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Best Wi-Fi extenders 2023: Better coverage made easy

Introduction

There’s nothing (if you’ll allow a little artistic licence) worse than a poor Wi-Fi signal. Ruining a work meeting, an important phone call, a streaming session or more, poor Wi-Fi is a frustrating beast to deal with. While a mesh network may be the answer in a lot of homes, these systems are expensive. Buy one of our best Wi-Fi extenders, on the other hand, and you can fix poor wireless for less.

Best of all, Wi-Fi extenders will work with any router you’ve got, so you don’t have to replace anything else. This is particularly of note if you only have poor Wi-Fi in one area of your home.

We’ve tested practically every router, mesh system and wireless extender available, so we can help when it comes to deducing the best models from the worst. As well as testing the ease with which they can be set up, we run throughput tests on every extender to determine how much of an improvement you’ll likely see.

In this guide, we’ve included a wide range of products, aimed at different budgets and needs. From the best mesh upgrades to an existing router to the cheapest plug-in extender, we’ve got you covered.

Best Wi-Fi extenders at a glance

How we test

How we test Wi-Fi extenders

Testing Wi-Fi extenders is all about seeing how they perform in a variety of situations. For that reason, we test them all with a Wi-Fi 6 router. First, we measure throughputs with our router, when connected in different rooms. Then we connect the Wi-Fi extender in different parts of our home, and retest connection speeds to see what improvement we can get.

When rating routers, we take into account price and performance: if you just want to boost Wi-Fi to useable speeds, a cheaper extender will do; if you need to improve the quality of your network for multiple devices that use a lot more bandwidth then a higher-end model will be required.

We test all extenders to see how easy they are to configure, and how easy they are to manage, too.

The best overall Wi-Fi Extender
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Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Handy Ethernet port
  • OneMesh option for easy management

Cons

  • Oversized casing
  • No mains passthrough

As far as Wi-Fi extenders go, the TP-Link RE700X is one of the most expensive that you can buy. There’s a good reason for this: it’s extremely fast and well worth the cash if you want the best performance and range.

The downside of this model is that it’s big and bulky, and could block the second socket in a double wall socket. There’s also no passthrough.

This model is a Wi-Fi 6 repeater, using the latest version of Wi-Fi. It will work with older Wi-Fi 5 routers, but if you happen to have (or upgrade to) a newer Wi-Fi 6 model, you’ll get the best out of this model. Its specs include a 2×2 2.4GHz 574Mbps network and a 2×2 5GHz 2402Mbps network.

This extender will work with any router, connecting manually or via WPS. However, if you have a TP-Link OneMesh compatible router, the RE700X will work in mesh mode, making it a neat upgrade.

Performance is excellent. We found that network throughputs in our living room doubled to 218Mbit/s using this extender. It was a similar story around the house, bar in our utility room. Here, the RE700X could only muster 80Mbit/s, although that’s an upgrade from the 12Mbit/s we were getting.

Whether you want to upgrade a TP-Link router to a mesh system or just need the best performance from a Wi-Fi extender, the TP-Link RE700X is the model to buy.

Full review: TP-Link RE700X review

Reviewer: Darien Graham-Smith

Mercusys ME30

The best budget Wi-Fi extender
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Pros

  • Impressive coverage for the price
  • Ethernet port

Cons

  • Doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6
  • Wired connections are slow

Shockingly affordable, the Mercusys ME30 costs just under £30. This would normally have alarm bells sounding, with the low cost offset by poor performance. While this extender won’t win any throughput awards, it’s fast enough and good enough for basic use.

This model uses the older Wi-Fi 5 standard, rather than the newer Wi-Fi 6 standard. Given that most ISP-provided routers are Wi-Fi 5 models, this is unlikely to make much of a difference to most people.

This extender can be used in repeater mode, although its Ethernet port also lets it act as an access point, hardwired to your router, which is handy if you want Wi-Fi in an outbuilding. In normal extender mode, we found the Mercusys ME30 easy to set up using its web-based management page.

We saw good speed increases using this extender. The best of which came in the bedroom, with our router providing 41Mbit/sec and the Mercusys ME30 upping this to 202Mbit/s. Even in the utility room, which normally gives us 12Mbit/sec, we saw speeds increase to a more usable 50Mbit/s.

If you need to connect a lot of devices to an extender, then something else on this list will do; if you want a cheap way to boost a signal to a slow part of your house, this is a great low-cost choice.

Full review: Mercusys ME30 review

Reviewer: Darien Graham-Smith

Devolo WiFi 6 Repeater 5400

The best Wi-Fi extender for speed
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Pros

Cons

Most Wi-Fi extenders are built to a price, but the Devolo WiFi 6 Repeater 5400 is built to be fast and reliable. To that end, it uses a different design to most other extenders. Rather than being an all-in-one device that sits in a plug socket, this model is a square router-like box that needs to sit on a table.

That can be useful, as Wi-Fi devices work best when they’re out in the open, rather than being hidden behind furniture or sat on the floor.

This model has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which makes it a great choice if you’ve got multiple wired devices that you want to plug in. One port can also be used to hardwire the extender into a router, which is handy if you need to put Wi-Fi into an area a long way from your router, such as an office building.

From the price, you can probably guess that this is a Wi-Fi 6 extender. It’s top-end Wi-Fi 6, too, promising maximum speeds of 4800Mbit/sec throughputs. Real life speed aren’t that good, but they are impressive. In our kitchen, we saw throughputs jump from 44Mbit/sec to a whopping 279Mbit/sec – the fastest speeds that we’ve seen from an extender.

If you want the extra Ethernet ports and the best overall speed, this is the Wi-Fi extender to buy.

Full review: Devolo WiFi 6 Repeater 5400 review

Reviewer: Darien Graham-Smith

Netgear EAX12 Wi-Fi Range Extender

The best midrange Wi-Fi extender
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Pros

  • Improves Wi-Fi speeds over a wide area
  • Good range of software features

Cons

  • Awkward physical design

There are cheaper Wi-Fi extenders, and there are faster more expensive models, but the Netgear EAX12 Wi-Fi Range Extender delivers great speeds at a more palatable price, which makes it a good choice for a lot of people.

This model uses Wi-Fi 6, although its throughputs top out at 1200Mbit/sec, rather than the industry-leading 4800Mbit/sec. In practice, this model is fast enough for most uses: in our kitchen, we saw speeds more than double from 44Mbit/sec to 112Mbit/sec, while our utility room jumped from 12Mbit/sec to 49Mbit/sec. In other words, we saw speeds increase to the point where we could watch 4K video in any room.

A simple plug that you connect to a power socket, the Netgear EAX12 Wi-Fi Range Extender is small and easy to connect. It also has a Gigabit Ethernet port, for either a wired device or for hardwiring it to a router.

Netgear’s setup software is slick and easy to use, and includes some extras that not all extenders provide, such as a guest network. Overall, for features, price and performance, the Netgear EAX12 Wi-Fi Range Extender covers all the bases you’ll likely need.

Full review: Netgear EAX12 Wi-Fi Range Extender review

Reviewer: Darien Graham-Smith

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FAQs

What type of extender do you want?

Traditional extenders give you a new wireless network, then connect wirelessly to your router. They’re easy to set up, but you’ll have two networks to manage. A mesh extender works with your existing network, using the same name. They’re more expensive, but a more elegant solution.

Do you need Ethernet ports? 

Having wired Ethernet ports on your extender lets you plug in devices that don’t have Wi-Fi built-in, or gives a more stable connection when you have a device that has slightly flaky wireless properties.

Would Powerline help you?

A Powerline-based Wi-Fi extender works by running data over your home’s mains power, rather than using a wireless connection. Performance can vary hugely between homes, but these devices can work in houses that have thick walls or suffer from a lot of interference.

What version of Wi-Fi do you want?

Wi-Fi 5 (also known as 802.11ac) is a good, well-supported standard, with products available at a decent price. This will likely suit most people, particularly those with older routers. Wi-Fi 6 is the latest standard and can help you upgrade your network in preparation for new wireless devices, but you’ll pay a little more for these devices.

What speed do you need?

We’ve listed the speeds that manufacturers list, although they’re not indicative of the speeds you’ll actually get, as it’s the connection to your router that governs the overall speed. The newer (and faster) your main router is, the faster the extender that it will take, so use your router’s age as a rough guide.

Trusted Reviews test data

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5GHz (second floor)

Comparison specs

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