Get good speeds where you need them most with the best Wi-Fi extenders
You might have a fast broadband connection, but does it reach everywhere you need it? Are you finding that you can’t stream TV or have a video chat in the more distant corners of your house? If so, a Wi-Fi extender might be the answer, stretching your Wi-Fi network out so that you get better speeds and coverage exactly where you need them.
Here’s everything you need to know about these handy devices, along with our selection of the best Wi-Fi extenders on the market.
Best Wi-Fi extender: At a glance
|Best budget extender||TP-Link RE300 (~£35)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best Wi-Fi 5 Powerline extender||Devolo Magic 2 WiFi Next (~£120)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best Wi-Fi 5 extender||TP-Link RE650 (~£60)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best value Wi-Fi 6 extender||TP-Link RE505X (~£60)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best high-performance extender||Devolo WiFi 6 Repeater 5400 (~£180)||Check price at Amazon|
How to choose the best Wi-Fi extender for you
Is a Wi-Fi extender definitely the answer?
Before you buy an extender, check that it really is the performance of your wireless network that’s slowing you down and not just a slow internet connection. You can use a broadband speed checker to measure download speeds at different distances from your router, and see how the speed drops off as you move around your home.
It’s also worth trying out a few different wireless settings, such as switching radio bands, before you splash out on a new bit of kit. You might find that this gets you a better signal from your existing equipment and that there’s no need to buy an extender at all.
What speeds can I expect?
Some extenders promise data rates as high as 4.8Gbits/sec, which is equivalent to around 600MB/sec and far faster than most broadband connections. In reality, for all sorts of technical and practical reasons, the speeds you see in your own home will be far, far lower, with much of the bandwidth lost in the connection between the extender and the router, let alone the connection between the extender and your laptop or devices.
As a rule, we’re happy with anything over 120Mbits/sec (15MB/sec). To put that into context, Netflix recommends a connection speed of at least 5Mbits/sec for HD streaming and 25Mbits/sec for 4K video. A good, solid Wi-Fi network should easily be fast enough to cope with multiple simultaneous high-resolution video streams.
Up until recently, most extenders and Powerline kits only went as far as the Wi-Fi 5 standard, but we’re seeing a growing number that go faster with Wi-Fi 6 support. If you only have a Wi-Fi 5 router, you can save some cash by partnering it with a Wi-Fi 5 extender, but the newer models may give you a faster connection between the extender and devices that support Wi-Fi 6. What’s more, there’s an argument that buying one of these makes more sense if you plan to upgrade your network in the future.
What’s the difference between a repeater and a powerline extender?
These are the two main types of extender and they do the same basic job. However, they work in different ways. A Wi-Fi repeater is a single box that relays data back and forth between your router and your wireless devices using Wi-Fi signals alone. If – for example – your router is located at the front of the house, and your home office is at the rear, you can install a repeater at the midway point to boost the signal in the office.
A powerline networking kit consists of two little boxes (sometimes more) that plug into mains sockets around your home. Box number one connects to your router via an Ethernet cable, while box number two broadcasts a wireless signal from wherever it happens to be situated and relays the data back to the first box over your mains electrical wiring.
Powerline systems are often more expensive than repeaters but they’re a fuss-free way to extend a network connection into places that are otherwise hard to reach and can be simpler to set up.
Might I be better off with a mesh Wi-Fi system?
Mesh networking systems work in a similar way to Wi-Fi repeaters but they give you the option of placing multiple nodes all over your home to cover a larger area than a single extender could manage. You can learn more, and explore our recommended models, in our guide to the best mesh Wi-Fi routers.
If you don’t have a huge house, however, a mesh system may be overkill. A regular extender is a lot cheaper and a lot easier to install. Configuring a mesh system normally involves setting up a whole new router, whereas with most repeaters you can simply plug it in, press a button and that’s it.
Does my extender need Ethernet sockets?
In this wireless age, Ethernet sockets might seem a bit outdated. But some devices, such as printers and set-top TV boxes, only support wired connections, and connecting these or a PC to your extender via Ethernet will give you a more reliable and often faster connection than wireless.
Naturally, however, connecting devices to an extender via Ethernet won’t be as fast as a direct wired connection to the router because the signal still needs to travel from your router to the extender over the airwaves first.
What other features should I look for?
Most Wi-Fi extenders have what’s called a “web portal”, which offers a selection of advanced features (some offer a mobile app as well). This is accessed via a web browser, either on your phone or your laptop. Simply type in the address provided by the manufacturer – which is often printed on the extender itself or, failing that, it will be in the manual somewhere.
Some of these web portals will let you operate a guest network, with its own name and security settings, so visitors can connect to the internet without having access to your local devices. You might also get access controls, which let you decide exactly who can connect, while scheduling lets you shut off the connection at certain times – useful, perhaps, if you don’t want kids going online in the middle of the night.
Think about physical features when choosing your extender. Most units plug directly into a mains socket, and some models are so big that they block neighbouring outlets from use. A mains passthrough socket on the front can also be very useful if you’re running low on mains sockets and this certainly isn’t something you can take for granted.
How we test Wi-Fi extenders
Every Wi-Fi extender we review goes through extensive hands-on testing. Each unit is installed in a real home, at an appropriate distance from the main Wi-Fi router according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If it’s a powerline system, we connect the base unit to the main router via gigabit Ethernet and, again, situate the remote unit according to the instructions.
We then work through the setup process, allowing the extender to connect to the existing home network and apply its default settings. We’re looking for how quick and easy this is, and whether it picks the best configuration for optimal performance.
To test network performance, we use a laptop equipped with an Intel Wi-Fi 6 network card supporting 2×2 MIMO. We connect this laptop to the extended network, then take it to various areas of the home and copy a standard set of files to and from a NAS appliance, connected by Ethernet to the main router. By measuring the average read and write speeds, and comparing them to those achieved when connecting directly to the router, we can measure how each extender helps Wi-Fi range and performance.
If the extender has advanced features, we’ll also factor these into our review; we’ll thoroughly explore the configuration portal to see how responsive and user-friendly it is, and, if the unit has an Ethernet port, we may test network performance over a wired connection.
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The best Wi-Fi extenders you can buy in 2023
1. TP-Link RE300: Best budget extender
Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Amazon
TP-Link’s RE300 is basic, but it’s incredibly easy to set up via the TP-Link Tether app and it comes with a couple of extra modes to help you make the most of your current wireless network. We found it worked best in default mode, where speeds averaged 11.3MB/sec in testing. If you’re a tinkerer, however, you can also set it up so it uses the faster 5GHz band as a dedicated link to your existing network and the 2.4GHz band for your devices.
Either way, the RE300 works really well. Speeds were quick and connectivity reliable, plus it doesn’t take up too much space in your plug sockets, leaving plenty of room for other devices to use the sockets next to it. The only thing it lacks is an Ethernet port, but this compact unit offers solid performance for not a lot of money.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (300Mbits/sec), 2 x 5GHz (866Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: None; WPS button: Yes
2. Devolo Magic 2 WiFi Next: Best Wi-Fi 5 Powerline extender
Price when reviewed: £120 | Check price at AmazonDevolo’s Magic WiFi 2 kit uses powerline networking, so it’s ideal for extending your wireless network into places where your existing router can’t penetrate. Powerline can be more reliable than a straight Wi-Fi repeater where the signal is really weak, and it’s nearly always the most effective choice for reaching an outbuilding or distant home office.
It’s also incredibly easy to set up: connect the base station to your router using the supplied Ethernet cable, plug the wireless access point into a socket somewhere else in your home, and it will start broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal. There’s a handy pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports at the bottom of the access point, and both units also have convenient mains passthrough sockets on the front. Just note that their chunky design means you might have difficulty situating them alongside anything larger than a regular plug.
The Magic 2 kit beats the old Magic 1 kit we had in this slot by giving you two high-speed 867Mbits/sec Wi-Fi streams for little more than the price of one, which comes in handy if you’re trying to network two or more devices. Advanced users will appreciate the companion app that shows connection diagnostics, so you can work out where to locate the plugs for the best performance. The web portal, meanwhile, lets you manage your wireless configuration, set up a guest network and apply an operating schedule so that (for example) the extended network is only available during office hours. The newer Wi-Fi 6 kits will give you even more performance if you have Wi-Fi 6 devices, but if not this is a great solution.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (300 Mbits/sec), 2x 5GHz (867Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 2x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes
3. TP-Link RE650: Best Wi-Fi 5 extender
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at AmazonTP-Link’s extenders are a doddle to set up and install in your home network and do a solid job of extending Wi-Fi connectivity into parts that previously might have been missing out. The RE-650 is the most powerful of the extenders TP-Link offers, and comes with dual-band wireless and a connection speed rated at 2,600Mbits/sec – that’s 800Mbits/sec over 2.4GHz and 1,733Mbits/sec over 5GHz.
As a result, transfer rates are excellent. We saw 16.8MB/sec download speeds in the same room, which fell to 9.7MB/sec in a room one wall and one floor away. And with 4×4 MU-MIMO technology onboard, it’s better able to serve up that bandwidth to multiple devices than most in this list, so if yours is a busy household it’s worth stumping up the extra for.
It’s very easy to use as well, with setup managed by the superb TP-Link Tether mobile app, which provides access to all the settings you might need.
Our only gripe is that it’s pretty bulky and, in a typical British double-wall socket with central switches, it gets in the way of accessing the socket’s on/off switch. However that’s a small complaint when it provides such solid performance.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (800Mbits/sec), 5GHz (1,733Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 1 x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes
4. Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 6: Best powerline and Wi-Fi extender kit for reliability
Price when reviewed: £380 (whole home kit) | Check price at AmazonDevolo’s Magic 2 WiFi 6 straddles the world of wireless extenders, powerline and mesh Wi-Fi and offers an effective alternative to traditional wireless network hardware. By combining fast 2,400Mbits/sec G.Hn powerline with dual-band 802.11ax Wi-Fi, it delivers the best of all worlds: solid connectivity, even to tricky-to-reach places, and impressive top speeds.
It’s the fastest powerline system we’ve tested. We were staggered to see download speeds in our kitchen test location zoom from just 13Mbits/sec to 29Mbits/sec. That’s an astonishing leap, but bear in mind that a lot will depend on the layout and quality of your home’s wiring.
For homes with thick walls, unusual layouts or long gaps between rooms, nothing beats the Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 6 at eliminating notspots. The price is high, but nothing beats it for long-range speed and reliability.
Key specs – Maximum Wi-Fi speeds: 1,800Mbits/sec; Powerline speed: 2,400Mbits/sec; Ethernet ports: 2 x Gigabit per unit; WPS button: Yes; Other features: Mains passthrough
5. TP-Link RE-450: A great all-rounder at a very affordable price
Price when reviewed: £44 | Check price at AmazonTP-Link’s chunky RE450 extender has been on our recommended list for several years because it does everything you could ask of a Wi-Fi extender at a very fair price.
Its three sticky-out aerials did a solid job of relaying the wireless signal around our home – we measured download speeds of 16MB/sec at close range, and even at the far end of the house the RE450 kept up a very satisfactory 9MB/sec.
While the design looks rather plasticky, it’s pleasingly slim, sticking out just 37mm from the wall, so you shouldn’t trip over it as you walk past. The wide casing means you probably won’t be able to plug anything into the adjacent power socket, but the softly glowing blue ring that encircles the WPS button is quite attractive, and it helpfully turns red to let you know if there’s a problem with the connection. There’s a Gigabit Ethernet socket tucked away at the left-hand side too.
The RE450 isn’t the cheapest Wi-Fi 5 extender, but it’s faster and more stylish than the budget competition. Don’t be put off by its age: it still deserves a place on anyone’s shortlist.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (450Mbits/sec), 5GHz (1,300Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 1 x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes
6. TP-Link RE505X: Wi-Fi 6 at a budget price
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at AmazonIf you’ve invested in a Wi-Fi 6 router then you may find you’ve already got great speeds and a rock-solid connection all around your house. But if you need to stretch it a little further, you won’t do much better than the TP-Link RE505X. On paper, its speeds aren’t amazing; with 1,200MBits/sec on the 5GHz band and 300Mbits/sec over 2.4GHz there are faster Wi-Fi 5 extenders out there. In practice, however, the RE505x delivers a fast, stable connection in places where older extenders and mesh systems struggle, delivering downstream speeds of over 50MB/sec and even supporting demanding applications like Steam Link game streaming from a desktop PC.
As a bonus, if you have a TP-Link router that supports its OneMesh technology, you get hassle-free, seamless connectivity wherever you are in your home. Needless to say, you need a Wi-Fi 6 router and compatible devices to make the most of it, but this extender gives you the latest wireless tech at a bargain price.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (300Mbits/sec), 5GHz (1,200Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 1 x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes
7. Netgear EAX12: A solid and reliable Wi-Fi 6 extender
Price when reviewed: £80 | Check price at AmazonOn paper, the Netgear EAX12 should be a little faster than the RE505x, giving you an extra 100Mbits/sec bandwidth over the 2.4GHz band thanks to its AX1600 spec. In practice, we didn’t find much difference and the EAX12 can actually be slower depending on the distance and the router that it’s working with.
However, performance isn’t everything, and while we had some issues with the setup, it’s a neat device that plugs straight into a wall socket and does a solid job of stretching out your Wi-Fi network. The router link and client link LED indicators make it easier to find the best position, while Netgear’s Nighthawk app has some useful monitoring features. Most of all, across a few weeks of testing we didn’t experience any dropouts or big variations in speed; it’s a real “set it and forget it” effort. The RE505x has the edge on price and the initial configuration, but this is still a decent, reliable Wi-Fi 6 extender.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (400Mbits/sec), 5GHz (1.2Gbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 1x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes
8. Devolo WiFi 6 Repeater 3000: Best mid-range Wi-Fi 6 extender
Price when reviewed: £90 | Check price at AmazonThe WiFi 6 Repeater 3000 gives you a step-up in speed from the entry-level Wi-Fi 6 extenders, matching the AX3000 spec with speeds of up to 574Mbits/sec on the 2.5GHz band and 2.4Gbits/sec on the 5GHz band. Paired with an AX3000 or AX5400 router, you can get higher speed connections – reaching up to 232Mbits/sec in some of the most challenging areas of our test house. We’re not talking night-and-day differences in performance, but if you want a fast, reliable connection for, say, gaming or video chat, then the WiFi 6 Repeater 3000 should fit the bill.
Its charms don’t end with its download speeds, either. It’s a compact, well-designed extender that’s easy to set up and configure, while Devolo’s app is good for any ongoing management. It’s also a compact, plug-in option where faster extenders need a separate power supply. If you have the extra cash, the Devolo WiFi Repeater 6400 is worth the extra, but this is less obtrusive, more convenient and excellent value.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (574Mbits/sec), 5GHz (2.4Gbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 1x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes
9. Devolo WiFi 6 Repeater 5400: Best high-performance extender
Price when reviewed: £118 | Check price at BoxThe WiFi 6 Repeater 5400 is a serious speed demon, matching the AX5400 spec with up to 4.8Gbits/sec on the 5GHz band and up to 574Mbits/sec on the 2.4GHz band. In our tests, it was the fastest extender we’ve reviewed in this particular house, with speeds of 334Mbits/sec download and 228Mbit/sec upload in rooms where Devolo’s own WiFi 6 Repeater 3000 could only give us 231Mbits/sec and 138.4Mbits/sec, respectively.
The downside of these speeds is that they involve a design that looks more like a small router with a separate power supply. However, this gives you more flexibility than a plug-in unit, helping you to get a better signal, while you can also use this repeater as a Wi-Fi access point. And, just like the Repeater 3000, it’s as simple as anything to set up. The WiFi 6 Repeater 5400 will be overkill for many people, but if you must get a high-speed connection to a distant corner of the house, nothing else out there comes close.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (574Mbits/sec), 5GHz (4.8Gbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 2x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes
10. TP-Link RE700X: The best value Wi-Fi 6 extender
Price when reviewed: £90 | Check price at Amazon
The bigger brother of the lovable RE505X is another compact, plug-in Wi-Fi 6 extender, but with the speeds boosted to meet the AX3000 spec. Similar to its cheaper sibling, this model is easy to set up and configure using TP-Link’s Tether app, and it supports OneMesh technology for seamless roaming around the house. If you have a compatible TP-Link router, it can even set up the RE700X while in this mode.
We like the discreet style, with no sticky-out antennae, but the RE700X’s biggest strength is its excellent performance. It’s the second-fastest Wi-Fi 6 unit we’ve tested, creeping ahead of the Devolo WiFi 6 Repeater 3000, and coming in only just behind the faster WiFi 6 Repeater 5400. In our hard-to-reach kitchen, it hit download speeds of 361Mbits/sec to the Devolo’s 382Mbits/sec. In the upstairs office, the gap was wider at 263Mbits/sec against 334Mbits/sec; but that’s still a fantastic effort.
The RE700X is more expensive than the RE505X, but if you have an AX3000 or AX5400 router, we’d say it’s worth it. What’s more, we’ve seen some great deals on this one, with prices dropping as low as £55.
Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (574Mbits/sec), 5GHz (2.4Gbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 1 x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes