The most effective Wi-Fi extender for nearly everyone

The most effective Wi-Fi extender for nearly everyone

With many people sheltering in place and working from house as a result of coronavirus, regular, dependable Wi-Fi is extra essential than ever. And for those who’ve tried to arrange a house workplace that is slightly too far out of your router, you then’ve discovered the onerous approach — lifeless zones are an actual ache.

Enter the Wi-Fi vary extender. Just like the title suggests, it may well assist give your community a lift by receiving the wi-fi sign out of your router and reamplifying it additional out into your house. Most are a cinch to make use of, too — simply choose a great spot, plug it in and press the WPS button to sync it up along with your router. Usually, you’ll be able to even use extenders from a unique producer than your router. Better of all, you’ve got obtained loads of choices that will not value you very a lot.

However do not begin considering these items are interchangeable. I picked out a few of the main producers’ hottest, budget-friendly choices and spent a number of days testing them out. Most had been underwhelming, which is not too stunning once you’re speaking a few hunk of plastic that prices $30 or $40. One was an absolute standout, nonetheless, and powerful sufficient for me to say that it is the finest choose for nearly everyone. (Simply notice that I am testing from house and dealing with a restricted pattern dimension of gadgets — as soon as I can take a look at extra, I am going to replace this put up accordingly.)

Ry Crist/CNET

At $35, the TP-Hyperlink RE220 was the least costly vary extender I examined, however that did not cease it from outperforming all the pieces else I examined at each flip. It is quick, it is dependable, it really works with nearly each router on the market, and it is very easy to make use of.

Plug it in and press the WPS button to pair it with your house community, and it will start broadcasting its personal networks on the two.four and 5GHz bands. Each supplied regular speeds all through my whole house, together with common obtain speeds on the 5GHz band of a minimum of 75 megabits per second in each room I examined, together with robust add speeds, too. The RE220 by no means as soon as dropped my connection, and its speeds had been constant throughout a number of days of checks throughout each daytime and night hours.

Nothing else I examined was capable of match that degree of efficiency, which makes the RE220 a steal at $35. Higher but, it is at the moment on sale for a couple of dollars much less. All of that makes it an ideal alternative for anybody trying to enhance the sign to a again room that sits a bit too far past the router’s attain.

Learn extra about enhancing your house’s Wi-Fi.

Different extenders we examined

With two adjustable exterior antennas, the D-Hyperlink DAP-1620 is fairly highly effective for a budget-priced vary extender, nevertheless it wasn’t as constant as our high choose.

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D-Hyperlink DAP-1620: This was the one vary extender that ever managed to hit triple digits throughout my checks, with a mean pace of 104Mbps in my bed room throughout night hours. Setup was simply so simple as I skilled with TP-Hyperlink, too. I used to be capable of stream HD video, browse the net and make video calls on the extender’s community with none subject.

Community speeds had been inconsistent although — and far slower in daytime hours, with a much bigger dropoff than I noticed with TP-Hyperlink. The system additionally dropped my connection at one level throughout my pace checks. The app was too finicky for my tastes, too, refusing to let me log in and tweak settings with the provided system password, and finally forcing me to reset the system.

Software program woes apart, the {hardware} appears fairly good with this vary extender, and since it is not fairly the most recent mannequin from D-Hyperlink, there is a good likelihood yow will discover it on sale someplace. One vendor has it listed new on Amazon for about $40, however I would not spend greater than $30 on it given what the superior TP-Hyperlink RE220 prices.

The Netgear EX3700 wasn’t highly effective sufficient for the value.

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Netgear EX3700: It is a dated-looking system, and it wasn’t a very robust performer in my checks. The two.4GHz band was capable of maintain workable speeds between 30 and 40Mbps all through most of my house, which was robust sufficient to stream video with minimal buffering, or to carry a fast video name with a slight delay. However the 5GHz band was surprisingly weak, typically dropping into single digits with solely a single wall separating my PC from the extender. 

I wasn’t a fan of the net interface, both — it appeared extra all for getting me to register for the guarantee (and decide into advertising emails) than in truly providing me any form of management over the connection. There’s an app you should utilize, as an alternative, nevertheless it’s solely obtainable on Android gadgets. WPS button-based setup permits you to skip all of that, which is sweet — however nonetheless, with most shops providing it for about $50, that is one you’ll be able to safely skip.

The Linksys RE6350 left quite a bit to be desired.

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Linksys RE6350: My speeds had been in keeping with the RE6350 — they simply weren’t very quick. 

By default, the system robotically steers you between the two.four and 5GHz bands, however with obtain speeds starting from 10-35Mbps all through all of my checks over a number of days, it would as nicely simply default to the slower 2.4GHz band. The system helps computerized firmware upgrades, which is sweet, however you’ll be able to’t use the Linksys Wi-Fi app to tweak settings — as an alternative, you may must log in through the net portal.

On high of all that, the RE6350 appeared to be the least secure of all of the extenders I examined, with multiple dropped connection throughout my checks. At about $50, that is simply too many negatives for me to suggest it.

A earlier than and after in my again lavatory, the place it is typically tough to take care of a powerful Wi-Fi connection. The TP-Hyperlink RE220 (proper) did an ideal job of boosting speeds.

Ry Crist/CNET

How we examined them

Like a number of people, I am working from house lately, so I examined these vary extenders out on my house community, a 300Mbps AT&T fiber connection. My home is fairly small — simply 1,300 sq. ft — however the router AT&T supplied struggles to take care of a powerful sign at the back of the home.

You’ll be able to see the state of affairs clear as day once you take a look at the common speeds in every a part of the home. With my trusty laptop computer in hand, I moved from the lounge the place the router is situated to the adjoining kitchen, then a hallway lavatory, then my bed room, and eventually, a toilet within the very again of the home. In every room, I ran a number of pace checks and logged the outcomes. Then, I repeated the method in reverse, connecting within the again lavatory after which working my approach in the direction of the lounge. Lastly, I repeated the entire course of throughout night hours and averaged all the pieces collectively.

Speeds in my house fall off a cliff in that that again lavatory, the farthest room from the router.

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Certain sufficient, my common speeds plummeted in that again lavatory, the farthest room from the router. The general common throughout all checks was about 60Mbps, however that is overselling it. Add speeds the place sometimes within the single digits, and typically, my connection would drop after a couple of minutes within the room. Within the worst of my 4 take a look at runs, the common obtain pace in that again lavatory was simply 15Mbps.

You may desire a regular connection of a minimum of 20Mbps to be able to stream video and browse the net comfortably. Make that 50Mbps if you wish to stream in 4K. Similar goes for video calls, the place you may additionally need sturdy add speeds to match. 

If that again lavatory had been, say, a again workplace, I would be depressing. That introduced a transparent mission for my take a look at extenders. Which one would supply the most important, steadiest enhance to speeds within the again half of my house? 

To seek out out, I plugged every extender in one after the other and paired them with my router, linked my laptop computer to their extension networks, and repeated my pace checks. I positioned them within the corridor, midway between the spots the place I take a look at within the hallway lavatory and the master suite, and near the sting of the place I can get a powerful sign from the router. A superb extender ought to be capable to obtain a stable sign from the router at that distance, then beam its sign out farther than the community may initially lengthen.

Not one of the plug-in vary extenders I examined had been capable of hit blazing quick speeds — however the TP-Hyperlink and D-Hyperlink had been capable of maintain speeds at the back of my home which can be simply quick sufficient for streaming HD video or making FaceTime and Zoom calls.

Ry Crist/CNET

In the long run, every one was capable of preserve my connection in that again lavatory with out dropping me, however solely TP-Hyperlink and D-Hyperlink had been capable of maintain add and obtain speeds that had been quick sufficient for full web utilization. TP-Hyperlink’s 5GHz band was the strongest total, with a mean again lavatory obtain pace of about 75Mbps and a mean add pace simply above 50Mbps. I did not see a lot variance between take a look at rounds, both, even between daytime testing and night testing. 

Speeds had been robust all through the remainder of the home, as nicely, which means that the TP-Hyperlink RE220 gives the very best vary of the 4, too. Once I tried utilizing the TP-Hyperlink extender to make a FaceTime name, I used to be capable of transfer all through my whole home with out seeing any dips within the name high quality.

I am going to have a greater sense of vary as soon as I can resume full testing at our lab and on the 5,400-square-foot CNET Good Residence — however for now, all of that’s sufficient for me to name the RE220 the clear winner right here, particularly contemplating that it is the least costly possibility I examined.

Most plug-in vary extenders solely supply primary options at finest, however the TP-Hyperlink RE220 additionally features a sign power tester and a Excessive-Velocity Mode within the app.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Different issues to contemplate

Except for my pace checks, I made certain to stream video in my bed room on every extender’s community, and I made a number of video calls on every community, too. All 4 had been serviceable, however the TP-Hyperlink RE220 was the one one that did not current any points. My video was crisp and fast to load, and my video calls had been clear as may very well be.

Pairing a plug-in vary extender with your house community is as simple as urgent the WPS button.

Ry Crist/CNET

I additionally hung out taking part in with every extender’s settings. You should not anticipate a lot, however most will a minimum of make it simple to vary the extension community’s title or password. Some embody app controls with further options, too.

My high choose, the TP-Hyperlink RE220, makes it very easy to tweak settings through TP-Hyperlink’s Tether app on Android and iOS gadgets. Once more, the options make for slender pickings, however you’ll be able to test sign power or activate Excessive-Velocity Mode, which dedicates the two.4GHz band for site visitors from the router to the extender, leaving the 5GHz free to your regular community site visitors. That mode truly wasn’t as quick as sharing the 5GHz band like regular after I examined it out, as a result of these incoming 2.4GHz speeds are restricted, nevertheless it nonetheless could be a helpful possibility in some setups.

As for setting these vary extenders up, it’s best to know that it is about as painless because it will get. Most, together with all 4 that I examined, help Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or WPS, which is a common protocol that wi-fi networking gadgets can use to attach with one another. Simply plug the extender in, press the WPS button, after which press the WPS button in your router inside two minutes. 

It is also value ensuring that your vary extender consists of a minimum of one Ethernet jack. In case you can wire your system on to it, you then’ll take pleasure in speeds which can be as quick as doable.


A mesh router with its personal, devoted vary extenders will do an excellent higher job of spreading a speedy Wi-Fi sign all through your house. This setup from TP-Hyperlink is at the moment obtainable for lower than $200.

Ry Crist/CNET

Ought to I simply get a mesh router?

One final notice: In case you’re dwelling in a large-sized house, or for those who want speeds quicker than 100Mbps at vary, then it is in all probability value it to go forward and improve to a mesh router that comes with its personal range-extending satellite tv for pc gadgets. You have obtained extra choices than ever lately, together with three-piece setups from Eero, Netgear Orbi and TP-Hyperlink that value $250 or much less. Any of these would probably outperform a standalone router paired with a plug-in extender like those examined right here.

As an example, I had a three-piece TP-Hyperlink Deco M5 mesh router available, so I set it up and ran some pace checks alongside the vary extenders. The connection wasn’t fairly as regular as what I noticed after I examined an analogous three-piece Eero setup final yr, however my common speeds stayed nicely above 100Mbps all through my whole home, even within the again. Higher nonetheless, I did not have a number of networks and extension networks to leap between — all the pieces was consolidated to a single community. Easy!

Spend slightly extra on a mesh router, and yow will discover one which helps the most recent, quickest Wi-Fi 6 speeds, or one with a further 5GHz band which you can dedicate to site visitors between the router and the extenders. I’ve obtained a number of data on methods like these in my full mesh router rundown.

That stated, if all you want is to your present router to take care of a gradual sign one or two rooms farther into your house, then a easy vary extender will in all probability do exactly high-quality — particularly for those who purchase the suitable one. For my cash, that is the TP-Hyperlink RE220.

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