Which is the best Wi-Fi extender you can buy?
A Wi-Fi extender is one of the easiest ways to improve your home Wi-Fi speed, eliminate network black spots, and enjoy coverage that reaches every corner of your house.
These can extend or boost the range of a wifi signal, crucial if you have a large house or a home office, and work either by providing an additional, lower speed (but longer range) wifi signal, or by utilising extra hubs to relay and share the signal, via a mesh network.
Below, you’ll find our summary of the best Wi-Fi extenders. These meet the needs of most users, and a full list is available if you scroll further down.
- Best mesh Wi-Fi extender: Netgear Orbi RBK50
- Best value Wi-Fi extender: TP-Link RE350 AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender
- Best mid-range option: Netgear EX3800 Wi-Fi Range Extender
- Best cheap Wi-Fi extender: D-Link DAP-1520 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender
- Best BT Wi-Fi extender: BT Complete Wi-Fi
- Best Wi-Fi extender with mains passthrough: Netgear EX3800 Wi-Fi Range Extender
For people with larger homes, those looking for a more advanced version, or anyone who has particularly poor Wi-Fi signal, the Netgear Orbi RBK50 mesh system is the best overall option, although it’s pretty expensive.
If you’re looking for a budget option that covers the basics then the TP-Link RE350 AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender is the best-value model around.
Recently, we reviewed the new Complete Wi-Fi solution from BT, which comes with a new BT Smart Hub 2 router and two wireless range extender discs.
While this is available exclusively to BT Plus customers, you can also pick up the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi mesh extender solution, which will work with any router and internet service provider.
Related: Best router
How we’ve compiled this list
Here you’ll find our list of the best Wi-Fi extenders, which we’ve compiled following a full series of tests. For the more expensive models, we have included shorter reviews here, alongside links to the full reviews and scores. For a number of budget products, you can find the complete reviews below.
At the bottom of the page, you will find more information on our testing process.
1. Netgear Orbi RBK50
Still our top choice for the best Wi-Fi extender on the market
- Easy to set up and use
- Consistent coverage
- Very fast long-range speeds
- Single SSID makes managing connections easy
- Much faster performance than Wi-Fi extenders
- High upfront cost
- Modest feature set for power users
- Not the fastest router when in close range
There’s no denying that the Orbi is expensive, but it isn’t just a Wi-Fi extender. The Orbi is both a router and a Wi-Fi extender, and these work on the same Wi-Fi network (or SSID). Regardless of where you are in your home, you’ll be seamlessly connected, either to the base router or to the extender – meaning no messing around with connecting to the closest option.
What you are paying for is one of the most advanced pieces of consumer networking on the market. The base package gets you a main router unit and one satellite. Set-up is simple and, once you’re up and running, performance is exceptional.
A standout feature of the Orbi is that it uses a dedicated 5GHz Wi-Fi band for backhaul. This means that, unlike traditional Wi-Fi extenders that act like just another device on your network, the Orbi units talk to each other on their own private network. You get maximum speed on the networks your other devices are connected to, as half the band is no longer occupied by router-to-router communication.
As you’ll see from our benchmarking figures in the full Netgear Orbi review, this makes a big difference.
The Orbi isn’t the fastest in terms of raw speed, but nothing comes close in terms of long-range coverage. This is a great buy if you have the budget to completely overhaul your home broadband set-up.
Read our full Netgear Orbi review
2. TP-Link RE350 AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender
The best budget range extender out there at the moment
|TP-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender | Gigabit Ethernet Port |Compact | Intelligent Signal LED Ring (RE350)||$39.99|
- Fetching design
- Impressive long-range performance
- Simple set-up
- Well priced
- 5GHz performance could be better
- Better for range than outright speed
Although the TP-Link RE350 isn’t the fastest Wi-Fi extender at close range, it competes with the best at long range – and at half the price.
With its glossy white and grey exterior, rounded shape and aerials, this is another great-looking extender. It’s still a fairly large device, so is likely to block adjacent plug sockets, but it isn’t as tall as the Netgear EX7300.
The RE350’s set-up is particularly appealing. As with the other extenders we tested, you connect it to your existing network simply by plugging it in and tapping the WPS button. Here, however, lights on the front of the device indicate that it’s properly connected to each Wi-Fi band. If only one light appears, then you hit the WPS button again and it should connect the other network.
One potential downside is that, unlike the other extenders we tested, the TP-Link defaults to giving its extended networks the same names as your existing ones. While this might seem convenient, it can lead to problems with your devices connecting via the least optimal route and could fool you into thinking you have a mesh network. You can change this manually by logging into the extender’s web interface or using TP-Link’s mobile app.
If you prefer the lights-free approach, a button on the side will turn them all off, and there are also on-off and reset buttons.
At the top of the device is a single Ethernet port – not, perhaps, the most convenient location, but it really depends on your home’s wiring/plug socket situation. The port can be used to connect wired devices to the extended network, but not to convert the extender into an access point.
In terms of performance in our short-range test, at 5GHz, the RE350 delivered an average of 83.6Mbps – impressive, although considerably slower than the fastest models. Long-range tests saw it drop to 44.8Mbps, which, again, is decent but well behind the best.
At 2.4GHz, however, it was impressive at long range, with a figure of 31.7Mbps. At short range it was only middling; but that long-range performance is where it really counts.
All told, the RE350 is a competitively priced option, with good all-round performance – although there’s a slight bias towards long range, rather than raw speed.
3. BT Complete Wi-Fi
An excellent choice for BT Plus customers
- Easy set-up
- Good value for BT Plus customers
- No per-device parental controls
- No guest network
BT Complete Wi-Fi is a bit of an anomaly in our round-up of the best Wi-Fi extenders as it’s more than just a range extender – it’s a comprehensive whole home solution comprising a new BT Smart Hub 2 router and signal boosting discs similar to the ones provided with the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi solution.
For £5 a month on top of your BT Plus subscription, you get a system that promises to eliminate all Wi-Fi not-spots in your home. While you only get one range extender disc as standard, BT will send you two more at no extra cost if you need more coverage for your home.
We recorded decent speeds in our tests – upload and download speeds of 480.81Mbps and 199.21Mbps at 2m, 417.92Mbps and 141.08Mbps at 5m and one floor up, and 315.09Mbps and 187.05Mbps at 10m and two floors up. This performance puts BT Complete Wi-Fi close to, if not quite as good as, the Netgear Orbi RBK50.
At £5 per month on top of your subscription, it’s hard to criticise BT Complete Wi-Fi for this. At current prices, it would take over four years for BT’s offer to work out more expensive than the Orbi.
A big downside to Complete Wi-Fi is that there’s currently no guest option, so you’re going to have to get used to sharing your password each and every time someone visits.
At present, BT Complete Wi-Fi is only available for subscribers to BT Plus – the fixed-line with a 4G mini router back-up service.
We’re including BT Complete Wi-Fi here because it’s an excellent, easy-to-use package that comes with everything you would need when moving into a new house or flat. If you’re not already sorted for internet access and hardware, and you were already thinking about choosing BT as your service provider, this is very worthy of your consideration.
Read our full BT Complete Wi-Fi review
4. Netgear Orbi RBK20
A cheaper, simplified version of the RBK50, our current best Wi-Fi range extender
- Flexible configuration
- Router and mesh system
- Comparatively expensive
- Speeds drop at range
The Netgear Orbi RBK20 is a cheaper version of the original Netgear Orbi (RBK50) router and range extender hybrid. You get the same appealing design, neat interface and super-stable tri-band Wi-Fi that make the original so celebrated. This version is aimed at people living in smaller houses or those who aren’t bothered about setting up extensive home networks.
Testing revealed that Wi-Fi speeds dropped off relatively sharply between 5m and 10m. The fact that you only get one Gigabit Ethernet port means that if you want to wire in games consoles, a PC and a smart TV or set-top box, then you’d have to invest in a network switch. These days, most routers usually come with at least three or four Gigabit ports.
The price is also a bit of sticking point – it’s not quite low enough to make this a must-have system. Remember, however, that you’re getting a router as well for the money; unlike BT’s Whole Home WiFi, for example, which complements your existing router, the RKB20 Orbi package is a complete ecosystem.
If you’re in the market for a mesh Wi-Fi set-up for your flat and you need a new router anyway, this might be just what you’re looking for. We would, however, still recommend checking out the more versatile RBK50 first. Depending on where you look, it isn’t that much more expensive.
Read our full Netgear Orbi RBK20 review
5. D-Link DAP-1320 [review]
An excellent, cheap and cheerful single-room solution
- Very compact design
- Simple and inexpensive
- Excellent 2.4Ghz performance
- Only supports 2.4GHz, not the faster 5GHz
The D-Link DAP-1320 is the smallest adapter on test and by far the cheapest. We wouldn’t recommend it for anything beyond the most basic network demands, but at £20 it could well be the cheapest solution to your Wi-Fi woes.
At 48 x 42 x 56mm, it’s not even as wide as a standard UK plug, so it won’t interfere with your other devices.
It’s also an elegant enough little thing, with a gently curved front and a single LED.
In terms of features, the D-Link is simplicity itself. Rated at 300Mbps, it only uses the 2.4GHz band so doesn’t offer the contention-reducing abilities of 5GHz, nor the speed of AC. What it lacks in extras, however, it makes up for in ease of use and basic performance.
A side-mounted WPS button can be used to connect to your router automatically. Alternatively, a manual option allows you connect to its default Wi-Fi signal and it will automatically take you to a setup page when you open your browser.
It offers a clear choice of using either a different SSID for your extended network or the same as your original network (we recommend using different ones to save confusion), and you can choose whether to copy the same password or add a new one.
Performance is great, quite possibly due to the lack of competing wireless bands to deal with. The D-Link came in second at 7m (22.4Mbps) and fourth at 20m (13.6Mbps).
For an extender that costs as little as £20, it’s a great option if you only need 2.4GHz extension.
6. D-Link DAP-1520 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender
One of the cheapest dual-band Wi-Fi range extenders on the market
- Low cost
- Limited range
- Average speeds
The D-Link DAP-1520 is one of the simplest and least expensive extenders on test, retailing at just £30. For this price, you still get a dual-band extender capable of reaching theoretical speeds of up to 300Mbps over the 2.4GHz band, and 433Mbps over 5GHz.
This is a markedly smaller device than the other extenders here. It sits comfortably alongside other plugs and only extends 42mm below the dimensions of the plug itself.
With its compact form, however, comes a modest feature set. There’s no off switch for the extender; no Ethernet port for connecting wired devices to the extended network; and, most importantly, there’s less room inside for more powerful aerials, which means reduced speed and range.
It is as easy to set up as any other extender, needing only a quick tap of the WPS button to get everything going. What’s more, unlike some other devices on test, it extended both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks straight away, without having to press the WPS button again to connect to the second band.
When it comes to performance, the DAP-1520 inevitably can’t compete with more expensive extenders, but it still put in a decent set of results. At 5GHz, it could deliver 69.8Mbpps in the short-range test and it still managed 43.5Mbps in the long-range test.
At 2.4GHz, it hit a reasonable 32.9Mbps at short-range but it struggled at long range, managing only 14.5Mbps. Most of the extenders were pretty close to their limits in the long-range test – only a few steps further away and they all struggled – but the D-Link was noticeably closer.
Overall, though, at £30 the DAP-1520 does what it needs to. It’s easy to set up, reliable and provides enough speed and range to get the basics done.
7. Netgear EX3800 Wi-Fi Range Extender with pass-through
A good mid-range budget choice
- Convenient mains pass-through
- Good overall range and speed
- Good value
- Annoying set-up
- Rather dull design
The Netgear EX3800 is a great mid-range dual-band Wi-Fi extender with a decent set of features.
Boxy design and sprawling ventilation holes mean this is not the prettiest Wi-Fi extender in our round-up, but it ticks all the right boxes when it comes to functionality.
For a start, it’s fairly small considering its specs and measures in at a compact 55 x 114 x 34mm. It also boasts intelligently placed controls, with four front-facing lights positioned to clearly indicate the status of the extender. For people with a limited number of plug sockets, the mains pass-through will also be a welcome addition.
Set-up is something of a faff – there are simpler extenders. First you have to plug it in and press the WPS button on both the extender and on your router. After a brief signal tango, the two will connect. Next you have to log in to the extender by connecting to its network and navigating to mywifiext.net. What makes the process so annoying is that you then have to sign up to the Netgear Genie service to access the extender’s settings.
Luckily, the Netgear EX3800’s performance more than justifies the extra effort, particularly at close range. During the 5GHz short-range test it could deliver 61.9Mbps speeds. It then delivered reasonable 34.5Mbps speeds in our 2.4GHz long-range test.
If you regularly stick to the 5GHz spectrum, then the EX3800 is a great, cost-effective choice.
Read our full Netgear EX3800 review
8. Linksys RE7000 Max-Stream AC1900+ Wi-Fi Range Extender
Another decent mid-range dual-band Wi-Fi range extender
- Great short-range 5GHz performance
- Looks good
- Disappointing long-range speeds
The Linksys RE7000 can’t claim to be the fastest Wi-Fi extender out there, but it can still deliver some lightning-quick speeds and offers decent range, too. At its £70 price, this makes it a good mid-range option.
It’s a very tidy-looking option. Although it’s large, like many other super-fast extenders, the RE7000 is particularly neat and elegant. Its sheer, gloss-white front is interrupted by only a single light and Linksys logo.
In terms of features, you get an on/off switch alongside a WPS button and reset button on one side, while the single Ethernet port is on the underside. The plug socket is removable, which enables you to use plug standards from other countries, although no others are included. And that’s your lot.
Set-up is simple: press the WPS button a couple of times to connect the two Wi-Fi bands and get going.
The RE7000 delivered a mixed bag of performance results. On the short-range test at 5GHz it delivered very fast upload speeds of 126.7Mbps, but less impressive download speeds (99.7Mbps) for a notable average of 113.2Mbps. However, all the other extenders in this test were faster for downloads rather than uploads.
At long range things flipped; the RE7000 was slow for uploads (34.3Mbps, from laptop to server) but reasonably fast for downloads (78.8Mbps), for an average of 56.6Mbps.
At 2.4GHz it was fast and more consistent at short range, with an overall average of 73.2Mbps. At long range it plummeted, managing only a 32.7Mbps upload speed and 17.5Mpbs download for an average of 25.1Mbps.
Overall, the RE7000 remains a good option at this price, especially if you don’t need the longest range. However, you only need to spend a little extra and you’ll get better speed and range.
9. Asus RP-AC66 AC1750 Dual-band Repeater
A versatile range extender that undercuts more premium choices on price
- Excellent all-rounder
- Looks smart
The Asus RP-AC66 is rated to deliver AC1750 Wi-Fi speeds and costs around £80, making it one of the more premium options in this group. It can’t quite match the speeds of the fastest units here, but it does comfortably undercut them on price.
Despite being a bit slower than the Netgear EX7300, for example, the RP-AC66 is actually quite a large unit, at 167mm tall and 83mm wide – and this doesn’t take into account the extra space taken up by the adjustable aerials. It looks smart enough, though, and has a slim profile, so doesn’t protrude too far from the wall.
In terms of features, there’s a single Ethernet port on the left side, an on/off switch on the underside, and three LEDs and a couple of buttons on the face. Two of the LEDs indicate that each of the two Wi-Fi bands are correctly connected to your router, while the third is just to show power. As for the buttons, they’re for resetting the device and WPS.
The Asus RP-AC66 can also function as an access point, with the feed signal provided by the Ethernet port.
Set-up is as simple as for any other model. Options exist to use either WPS or log in to the device’s default Wi-Fi and set it up via its web interface. It took a couple of attempts to get the WPS to kick in, but it soon got going and found a rock-solid signal.
As for performance, the RP-AC66 is an excellent all-rounder. Its 5GHz performance was excellent in the close-range test, hitting an average of 96.05Mbps (85.8Mbps upload and 106.3Mbps download), making it the third-fastest in this test. It maintained this position in the long-range test, too, dropping to an average of only 78.8Mbps (78.2Mbps upload and 79.4Mbps download).
At 2.4GHz, its speed of 44.6Mbps (47Mbps upload and 27.8Mbps download) in the close-range test was only good enough to achieve fourth place, a position it maintained in the long-range test, achieving 30.7Mbps (27.8Mbps upload and 33.5Mbps download).
Notably, unlike some of the faster extenders we’ve tested, the RP-AC66 wasn’t noticeably faster or slower for uploads or downloads.
Overall, the Asus RP-AC66 delivers exactly the features and performance you’d expect for this price. It isn’t the fastest, but its speed is still impressive and it is well worth considering.
10. Devolo GigaGate
An interesting proposition designed to alleviate poor Wi-Fi coverage in a specific room
- Effortless set-up
- Ultra-fast and stable connection
- The easiest way to extend a fast network connection
- Almost as expensive as a mesh network
The Devolo GigaGate is a niche proposition given its relatively high price, but sits in an interesting middle ground between full-fledged Mesh Wi-Fi systems and slower, cheaper Wi-Fi extenders. The GigaGate is effectively a very fast two-part Wi-Fi extender using a dedicated Wi-Fi channel to shuttle data back and forth between a base unit connected to your router, and a satellite that’s in a room that has poor coverage. The satellite then creates its own Wi-Fi network for your distant devices to connect to.
It performed exceptionally well in our tests, managing long-distance speeds better than many high-end routers and all Wi-Fi extenders, so its performance isn’t in doubt. The only questions you should ask are whether a PowerLine network will perform better if your home is wired up correctly, or if spending a bit extra on a mesh network is better value. For what it sets out to do, though, the GigaGate is excellent.
Read our Devolo GigaGate review
11. BT Whole Home Wi-Fi
A decent solution that works with any router and internet service, not just BT
- Quick and easy set-up
- Good overall speed
- Great Wi-Fi coverage
- Cheaper than many mesh router systems
- One Ethernet and no USB on each disc
- Needs base router
BT has abandoned selling conventional Wi-Fi extenders, although you can still buy some of its older models from other shops. Instead, it offers either Powerline adapters or the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi.
The latter is a full mesh Wi-Fi kit that uses nodes placed throughout your home, replacing your existing Wi-Fi system. The good news is that these will work with any router and broadband provider – you can be a Sky, Virgin Media, A&A, or Zen Internet customer and Whole Home Wi-Fi will play nicely.
It’s a form of mesh router, similar to the Netgear Orbi and Linksys Velop. However, unlike most other similar systems, it doesn’t replace your router, making it purely a Wi-Fi replacement/extension solution – which explains its inclusion in this round-up.
To set up BT Whole Home Wi-Fi, you simply download the Whole Home app to your phone then plug one of the nodes into your router and follow the instructions. Repeat this for each of the nodes, and you’re ready to go. It’s fully automated and incredibly simple, while the app gives you a number of access controls for each hub too, should you want to manage connections to each one.
You then place one node next to your router and the remaining two around the house: giving one on each floor, for example, in a three-storey home. We’ve placed one hub into a log cabin 10 metres down the garden, and it’s worked admirably, providing steady access where some of the other range extenders struggled.
The resulting network is incredibly fast – around 300Mbps throughout a large home – and, moreover, you don’t have to deal with numerous different network bands and SSIDs. The whole system uses just a single SSID.
It’s a great system, as all mesh router systems are. BT now offers the Whole Home Wi-Fi in packs with one, two or three nodes. Three nodes should cover most regular UK homes, and two nodes are good for flats and smaller homes. The two-node and single-node options can be used to expand an existing BT Whole Home Wi-Fi network to get even more coverage where required.
Read our full BT Whole Home Wi-Fi review
How we test
We picked a range of Wi-Fi extenders and put them to the test. Models vary from a very basic £30 unit to a couple of whole-home systems costing £350 and £500, with plenty in between.
To compare Wi-Fi Extenders accurately we need to make sure all parameters remain the same. That’s why we review all Wi-Fi extenders in the same location, using the same router and network.
They were tested by recording transfer speeds at two points distant from our main router. With the router in a downstairs front room, we tested at a rear, second-floor bedroom (approximately 7m /23ft through two walls and a floor) and at the bottom of the garden (approximately 20m/66ft and through another wall).
The extender was placed in a rear downstairs room, putting it 5m and one wall closer to the garden, as well as a couple of metres and one floor closer to the bedroom.
For comparison, using the router alone we achieved average speeds of 148.6Mbps for 5GHz and 69.5Mbps for 2.4GHz in the close-range test. In the long-range test, the 5GHz band wouldn’t reach our test location – it was about 2m beyond its range – while the 2.4GHz band managed just 11.2Mbps.
Please note that the router is actually faster, or as fast as, the range extenders in the close-range tests. This provides a good indication of the maximum performance of the extender, making it a more accurate comparison.
What you need to know about Wi Fi extenders
What is a wireless booster?
Wi-Fi extenders simply piggyback on your existing Wi-Fi connection and re-broadcast to provide a signal to those further-away places.
These units won’t reach as far as wired connections, and they don’t improve overall network speed. However, if you simply want to ensure that you can get signal on the top floor of your house then, in general, they’re the cheapest and simplest option.
What are Wi-Fi frequencies?
At the heart of the latest push for speed in Wi-Fi is the introduction of a 5GHz frequency. Nearly all existing Wi-Fi devices use the 2.4GHz band, which makes it highly congested. Using 5GHz, you’re far less likely to encounter problems with interference from neighbouring Wi-Fi signals.
The 5GHz band, actually has a shorter range than 2.4GHz, so drop off at distance – and through walls – is likely to be far more dramatic. However, the latest AC standard only uses 5GHz, combining it with techniques such as MIMO and beamforming to improve peak performance and range.
As such, a top-notch 5GHz AC router provides super-fast performance, even at long distances – so much so that, if you’re thinking of upgrading your router anyway, spending the extra on a top-end one may well eliminate the need to buy an extender.
Please note that, aside from the frequency band, all Wi-Fi standards are backwards compatible. You need compatible hardware at both ends to get the performance benefit of the latest standards, so your older phone or laptop will only ever get up to a certain speed.
What to look out for
The main consideration with Wi-Fi extenders is what sort of Wi-Fi standard you need. Wi-Fi standards used to be fairly simple: they went from Wi-Fi A to B then G and N, with each new standard increasing in speed.
Now, however, things are far more complicated, with two radio frequency bands available – the older 2.4GHz and newer 5GHz – as well as a new standard called AC (and AD has just arrived, with AX just around the corner).
In addition, be aware that there are different rated speeds for Wi-Fi N and AC, ranging from the basic 300Mbps of N right the way up to routers that claim 1,900Mbps and more.
- The long and short of it, though, is that if you’re using anything older than a Wi-Fi N-compatible router then it’s best you first replace that. Even routers available for free from ISPs have come on leaps and bounds in the past couple of years, so all your connection issues could be resolved simply via a free upgrade.
- Beyond this, you’ll have to determine the sort of connection you have and buy an extender to match. There’s no point spending big money on a fancy 1,200Mbps AC extender if you only have a 300Mbps N-router.
- Aside from speed, it’s also worth considering the number of Ethernet ports on an extender. These will enable you to connect wired devices – such as older network-equipped TVs – to it, and potentially help improve overall speed because there will be fewer Wi-Fi signals interfering with each other.
- Also look out for models that have a pass-through for the mains plug socket. Extenders can be quite large, so often don’t only take up one plug socket but also block an adjacent one; a mains pass-through can be a godsend.