Fast, reliable WiFi used to be a luxury, but it's become a necessity in the age of video conferencing, streaming, and online gaming. If you live in a big home, or your place has thick walls, you may have run into the problem of "dead zones," or places where your WiFi slows down or cuts off completely. One way to solve this technical problem is by installing a WiFi range extender, which, true to its name, can carry the WiFi signal from your router to far-flung corners of your home.

WiFi range extenders are an inexpensive, unobtrusive way to ensure your wireless network covers your entire place, and require virtually no maintenance. Once they're set up — a process that typically requires you to download an app and run through a few quick steps — you never have to bother with them again. WiFi range extenders don't require any cables, either, as they plug directly into any outlet in your home. These days, WiFi range extenders are designed to only take up one outlet, so they won't jut out and block a second one.

If you've been struggling with inconsistent WiFi, getting a range extender is one of the most cost effective ways to definitively solve the problem, and we've found the best WiFi extenders available.

— Best Overall: TP-Link RE700X
— Best Budget: Netgear EX3700
— Best for Big Homes: Linksys RE7000
— Best for Eero: Eero Beacon

How We Picked The Best WiFi Range Extenders

Our WiFi range extender recommendations are based on a mix of hands-on testing and research. Here are the factors you should consider before making a purchase:

Range: A WiFi range extender can typically carry a signal to cover a space of between 1,000 to 2,500 square feet. We recommend performing a handful of internet speed tests in various parts of your home to determine how far you need to extend your WiFi network. In general, getting a WiFi range extender that can cover the most ground is the best option, but you'll be able to save quite a bit of money if you can get away with a less powerful model that can still sufficiently cover your entire space.

Speed: WiFi range extenders can support speeds of up to 400 Mbps (megabits per second), which will allow you to stream videos in 4K, download large files very quickly, play games with little to no lag, and video chat without cutting in and out. It's important to note that the speed of your WiFi range extender will be limited by your current internet package. If your WiFi range extender supports faster speeds than you're paying for, you won't get to take full advantage of it.

Ports: Some WiFi range extenders have an Ethernet port built into them, which allows you to physically connect a computer or game console to it. This is a helpful feature if the device you're using doesn't support WiFi, or has weak WiFi performance.

Best WiFi Extenders: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: TP-Link RE700X

(Ready for) Zoom, Zoom, Zoom. TP-Link

Why It Made The Cut: TP-Link's RE700X works with the fastest version of WiFi, and makes identifying and troubleshooting problems a breeze.

Specs:
Range: 1,500 square feet
Speed: 2,402 Mbps
Ports: One Ethernet

Pros:
— Ultra-fast speed
— WiFi 6 support
— LED indicators

Cons:
— Large and obtrusive

TP-Link's RE700X is fast, smart, and has deliberate design choices that make it easier to use. The RE700X's performance in terms of both speed and range put it on par with many standalone WiFi routers. In some ways, it bridges the gap between WiFi range extenders and a piece of a multi-router mesh WiFi system. It's the only range extender we're recommending that supports WiFi 6, which is currently the fastest version of the wireless standard. WiFi 6 networking hardware allows for faster speeds, and better performance under heavy usage. This means the RE700X will be able to handle being connected to several devices doing demanding tasks without slowing down. It's worth repeating that the performance of your WiFi range extender will be based on the Internet package you've chosen. If you have an ultra-fast connection, the RE700X will be able to take advantage of it.

In our experience, TP-Link's networking hardware has been pretty easy to set up and manage. Its Tether app is well organized, and simplifies the process of identifying and troubleshooting problems. In fact, you may not have to rely on an app to tell you that something is wrong with your WiFi range extender. The RE700X has a series of LEDs on its front side that indicate whether it's receiving power, connected to a WiFi network, and using the 2.4GHz (gigahertz) frequency, 5GHz frequency, or both. If one of the lights is out, you'll know what the problem is.

TP-Link packed its WiFi range extender full of technology, but this performance came at the cost of aesthetics. The RE700X is bulky and looks like a gadget, which is fine, but may annoy you if you plan on installing your WiFi range extender in a prominent place in your home. You'll get used to it, but you may have to explain what it is to guests. We're happy that TP-Link chose function over form, but we feel it's worth calling out. If you have a lot of internet-connected gadgets in your home, or live with multiple people who need to use the Internet constantly for work or school, TP-Link's RE700X is the right choice.

Best Budget: Netgear EX3700

Rock Solid. NETGEAR

Why It Made The Cut: Netgear's EX3700 offers great performance in a compact package at an excellent price.

Specs:
Range: 1,200 square feet
Speed: 750 Mbps
Ports: One Ethernet

Pros:
— Small
— Ethernet port
— Indicator lights

Cons:
— So-so range

If your WiFi range extender needs are more modest, Netgear's EX3700 should have no problem satisfying them.

In some ways, Netgear decided to sacrifice some performance in the name of size, which may be a worthwhile tradeoff if you live in a relatively small place. It's designed to cover spaces up to 1,200 square feet, which is less than our other WiFi range extender recommendations, but not by much. It has LED indicator lights, but they only display whether it's online, connected to your router, and connected to devices. If you want more information, you'll have to use Netgear's WiFi Analyzer app, which also offers feedback on the best spot to install the EX3700.

While it doesn't have many frills, we're pleased to see that the EX3700 has an Ethernet port, which isn't a given for WiFi range extenders in its price range. Netgear didn't cut any major corners when designing this WiFi range extender, and it's a great choice for anyone in a two room apartment or single floor home who's experiencing internet connectivity issues. For more options, check out our guide to the best Netgear routers.

Best for Big Homes: Linksys RE7000

Go the Distance. Linksys

Why It Made The Cut: The range on Linksys' RE7000, coupled with its other technical features, makes it a standout WiFi range extender.

Specs:
Range: 2,000 square feet
Speed: 1,733 Mbps
Ports: Four Ethernet, one headphone

Pros:
— Excellent range
— Beamforming support
— Gigabit Ethernet port

Cons:
— Bulky
— No LEDs

If you live in a large home, Linksys' RE7000 should be the only WiFi range extender you should consider.

The device can cover an area of up to 2,500 square feet, which is nearly double the amount of our other range extender recommendations. It was held back from the top spot in our guide because it doesn't support WiFi 6, but it has plenty of other impressive technical features, like support for beamforming.

Beamforming is a technology that allows a WiFi range extender or router to detect where the devices that are connected to it are located. If a lot of devices are connected in a single area, it'll focus its signal strength and bandwidth there rather than spreading it around evenly. This feature, which is triggered automatically, may save you from having to get multiple WiFi range extenders to cover different areas.

We're disappointed that the RE7000 doesn't have an array of LEDs on its front side given how thick it is. To diagnose problems, you'll have to hop into Linksys' app. That's fine, but we would have liked to have seen Linksys take full advantage of the RE7000's larger size. That said, we're happy that the Ethernet port built into it supports ultra-fast Gigabit speeds.

If you live in a multi-story home, and need a quick way to get WiFi to every inch of the place, Linksys' RE7000 is the WiFi range extender to get.

Best for Eero: Eero Beacon

Feel the Future. eero

Why It Made The Cut: If you need to extend the reach of a WiFi network created by an Eero router, the company's Beacon is your best choice.

Specs:
Range: 1,500 square feet
Speed: 350 Mbps
Ports: None

Pros:
— Consistent performance
— Easy to manage
— Doubles as a night light

Cons:
— Only works with Eero routers
— No Ethernet port

Eero practically invented the modern mesh WiFi router business, so it's no surprise that its Beacon range extender is one of the best we've tested.

In our experience, the sleek-looking range extender was easy to add to our Eero system using the company's excellent app, which is available on iOS and Android. Once the Beacon was integrated into the system, it immediately started working, and extended our network into a couple of rooms where we'd previously had slow WiFi. We changed the location of the Eero Beacon a couple of times to see if we could significantly reduce its performance, and were pleased to see the changes we made didn't have a huge impact on how well it worked. We were equally impressed by its ability to quickly re-add itself to our network after being disconnected from power.

Eero designed the Beacon with a secondary function that we found was actually useful: It has an LED on its underside that can automatically turn on at night. This allows you to use the Eero Beacon as a night light, which is especially useful if you keep it plugged into an outlet in your hallway. Eero allows you to disable this feature, so you don't have to worry about it annoying you if it's installed in your bedroom.

The Eero Beacon's biggest strength is that it was designed by a company that understands how to make cutting-edge WiFi hardware. The Beacon will download and install software updates automatically at a pre-set time, so it doesn't knock down your network in the middle of your workday. You can take advantage of some of Eero's optional premium features to add an extra layer of security to your Internet use at the router level.

The downside to using the Eero Beacon is that it only works on a WiFi network with other Eero hardware. This tight integration is what makes the Eero Beacon so great, but it'll require you to buy into the Eero ecosystem, and stay there unless you want to replace all your gear. We generally like Eero's WiFi hardware, so that's hardly a bad thing, but it's a decision you'll have to make for yourself. This is also the only WiFi range extender in our guide not to feature an Ethernet jack, which may be a dealbreaker if you need to make a wired connection to a particular device.

Things to Consider Before Buying a WiFi Range Extender

Mesh WiFi vs. Range Extenders

If you're looking for a permanent solution to your WiFi woes, you may be deciding between getting a range extender or a mesh WiFi system, here are the main differences between those two options.

A mesh WiFi system consists of multiple full powered routers. Each router in a mesh WiFi system is faster and has further reach than a  range extender, and they seamlessly connect to one another to create a giant, high-speed network. The downsides to a mesh WiFi network is that the equipment is expensive — unless you buy one router at a time, which is less cost effective than getting a two or three pack in the long run. Routers in a mesh WiFi system are also larger than any WiFi range extender, and require you to plug a separate power cable into a wall.

WiFi range extenders may be slower and less powerful, but the difference is only noticeable if you live in a really big place, and use a lot of bandwidth all the time. In fact, if you have a slower cable internet package, the speed differences between a mesh WiFi router and range extender will be negligible or nonexistent. Another benefit of using a WiFi range extender is that it can be plugged directly into the wall, which greatly increases the number of places you can install it. To most people, a WiFi range extender will look like a night light, which it is, in some cases.

Both of these gadgets can solve the same problem, but we recommend giving an inexpensive WiFi range extender a try before deciding to go all-in on a mesh router system.

Placement: WiFi range extenders are designed to be installed at the midpoint between your WiFi router and the dead zone(s) in your home. This positioning gives it the greatest chance of receiving a clear signal from your WiFi router, and extending it as far as possible.

FAQs

Q: Does the WiFi range extender I choose have to be made by the same company as my router?

Not typically. WiFi is a universally used technology, which means you can use a router and range extender from different companies without any loss in performance. In some cases, like the Eero Beacon, the range extender was designed to work with one specific system, but that's the exception, not the rule.

Q: How do I responsibly dispose of my old WiFi range extender?

If you're replacing an old WiFi range extender, we recommend reading our guide on how to responsibly dispose of e-waste.

Q: How long will a WiFi range extender last?

WiFi range extenders don't need to be replaced for several years, but you may need to get an additional one if you move into a bigger space.

Q: Does my WiFi range extender need to be physically connected to my router?

No. A WiFi range extender will connect to your router wirelessly. During the setup process, the range extender will be added to your main WiFi network.

Q: Does my WiFi range extender need its own password?

No. Once it's configured, your WiFi range extender will use the same network name and password as your main router.

Final Thoughts on WiFi Range Extenders

WiFi range extenders are one of the few "quick fixes" in the tech world that are actually worth a look. They perform a single function very well, and solve a problem that's becoming increasingly common. If you've been dealing with a poor home WiFi network by ratcheting down the video quality on your video streaming service, relying on cellular data, or only performing some internet tasks in certain rooms of the house, having the best WiFi extender is a must-have tech accessory.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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