Wi-Fi dead zones can be very frustrating, and upgrading your router isn't always an option. A range extender can add some more Wi-Fi coverage to your existing network without needing to run an Ethernet line. It can also act as a middleman for devices with reduced Wi-Fi range. The TP-Link RE505X is the best overall range extender thanks Wi-Fi 6 speeds, OneMesh compatibility, and a compact design.
- Best Overall: TP-Link RE505X
- Best Value: TP-Link RE220
- Best Wi-Fi 6 Upgrade: Netgear Nighthawk EAX80
- Best Mesh Compatible: Asus RP-AC1900
- Best Powerline: TP-Link TL-WPA8630
- Best Coverage: Linksys RE9000
Best Overall: TP-Link RE505X
The TP-Link RE505X ticks all of the boxes when it comes to finding the best Wi-Fi router for most people. It supports Wi-Fi 6 for those that have already upgraded to the newer tech and still works with 802.11ac devices. This extender has a maximum throughput of 300Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1200Mbps at 5GHz.
Keep in mind that the extender must share this wireless connection with devices as well as the router backhaul. TP-Link has a trick for this called Fast Mode, which dedicates one of the Wi-Fi bands to the backhaul and one exclusively to connected devices. While this will cut overall speed down to the slowest band, it should still be enough for 4K streaming and browsing with a solid connection to the browser.
This router is a faulty common plugin design with two antennas on top. On the side, there is an Ethernet port that can be used for wired devices as well as a source to use RE505X as an access point. Finally, if you have a TP-Link router with OneMesh you can keep your single Wi-Fi name with faster switching between the router and extender.
- Wi-Fi 6 compatibility
- Fast Mode has a dedicated backhaul
- Ethernet port for wired devices
- No tri-band Wi-Fi
A great value with Wi-Fi 6
The TP-Link RE505X is a compact AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 range extender that can even work in a mesh with other TP-Link routers.
Best Value: TP-Link RE220
If you're just looking to add some stability to your Wi-Fi without a need for a ton of speed, the TP-Link RE220 is an excellent option with 802.11ac, Wi-Fi 5, wireless with speeds up to AC750. The speed breaks down into 433Mbps at 5GHz and 300Mbps at 2.4GHz. This extender can also operate in TP-Link's High-Speed Mode, which dedicates one of the bands to connect to your router with the other reserved for your Wi-Fi devices.
With a compact size and no external antennas, this extender is aimed more at filling in an area with spotty signal rather than covering a significant portion of your home. With an Ethernet port on the bottom, this is a great way to get a wired device connected like a desktop computer while avoiding adding antennas to the back of your PC or desk.
- Compact design
- High-Speed Mode improves performance
- No mesh features
- Relatively low speeds won't be ideal for HD streaming
Compact Wi-Fi for a great price
Fill in dead zones and add an Ethernet port to a room with the TP-Link RE220. With AC750 Wi-Fi, it has the speed for most browsing.
Best Wi-Fi 6 Upgrade: Netgear Nighthawk EAX80
If you're looking for a fast Wi-Fi 6 extender that can keep up with your fast Wi-Fi 6 router, the Netgear Nighthawk EAX80 is an excellent option with AX6000 speeds. With 8 Wi-Fi streams and a dual-band connection, this router has a throughput of 1.2Gbps at 2.4GHz and 4.8Gbps at 5GHz thanks to a 160MHz band. Four gigabit Ethernet ports on the back let you connect a lot of wired devices with Wi-Fi 6 speeds.
This extender has a desktop design that is nearly the size of a standard router making this a good choice for an entertainment center or home office but overkill for standard web browsing and most streaming at 1080p or lower. If you already have a compatible Netgear Nighthawk router with Nighthawk Mesh, you can use this extender with a single Wi-Fi name and easier configuration.
- Super-fast AX6000 speeds
- 4 Ethernet ports
- Single Wi-Fi name
- Nighthawk Mesh support
- Large size will be hard to blend in
Best Wi-Fi 6 Upgrade
Tons of speed and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity
The Nighthawk EAX80 has plenty of speed for just about anything with enough Ethernet ports to connect four wired devices.
Best Mesh Compatible: Asus RP-AC1900
A lot of manufacturers are rolling out mesh capabilities with their new routers so you can expand them without the need to buy a prepackaged mesh system. Asus has been dedicated to the AiMesh platform for years, and if you have an Asus router, there's a good chance it works with AiMesh. While it will work with any brand router, the Asus RP-AC1900 works best with AiMesh and brings some nice features like a single Wi-Fi name for every point. If you prefer, you can also split it off into individual names, so you know exactly which device you are connecting to.
This router delivers decent speeds for the price with a dual-band setup pushing AC1900 speeds, That breaks down into 600Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps at 5GHz. Four Ethernet ports around the back make it easy to get your wired devices connected. This extender is rather large and will be much harder to blend in than a smaller router, but for the added performance and wired options, it will be worth it to many users.
- Works with AiMesh
- 4 gigabit Ethernet ports
- Coverage for large homes
- Large device
- Dual-band AC1900 speeds will be lacking for heavier users
Best Mesh Compatible
Great coverage with AiMesh built-in
The Asus RP-AC1900 is a solid desktop-style range extender with wired ports that work with any router but works best with AiMesh.
Best Powerline: TP-Link TL-WPA8630
If you genuinely have a dead zone and even a standard extender can't solve the problem, you may need to look at other methods for connecting to the main router. Many extenders let you run an Ethernet line, but this can be cumbersome for many and not possible in some homes. One way to work around this problem is an extender that uses your existing power lines to connect to your router.
The TP-Link TL-WPA8630 is an affectionately named powerline extender that takes a wired connection from your router, transmits that connection over your power lines before broadcasting the signal. With an AC1300 wireless speed and an AV1300 powerline speed, this extender can keep up with most standard usage apart from gaming or remote computing that requires consistently low latency.
The wireless portion of the extender has two small antennas on either side, as well as three Ethernet ports. This is a great way to connect wired and wireless devices that can't be reasonably reached by Wi-Fi.
- Reach places without Wi-Fi signal
- 3 Ethernet ports make getting connected a breeze
- Easily managed with an app
- Powerline speeds can be inconsistent
- Requires an extra wall outlet near your router
- More complicated setup than a standard range extender
Send your connection over your existing wires
This powerline adapter with a Wi-Fi extender is a great way to get connected when there isn't enough Wi-Fi signal to extend.
The Linksys RE9000 looks more like a traditional Wi-Fi router than an extender thanks to its desktop design and four antennas sticking out of each corner. This bulky design has the specs to back it up with a tri-band Wi-Fi connection maxing out at AC3000. This speed is broken down to 400Mbps at 2.4GHz, 866Mbps on one 5GHz band, and 1733Mbps on the other 5GHz bands. One of these 5GHz bands is always used to connect to the base router allowing for a consistent and stable connection.
This extender also has support for MU-MIMO, which allows it to handle many wireless devices without delay, and four gigabit Ethernet ports allow you to connect your home office or entertainment center with ease. All of these connections are kept fast since the RE9000 always has one band dedicated to transmitting data to and from the router.
- Tri-Band Wi-Fi with a dedicated backhaul
- Fast AC3000 speeds
- Four gigabit Ethernet ports
- Up to 10,000 sq ft of coverage
- Large size with four antennas
Tons of extra coverage at AC3000 speeds
With 4 gigabit Ethernet ports, AC3000 speeds, and Tri-Band Wi-Fi, the Linksys RE9000 can add a ton of coverage to your network.
If you are constantly battling for a good Wi-Fi signal, it may be time to consider starting fresh with a mesh system. You can also jump up to Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems for better speed and connection stability.
You can still extend your coverage with an extender if upgrading your entire system isn't an option, and there are a lot of great options, whether you need something fast, a ton of coverage, or just enough for browsing the web. If possible, pick an extender that will work with some sort of mesh capability in your router such as Asus' AiMesh or TP-Link's OneMesh.
Still, it's a good idea to get an extender that's fast enough for your devices, and at this point, you should be buying an extender that at least supports 802.11ac. Wi-Fi 6 is an excellent option for many people since many new devices are coming equipped with Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, and there's a good chance that your next new router will support Wi-Fi 6. Overall, the TP-Link RE505X is the best option for most people thanks to its fast speed and support for the newest wireless tech.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
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