A good Wi-Fi extender might cost just $50 USD while a mesh Wi-Fi system can set you back as much as $300. It will work with any wireless router but will likely work best with a new Wi-Fi 6 router and Wi-Fi 6 devices. The Netgear EAX20 is a large router-shaped Wi-Fi 6 mesh extender priced around $150. You've got lots of good mesh router options right now, though. If you have a coaxial cable running through your home, that will suffice. With a repeater setup, all you need is the router, which you already have, and the repeater. A wireless range extender could be considered an in-place upgrade since all you have to do is attach the extender to your existing network to broaden the Wi-Fi signal and extend the range. It won't boost your existing home network per se -- instead, it'll use that connection with your router to broadcast its own network. Like real estate, wireless networking is about three things: location, location, location. Your secret weapon on that front? Do you need a brand-new mesh router, or will a simple Wi-Fi range extender suffice? It didn't make much difference upstairs, but that third Eero device, located downstairs, had a huge impact on signal strength in the CNET Smart Home's basement (blue is bad, green is good, and yellow is best here -- look for the boost in the basement when that third device comes into play). Here's everything you need to know about your options. Wi-Fi extender (or range extender) is often compared to a mesh network, either way, both help you be as mobile as Wi-Fi intended man to be instead of having to stay stuck to one place in one room with the most signals. Some routers and homes just aren't built to provide Wi-Fi throughout the whole building. This extender have Mesh option which can be utilized by enabling one wifi name where devices can seamlessly roam between router and extender network not just by having same SSID, but it does support 802.11k which will help in seamless roaming for any device that support this protocol. If you can't get reliable Wi-Fi somewhere in your house, and moving the router isn't feasible, first decide where in the house the signal seems to always drop or isn't as strong as you'd like. In short, powerline adapters can extend wired connectivity to all parts of the home using the house’s existing electrical circuitry, whilst Wi-Fi mesh systems extend wireless coverage to all parts of the home to allow for more portable connectivity for smaller devices like tablets and iPhones. That'll ensure that the extender is able to put out the best possible network, and that it'll be able to cover your dead zone. Your best bets: Wi-Fi range extenders, or maybe a mesh router with its own, range-extending satellite devices called nodes. The hubs are already programmed to work with one another, so it's usually as simple as powering them on and setting up network settings like a password. If you have a home office that's far from the router, for instance, then placing either a plug-in range extender or a mesh router's satellite in the room and wiring your computer to it can guarantee speeds that are faster and steadier than what you'd get if you tried to connect wirelessly from afar. In short, if you're not willing to spend very much money to expand your Wi-Fi network, you might be stuck with purchasing a repeater. We delete comments that violate our policy, which we encourage you to read. Speed tests. With a Wi-Fi range extender, you will have to juggle between different networks when you go from one point of your home to another. For example, if your home has three floors and several bedrooms, and your downstairs router just isn't capable of penetrating the walls and other obstructions throughout the home, it might be easier to upgrade the network with a mesh system so that a room on all floors can have its own Wi-Fi "hub. At this point, you'll want to run through the basics. The two-piece setup with the router and a single extender would be a good fit for single-story homes, and costs $269. Well, for starters: Wi-Fi range extenders are the best cheap option for smaller spaces. This process is usually much more time consuming and complicated compared to a mesh network setup. In this case, there's no compelling reason to upgrade the entire Wi-Fi network with new mesh devices. It made a world of difference, as that heat map indicates. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion. From there, it's just a matter of finding the right hardware for the job. Many of them cost a lot less than in previous years, but you should still expect to pay at least $160 for a decent system, and hundreds more than that for something top-of-the-line. Just keep in mind that location matters a lot with these things, because they can only put out a network that's as strong as the incoming wireless signal from the router. Mesh Networking For the rest of us, mesh Wi-Fi is exactly what we're looking for. Nest Wifi doesn't support the newest, fastest Wi-Fi 6 connections, but it's still plenty fast, and as steady and reliable as mesh routers come. Similar to a plug-in extender, a powerline extender uses two plug-in devices that pass the connection back and forth through your home's electrical wiring, which is typically a really speedy way to do it. If you live in a large home, then a three-piece system is definitely a worthy investment. You'll plug it in, press the WPS button to put it into Wi-Fi Protected Setup mode, and then press the WPS button on your router to pair the two together. And don't worry too much about the brand. They're simple to set up, convenient to use and easy to expand. The Samsung SmartThings WiFi is a combination mesh system and home automation hub that will bring speedy close-range Wi-Fi to all corners of your home. Setup usually takes fewer than 15 minutes. The most popular choices are mesh networks and WiFi extenders, as the latter three fall under the WiFi extender family. Extenders like these are unlikely to hit your network's max speeds, mind you. However, it's also easy for a mesh system to be more than you need in a smaller home. NETGEAR AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender & Linksys Velop Tri-band Whole Home Wi-Fi Mesh System. That's terrific performance for the price, especially if it means the difference between a steady connection and no connection at all. Wi-Fi extenders are focused on solving a problem spot than as an all-round home solution. The TP-Link RE220 is our top range extender pick -- it doesn't cost very much, it's easy to use, and it can provide a steady, workable connection with surprisingly good range. Since a repeater relies on an existing network that you already have to repeat the signal, it's the only thing that you need to buy, whereas a mesh network is its own entire system, replacing your existing network. Medium-sized homes might want to consider stepping up to the three-piece version, which costs $349. Our current overall favorite -- the best mesh for most -- is the Google Nest Wifi. Running them is really easy. If your problem is bigger than a single room where you can't connect -- say, an entire floor where your speeds are spotty -- then your best move is almost certainly to upgrade to a mesh router. That said, mesh network hubs are usually much more attractive and rarely if ever, have visible antennas. There are lots of free services on the web that'll let you check your speed, but the most popular (and the one I use when I'm testing routers out at home) is the Ookla Speed Test. Whereas a WiFi repeater relies on a wireless connection to receive a signal, a WiFi extender utilizes a wired connection. There's a bit of a mesh router renaissance underway these days, with lots of new, second-wave options hitting the market. A good WiFi Router helps in distributing the wireless broadband signals to different electronic gadgets like Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops and Computer PCs etc…. When you're done, average those download speed results in each room to get a sense of where your connection is and isn't up to snuff. It can be used in two ways. Range extenders like these are typically designed to work no matter what kind of router you're using. In my tests, the brands that do the best job of routing your connection with drops or slow-downs are Google, Eero and Asus. When I tested a few of the top models out in my home, the RE220's 5GHz band was able to sustain speeds of about 75Mbps throughout my entire test area, with a radius of about two rooms (or roughly forty feet). They're perfect for larger homes, simple to set up, and offer easy central management. There are a couple of massive improvements that help mesh networks achieve far better results. So, if you aren't able to connect in a particular place in your home, then the best approach is to run some speed tests in different rooms, with a goal of finding the spot closest to your dead zone where the incoming signal from the router is strong. A mesh network, in contrast to an extender, uses adaptive software to use the parts of your network that are the clearest. Number of devices. However, there are some disadvantages to Wi-Fi repeaters. On average, mesh networks can cost as much as $300, whereas a good WiFi extender can cost as little as $50. Mesh devices are useful in that there's usually a few of them that are purchased at once, and so long as the hubs are close enough to each other to communicate, each of them can provide a full Wi-Fi signal in each room they're placed. A mesh router will allow you to connect you to a single network. Why Does My Wi-Fi Connection Keep Dropping? Plus, you can still use your existing router. In my tests, the RE220 was able to boost the speeds in this back bathroom from single digits up to about 80Mbps. When we tested that 3-piece Eero setup at the 5,800-square-foot CNET Smart Home, we placed the second satellite down in the basement and measured the signal strength throughout the entire house. If none of that works, then it's time to start evaluating your hardware needs. One last thing worth remembering: Wireless speeds are all well and good, but a wired, Ethernet connection will always give you speeds that are as fast as possible. The 9 Best Mesh Wi-Fi Network Systems of 2020, The 5 Best Powerline Network Adapters of 2020, The 9 Best 802.11ac Wi-Fi Wireless Routers of 2020, Everything You Need to Build a Wireless Network, How to Fix It When There's No Internet Connection. Discuss: Mesh router vs. Wi-Fi range extender: Which is best for your home network. Buy now from Amazon → Netgear is the leader in the Wi-Fi extender category, and therefore, we have handpicked multiple products from the brand. Just plug one in near your router and connect it with an Ethernet cable, then plug the other one in wherever you've got a dead zone. A good Wi-Fi extender might cost just $50 USD while a mesh Wi-Fi system can set you back as much as $300. It aims to maximise coverage on a single fibre broadband network. You might, however, be able to purchase a mesh network with just two separate hubs to bring the price down. One thing to keep in mind as you shop: Software makes a huge difference with these things, because mesh routers are constantly using algorithms to calculate the best way to route your connection depending on where you are in your home. WiFi range extenders in practice: You're working, you're homeschooling your kids, you're video chatting with friends and family, you're binge-watching Queer Eye -- and you're pushing your home's Wi-Fi network to the limit. Best WiFi Routers, Mesh Systems, And Extenders: TP-Link vs Linksys vs Netgear Orbi vs Google WiFi vs Eero Pro Kimberly Alt Updated: November 23, 2020 8 Comments To sustain this free service, we receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. If you're using a phone, disable cellular while you run this test. Another downside to mesh networks is that you have multiple devices positioned throughout your house. We like Google's Nest Wifi the best for its fast, steady connection, impressive range, and sophisticated software. That's the quick overview, but here's how I got here. Try moving the router to a different spot (out in the open is best, preferably as high up and as centrally located as possible). For example, if your router is hidden beneath a desk in your basement, chances are slim that it can reach outside to your garage; moving it to the main floor, or at least away from the desk obstruction, might be enough. If you’re living in a home with multiple occupants, there are clear advantages to going with Mesh Wi-Fi systems like the Amazon Eero, Netgear Orbi and TP-Link Deco. Also, make sure you're connected to your home network while you do this, preferably from whatever device you use online the most. Nest Wifi doesn't support the newest, fastest Wi-Fi 6 connections, but it's still plenty fast, and as steady and reliable as mesh routers come. If you really want to be ready for the future, both Netgear and Linksys have mesh systems with support for WiFi 6. We have a handful of recommendations, including Amazon's Eero and the AC1200 version of Netgear's Orbi, as well as the Asus ZenWiFi AX as a worthy upgrade pick. A good powerline extender will use your home's wiring like a shortcut to get around obstacles like those. All things considered, aside from cost, a mesh network is very often the best way to go since it's almost guaranteed that a quality system can provide Wi-Fi for almost any sized home. Michael Heine is a CompTIA-certified writer, editor, and Network Engineer with 25+ years' experience working in the television, defense, ISP, telecommunications, and education industries. Range extenders like these are a cinch to use. You might also be able to eke out small speed improvements by repositioning the antennas. A mesh router with its own, dedicated range extenders will do an even better job of spreading a speedy Wi-Fi signal throughout your home. Get smart home reviews and ratings, video reviews, buying guides, prices and comparisons from CNET. That might not sound like much, but it's fast and steady enough to support video chats, HD video streams, and even basic online gaming if you need it to. You might not need to buy a repeater or a mesh system if you can manage to just move the router to a better location. A WiFi extender is essentially like a small hub that can physically be placed in between both your router and your PC to take the WiFi signal from your router and extend it out to a longer distance. If your only issue is that you get some Wi-Fi sometimes, but it often drops, then placing a repeater between that space and the router to give the signal a little push is probably all you need. This approach is great if your house isn't very big, and it's inexpensive when compared to mesh Wi-Fi systems. Credit: D-Link Netgear Covr. Powerline extenders can also be a nice option if you have pesky physical obstructions in between your router and your dead zone that would stress the wireless connection between the router and the extender. Since a repeater relies on an existing network that you already have to repeat the signal, it's the only thing that you need to buy, whereas a mesh network is its own entire system, replacing your existing network. Nest is nice, but Eero, another option with strong software chops, is currently offering three-piece setups for $249, which is about $100 less than Nest's 3-piece system. Tim Fisher has 30+ years' professional technology support experience. The Netgear Nighthawk AX8 WiFi 6 Mesh Extender (EAX80) isn’t your average extender: this is a Wi-Fi 6 model, using the latest wireless standard. They aren't very easy to configure and they might not be as seamless to use throughout the house. However, mesh networks tend to be much more expensive than repeaters and they require several devices around the house. This type of configuration, however, would be just fine for immobile devices like a wireless desktop computer. I've already outlined some of the initial steps you can take to boost your connection without buying anything, but in a lot of cases, eliminating dead zones like those will require a hardware upgrade. If you want, you can repeat this process at different times of day. However, mesh Wi-Fi is more stable than Wi-Fi extender. Since they can work with routers from a different manufacturer (i.e., you can use a Linksys extender with a TP-Link router), you have to manually configure the extender to connect with the main router. Just double-check that your router has a WPS button (almost all do) and you'll be fine. CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. So should I get a Wi-Fi extender? When you aren't feeling well and you go to the doctor, that doctor will start by asking you questions and running tests to figure out what's wrong. ... Wi-Fi Range Extender vs. If you have several Wi-Fi dead zones or live in a multiple-storey home, it’s worth upgrading to a Wi-Fi mesh system. A powerline adapter requires two outlets, plugged into the mains of your home. For a mesh Wi-Fi to maintain network stability, it needs several devices placed very close to each other. Hi @alcat,. Alternately, mesh routers are best for whole-home coverage. In fact, most plug-in models won't connect much faster than 50Mbps, and they'll only offer enough range to cover a couple of rooms at best. The other option is to install a mesh network, which provides separate router-like devices in different rooms to serve Wi-Fi all over the house. Overall, I was most impressed with Google's Nest Wifi, which absolutely aced my tests as I wandered from room to room running speed tests. You don’t have to manually switch to another network, the nodes automatically keep you connected to whichever node has the strongest signal, giving you seamless coverage everywhere. Mesh Wi-Fi networks are very easy to set up, and are good for: Extending your Wi-Fi to your whole home or bigger offices. They are all part of a single wireless network, and share the same SSID and password. There's a huge difference in price between a wireless extender and a mesh system Wi-Fi. Since most mesh networks use centralized management like this, they also make it easy to create guest networks, block devices from connecting to the internet, run internet speed tests, and related tasks. Mesh WiFi is faster and more efficient at delivering a WiFi signal than a range extender. While a range extender leaves you with multiple Wi-Fi networks to deal with, a standard mesh system such as the eero, Netgear Orbi or Nest Wi-Fi by Google, simply replaces the original network with one that automatically knows whether to connect via either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. Mesh … A mesh network includes separate hubs placed around the house that communicate with each other to provide Wi-Fi within range of each of the hubs. If that doesn't work, upgrading to a long-range router or replacing the router's antennas might be less expensive. Some newer homes may even be hardwired with Ethernet connections that offer effortless connectivity. After they're all ready to go, you can move through the house and automatically connect to whichever one provides the best signal since there's only one network that's used simultaneously by all the hubs. Also, since repeaters make you build a new network from the extender, you might have to manually switch to the extender's network when you're within range, which isn't always something you want to do when you're just walking through your house. The Netgear EX7500 Wi-Fi Range Extender (left) and Google Nest Mesh System are two of the ways you can boost your wireless internet signal at home. Two of the biggest drawbacks to wireless mesh networking are … There are two main ways to fix this problem, but choosing the right method depends not only on the cost of the purchase but also the size of the building and whether you already have a decent router. You've got a lot of options, but the best that I've tested is the TP-Link RE220, a plug-in extender that you can find online at various retail outlets for about $35, if not less. Range extenders, on the other hand, are often confusing to set up. Whichever you choose to go with, range extenders and mesh extenders will only put out a network signal that's as strong as the incoming wireless signal from the router, minus whatever penalty you're paying for connecting at a distance. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. Mesh setups can have three or more hubs, which might be a lot of technology to have sitting around various places. Router vs. That's the same diagnostic approach you need to take when you're trying to improve the quality of your home network. However, if you find that the signal is weak close to the router and there's still plenty of house left that needs Wi-Fi, then chances are slim that a repeater placed right there can forward the signal to the rest of the home unless your house is quite small. Get the Latest Tech News Delivered Every Day. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. In other words, WiFi extenders, WiFi adapters, and WiFi boosters are almost the same thing, but with slightly different functionalities. If you're seeing speeds that are less than half of what you get when you're close to the router, then that's an area where you might be able to shore things up (and if those close-range speeds aren't close to what your internet plan allows, then you should call your provider). Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. That'll ensure that the range extender or mesh point is able to put out the best possible network, and that it'll be able to cover your dead zone. Another range-extending option worth thinking about is to go with a powerline extender. What can you do? Mesh Wi-Fi uses the most significant routers as opposed to Wi-Fi extenders, which use limited and specific routers. How do you choose which is best for you home? Might be worth a try. A WiFi range extender, also known as WiFi booster or WiFi repeater, is a relatively simple device that connects to your existing network and features two WiFi radios.One of the two radios listens to your router, and the other one rebroadcasts what the first one hears. Each hub acts more like a separate router rather than repeating the signal. And the best model I've tested thus far is the TP-Link RE220, which can be had for as little as $30 or less -- if you can find it in stock. If you're dealing with dead zones, your home network might be ready for some new hardware. Netgear and TP-Link have each performed pretty well, too, though not without a couple of hiccups with certain systems. Gauging the size of the building is an important step in deciding which device to buy. For now, this TP-Link model has a four-star review average with over 11,000 reviews, and is currently available for less than $50. There are many common reasons why you may experience a slow wifi connection in your house. With multiple devices spread throughout your home, a good mesh router can sling a speedy signal from room to room, and you won't have to juggle multiple networks like you will with a range extender -- you'll just connect to the same network throughout your home (or two networks, if you're splitting the 2.4 and 5GHz bands into their own separate connections). I haven't tested extenders like these recently, but I'll update this post once I have some good data to share. ", Wi-Fi mesh networks are easier to set up since most come with a mobile app that provides a quick and simple way to get all the hubs working together. It'll pair you up with one of several nearby servers as soon as you load the page -- from there, just click the big "GO" button and wait about a minute to see your current upload and download speeds, as well as the connection's latency. Or a Wi-Fi mesh like Google Wifi? The best systems will always know when to connect directly to the router and when it's better to route your connection through one of the satellites, but others with less sophisticated software might get tripped up and route you incorrectly, which can needlessly slow your connection down. The Ookla Speed Test is a quick and easy diagnostic tool for your home network's health. Most of today's options also include signal strength indicators on the device or in the app that'll let you know if you've picked a good spot -- make sure to pay attention to those. Perhaps you've become painfully familiar with those limitations -- including the spots where the signal drops off and your device can't hold a speedy connection. 6 streaming services you can give as gifts (including Disney Plus), Great gifts you can still get in time for Christmas, Watch Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max, starting Christmas Day. The reason for this discrepancy is the simple fact that WiFi extenders are simply an add-on to your existing network setup whereas mesh networks are an entirely new network setup that require multiple new devices to be placed around your home. Side note: While our Deco M3 (3-pack) uses mesh satellites that look similar … There's a lot to think about as you work to upgrade your home network, so here's a quick rundown of what you should know. Let's suppose, for some reason, that you're spending a lot more time at home these days. NETGEAR Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Extender. Mesh Wi-Fi Vs Traditional Wi-Fi Routers: Which is better? If there's already a network in place, devices called repeaters duplicate the signal, extending it beyond the base router's area of operation. The main benefit of using a router vs mesh or even an extender is that the router costs significantly less (ranging from $20 and up, versus $45 or so for a WiFi extender, and compared to $150ish for each mesh / beacon added). 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