How to boost your home wi-fi signal: the best wi-fi router extenders 2021
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Fast Wifi is a boon, but it needs to be available everywhere you need it, not just next to the router. If you have a room with no usable signal, then you need to fix that.
There are several ways. Perhaps the most effective, but usually the most expensive as well, is a mesh router. Mesh systems have components which talk to each other, so they can often reach further than systems that only send a signal back to the router.
And with most meshes, you can add extra units to extend the reach, perhaps because you now want Wifi in the garden, say.
There are also conventional extenders which wirelessly pick up the signal from the router and send it out again to reach further.
Less common are powerline adapters which use the home’s electricity circuit to send the signal around. For fastest speeds, look out for Wifi 6, which can serve more devices simultaneously and at speed.
The boosters here are chosen for being easy to set up and use, and offer significant boosts to your home set-up.
Orbi Tri-Band WiFi 6 Mesh System
Orbi’s mesh routers are not cheap, but they offer solid, reliable signals and decent reach. The RBK752 which has two units: one that connects by cable to your internet provider’s router and a satellite that is wirelessly attached to the first and can spread the signal further. If you find that’s not quite enough, you can add an extra satellite or choose the RBK753 which has the extra unit included. The design is attractive and set-up is reasonably straightforward. As well as the regular 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, it has an additional dedicated link between router and satellite, to help ensure faster speeds.
Wifi 6 mesh router plus satellite, speeds up to 4.2Gbps, range up to 4,000 sq ft, 2.4GHz plus 2x 5GHz including dedicated wifi link, router 3 Gigabit Ethernet ports, satellite 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, supports 40+ devices
BT 11ac Wifi Range Extender AC 1200
This is a great extender for simple situations and is easy to set up. Just plug it into a spare socket and take a look at the front of it. The LEDs will tell you whether it’s too close to or too far from the main router, or if it’s in the perfect spot. The shape may mean that if your socket is too close to the ground that it may not fit easily. This simple device can’t match the speeds of the fastest extenders here but is a doddle to set up and may be all you need, especially if your broadband is not super-fast.
Wifi extender, speeds up to 867Mbps, range up to 4,000 sq ft, 2.4GHz plus 5GHz, 1 Ethernet port
Amazon Eero 6
Amazon-owned Eero arrived as a superbly easy system to set up and use. More recently, Eero 6 appeared, with the number in the name indicating not that it was the sixth-gen product (it’s not) but rather that it is Wifi 6-capable. It remains extremely simple to install through a companion app. You need an Amazon account to be able to set it up though that’s easy to get if you don’t have one. Although this is a fast system, it is marketed as suiting households with up to 500Mbps broadband.
Wifi mesh router plus two satellites, speeds up to 1.8 Gbps, range up to 5,000 sq feet, 2.4GHz + 5GHz, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, supports up to 75 devices
Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700
The Nighthawk X6 is a decent performer offering good speeds and a consistent signal.
It connects wirelessly to your router, so it needs to be in range of that. Netgear’s ease of use means that you can use the same wifi name and the same password all around the home.
This is not a Wifi 6 extender, so it isn’t the fastest here but it’s enough to transmit 4K video, for instance. Your router and the Nighthawk X6 can even be on different floors in many cases.
Like the much more expensive Orbi RBK752, in addition to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, there’s a dedicated wifi band connecting the extender to the router. A smartphone app makes it easy to set up and manage.
There are two ports for devices you want to plug in to the extender by cable.
Wifi mesh extender, speeds up to 2.2 Gbps, range up to 2,000 sq feet, 2.4GHz plus 2x 5GHz including dedicated wifi link, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports on router, supports 40+ devices
Devolo Magic 2 WiFI next
Even the best mesh networks and extenders can come a cropper when they are faced with thick walls, for example in old houses. If you have such an issue, a powerline adapter can solve it.
Plug one adapter in near the router, where it can connect by cable to it. Then plug the other wherever you need it. The Devolo sends the signal through the electricity circuit and rebroadcasts it from the second adapter.
There’s one thing to bear in mind: both adapters need to be on the same electrical circuit. If your home has several different ones, it can’t connect between them.
If it’s the same circuit, then you’re in business and the Devolo is highly effective and straightforward to set up.
Each plug has a pass-through socket so you can still use the socket for another device at the same time.
Powerline extender with two devices, speeds up to 2.4 Gbps, range up to 1,500 sq feet, 2.4GHz plus 5GHz, 2 Gigabit Ethernet
For many homes, this could be overkill and for all of us it’s definitely an expensive choice.
But the Orbi is very fast, very reliable and has a strong signal that’s hard to beat.
It’s also a slickly designed piece of kit. Like the more affordable RBK752, it has an extra 5GHz signal which is designed to reduce congestion and help with performance.
If you don’t need two satellites, it’s also available with just a router and one satellite and if you find later you need more, extra satellites are available.
The Orbi RBK853 has about the best performance on test, from ease of set-up with the companion app to the convenience of changing your network name and password, which is handy if you’re replacing an older system and want to keep the old name.
Wifi 6 mesh router plus 2 satellites, speeds up to 6Gbps, range up to 6,000 sq ft, 2.4GHz plus 2x 5GHz including dedicated wifi link, router 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports, each satellite 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports, supports 100+ devices