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The best Wi-Fi extenders in 2024
  Posted by: Engadget on Jan 8th, 2024 12:50 PM

If you get spotty Wi-Fi in your basement or in your backyard, it may be worthwhile to get a Wi-Fi extender. These relatively affordable gadgets, as their name suggests, extend the reaches of your home’s Wi-Fi network. With so many of us working from home even just part of the time now, and with so many connected devices under one roof, it’s even more important now to have reliable coverage that hits even the furthest points of your property. You could take the plunge and upgrade your whole Wi-Fi router system, but that’s a big decision that also requires more money. Wi-Fi extenders can come in handy if all you want to do is get a bit more coverage throughout your home without spending a ton. We tested out a number of Wi-Fi extenders to come up with our top picks.

How do Wi-Fi extenders work?

These handy wireless devices do exactly what their name suggests: extend your Wi-Fi network so it covers more areas of your home. Most Wi-Fi extenders plug into an AC outlet and connect to your existing network so they can then rebroadcast it to spots that your router alone may not cover well. As a rule of thumb, you’ll get the best results by placing the extender half way between your router and the dead zone you’re trying to fix.

One important thing to note about Wi-Fi extenders (also sometimes called “repeaters”) is that most of them actually create a new Wi-Fi network when rebroadcasting your existing one. That network will have a new name (it’ll often be your default network’s name with an EXT appended at the end, unless you change it) and that means you’ll have to connect to different networks when in different parts of your home. While that’s a small tradeoff in return for improved coverage, some will be more inconvenienced than others.

If you’d rather have one, much larger network in your home, you’re better off upgrading to mesh Wi-Fi. Mesh systems come with a main router and access points that, by default, create one large Wi-Fi system that should be accessible throughout your entire home. But that also translates to more expensive, and possibly more complicated, devices. Mesh Wi-Fi systems are, by far, more costly than a simple extender, plus you may have to work with your ISP to get your home’s existing network working on your new router.

What to look for in a Wi-Fi extender

Speed

Extenders today can support single, dual or tri-band Wi-Fi, and they will tell you the maximum speeds they support on all of their available bands. For example, one dual-band device might support 600Mbps speeds over its 2.4GHz band and up to 1300Mbps over its 5GHz band, for a combined maximum speed of 1900Mbps. For the best performance, you’ll want to go with a Wi-Fi extender that has the highest speeds possible (and those, as you might expect, tend to cost more).

However, it’s important to remember that Wi-Fi extenders are not true “signal boosters” since they are not designed to increase speeds across your home. In fact, you may find that the extender’s network is slower than your router’s. Instead, extenders are designed to increase the Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home, making them ideal for filling in dead zones.

Range, and number of supported devices

With the name of the gaming being coverage area, taking note of a device’s range is important. Depending on the size of your home and property, you may only need up to 1,200 square feet of coverage. But those with larger homes will want to spring for an extender that can support upwards of 2,000+ square feet of coverage.

Similarly, those with lots of gadgets will want an extender that can handle them all at once. If you spend most of your time on your phone or laptop and maybe have your smart TV online for a few hours of Netflix each day, you could get by with a more limited extender. Smart home aficionados and tech lovers should invest in one that won’t buckle under the pressure of a few dozen connected devices. This is especially important if you plan on linking all of the devices in a certain part of your home to your extender’s network, rather than directly to your Wi-Fi router.

Design

There isn’t a ton of innovation when it comes to design in the Wi-Fi extender space. Most of the ones you’ll find today are rounded rectangles roughly the size of your hand that plug into a standard wall outlet. They usually have a few indicator lights that will show you when the extender is connected, how strong its signal strength is and when there’s a problem, and some will even have moveable antennas that companies claim provide even better Wi-Fi coverage.

Aside from that, there are the scant few standalone Wi-Fi extenders that sit on an end table or a desk, and those look pretty similar to regular ol’ routers. But make no mistake, anything labeled as an extender or a “repeater” will need an anchor router in order for it to work. 

Another convenient feature you’ll find on most Wi-Fi extenders is an extra Ethernet port (or a few). This allows you to use the extender as a Wi-Fi access point if you connect it to your router, or an adapter to provide devices like TVs, smart home hubs or game consoles a hardwired connection to the internet. Unsurprisingly, this wired connection usually provides you with the fastest speeds possible, so you may want to use it for your most crucial devices.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-wifi-extender-130021313.html?src=rss

See Original Article At Engadget



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