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The best Wi-Fi Range extender

By David Murphy

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After spending 140 total hours researching Wi-Fi extenders and testing more than 20, we recommend the TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender RE450 for most people who need to boost their Wi-Fi signal to part of a house or apartment. Though the RE450 costs around $100 at this writing, it’s worth that price, as it offers the best combination of range, speed, portability, and physical connections of any extender we tested.

Why you should (or shouldn’t) buy this

Before you invest in a Wi-Fi extender, first you should make sure your router is near the center of your living space and out in the open if possible, not hidden in a closet or behind a desk. If you’ve used the same wireless router for years, consider upgrading to a better one, such as our pick for the best Wi-Fi router. If you still can’t get a signal where you need it, running an Ethernet cable directly from your router to a Wi-Fi access point or a router set up as one will get you much better performance than a Wi-Fi extender. But if you can’t run Ethernet and parts of your home or apartment still don’t get a good Wi-Fi signal, a wireless extender can help.

How we picked and tested

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We tested the final 13 contenders after looking at 39 extenders. Photo: David Murphy

A good extender, like a modern router, should support both the older, more crowded 2.4 GHz band and the newer, faster 5 GHz band. You also need a dual-band extender to avoid the performance hit of connecting to your devices on the same band as the one for connecting to your router. An extender should also support at least two spatial streams (also called data streams) on each band. We looked at any N600 or AC1200-plus extenders from major manufacturers that met these criteria, had good reviews (if any), and weren’t too expensive.

To test the 13 final contenders, we set up one of the fastest routers we’ve tested, Netgear’s R8500, in one corner of a 2,577-square-foot, single-story house, with the extender in the next room, to minimize the effects of the router’s performance on the extender’s benchmarks and to test the range of the extenders’ signals.

We connected each extender to the router’s 5 GHz Wi-Fi signal. For the tests, we connected an Asus ZenBook UX305LA (which uses two-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi) to each extender from two locations—one obstructed and one unobstructed—both 43 feet away from the extender.

We tested the extenders using iPerf3, a network monitoring and measuring tool, to evaluate data transfers between a desktop PC (connected to the router via Gigabit Ethernet) and our test laptop. Each iPerf3 test attempted to transfer as much data as possible from the test laptop to the desktop PC (via a single TCP connection). We let 15 seconds elapse before recording the average transfer speed across 60 one-second intervals, and ran each test for each extender, on each band, at each test location. To learn more about our testing plan, read our full guide.

Our pick

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The TP-Link RE450 will eat up most of your wall socket when you plug it in—the price you pay for great Wi-Fi range. Photo: David Murphy

The TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender RE450 is the best wireless extender for most people because it offers incredible performance at long range and supports the fastest wireless speeds of any device you’re likely to own, even if you have a MacBook Pro. It was the only extender that hit triple-digit speeds on our easier long-range 5 GHz test, and its long-range 2.4 GHz performance was better than that of everything else we tested. This model is simple to set up, and it has a few useful features within its easy-to-navigate user interface.

The biggest issue with the RE450 is its size. It’s huge. If you plug it into a wall outlet, bigger devices (like a power strip) likely won’t have room.

Even so, in each of our tests, the RE450 had not just the best performance of any of the extenders in the group, but also the best price-to-performance ratio (aside from our slower, cheaper budget pick). You spend about as much for the RE450 as you would for our best Wi-Fi router pick, but you get proportionate speed and range—the most of any extender we’ve recently tested.

For home offices and entertainment centers

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Linksys’s RE6500 isn’t as convenient as a wall-plug extender, but it has more Gigabit Ethernet ports and doesn’t take up much space on a coffee table or shelf. Photo: David Murphy

If our pick is sold out or unavailable, or if you have a lot of wired devices that need access to your home network, the Linksys AC1200 Max Wi-Fi Range Extender RE6500 is an excellent alternative. In our tests it gave us around three-fourths the speed of our primary pick; of all the wireless-ac extenders we recently tested, however, it had the second-fastest average speeds and the second-best price-to-performance ratio. In addition, it won’t block an extra wall outlet, it has three more Gigabit Ethernet ports than our pick, and its user interface is more helpful for people with less networking experience. Read more in our full guide.

The low-cost, last-gen alternative

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The Asus RP-N53 is a tiny, wireless-n extender with a signal-strength LED indicator plus another LED on the back that works as a night-light. Photo: David Murphy

If you just need Wi-Fi in a far-flung area, don’t care about 802.11ac, and don’t want to spend a lot of money, get the Asus RP-N53 Dual-Band Wireless-N600 Range Extender. This wall-plug 802.11n extender is notably small, but it offers better performance and features than other extenders in its price range, including an easy-to-use Web configuration screen, music-streaming capabilities, and the ability to function as a night-light. To learn more, see our full guide.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

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About Ms. A. C. Kennedy

Ms. A. C. Kennedy
My name is Ms A C Kennedy and I am a Health practitioner and Consultant by day and a serial blogger by night. I luv family, life and learning new things. I especially luv learning how to improve my business. I also luv helping and sharing my information with others. Don't forget to ask me anything!

Check Also

What we’re watching: ‘Raw’ and ‘Feast of Fiction’

Welcome back to Video IRL, where several of our editors talk about what they've been watching in their spare time. This month we're kicking things off with some seasonally-appropriate horror fare, that you can catch right away on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Then it's time for a Gundam throwback before Kris Naudus points out a couple of YouTube food channels perfect for binge eating or binge watching.

Them / Raw


Timothy J. Seppala

Timothy J. Seppala
Associate Editor

To get into the Halloween spirit, I've been watching at least one horror movie a day since the end of September -- the lower the budget, the better. Problem is, so many of the American low-budget or indie horror offerings on Amazon and Netflix are crappy Paranormal Activity clones, cheap-thrill gore-fests or uninspired found-footage "documentaries." Whether it's by design or coincidence, I've found that French horror movies have held my attention the most lately. Specifically, 2016's Raw, as well as Them, from ten years prior. They're more psychological thrillers than straight-up horror, but that didn't stop me from being more on edge while watching them one afternoon than I was during A Haunting in Saginaw, Michigan, late at night. Both start with a car crash, but they couldn't finish any more differently.

Raw, recently added to Netflix, tells the tale of a vegetarian girl in her first week at a prestigious veterinary school. During a hazing ritual, she's forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney. She immediately gets sick, throws up and wakes herself up that night scratching a full-body rash to near bleeding. This bout with food poisoning is just the beginning, though, and soon protagonist Justine finds out she has a taste for forbidden fruit. As the remaining 70-ish minutes unfolded, I lost track of how many times I clasped my hands over my mouth, agape in shock, to stifle my shouts of "OHMYGODWHATTHEFUCKISEVENHAPPENING?!"

But French director Julia Ducournau balances every body-horror scene either with something pedestrian twisted into being unsettling (like a horse on a treadmill) or with something that makes you ask how far Justine can go before someone confronts her about her new diet. And those questions keep coming right until the credits roll. I can't say I enjoyed watching Raw, but it was a hell of a ride.

The same goes for Them, currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Its focus is narrow, centering on a young couple living in a cavernous farmhouse, terrorized over the course of a night by unseen horrors. The camera never quite gives away who (or what) the perpetrators are, and revealing the twist would be a sin. As with Raw, its atmosphere and overall creepiness won me over straightaway. The scariest part? Realizing that I've probably driven past a shot like the final scene countless times and not thought twice about it. If you're willing to read subtitles, both of these should make you shiver and scream more than The Conjuring 2 on HBO Go could ever hope to.

Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team


David Lumb

David Lumb
Contributing Editor

I'd heard that a lot of anime had left Hulu, but I scanned their selection anyway looking for classic shows I'd missed, like the original Mobile Suit Gundam. They don't have that -- but they did have a series I didn't finish the first time it aired on Toonami, the 1996 classic Gundam side story The 08th MS Team. Unlike the franchise's other show released the year before, the massively successful Gundam Wing, 08th ditches the brand's typical pretty-boys-in-unbeatable-robots for a grounded and sobering story about the people who get caught up in wars -- desperate soldiers, civilians and guerrillas alike. It's dirty, honest, utterly humane and gorgeously animated.

It's also a little preachy and melodramatic, and it shows its age with odd sexist moments. While it's still the Thin Red Line of the Gundam universe, I remember it far more fondly from when my 14-year-old self grazed the series on its first American airing. There's something sad in seeing an old favorite for the flawed media it always was. Much like Waypoint's Rob Zacny, I've grown up and seen a lot since I first caught the show as a starry-eyed teen. I still think The 08th MS Team is a wonderful little 12-episode miniseries with a big heart, but I won't revere it so highly -- and will think a little harder about who I recommend it to.

Feast of Fiction / Binging with Babish


Kris Naudus

Kris Naudus
Senior Editor, Database

Back in March, I came home from a trip only to discover that my oven didn't work. The cooking gas in my building had been shut off due to a leak. My building management seemed to be on it, so I made do with a combination of microwavables, toaster oven and Seamless. Unfortunately, weeks and months went by, calls to the city were made and permits were issued, but, even as I write this in October, gas still has not been restored to my building. My landlords eventually threw their collective hands in the air and began installing electric ranges in every apartment, so a few weeks ago I was finally able to cook for myself again.

I am so jazzed to be able to make food. Hot food! Scrambled eggs! Steak! Cookies! I started reading food blogs and cookbooks, and shopping to refill my pantry. I'm halfway through Kenji Alt-Lopez's The Food Lab, a huge 900-page hardcover that talks about the science of how food cooks. On the lighter side, I've also been reading food-themed comics like Delicious in Dungeon and Food Wars. And the latter title (which is also an anime) ended up sucking me into a YouTube hole of food videos that I've been obsessed with ever since.

You see, the very first chapter of Food Wars features the "Gotcha" Pork Roast, a bacon-wrapped potato loaf that hero Soma Yukihira makes to save his family restaurant. It looks pretty tasty, so I searched for recipes and pics online and stumbled onto Jimmy Wong and Ashley Adams' Feast of Fiction, a series that demonstrates how to make various foods seen in cartoons, video games and comics. If you ever wanted to taste Steven Universe's beloved Cookie Cat ice cream sandwiches or Kirby's super-spicy curry, there's an episode for you. One thing I really enjoy is how they also incorporate crafts into it, showing how to make paper wrappers for your Reptar chocolate bars or genuine-looking Ecto Cooler Hi-C boxes.

I've been marathoning through the episodes, which the YouTube algorithms have definitely picked up on at this point, throwing food show after food show into my suggestions. One that caught my eye was Binging with Babish. Where Feast of Fiction mostly sticks to the realm of kids' cartoons, anime and video games, Binging with Babish is a little more mainstream, covering foods from popular media like Mad Men, Seinfeld and House of Cards. Still, there's a bit of overlap -- both Babish and Feast have done their own takes on the Ultimeatum from Regular Show and Krabby Patties from SpongeBob SquarePants. But the recipes are different, and I watch the shows for the personalities. Feast of Fiction is pretty silly (and there's a cute dog), while Binging with Babish is a little more subdued. Not that Babish can't be ridiculous as well -- the Moist Maker is one of the most ridiculously complicated sandwiches I have ever seen, basically asking you to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner.

Sadly, I still haven't done a lot of actual cooking since getting my stove back. I'm having too much fun watching other people do it instead, with the added bonus that I don't have to clean up the mess.

"IRL" is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they're buying, using, playing and streaming.

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