Wi-Fi routers are designed to work optimally within a specified coverage area, which varies by manufacturer and model. The most common reason we start getting low Wi-Fi signals or slow internet speed is because we step out of the ‘expected’ coverage area.
That’s when we start searching for solutions and how to get strong Wi-Fi signals. Wi-Fi repeaters usually top the list of available solutions as they are cost effective, easy to install and use the existing internet connection.
But with so many options available and each claiming to be the best, it becomes difficult to pick the right product.
To make things easier for people who are looking for a solid Wi-Fi booster, we have handpicked the best products and compiled a comprehensive guide on the best Wi-Fi range extenders.
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This post is divided into two main sections. The first section discusses the technology itself, its pros and cons, usage scenarios and more.
The second section comprises of the best Wi-Fi range extender reviews based on features and benefits, user ratings and the value for money they offer.
The Best WiFi Range Extenders in 2018
With varying individual needs, budgets and performance requirements, it’s not easy to recommend a one-size-fits-all product.
That’s why we have picked the best Wi-Fi range extenders that:
- Are able to meet demands of advanced users and modern day technology, along with being future proof for a good number of years.
- Offer great value to ‘regular’ users who simply want to extend their WiFi range without spending a lot of money on fancy features they actually don’t need.
Let’s start with some basic gear before moving on to the higher-end WiFi extenders.
Note: You might notice AC 750, 1200 etc. mentioned with each model, which shows the AC technology an extender is using. Extenders are available in different AC class designations, including AC750 AC1200 and N300 (300Mbps), which also happen to be the most widely used technologies.
AC 750 simply means the maximum throughput the extender supports i.e. 750Mbps, while AC 1200 means 1200Mbps.
1. NETGEAR EX2700 (N300)
The EX2700 is one of the most affordable WiFi extenders out there and offers great value for the money. It offers all the essentials plus the reliability NETGEAR is known for. The easy to install, convenient and discreet extender is meant for users who want a simple and affordable solution to fix WiFi deadspots.
With WiFi speeds up to 300Mbps, the range extender also comes with a Fast Ethernet port. Although it may seem quite old according to current standards, it still remains one of the best extenders that just get the job done.
If you are not looking for a dual-band router and just want a simple N300 product that works as promised, this extender is easy to recommend. Despite its compact size, it covers a standard-sized home quite well and only takes minutes to set up.
This allows even the non-technical users to get started in no time and effortlessly extend the WiFi coverage. The extender has aged quite well and is now available at discounted prices if you know how to find a good deal.
If you are tight on budget and still want a reliable extender, EX2700 won’t disappoint you. But if you already have good internet speed and performance requirements, it’s better to consider investing in a dual-band extender aka pricier.
2. Asus RT-N12 D1 (N300)
This N300 3-in-one gadget is another affordable option to cover WiFi deadspots that can also be used as a range extender, access point and router.
The feature-rich admin panel offers options we usually see in much more expensive products such as assigning up to 4 different SSIDs that help manage users and bandwidth in a better way.
You can activate separate SSIDs for guests and limit bandwidth so your primary devices get more speed. It also comes with four Ethernet ports that should be enough for most home users.
The two 5dBi antennas help increase coverage and are more than enough for standard-sized homes and apartments. The extender also saves you from lengthy and time consuming processes of installation and configuration, thanks to the smart auto-detection features.
The EZ Switch (software based) makes it easier to switch between the three available modes (extender, AP, Router). Although the extender only works on a single band i.e. 2.4 GHz, it’s still a great product considering the asking price.
It’s a good option for people who want a great balance between performance, features and price.
3. NETGEAR EX3700 (AC 750)
If you are looking for something affordable coming from a reputable brand, EX3700 is easy to recommend. This inexpensive Wi-Fi range extender saves space and hassle of cables by plugging into the wall socket directly.
The dual-band extender supports the WiFi AC technology that supports up to 750Mbps throughput. Although it’s priced very competitively, it still manages to offer the bells and whistles of more expensive products.
Since EX3700 has been replaced with a newer model, it’s now available at a discounted price and offers great value for the money.
Two external antennas promise a more stable signal and better coverage. Add a Gigabit Ethernet port to the equation and you get a solution that also allows you to connect your old devices to the internet.
Users can also create a WiFi hotspot/access point using the Ethernet port, which means that the extender is able to fulfill requirements of different users.
Coupled with the official NETGEAR WiFi analytics app, the extender allows users to easily check the signal strength and identify crowded channels without having to go through complicated and lengthy procedures.
Considering the asking price, EX3700 is a great alternative to other low-end extenders by not-so-popular brands. It’s able to meet most of the requirements of normal users, while the compact design means a power socket is all you need to extend the Wi-Fi coverage.
Fastlane technology allows you to establish a solid high-speed connection by using both the Wi-Fi channels together. Being a dual-mode device, EX3700 can be either used as a WiFi extender or as a WiFi access point.
Just a few extra bucks would get you a versatile range extender with easy-to-use app to get started (and keep going).
4. TP-Link RE305 (AC1200)
TP-Link RE305 is a rather affordable extender that promises a combined throughput of 1200Mbps by operating over both 2.4 GHz and 5GHz frequencies (300 and 867 Mbps respectively). The built-in signal light helps users find the most suitable place for the extender.
This means users don’t have to use an app or the admin portal to know if the extender is installed at the right place. The red light indicates that the extender should be placed nearer to the router, while the blue light indicates a good connection.
In addition to a range extender, RE305 can also be used as a wireless access point by just plugging in the Ethernet cable. The TP-Link tether app is available for both iOS and Android and makes it easier to setup, configure and manage the extender.
The compact and modern design not only helps save space, but is also aesthetically pleasing. It plugs directly into the power socket and eliminates the hassle associated with using adaptors and wires.
The extender offers Fast Ethernet instead of Gigabit Ethernet, which should not be a problem for most users. A Gigabit Ethernet port mostly matters when you are using a device as an access point and have a 100Mbps or above internet connection.
Although the device offers good long-range performance, RE305 isn’t the best when it’s about short range performance. It still manages to offer an excellent balance between price and features and remains a strong contender in the budget segment.
5. NETGEAR EX6200 (AC1200)
EX6200 is designed for users who want something bigger and more powerful than the ‘usual’ affordable products. The quadcore processor promises the ultimate Wi-Fi performance and makes the extender a great option to cover large homes.
The 700mW high-power design means the signal reaches even the farthest corners of your home and allows users to stream simultaneously. The extender was introduced quite a while ago, but it’s still relevant and manages to deliver top-notch performance.
It’s not hard to find great deals for the extender as newer models have replaced it, but the performance and features it offers are still hard to match.
Five Gigabit Ethernet ports, easy setup, a modern UI and support for connecting USB 3.0 devices makes this extender a great choice for more advanced users.
If you can live with some software hiccups related to firmware upgrades (which most users with IT know-how can easily deal with), EX6200 offers all the power one needs to fully cover a home or small office. It can also be used as a bridge via the 5 Gigabit ports or as a media/print server.
The solid performance and features the extender offers justifies its price, while it’s also easy to setup through the modern and polished user interface.
But it cannot be mounted on a wall or just plugged into a power socket as you can either place it horizontally or vertically on the stand (included). You’ll need to make some space for the extender, which actually looks quite nice, thanks to the elegant red and black design.
6. Linksys RE6500 (AC1200)
Linksys claims that its RE6500 extender covers up to 10,000 square feet, which is more than a standard-sized home. Add dual-band support and cross-band technology to the equation and you get a complete package in a reasonable price, which is something Linksys is known for.
Four Gigabit Ethernet ports means the extender can also be used to hook older TVs etc. that only have wired connectivity. The audio input jack isn’t something we usually see in this price segment, but this extender offers this unique feature.
It allows users to stream music wirelessly to a stereo system using their mobile devices or computers.
It’s also not hard to find great deals for this extender, which means you get great value for the money. The extender comes with most of the features you’d find in pricier models, while the extended coverage ensures that there are no WiFi deadspots at your home or office.
The Spot Finder technology makes it easier for users to setup the extender and place it at an ideal location. Dual-band technology enables the extender to transmit at 2.4GHz and 5GHz simultaneously (300Mbps and 867Mbps respectively).
Powerful functionality comes wrapped in a compact shell that is roughly about the size of an iPhone 6 Plus. The extender is wall-mountable for easier installation and requires very little space. The dual-core processor works behind the scenes to ensure a strong and reliable signal.
However, if covering a large area isn’t your priority, the NETGEAR EX6200 offers better speeds and throughput, but it obviously comes at a higher price.
7. NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 EX7300 (AC2200)
EX7300 promises to deliver speeds of up to 2200Mbps and cover an area of up to 10,000 square feet. Solid MU-MIMO (Multi-user Multi-) output ensures faster and stable connectivity on multiple devices.
A Gigabit Ethernet port allows connecting to wired devices and game consoles. If size and lack of a pass-through outlet does not bother you, this extender has a lot to offer in terms of coverage area and performance.
On the other hand, the internal antennas help save some space and compensate for the larger size to some extent.
The extender is able to deliver up to 450Mbps on 2.4 GHz and up to 1,733 Mbps on 5 GHz frequency. Support for beam-forcing means the extender can direct the data towards clients instead of transmitting it over a broad spectrum.
MU-MIMO enables the extender to transmit data simultaneously to multiple devices instead of transmitting it sequentially, which affects the overall performance. EX7300 can be used as an extender as well as an access point.
NETGEAR EX7300 is a great option if you want to cover every corner of a large home or office without compromising on performance. It’s easy to setup and manage and delivers great performance (compared to other plug-in extenders).
The extender has a lot to offer if you are willing to spend some extra money are don’t mind the extra size.
8. NETGEAR Orbi RBK30 (AC2200)
If you are looking for a high-end whole home mesh system, than NETGEAR Orbi is worth considering. Orbi is much more than a standard WiFi extender and is available in different configurations.
The base model RBK30 AC2200 promises to cover up to 3,500 square feet area without any noticeable degradation in quality. The kit includes Wall Plug Satellite and a WiFi router with Tri-Band technology.
It works flawlessly with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing users to control their home networks by voice commands.
The dedicated backhaul delivers excellent performance, while the quadcore processor supports smart directional broadcasting. Being a high-end extender, it’s MU-MIMO capable and offers buffer-free streaming on several devices simultaneously.
The combined throughput is rated at 2,200Mbps (triband 400+866+866Mbps) as the dedicated backhaul delivers 2×2 866Mbps.
Although the extender delivers solid throughput and is easy to use/configure, it lacks the option to change QoS settings and some other advanced options we expect from such highly-priced gadgets. The extender also does not come with USB connectivity, which should have been part of the package.
Users have the option of buying additional satellites if they want to cover more area, but the satellites are not equipped with Ethernet ports.
If you are looking to blanket your home completely with strong WiFi signals and don’t mind absence of some features, Orbi has a lot to offer.
However, Orbi isn’t for everyone as mostly diehard NETGEAR fans would find themselves purchasing the rather expensive product. Instead of buying more Orbi satellites, you’d probably be better off buying Linksys RE6500 or NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 if you want to cover large areas.
9. eero Home WiFi System (2nd Generation)
Although relatively less known than NETGEAR and other established brands, eero is gaining traction and has joined the next-gen router bandwagon. Its Home WiFi system is a great option for people who are planning to replace their existing routers.
The WiFi system comprises of a router and 2 Beacons aka satellites. The Mesh Wi-Fi system completely covers a standard-sized 2-4 bedroom home with strong signals, thanks to its Tri-band technology and Beacons.
You don’t need to spend money separately on a wireless router and extender as the system aims to replace both.
eero Home WiFi system may be expensive, but it features a fresh design and offers great performance. The system offers mesh networking to consumers and future proofs their investment with the Thread support, which allows users to manage smart devices such as doorbells, locks, motion sensors etc. (this feature does not matter much for now as there are no Thread devices currently available).
eero Home WiFi System is an excellent option if you want to cover ‘difficult’ or large areas. But other less expensive extenders make more sense if you only want to cover small areas.
10. Linksys Velop (3-unit pack)
If you want a WiFi mesh system that sets you free, Linksys Velop is easy to recommend. The WiFi system does come at a price, but it’s still reasonable considering the features it offers. It’s a complete mesh system that covers a home completely and delivers strong signals consistently.
The system is available as one, two or three units pack (3-units are rated to cover up to 6,000 square feet, one unit covers around 2,000 square feet). You can also buy the system with Amazon Echo Dot and DOCSIS cable modem.
The powerful Tri-band transmission ensures a strong signal is delivered to every corner of a home, while the whole system is designed to operate as a single unit. If one node of the system loses connection, other nodes re-connect automatically to ensure stable and interruption-free connectivity.
Smaller footprint of individual units helps save precious space and eliminates the need for excess wires.
Velop is a great option if you are already considering upgrading your Wi-Fi system and want something that offers complete blanket coverage. The upfront cost may be a little high, but as satisfied users suggest, the system is worth every penny!
Wrapping it up – Editors Thoughts
It’s really hard to declare a clear winner as people have their own unique requirements and budget constraints. If you don’t have high performance requirements and just want basic features, Asus RT-N12 D1 is a great multi-purpose product available at an affordable price.
Not only does it offer options otherwise available in much pricier extenders, it’s also equipped with two high-gain 5bBi antennas. Ability to assign up to 4 different SSIDs makes it super easy for people to manage users and bandwidth.
The Linksys Velop is recommended if you want a stable connection throughout the home with minimal degradation in speed. It’s a complete package that comes at a cost, but delivers in all departments, whether speed or reliable connectivity.
Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a WiFi Range Extender
Why do we need Wi-Fi Range Extenders aka Repeaters aka Boosters?
Some like to call them Wi-Fi range extenders, while others refer to them as repeaters or boosters, but they all serve the same purpose: to extend coverage area of an existing Wi-Fi network.
You might be getting strong Wi-Fi signals on the floor your Wi-Fi router is installed, but the signals degrade as you move away from the router.
Most wireless routers (2.4 GHz) are able to deliver good signals within a 100-150 feet range (range of 5GHz routers is significantly less), but things start to get ugly when you leave the coverage area.
Physical Obstructions and Interferences
Signal quality is also dependent on the nature of physical obstructions, type of transmitter being used and the number of access points. Even home appliances such as a microwave oven can interfere with Wi-Fi signals, while the 2.4 GHz frequency a typical router supports is also used by most Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets.
This means that a router rated to deliver good signals up to 150 feet delivers up to 75% of the specification in the real world due to interferences and physical obstructions such as thick walls and metal frames.
The signal strength can also be affected by the antenna orientation. That’s why we sometimes lose signals by just turning our device at an angle.
There are too many variables to consider when trying to accurately calculate the Wi-Fi coverage area. But we can safely assume that a typical router is able to deliver strong signals across 2-3 standard-sized rooms.
The farther you move away from the router, the lower the signal strength would get. If you are among the many who are struggling to get reliable Wi-Fi connectivity, you have a few options to choose from including:
- Buy a better, more powerful (with focused beams) and obviously expensive Wi-Fi Router
- Try moving the WiFi router around (and cables) to a better, more central location
- Start using mobile data
- Remain close to the existing router
- Or buy an inexpensive WiFi repeater that extends the range of an existing network
The last option makes the most sense as investing in an expensive, more powerful WiFi router still can’t guarantee that you’d get strong signals on other floors (or in the garage).
Using cellular data is a luxury only people with unlimited data plans and tethering can afford as it can be really expensive for others. Remaining in close proximity to the WiFi router is also not possible as being able to roam freely is the whole point of the wireless technology.
Considering these issues, it’s no surprise that WiFi repeaters/range extenders/boosters have become so popular.
They are an easy fix to common Wi-Fi signal issues and ensure reliable internet connectivity across the home. They offer a simple and dependable solution to WiFi signal problems by allowing you to extend the existing network without breaking the bank.
How Does a WiFi Range Extender Work?
WiFi boosters probably fall in the category of ‘for complex problems there are simple solutions’. A WiFi repeater simply connects to an existing Wi-Fi network and extends/boosts its range.
This means you can connect more than one extender (max two recommended, connected to the main router not with each other) and make sure that a strong WiFi signal reaches every corner of your home.
You place a WiFi repeater at a reasonable distance from the router and it transmits that signal to deadspot areas. You can also place another WiFi repeater on the other side of the router for even better coverage, but a single repeater is usually enough to fully cover a ‘normal-sized’ floor.
In simple words, compared to traditional routers that contain a single ‘chip’ to deliver Wi-Fi signals, quality WiFi range extenders contain two wireless chips i.e. one for receiving wireless signals from the router and another for transmitting or extending the signal.
WiFi extenders can also connect to routers via Ethernet cables, but our focus is on ‘wireless’ repeaters that work without any cables.
How to Install a WiFi Signal Booster
Ease of installation and configuration are the main reasons behind popularity of WiFi repeaters. You just pick a location to place the repeater and connect it to your wireless network. However, picking the right location is very important as it determines the quality of signal you’d get from your device.
Place it too far from the WiFi router and it would fail to deliver consistent performance. That’s why it’s recommended to place a WiFi extender at a location where signal strength of the existing router is strong. Instead of placing the extender too far from the router, it’s better to use two Wi-Fi extenders to cover a large area.
After attaching a Wi-Fi range extender with the power socket through an adaptor, you should be able to see a new WiFi connection on your computer/connected device (refer to the instruction manual for username/password).
Once connected to the range extender, go to the admin panel and connect it with your Wi-Fi router. That’s it! You can now enjoy trouble-free connectivity in even the farthest corners of your home (unless you are living in a huge mansion).
Things to Consider before Buying a WiFi Booster
Once upon a time, WiFi was simply a wireless network and there were not many fancy terms attached to it. But with the advancement in technology, we have many WiFi standards to choose from.
We now have two frequency bands (older 2.4 and more recent 5 GHz) and new Wi-Fi standards (A, B, G, N, AC, AD and now AX) with their speeds varying from 300Mbps and all the way up to 1,900+ Mbps.
Most users should be OK with the N-compatible routers, but if you are still using a really old router, chances are great that your ISP is willing to offer a free (or almost free) router upgrade.
WiFi repeaters also use the same protocols and transmission technologies routers do. However, you should avoid wasting money on buying WiFi range extenders that offer more bandwidth than the WiFi router itself. For example, why buy a fancy 1,200 Mbps range extender when your router’s output is limited to 300Mbps?
Another important thing to consider is wired connectivity support. Many older devices only support Ethernet connectivity so you would need some ports on the extender, which also helps reduce signal interference and improves performance.
WiFi extenders that support 5GHz frequency are less likely to suffer from congestion and interference as most gadgets still rely on 2.4GHz. However, 5GHz offers lesser coverage area, meaning you may have to install multiple range extenders to cover the area.
The good news is that all WiFi standards are backward-compatible, but you need compatible hardware to take advantage of the enhanced speed and bandwidth (at both ends). An N-compatible router is a must if you want to fully take advantage of modern range extenders.
Here are a few other things that we should consider before parting with our hard-earned cash:
Internal vs external antennas: Internal antennas mean a slimmer profile, while external antennas ensure better signal strength and coverage (range extenders with external antennas also tend to be more expensive)
Size: Do you want a repeater that’s as large as a router or looking for a compact, unobtrusive design
Integrated QoS: Some extenders are able to apply Quality of Services to prioritize gaming, video streaming etc.
SSID: While most extenders have their own SSID (meaning your device will connect/disconnect to router/extender based on the signal strength and coverage area), some extenders integrate better and use a single SSID, which results in a smoother roaming experience and consistent connectivity
Signal strength feedback: Extenders that provide a placement feedback make it easier to place them. Many extenders have built-in LEDs that indicate a strong/fair/poor router signal, saving you from manually searching for the information through the admin panel
Dual-band vs Single band: With so many affordable dual-band around, it’s not a good idea to buy a single-band extender just to save a few bucks. Single-band extenders effectively cut their bandwidth in half as they only repeat the signal.
Dual-band extenders support both 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies and are able to receive/transmit on different frequencies. Since 2.4GHz translates into longer range and 5GHz into better speed, dual-bank extenders offer the best of both the worlds
Dual-band extenders are able to deliver the promised bandwidth, better speed and are less affected by interferences. Since WiFi extenders consume a good amount of router’s throughput, it makes little sense to waste valuable resources by using inefficient single-band extenders
Security standards: Most extenders support the latest WPA-2 encryption and home users don’t have much to worry about. But it’s better to have hardware that supports latest security standards such as WPA2-PSK (AES).
Choosing between Wi-Fi Routers and Extenders: If performance is your main concern and you only want to cover a few deadspots, it’s better to invest in a more powerful router than an average range extender.
Adding some Ethernet connections is a better solution if you a hardcore gamer or using applications that require low latency. More demanding users find Mesh WiFi systems (router plus satellite units) a better solution than extenders as they provide complete blanked coverage, even through concrete walls.
Who Should Buy a WiFi range extender?
It’s time to invest in a quality WiFi range extender if you:
- Experience low or inconsistent WiFi signals
- Want to extend the range of WiFi signal to the farthest corners of your home
- Want to share your internet connection with someone living outside the coverage area of your WiFi router (this also allows you to keep the password of your WiFi router a secret)
- Have tried relocating the Wi-Fi router to a central location, but it still fails to deliver strong signal to all rooms
- Find a lot of devices/people connected to the WiFi router, limiting its performance and overall signal quality
- Are using an old router and don’t have any plans to upgrade the technology (still recommended to upgrade to at least N-compatible router)
- Are unable to move the WiFi router to a central location because the ISP wiring is entering your home through an external wall
- Are using Wi-Fi-enabled mobile broadband devices. Such portable devices offer very limited coverage and their WiFi signals drop quickly as you move away from them
Limitations of WiFi Range Extenders
Every technology has its own limitations and Wi-Fi repeaters are no exception. Since they are based on a wireless signal transmission technology, there is obviously some loss in terms of speed and latency. All range extenders are also not created equal, meaning some would offer worse performance than others.
Most low-end WiFi boosters receive and send wireless signals using the same channel, which means single band repeaters are effectively only able to transmit 50% of the specified bandwidth.
Although dual-band repeaters are able to deal with most of the cons, they still cannot match the latency and bandwidth wired/Ethernet connections have to offer.
WiFi boosters are designed to extend range, not improve bandwidth and latency. For most users this won’t be such a big issue, but hardcore gamers and users looking for the lowest possible latency would be better off with a wired connection.
WiFi repeaters may not work well for you if:
- You play online games that require very low latency/ping
- Use VoIP frequently, mostly for office-related activities
- Stream 4K videos on multiple devices located at different places
- Have already invested heavily in a powerful WiFi router
- Want COMPLETE WiFi blanket coverage of the home, including basement and all floors
TIP: You may save yourself some money if you already have a Wi-Fi-enabled mobile broadband device lying around somewhere such as Huawei Mobile Wi-Fi devices (e.g. E5573Bs).
Most of these devices come with a built-in Wi-Extender feature, but with limited coverage. If you only want to extend WiFi range to one or two rooms, it’s better to use the ‘free’ gear you already have.
FAQs – Got a Question? Ask us in the comments!
1. Are Wi-Fi extenders designed to work with specific Wi-Fi routers?
WiFi range extenders work universally and connect to WiFi routers using standard protocols. Some incompatibilities might exist, but in general they work with all routers, whether your ISP provided them or you purchased it separately.
You just need to check that you are purchasing an extender intended for your own region and is compatible with the power connections.
2. Are single-band extenders really that bad?
If you just want to extend WiFi range and performance/bandwidth is not your priority, you may go for single-band extenders.
But considering the performance gains, it’s better to future-proof your investment and spend some extra cash on dual-band extenders.
3. How many extenders can you use at once?
It’s up to you, but if you have a large area to cover, it’s better to limit yourself to two extenders. Since they repeat an already-diminished signal, daisy-chaining would not be an ideal solution. It’s better to go for a Mesh WiFi system if you want a complete blanked coverage.
You should also avoid connecting one extender to another extender and connect both extenders to the main router. Also make sure that each extender is broadcasting its own SSID and preferably using a different channel.
4. Can I solve connectivity issues by moving my current WiFi router?
That depends on various factors. A standard router should work well for a single floor if placed at a central location. But users in the basement or another floor might not benefit from the new location. Moving a WiFi router would also mean re-cabling and installing ducts, which isn’t worth the effort and money considering the price of extenders.
5. The signals are strong, but inconsistent
This might be due to interference and many devices using the same WiFi channel. In such cases, you can try changing the default WiFi channel (most devices in the US use channel 6).
However, you also need to make sure that all the connected devices are also using the same channel.
6. Are WiFi Repeaters and Boosters the exact same thing?
Technically they are different devices, but we use the terms interchangeably. As the name suggests, signal boosters are designed to amplify the wireless signal coming from the router and improve the otherwise weak signal. A signal booster is usually attached to the router itself and is not suitable for large homes.
Wi-Fi repeaters on the other hand relay or repeat signals coming from the WiFi router and are NOT attached with the router (placed at some distance). They help extend the signal to deadspots and enhance coverage area.
Repeaters are not designed to boost an already weak signal on their own; they just repeat what they get. In other words, repeaters are useful when you want to extend coverage, while boosters work best when you just want to boost router’s weak signal for better speed.
7. Should you use a Router and Range Extender made by the same manufacturer?
That’s totally up to you, but some manufacturers offer additional features when you use their routers and extenders together. There should be no compatibility issues as both routers and repeaters follow the same standards. But you may get even more value for your money if you fuse together both devices made by the same manufacturer.
8. What other ports/connectivity options do we have?
Some extenders also allow you to connect printers, external hard disks and other peripherals through USB ports, while some offer audio jack and DLNA/Airplay for direct audio/video streaming.
Such extenders can be expensive and not recommended if you only want to connect peripherals once in a while. You can also buy a basic extender with one or more of these connectivity options if you are not looking for an all-in-one package.
9. Are extenders recommended for multi-storied buildings?
That depends on a lot of factors including wall thickness and construction, height and other interferences. In most cases, an extender should be able to extend the Wi-Fi coverage to the floor above or below, but for best performance, it’ better to use a wired connection between floors and use a WiFi repeater on each floor to extend coverage.
10. Where should I place the extender?
Most repeaters either have built-in indicators that tell about router’s signal strength or allow users to check the information from the admin portal. Place the extender where router’s signal strength is strong and there are no possible interferences around such as cordless phones and kitchen appliances like microwave ovens.
11. Should I just buy the most expensive extender and forget about the whole thing?
Yes you can. But the whole point of doing research is to find a product that offers the best value. Why spend hundreds of dollars on an expensive extender when a sub $50 product could serve the same purpose equally well?
Obviously, an expensive extender means stronger signals, better connectivity and a lot of extra features. But you probably don’t need an expensive one if you just want to extend coverage to one or two rooms.
12. Is there any way I can make the ‘extra’ router behave like a WiFi extender?
Yes you can try, but success is not guaranteed and you even risk losing that ‘extra’ router you have. Some routers support custom firmware flashing (such as DD-WRT), enabling them to perform as range extenders.
However, you can cause more damage than good if you don’t know what you are doing. Improper flashing can turn your router into a paperweight and completely useless. Another more appropriate solution is to attach the ‘extra’ router to the main router through Ethernet cable and use it as a WiFi extender.