7 Wi-Fi extenders to kill your home’s Internet dead zones
Enjoy whole-home Internet coverage by adding a Wi-Fi Extender to your network.
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Everyone has a spot in their home where the Wi-Fi signal is weaker because of obstacles, walls or too much distance between your connected device and your home's wireless Internet router. This can make your videos buffer, online games stutter and web pages load at a snail’s pace.
If you don't already own a mesh Wi-Fi system that works with nodes you can place throughout the house, the best option to correct spotty Wi-Fi is a Wi-Fi extender: it’s a device designed to boost your router’s Wi-Fi to all of those hard-to-reach areas of your household.
Our American Colleagues tested seven Wi-Fi extenders, ranging from ultra-fast ones that can handle 4K video streams over long distances, to inexpensive ones that are ideal if you just need to boost the signal in one room.
1. A Wi-Fi extender for fast networks: Linksys RE9000
This RE9000 boasts four antennas, multiple Ethernet ports and can be used as a standalone wireless router. However, its primary purpose is to function as an extender. Supporting the AC3000, which is one of the fastest standards available to consumers today, the Linksys RE9000 is one of the fastest extenders we’ve tested. It could handle 4K video streams with ease and offered upload and download speeds of over 200 Mbps.
Keep in mind, however, that to experience these blazing fast speeds, you will need a router that supports the AC3000 standard as well.
Get the Linksys RE9000 from Amazon Canada
2. An inexpensive Wi-Fi extender: TP-Link RE220
If you're looking to add some basic connectivity to a dead zone in your home for casual web browsing or other light productivity and browsing tasks, the TP-Link RE220 is a fine choice.
The RE220 supports the AC750 standard, the slowest of the 802.11AC variants, which means even if you connect it to an ultra-fast router, you'll still get pretty slow speeds, with a pokey data transfer speed of 30 Mbps. During testing, we had trouble watching 4K videos, which would continuously stutter because the connection was too slow to keep up.
Get the TP-Link RE200 from Amazon Canada
3. A Wi-Fi extender that’s ideal for families: TP-Link RE650
If you have multiple people in your home looking to connect to the Internet at once, the RE650 is a good choice. During testing, we saw speeds of about 120 Mbps, which is sufficient for two or three computers engaged in non-bandwidth-intensive tasks like basic web browsing and email, at the same time. We were able to stream 4K video without a hitch, thanks to the RE650’s support for the AC2600 standard and MIMO radios that send and receive multiple signals at once.
One area where this extender really shines is its setup process: the RE650 has built-in software that makes configuring it to work with your home network a breeze, using either your web browser or, a free iOS or Android app downloaded to your smartphone.
Get the TP-Link RE650 from Best Buy Canada
4. A basic Wi-Fi extender: Netgear EX6120 Essentials Edition
Our American colleagues tested the EX6110 iteration of this router which, unfortunately, isn’t readily available to buy here in Canada. However, the EX6120, which can be purchased up here, boasts nearly identical performance. Both the EX6110 and the EX6120 only support the slower AC1200 standard.
The EX6120’s data transfer speed tops out at approximately 30 Mbps, which isn’t sufficient for viewing a 4K video stream without a significant amount of buffering. However, for those looking to chat online, do a bit of banking or check on the latest news from their laptop or tablet, the speeds offered by this extender should be acceptable.
In addition to functioning as an extender, the EX6120 has the ability to act as a standalone router.
Get the Netgear EX6120 from Best Buy Canada
5. A Wi-Fi extender for large rooms: Netgear Nighthawk X4S EX7500
When we connected this extender to an AC2900 router, we saw data speeds of 30-40 Mbps, which is enough bandwidth to watch a 4K video, without interruption. We also liked the fact that the EX7500's signal spread noticeably further than any of the other extenders in our test group, making it ideal for large, open rooms and spaces.
Oddly, despite its fast transfer rates, Despite supporting three Wi-Fi frequency bands (one 2.4GHz and two 5GHz) as well as AC2200, with multiple antennae and radios, the EX7500 struggled when more than one or two people logged on to browse the web.
Get the Netgear Nighthawk X4S EX7500 from Best Buy Canada
6. An easy to set up Wi-Fi extender: D-Link DAP-1610
The D-Link DAP-1610 was super simple to set up and offers enough speed to accommodate two or three people browsing the web, streaming 4K videos, or other data-intensive tasks, like gaming. If you own devices that can’t connect via Wi-Fi, good news: the DAP-1610 has an Ethernet port that supports one wired connection— but only at 100Mbps speeds.
We liked that the three LEDs on the top of the unit shine in green or amber hues to report signal strength so you can find the right spot to put it.
Get the D-Link DAP-1610 from Best Buy Canada
7. A Wi-Fi extender for rural Canada: Linksys RE6350
If you only occasionally use your home Internet connection or live in rural Canada where Internet speeds top out at what 4G cellular connectivity can provide, the Linksys RE6350 extender might be the Wi-Fi extender that you’re looking for.
Compact and affordable, the Linksys RE6350 is easy to set up thanks to its intuitive app interface. You should know, however, that, as this extender is designed for slow network connections, it won’t perform well when asked to perform high-bandwidth tasks. During testing, we saw dismal speeds of 17 Mbps, which is only half as fast as the other extenders in our test group that support AC1200. While attempting to use it to watch a four-minute-long 4K video, the stream stopped and buffered a whopping nine times.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.