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Best Wi-Fi extender 2021: Improve wireless coverage and speed from £35 this Black Friday

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Looking to improve your Wi-Fi? This is our guide to the best wireless extenders for improving speed and coverage throughout your home

No matter how fast your broadband connection, if your Wi-Fi isn't up to scratch then you'll be missing out. But you don’t need to buy a new router to give your wireless performance a boost. Choose from our list of the best Wi-Fi extenders below and you'll be able to strengthen the signal to all areas of your home, as well as potentially benefiting from a much faster connection.

Here’s everything you need to know about these handy devices, along with our selection of the best Wi-Fi extenders on the market.


BLACK FRIDAY DEALS 2021:

Our favourite budget Wi-Fi extender is now cheaper than ever

The TP-Link RE300 might be basic, but it's fast, reliable and easy to set up. While we solidly recommend it at its usual price of £35, right now on Amazon it's down to its lowest-ever price at just £23, making it an incredibly cost-effective way to boost your home Wi-Fi. Amazon Was £35 Now £23 Buy Now

This whole home extender system is at its lowest price this Black Friday

Devolo's Mesh Wi-Fi 2 system marries superfast 2,400Mbit/sec G.Hn powerline technology with 802.11ac Wi-Fi to deliver a reliable signal all over your home. It's one of our favourite home Wi-Fi systems, full stop and this is a great price for a superb system. Amazon Was £284 Now £215 Buy Now

Save £35 on the Netgear EX8000

As Wi-Fi extenders go, this Netgear unit is pretty swift. Although it uses Wi-Fi 5 technology, it's still capable of reaching superfast speeds and is a great choice for homes where you only need to extend to one spot. Amazon Was £160 Now £125 Buy Now

READ NEXT: Test your Wi-Fi with our broadband speed checker


Best Wi-Fi extender: At a glance


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 1,733Mbits/sec, which is equivalent to around 216MB/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.

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. So a good, solid Wi-Fi network should easily be fast enough to cope with multiple simultaneous high-resolution video streams.

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'll 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.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best broadband providers this year

The best Wi-Fi extenders to buy

1. TP-Link RE300: The best budget extender

Price: £35 | Buy now from 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 1 WiFi: The best value powerline extender kit

Price: £118 | Buy now from Amazon

Devolo’s Magic WiFi kit uses powerline networking, so it’s ideal for extending your wireless network into places where your existing router can’t penetrate.

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’ll 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 kit gave us strong download rates all around the house, equivalent to around 100Mbits/sec – and 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.

If your home isn’t Wi-Fi-friendly, this speedy powerline extender is the perfect solution.

Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (300Mbits/sec), 5GHz (867Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 2 x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes

3. TP-Link RE-650: Faster speeds for multiple devices

Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

TP-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 4x4 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 set up 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 Mesh WiFi 2: The most reliable powerline and Wi-Fi extender money can buy

Price: £199 (2 pack), £270 (3 pack) | Buy now from Amazon

Devolo’s Mesh WiFi 2 straddles the world of wireless extenders, powerline and mesh Wi-Fi and offers a remarkably effective alternative to traditional wireless network hardware. By combining fast 2,400Mbits/sec G.Hn powerline with dual-band 802.1ac Wi-Fi, it delivers the best of all worlds: solid connectivity, even to quite remote locations, and very impressive top speeds as well.

It’s the fastest powerline system we’ve tested and among the best wireless extenders too. We were staggered to find download speeds in our garden office test location were nearly as fast as in the house. Plus, improvements to Wi-Fi – including access point steering and 2x2 MU-MIMO – mean it’s capable of beating many mesh Wi-Fi systems as well.

For homes with out-of-reach places, nothing beats the Devolo Mesh WiFi 2 at eliminating Wi-Fi notspots. The price is on the high side but, trust us, nothing beats it for long-range speed and reliability.

Key specs - Radio bands (maximum speeds): 2.4GHz (300Mbits/sec), 5GHz (866Mbits/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: £51 | Buy now from Amazon

TP-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 it’s 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. Devolo WiFi ac Repeater+: Best Wi-Fi extender for convenience

Price: £57 | Buy now from Amazon

Devolo's latest Wi-Fi-only extender offers solid rather than spectacular wireless specifications with support for dual-band 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) and a rated speed of 867Mbits/sec over 5GHz networks and 300Mbits over 2.4GHz. That falls well short of the mighty TP-Link RE-650's top speed of 1,733Mbits/sec. Its results in our performance tests reflect that middling spec with file transfers that are more in-line with the budget TP-Link RE-300, peaking at 9.6MB/sec in our close-range tests.

However, it makes the list of our favourites because it's super-easy to set up via the Devolo Home Network app, offers plenty of control over settings and because it comes with both a mains passthrough and dual Ethernet ports. That means it's perfect for use in the living room where mains sockets are at a premium and you need the most reliable connection possible for devices like TVs and games consoles. The price isn't bad at all, either.

Key specs - Radio bands (maximum speeds): 2.4GHz (300Mbits/sec), 5GHz (867Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 2 x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes; Other features: Mains passthrough

7. Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000: The fastest, smartest Wi-Fi extender money can buy

Price: £125 | Buy now from Amazon

Standing nearly 23cm tall, the Nighthawk X6S is the size of a full-blown router – but that’s justified by what’s inside. While most Wi-Fi extenders use a single 5GHz radio to talk to both your router and connected devices, the X6S boasts a tri-band design, which means backhaul communications don’t have to share bandwidth with client traffic.

This has a huge impact on speed. The X6S is easily the fastest extender we’ve ever tested, managing to project the full bandwidth of a 100Mbits/sec fibre broadband connection to the furthest outposts of our home. That’s the sort of performance we’ve previously only seen from high-end mesh Wi-Fi setups.

The X6S scores highly for features, too. At the rear, there are four Gigabit Ethernet ports, plus a USB port, which you can use to share files and folders over your home network. From the slick web interface you can also audit and block connected clients, set up an access schedule, customise IP address settings and more.

The only catch is the price: the Nighthawk X6S isn’t just the fastest extender we’ve seen – it’s also one of the most expensive that doesn’t use Powerline. But if you’re looking for fast transfers and a lot of features, it’s a no-brainer.

Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (400Mbits/sec), 2 x 5GHz (1,733Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: 4 x Gigabit; WPS button: Yes

8. TP-Link RE505x: Wi-Fi 6 at a budget price

Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

If 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 it’s speeds aren’t amazing; with 1200MBits/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

8. Netgear Nighthawk X4S: The best compact tri-band extender

Price: £110 | Buy now from Amazon

The Netgear Nighthawk X4S uses the same tri-band system as the barnstorming X6S, but it comes in a more compact, wall-mounted form. It’s not quite as powerful – on average we found it delivered around two thirds of the bandwidth of its bigger brother – but it’s still fast enough for more or less anything you might want to do. Even out on the rear terrace behind our home, it kept up a download speed of 5.6MB/sec, which is fast enough to smoothly stream 4K video

You also get that rich management interface, from which you can set up your Wi-Fi just how you like it, configure an access schedule and block individual clients. However, the X4S doesn’t have a USB port, so there are no sharing and streaming options – and there are no Ethernet ports, which is a bit of a shame.

Still, the Netgear Nighthawk X4S is one of the fastest extenders out there, and it’s cheaper and less intrusive than the X6S. Just be warned that, even though the all-in-one design is handy, it’s still big enough to cause potential problems with neighbouring plugs – and there’s no passthrough mains socket.

Key specs – Radio bands (maximum speed): 2.4GHz (400Mbits/sec), 2 x 5GHz (867Mbits/sec); Ethernet ports: None; WPS button: Yes