Depending on the size and layout of your home, having one of the best Wi-Fi range extenders may be critical for your home network. At the same time, most gamers will find a way to connect their gaming PCs using an ethernet cable—whether Powerline or just a long cable—the rest of your home needs a reliable connection, too. You don’t want your roommates or family to hate you for hogging all the signals, do you? Having one of the best gaming routers helps, for sure, but sometimes even they need a little extra oomph to reach from your basement to your attic.
Wi-Fi extenders come in all shapes and sizes, some of which may fit better or worse in your home, plus different models perform better when relaying 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless signals. Depending on what devices you have at home, you may need one more than the other—some smart home devices and set-top boxes like Rokus and Amazon Fire TVs only receive 2.4GHz.
Of course, we prefer models that excel at both.
1. TP-Link RE650
The best WiFi range extender for your home
WiFi performance: AC2600 | Coverage: 14,000sq/ft | 2.4GHz speed: 45Mbps | 5GHz speed: 133Mbps | Antennae: 4
$99.99View at NeweggPrime$109.99View at Amazon$119.99View at Dell
Single SSID supportSupports MU-MIMO and BeamformingHigh FPSAvailable Gigabit Ethernet port
TP-Link offers a variety of wireless extenders, and this TP-Link AC2600 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE650) is their top entry into the extender space. This model has top specs when compared to the lower models, with AC2600 speeds (N800 + AC1733), and four external antennas. We also like the integrated Gigabit Ethernet port on this extender that facilitates the use of this as a wireless bridge, or access point, providing the user with flexibility as they build out their network. This extender has the option to transmit the same SSID, even with routers of a different manufacturer, allowing this RE650 function as a ‘pseudo-Mesh’ node.
We’ll just get it out of the way, and say that the throughput tests on the 2.4GHz frequency are a little lackluster. However, the 5GHz tests are the standout, starting with the Speedtest download of 132.91 Mbps, the best throughput we saw from any of our smaller extenders. On our gaming test, the 69+ FPS, and dropped frames of <1% on our streaming 4K video on the 5 GHz frequency matched the baseline benchmarks of our wired Ethernet connection. Furthermore, RE650 is the only compact extender to do this feat.
Therefore, according to our testing on our real-world benchmark tests, the experience with the RE650 is the same as gaming while connected with a wire using this extender. This great performance, coupled with the over 14,000 reviews on Amazon that give it four stars, and the affordable price make the TP-Link RE650 our top recommendation for a wireless network extender.
2. Netgear Nighthawk X6S EX8000
A brilliant extender at a high price
WiFi performance: AC3000 | Coverage: 100ft | 2.4GHz speed: 57Mbps | 5GHz speed: 193Mbps | Antennae: N/A
Prime$297.47View at AmazonPrime$359.98View at AmazonPrime$369.98View at Amazon1 Amazon customer review
Tri-band support for dedicated backhaulUSB printer supportSingle SSIDFastest 5GHz download speed of any extenderHigher costHigh packet loss on 5GHz video download
Most of these other extenders go for the unassuming, plug-into-the-outlet approach, and maybe stick a few small antennas into their design. Taking this 180 degrees, this Netgear Nighthawk X6S goes for a monolithic desktop design of a more massive tower of black plastic and keeps the antennas internal. The benefit of the larger unit is there is plenty of room for additional features, including four Gigabit Ethernet ports, a quad-core processor, and a USB 2.0 port that supports ReadySHARE Print. The wireless specs check all the right boxes, including Tri-band support that uses one of the 5 GHz frequencies for dedicated backhaul to the router dubbed FastLane3, Beamforming+ for better range and throughput, and an Access Point mode.
On our testing suite, the Nighthawk X6S performed well across many of our benchmarks. Starting with the download test, on the 2.4 GHz frequency, we clocked 57.38 Mbps of throughput, and on 5 GHz, it managed a ridiculously fast score of 193.08 Mbps—the fastest of any extender. Also, the upload speeds were close to full bandwidth. On the network gaming congestion test, while connected on the 2.4 GHz frequency, the FPS was 47.65, with a low 2.67% of dropped frames on the streaming video. When connected via the 5 GHz frequency, the scores are even more impressive with FPS of 66.217 on the game, and a really low dropped frame rate of <1% on our simultaneously streaming 4K video.
This makes the Netgear Nighthawk X6S an excellent choice for those looking for a full-sized extender, and are willing to pay the higher price for the superb feature set.
Best mesh router kit | Best gaming laptops | Best gaming motherboards
3. Linksys Max-Stream RE7000
The best budget WiFi range extender
WiFi performance: AC1900 | Coverage: 10,000sq/ft | 2.4GHz speed: 55Mbps | 5GHz speed: 90Mbps | Antennae: N/A
Prime$89.99View at Amazon$99.99View at Dell$104.99View at Newegg925 Amazon customer reviews
Dedicated backhaulSimple to setupSingle SSID with a Linksys routerSupports MU-MIMOSlower download speed on the 2.4GHzNot the lowest dropped frame rate when streaming video
The Linksys RE7000 wireless extender offers AC1900 (N300 + AC1733) speeds and can boost range by up to 10,000 square feet. The antennas are internal, giving the RE7000 a compact size. It also supports the same SSID, but only when connected to a Linksys router, which provides it with the behavior more like a mesh node, than a typical add on the extender. There is an integrated Gigabit Ethernet port, which allows the RE7000 to function as a wireless bridge or as a wired access point giving flexibility in deployment. Finally, it supports Beamforming, MU-MIMO, and has dedicated backhaul to the router on the alternate frequency via Linksys’ Cross Band technology.
The RE7000 did quite well on the 2.4GHz download test with a speed of 55.32 Mbps, although it lagged the competition at 5GHz, but had a still serviceable 90.57 Mbps of download speed. In our network congestion testing, with a simultaneous video stream, the RE7000 had FPS on the 5GHz frequency at 54.443 FPS. The simultaneously streamed 4K video had low dropped frames of 1.14% on 5GHz.
The RE7000 is our original best pick among wireless extenders, and it remains a capable product, although it is weaker on some benchmarks. We do like the lower price, which still makes the RE7000 a good budget pick.