fast speeds and dependable network coverage+Easy setup to create a mesh network
Reasons to avoid
-Large and bulky

If you're after a Wi-Fi extender that provides best-in-class performance for expanding your wireless network throughout your home, then the Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000 Tri-band WiFi Extender is the one for you. You can use this extender to create a mesh network, so you have a single, large, Wi-Fi network, rather than smaller separate ones. This allows you to easily roam your house, and your device will seamlessly keep connected. It's expensive, but it's the best Wi-Fi extender you can buy right now, offering fast speeds and dependable network coverage throughout your home.

TP-Link RE605X WiFi 6 Range Extender at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Simple set-up and solid performance

Specifications
Bands: 802.11ax 2.4GHz + 5.0GHz
Connectivity: 1x Gigabit Ethernet
Features: Wi-Fi 6, Intelligent Signal Light, TP-LINK Tether App
Reasons to buy
+Affordable Wi-Fi 6 range extender+Works with any router
Reasons to avoid
-Only dual-band support, and 1800Mbps speed

If you’re looking to extend your newly-minted Wi-Fi 6 network to all four corners of your home, TP-Link’s RE605X WiFi 6 Range Extender is worth taking a look. It’s as affordable and as easy to set up as the RE650 extender while being backwards compatible with older Wi-Fi 5 routers. It isn’t just for the less savvy users, however. The RE605X also provides a web browser interface for more experienced users who want more control over their network settings.

Read the full review: TP-Link RE605X WiFi 6 Range Extender

Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 at an angle on a white background

(Image credit: Netgear)

3. Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 Mesh Range Extender

The best affordable Wi-Fi range extender

Specifications
Bands: 802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz
Connectivity: 2 x Ethernet
Features: Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPS), Mesh connectivity
Reasons to buy
+Small design+Powerful enough for 4K content
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than most extenders

Bring the power and convenience of a mesh network to your home with the Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700. Not only does this extend the area of your Wi-Fi network, but it creates a seamless Wi-Fi network throughout your home or office - so you don't need to switch networks while moving around.

Thanks to the powerful hardware inside the Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700, you can stream 4K content, play games and hook up all kinds of devices to your Wi-Fi network without a hitch. The included Ethernet ports are also a nice addition for bringing your network to wired devices.

TP-Link RE350 AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender from a side angle on a white background

Simple and easy to use

Specifications
Bands: 802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz
Connectivity: 1 x Ethernet
Features: Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPS), LED shows connection strength for easy placement
Reasons to buy
+Good Wi-Fi performance at a competitive price+Extra Ethernet port is really handy for older PCs
Reasons to avoid
-Set-up takes a little while

TP-Link is a Chinese networking company that has been steadily gaining popularity in the west, and for good reason. With devices like the TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range extender, it’s easy to get why: this extender – among the best Wi-Fi extenders you can buy right now – does the job well, and it’s affordable. It’s not going to be the fastest Wi-Fi extender out there, but with the range this extender provides at the price it’s available at, it’s a steal. Finally, thanks to an LED signal indicator on the front, installation is a breeze.

Read the full review: TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender

Devolo Mesh WiFi 2 and two nodes on a white background

(Image credit: Devolo)

All-in-one PowerLine and mesh networking kit

Specifications
Bands: 802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz
Connectivity: 4 x RJ-45 10/100/1000M LAN ports
Features: multi-user MIMO technology, future-proofed G.hn Wave 2 standard, access point steering
Reasons to buy
+Mesh Wi-Fi networking+Two Gigabit Ethernet ports on each adaptor
Reasons to avoid
-Unhelpful app and documentation

Extend your network through thick walls and into the furthest corners of your space with the Devolo Mesh WiFi 2. Boasting both mesh Wi-Fi features and versatile powerline connectivity, this device can even follow you and your mobile devices around, automatically switching you to the closest adaptor and the fastest Wi-Fi band. It even has three adaptors that give you five Gigabit Ethernet ports for fast, wired connections. This is the best Wi-Fi extender for games consoles, smart-TVs and other devices that work best with wired connections.

Read the full review: Devolo Mesh WiFi 2

Netgear Orbi Whole Home Mesh WiFi System on a white background

(Image credit: Netgear)

6. Netgear Orbi Whole Home Mesh WiFi System

Fast, affordable, tri-band mesh Wi-Fi

Specifications
Speed: IEEE 802.11ac dual-band with 1x 2.4GHz (400Mbps), 1x 5GHz (866Mbps)
Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
Features: Beamforming implicit and explicit for 2.4GHz/5GHz bands
Reasons to buy
+Affordable dual-band mesh Wi-Fi system+Good performance for mid-sized spaces
Reasons to avoid
-Only one Ethernet port for wired connections

The tri-band Orbi Whole Home AC1200 offers solid performance at a reasonable price, and will be a good choice for most small and medium-size homes that need to improve their Wi-Fi coverage. It’s simple to set-up and use for newcomers, although Netgear’s decision to use Disney’s subscription-based Circle service for parental controls is discouraging, considering that rival routers and mesh systems have often provided better parental controls for free. The lack of Ethernet ports for wired connections as well as more advanced features in the Orbi app might turn off experienced users as well.

Linksys Velop Wi-Fi extender from aside angle on a white background

(Image credit: Linksys)

Layman’s mesh Wi-Fi comes at a cost

Specifications
Bands: 802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz
Connectivity: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet per unit (1 WAN and 1 LAN each)
Features: App-based setup; dual-stream (2x2), 802.11ac networking; 716MHz quad-core ARM Cortex A7 processor, beamforming
Reasons to buy
+Fully modular mesh network+Inconspicuous design
Reasons to avoid
-Performance too dependent on position

The Linksys Velop offers a solid argument for a wireless mesh network’s ease of setup. Looking to replace both your router and your now-antiquated range extender, the Velop comes at a time when companies like Google and Netgear are trying to accomplish the same thing. The main way Linksys hopes to stand out from its competitors in the wireless mesh networking space is with a user-friendly setup that anyone with a smartphone can easily do. With just a visit to the App Store or Google Play marketplace, you’ll have the Linksys Velop up and running in a matter of minutes. It's certainly a worthy addition to our list of the best Wi-Fi extenders.

Read the full review: Linksys Velop

Trendnet Wi-Fi Everywhere Powerline 1200 AV2 on a white background

Two birds with one stone

Specifications
Bands: : 802.11n (up to 300Mbps) 802.11ac (up to 866Mbps)
Connectivity: : 3x Gigabit LAN ports
Features: : 300m range over electrical power lines, Auto-connects to other TRENDnet powerline adapters, QoS Management support
Reasons to buy
+Easy to set up and straightforward to reconfigure+Three LAN ports
Reasons to avoid
-Flawed Design

If you need a great way to upgrade your network so you can have fantastic coverage anywhere in your house, a powerline adapter is a remarkable option. Not only do they offer the same functionality as the best Wi-Fi extenders, but the Trendnet Wi-Fi Everywhere Powerline might just be a dream come true.

It’s not exactly visually pleasing, and the price tag may be a bit much. However, this unit more than makes up for those issues with sheer performance. And, unlike other powerline adapters, the Trendnet Wi-Fi Everywhere features a clone button that will clone the SSID and WPA key of your network so that it can double as a Wi-Fi extender.

Read the full review: Trendnet Wi-Fi Everywhere powerline 1200 AV2 

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Linksys Velop 

Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ from a side angle on a background

(Image credit: Linksys)

9. Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender

Another great compact Wi-Fi extender

Specifications
Bands: : 802.11ac dual-band
Connectivity: : 1x Gigabit LAN ports
Features: Seamless roaming, deadspot finder
Reasons to buy
+Easy to set up+Compact size
Reasons to avoid
-Can run hot-Not the best performance

If you want a small, discrete, Wi-Fi extender that will reliably spread the coverage of your network throughout your home or office, then the Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender is a great choice. It's small enough that it won't block other power outlets (like some larger Wi-Fi extenders can do), and it offers pretty good performance for a nice low price. Best of all, it comes with a 'dead spot' finder that allows you to locate where your network strength is the weakest. By installing it there, you should see a nice boost to your Wi-Fi.

ProductPlume SuperpodsNetgear AC1200 WiFi Range Extender EX6150D-Link Wi-Fi Dual Band Range Extender DAP-1520TP-Link RE350 AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender5. Linksys RE6500 AC1200 Dual-Band Wireless Range ExtenderD-Link DAP-1320 Wireless N300 Range ExtenderLinksys Velop Wi-Fi extenderTrendnet Wi-Fi Everywhere Powerline 1200 AV2
Bands802.11b/g/n/ac802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz802.11n 2.4GHz802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz802.11n (up to 300Mbps) 802.11ac (up to 866Mbps)
Connectivity2x Gigabit LAN ports1x Gigabit LAN portsN/A1x Gigabit LAN ports4 x Ethernet, Audio JackN/A2 x Gigabit Ethernet per unit 3x Gigabit Ethernet ports

Do you need a Wi-Fi extender or a new wireless router?

If you’re trying to diagnose your internet woes and deciding between replacing your router or adding an extender, you should consider a few things. If you’re having trouble with getting a solid connection regardless of how close you are to the router or how many devices are connected to it, chances are adding an extender won’t help. That poor quality connection won’t get any better, it just will have a larger range. 

Getting a newer wireless router is a must in that case, since the connection itself will be robust only with a better device at the heart of your network. Upgrading the router to a newer one that can handle more devices or has Wi-Fi 6 support will also be the better way to go if you have a slow connection.

However, you’ll want to invest in a Wi-Fi extender if your router is just not reaching where you want it to. For example, maybe you want your network to cover a couple floors of a house or building but some rooms are just not getting a signal. An extender is the perfect solution as it will take the existing signal, strengthen it and extend its reach so that you can access it or get a better connection where you couldn’t before.

It’s also important to consider the price. While there are some extenders that come with price tags comparable to a new router, most are quite a bit cheaper. Many of the top wireless routers and mesh router systems, which are just as great at covering a large area, start at £200/$200, while most boosters will cost about half of that. 

If some of your devices are getting a good connection or the internet gets better the closer you are to the router, save some money and add an extender. But, if you’re having issues with your entire network, consider a new router instead.

How do we test WiFi Extenders?

TechRadar tests Wi-Fi extenders in a variety of ways, from how easy they are to connect and setup, what apps or software they might come with, and of course, how much increase you get to the range of your wireless internet.

Features will be noted, we check to see if Wi-Fi 6 is supported, as well as if they're able to connect to any existing router and if the products are Dual-band or Tri-band compatible. As a Wi-Fi extender is designed to support an existing router, and not act as a dedicated router in itself, you'll likely want to check if your wireless router isn't up to scratch before you spend serious money on an extender.

A series of benchmarks are used to determine how effective a Wi-Fi extender is, using applications like the Ookla Speed test and the Steam game download client to test how many megabytes per second of data is achievable in different locations of a home, such as right beside the extender itself and behind partition walls that could block a signal.

How does a Wi-Fi Extender work?

Wifi extenders, repeaters and boosters – what's the difference?

Wi-Fi extenders, also known as Wi-Fi boosters or repeaters, are largely the same thing under a different name. If you have areas of your home where your current wireless internet cannot reach, they're the perfect piece of kit to boost your existing signal.

They're typically easy to use and set up, with most simply plugging into an available AC outlet in your wall, though some can resemble a stand-alone router.

Naming conventions appear to be a branding decision, but there are a few different ways that Wi-Fi extenders work. The most common is that your booster or extender houses two wireless routers, much like the wireless router you already have at home, or in your place of work. One of these wireless routers picks up the existing Wi-Fi network and then passes that to the secondary router which transmits the boosted signal.

It's worth noting that many Wi-Fi extenders broadcast on a new Wi-Fi network with its own name, so you'll need to connect to a different Wi-Fi signal depending on where you are in your home. As most devices will automatically connect to a trusted signal, this isn't likely to cause too much of an issue.

Matt Hanson

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.