If your wireless signal is weak, you're going to have a bad time.
Update 7 March 2017: We've refreshed this list with a couple of new items, including the TP-Link RE450, to ensure you're still getting the best Wi-Fi extenders.
Sometimes it doesn't matter where you put your wireless router; the signal just won't be strong enough in some areas of your home. In that case, you should pick up a wireless range extender, sometimes referred to as "boosters" or "repeaters."
There are many to choose from, so we've narrowed down our favorites to help keep you connected in every corner of your home.
TP-Link RE450 (AC1750)
When it comes to Wi-Fi extenders, what you want is a combination of speed, price, and range, and the TP-LINK RE450 seems to check all these boxes. You simply plug it into an outlet in a room in your office or house, push the big button on the front to start it up, and it will get you through the simple process of extending your Wi-Fi. Chosen as the best overall extender by The Wirecutter, they had this to say:
It was the only extender that hit triple-digit speeds on our easier long-range 5GHz test, and its long-range 2.4GHz performance was better than that of everything else we tested.
The TP-Link RE450 includes an Ethernet port so that you can hook up a wired connection to devices close by, or you can use it to connect the extender to the router through a direct cable. Toss in a two-year warranty for this extender, and you have an excellent option that is suitable for pretty much anyone with Wi-Fi woes.
Netgear EX6100 (AC750)
When first setting up a Wi-Fi extender, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the best place is to set it up, especially if you're in a large area with many rooms. The Netgear EX6100 has LEDs on it that point you in the right direction when going through the setup process, and once you've found the right spot, you just plug it directly into the nearest wall outlet. You can, of course, access the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band simultaneously. When combined, your speeds will reach upwards of 750Mbps. In their review, Top Ten Reviews had this to say:
Its discreet design, combined with its speedy dual band capabilities, will largely cut out glitches and lags for smooth Wi-Fi connection on all of your wireless devices.
Netgear Nighthawk EX7000
If you're looking for a powerful Wi-Fi range extender, the Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 will be more than you need. It has a dual-band setup that supports speeds of up to 1900Mbps. For reference, the FCC considers 25Mbps to be broadband internet.
The Nighthawk features high-power amplifiers and a high-gain antennae to maximize coverage in your home, and it employs FastLane technology, which uses both Wi-Fi bands to create one super-fast connection, ideal if you're streaming HD video or gaming. Chosen as the best Wi-Fi extender by Tom's Guide, they remarked:
It may be a little tough to set up, but the EX7000's top thoroughput and excellent range combine to ensure that every family member remains connected and happy.
The Nighthawk also includes five gigabit ports for connecting devices to your network via ethernet, as well as a USB 3.0 port for access to your stored media. If you're looking for a powerhouse Wi-Fi extender, then the Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 is top dog.
Another great budget choice, the ASUS RP-AC52 is the successor to the last-gen RP-N53, which was strictly 802.11n. This extender has been upgraded to handle 802.11ac, and does quite well offering some Wi-Fi coverage in a far corner of a home. Though it is quite cheap at about $55 after a rebate, it has plenty of features. You can create a blacklist for devices you don't want connected, and you can also set it to drop devices when the connection becomes too weak.
In their review where they chose the last-gen ASUS RP-N53 as the best budget option, The Wirecutter said this:
This wall-plug 802.11n extender is notably small, but it offers better performance and features than other extenders in its price range, including an easy-to-use Web configuration screen, music-streaming capabilities, and the ability to function as a night-light.
The newer version of the extender is physically the same, with an Ethernet port and a night-light, plus its wireless-ac capabilities means it can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This extender is worth the money for anyone who doesn't need a ton of Ethernet ports or a ton of outer antennas.
The Linksys RE6500 is a solid extender with a quirky feature. It features an audio port to which you can connect your stereo system or speakers so that you can wirelessly stream your music from your phone or computer. This extender was chosen as the runner-up to the TP-Link RE450 by The Wirecutter, where they noted:
In our tests it gave us around three-fourths the speed of the primary pick; of all the wireless-ac extenders we recently tested, however, it had the second-fastest average speeds and the second-best price-to-performance ratio.
If you're trying to boost your Wi-Fi signal but also have a bunch of wired devices, the RE6500 features four ethernet ports to ensure an uninterrupted connection. Each dipole antenna is adjustable, which actually matters when trying to extend your Wi-Fi range, so it's a convenient feature to have.
The RE6500 is great if you're looking for a fairly basic extender to maximize coverage but also have a few wired devices.
Looking for an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi extender that can double as a smart hub? Yeah, they exist, and they're pretty awesome. The Almond2015 from Securifi is your touchscreen solution to limited Wi-Fi range. It requires no computer or mobile device to set up; just use the touchscreen to do it all. You can also access the router and connected sensors via the Almond app for Android and iOS.
The Almond2015's best feature is its ability to be used as a smart hub. Use it to control smart lights, locks, thermostats, and more, all while extending your Wi-Fi range to your entire home. In their write-up, Top Ten Reviews had this to say:
We're happy to see a new approach to wireless network devices that caters a little more to less tech-savvy individuals, as most people don't have much knowledge of networking.
If you're in the market for a router/extender/smart hub, then the Almond2015 is where it's at, and at around $60, it's a steal.