Home wireless Network Extender
If you need a Wi-Fi Extender, the NETGEAR EX6200 is the best option for most situations. It is a powerful dual-band extender that’s both versatile and affordable. It supports the newest Wireless-AC standard and can double as a second Wi-Fi access point. It’s important that any Wi-Fi extender you purchase has dual-band functionality (for reasons mentioned in the intro), meaning it can stream on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. The EX6200 operates on both Wi-Fi bands and offers up to 1200Mbps of throughput. It also features five Gigabit Ethernet ports, which are significantly faster than the Fast Ethernet standard. This allows the EX6200 to function as a (quite speedy) wired access point. It also includes dual core processor for optimal performance, as well as high-power amplifiers and two high-gain 5dBi antennas. And it can be found for as low as $95.
All this should extend your router’s coverage area by several hundred square feet. Both user and professional reviews seem to back up that claim, making the NETGEAR EX6200 one of the best all-around Wi-Fi extenders on the market.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more for a bit more coverage area and a few extra security features, the Linksys RE6500 may be a better choice. Most users complain about its complicated setup process, but if you have a knack for networking and don’t mind the headache, it offers some impressive performance. With Wireless-AC compatibility and up to 1200Mbps of throughput, the RE6500 can extend your home’s wireless coverage area by up to 10, 000 square feet (or so Linksys claims). It also includes four Gigabit Ethernet ports, allowing you to use the device as a wired access point.
One unique feature is the RE6500’s audio input jack. This allows you to connect a stereo or speaker system and wirelessly stream music from a computer or mobile device. The RE6500 may also be suited for offices and small businesses, as it includes a 128-bit encryption and a WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) function.
All in all, the Linksys RE6500 is a bit pricier ($110) than you probably need to spend on a decent Wi-Fi extender. But if you can find it for less than $100, it’s a solid competitor for our top pick. Just make sure you have the patience for a somewhat complicated setup process.
Another low-cost Wi-Fi extender that plugs directly into a wall socket is the NETGEAR EX3700. It’s dual-band and compatible with Wireless-AC technology (the latest wireless standard), and it offers throughput of up to 750Mbps.
The EX3700 features two external antennas for enhanced Wi-Fi coverage, as well as the option to create a new Wi-Fi access point or hotspot through a wired Gigabit Ethernet port. This is ideal if you want to create a separate network for guests. NETGEAR also includes its Wi-Fi Analytics App, which allows you to gauge the strength of your Wi-Fi signal, check on its status or identify crowded channels.
These few extra features may be extraneous for some, but the fact that it’s all found in a relatively inexpensive package suggests it’s a better purchase than the competing D-Link DAP-1520. Buy the NETGEAR EX3700 if you want a bit more versatility for your budget.
Found for as low as $50, the dual-band D-Link DAP-1520 plugs right into any wall socket and can extend your router’s coverage area at the push of a button. It features Wireless-AC technology with throughput of up to 750Mbps (300 Mbps on 2.4GHz and 433 Mbps on 5GHz). You can also save and restore the device’s settings—ideal for power outages or factory resets—and monitor the traffic on your network. It’s small, easy to install, cheap and according to most reviews it offers an impressively strong wireless signal for the package.
That said, it’s small and inexpensive for a reason. When you downsize to a wall socket Wi-Fi extender you sacrifice a few features some folks might find indispensable. There’s no Ethernet, USB, or audio inputs, for example, and no network bridging functionality.
This is a solid, affordable gadget for basic Wi-Fi extending. It’s ideal for people who have limited technological know-how. It’s not meant for networking wizards who are looking to outfit a press conference or LAN party. Buy the DAP-1520 if you want a simple Wi-Fi extender without all the bells and whistles.
The D-Link DAP-1650 is another robust, versatile option for folks who want to get a lot out of a Wi-Fi extender. Professional reviews show it offers impressive speeds over a large coverage area, and it can be found for around $90—a bit cheaper than our two top picks. Some owners may also appreciate the compact, console design.