Best Wi-Fi extenders 2019: the best broadband connection in your home

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With the ever increasing pace of modern life, and an ever-growing to-do list, a reliable broadband in the home is essential. Yet the fact remains that broadband speed is only as good as the Wi-Fi router that sends out all that lovely data.

Get a router that’s not up to task and you end up bottlenecking data, which leaves you facing the dreaded ‘spinning wheel of death’ as you wait for your connection to buffer. Wait no more, a Wi-Fi extender can help.

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A good Wi-Fi extender can further the range of your current router to make sure your entire home or home office, upstairs included, has a strong and fast internet connection. It receives signal from your router then sends it on further, effectively boosting the distance covered by the data.

Say goodbye to wi-fi black spots without the need to run cables around the home or office and without blowing your budget. These are the best wi-fi extenders – also known as boosters or repeaters – that you can buy in 2019.

Why do I need a wi-fi extender?

best wifi extenders

Image credit: Polly Eltes

If your home or office is large and spread out, or has older, thicker walls, then wi-fi signal may not reach every area, leaving you with black spots. In these areas you’ll either get no signal or it’ll be too weak to keep up with you. A wi-fi extender helps to boost signal so that even these areas can be delivered a decent data deluge.

If you want to plug a TV or console into a wired Ethernet port but don’t like the idea of running cables across rooms then a wi-fi extender could help, just be sure it has Ethernet ports onboard.

For homes or offices with lots of people, a Wi-Fi extender could help to spread the data workload and make for faster connections across different devices, no matter where they’re located in any given space.

How much should I spend on a wi-fi extender?

best wifi extenders

Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies

This comes down to the problem you have. If you’ve got a huge area that needs coverage then a more expensive extender – or a mesh network of several extenders – might be needed.

The more you spend, the more powerful an extender you can get with that extra money for things like more aerials, more ports, dual bands and enhanced software controls.

If you’ve only got a short distance to cover and simply want wireless coverage then a more affordable option may do the job. This could be a time that you look at an aerial-free option for a look that’s more becoming of your home.

Or set aside a bit of budget for a nice cabinet or shielding pot plant to ensure your extender blends seamlessly into your existing interiors.

Which wi-fi extender is best?

After our tests, we have decided that the TP-Link AC1900 is the best wi-fi- extender money can buy. Plume Superpods are another great buy if you are after the perfect mix of design and security.

How to we test our wi-fi extenders?

Since a Wi-Fi extender is all about improving the performance of your internet connection, this is how we focus. There are lots of factors taken into account, of course, like price, ease of use, app support, design and build, ports, compatibility and bands.

Each of those gets a point but overall the weighted two point earner is the performance.

Performance is tested using the Google native speed test across devices to ensure fairness. It is also tested in real world testing using services like Netflix and YouTube for video performance.

Multitasking is also carried out to see how that affects the extender. This is done at both close range, in the room, and longer range, up to 30m away behind several walls.

All that is added up to give a score with a final result helping to place the extenders in order.

Best WiFi extenders

1. TP-Link AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router – best all-round wi-fi extender

best wifi extenders

If you want it all in one simple and relatively attractive package then the triple aerial toting TP-Link AC1900 is the Wi-Fi extender of choice for you. Not only does this offer triple, dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi but you also get the latest beamforming technology to make sure that wireless connection is stable and efficient.

The setup is simple using the included software which also offers more complex options like security parametres, blacklists, whitelists and Access Control settings.

LED lights make the inner workings of this unit clear at a glance across the room. In close range tests this hit a whopping 375 Mbps on 5Ghz, then move to 25 feet and you get around 260 Mbps and at 50 feet it’s closer to 105 Mbps. A lack of USB port and parental controls may bother some but for most people these aren’t needed on an extender anyway.

Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: TP-Link AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router, £94.97, Amazon

2. Plume Superpods – Best wi-fi extender for design and security

best wifi extenders

If you want your Wi-Fi extender solution to have a decidedly Apple feel about its simplicity and design minimalism then the Plume Superpods are for you. These beautiful extenders come as a three-pack, each unit of which plugs directly into a wall power socket. Everything is run via an easy-to-use app, which includes parental controls.

A plus and minus is the membership fee you’ll have to pay at £99. It means another cost but gives you a dedicated security system so you can rest easy knowing your privacy is secure. It even works to remove ads from your online browsing experience and it actually works well, extending that calming minimalism beyond your home and into your virtual world experience too.

We enjoyed details like minimal barely visible lights to let you know what’s going on without demanding attention, dual LAN ethernet ports on each unit, naming via the app, and performance that’s optimised using AI and actually gets better over time. Be warned though, we found that turning off your existing wireless router’s Wi-Fi gave the best performance.

Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Plume Superpods, £99 plus membership, Plume

3. Linksys Velop Intelligent Whole Home WiFi Mesh System – Best wi-fi extender for larger homes and garden offices

best wifi extenders

The great thing about a mesh network – aside from wide range coverage, stable internet and fast speeds – is that it uses one SSID meaning you see it as one router. Yup, this will let you cover your home, even if it’s large or has thick walls, with signal.

All the while you see it as one Wi-Fi point to connect to, something many extenders can’t offer. Also, in sending signals back and forth, lots of extenders half the bandwidth of your router, but a mesh network spreads the load for a more even high-speed performance.

The Velop comes with three units meaning it’s capable enough to cover even larger four and five bedroom homes. The setup is made for anybody, meaning you can simply install the app, follow the instructions and enjoy new Wi-Fi speeds across your home.

The app guides you on where to place each node but we found sometimes it simply had to go near a socket, but the mesh can adapt to help. We loved the sleek design of the white units and the real-world speeds of up to 556Mbps were impressive, as was the longer range 236Mbps across the home.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Linksys Velop Intelligent Whole Home WiFi Mesh System, £175.90, Amazon

4. TP-Link AC1200 Dual Band Wi-Fi range extender and booster – Best wi-fi extender for simplicity

best wifi extenders

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most elegant and that’s what Chinese company TP-Link has gone for with the RE350 AC1200 – it just works and it works well. The price is low yet you get a dual antenna system which offers dual-band coverage for a great long range performance.

Setup is super simple, just connect to your existing network and tap the WPS button and watch the lights on the device to confirm it’s connected. Lights annoy you? You can turn them off, a nice touch we really appreciated.

You get a single Ethernet port, should you want a wired connection and the unit actually looks pretty sleek. Expect around 83Mbps on the 5Ghz band over short range and a good 30Mbps on the long range 2.4Ghz band.

We found that the long range is the priority here over raw power but since that’s often what people need, this make sense – better a connection everywhere with weaker areas than none at all, right?

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: TP-Link AC1200 Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender & Booster, £58.78, Amazon

5. D-Link DAP-1520 Wireless AC750 Dual-Band Range Extender – Best wi-fi extender for discreet looks

best wifi extenders

This affordable extender is a small plug unit and is all contained in one housing that has an attractive shiny white finish. Despite the apparent design minimalism this still packs in the complexities of 802.11ac dual band 5Gz and 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi, WPS and dual antennas. The downside to the simplicity is that you don’t get a LAN ethernet port and the internal antennas will mean range is limited compared to exposed variants. Setup was simple with a WPS button tap getting us online and running right away.

In real-world testing this claimed 433Mbps extender offered around 70Mbps short range and rear to 45Mbps over longer distances. So there’s enough speed and range to help without having to waste anytime with a setup process.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: D-Link DAP-1520 Wireless AC750 Dual-Band Range Extender, £57.85, Amazon

6. NETGEAR AC1200 WiFi Range Extender EX6150 – Best wi-fi extender for high speeds

best wifi extenders

Despite being simple to setup, minimally sized and in a plug format, the Netgear EX6150 offers plenty of features and a performance that really pushes beyond its size. Thanks to dual 802.11ac antenna powered Wi-Fi this little unit supports up to 300Mbps in 2.4Ghz mode and 867Mbps in 5Ghz.

But the key is that it uses a backhaul FastLane channel which is geek-speak for using one channel to let the extender and your current router talk to each other – leaving all the other bandwidth free for your data to flow, fast.

Setup is simply using Netgear’s software with minimal data needed from you. Once up and running we found performance as good as we’d hoped with up to 135 Mbps speeds throughout actually achieved in real-world use.

This isn’t the newest extender on the list but still is one of the best performers out there right now, meaning you can get it for less without compromising on performance.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: NETGEAR AC1200 WiFi Range Extender EX6150, £59.29, eBay

7. NETGEAR Powerline 1000 + Extra OutletBest wi-fi extender for range

best wifi extenders

If your home has the same wiring throughout, then a powerline system might be a good option. This setup from Netgear offers a whopping 1,000 Mbps speed between your router and the extender.

But it’s not just that speed which is great, the setup is as simple as plugging in and you’re up and running – which was a refreshing break from downloading software to setup.

A one-push encryption button is a nice feature that leaves you feeling your privacy is being kept secure across the connection. The plug even has an outlet so you don’t lose your power socket to this unit.

The range on this is more than anyone could need with up to 300 metres covered across powerlines. You could, technically, run power to a garden shed or summer house and have it running on your home Wi-Fi using this device.

Since you can keep adding extenders it’s a great way to completely cover your home in Wi-Fi that runs at high speed. The inclusion of an Ethernet port means you can plug in a TV or console far from your router and get wired speeds so you eek the most out of your broadband connection.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: NETGEAR Powerline 1000 + Extra Outlet, £39.99, Argos

How to buy the best wi-fi extender for you

best wifi extenders

Image credit: Philip Lauterbach

Like any good gadget there are a selection of categories into which Wi-Fi extenders fit, each offers a unique benefit that could enhance your experience and cater to specific needs.

  • Antenna: These come in either internal or external. While internal antennas allow for a more flushed finish, hiding the extender more discreetly, external antennas will generally offer better range and therefore performance. If your keen to have it fit into your interior scheme, this will depend on the range required. You may only need a small boost so can stay with a more attractive unit.
  • Desktop or socket: You can go for smaller units that plug directly into a wall socket, usually with less range, or a more capable – but generally more space consuming – desktop model.
  • Ports: Extenders usually have Ethernet ports to let you plug in a wired connection to the unit but some have more than others. So if you want one that plugs into a console or TV directly, for example, you will need to look out for this feature.
  • Dual band: The best extenders will be dual band to make sure you get both 2.4GHz and 5GHz and allowing multiple devices to connect and retain a balance of range and speed. Most modern units will have this feature, and anything without this isn’t recommended.
  • Mesh network: This is the use of multiple extenders which create a virtual web of data allowing your space to be totally covered and at the highest speed at all times. These are a bit more complex and expensive but can offer the most stable and speedy connection.
  • Powerline: These adapters use the powerlines in your home or office to transmit data so the extender at the other end can send that out over Wi-Fi. A great way to jump signal across a large space where boosters won’t cut it.

Buying a Wi-Fi extender – what other key questions do I need to ask?

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Desktop or socket is a big one as you may simply not have the space for another router sized unit in your home. Or perhaps your power sockets are all full and plugging a socket based extender directly into the wall just isn’t an option without an extension that you don’t want running along your floor.

That said, a lot do offer a socket on the unit allowing you to plug other items back in through the extender.

If you go for a mesh network then you’ll need to be ready to spend more on multiple units. You’ll also need to bear in mind that these networks are smart but will require you do to more setup and potentially some tweaking via the app in the longer run. That said these are usually the best way to get complete, high-speed and stable coverage.

Related: Best wireless security cameras – the top wifi cameras for keeping your home safe

Security is also another factor. Since you’re trusting this unit to feed all your data in and out of it, you’ll want it to be safe. Going for a bigger name brand can often mean aligning yourself with a more secure option that gives you peace of mind, and in some cases, a better browsing experience online.



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