A WiFi repeater or range extender is a small device that can extend the coverage of the WiFi network. Very useful, therefore, to reach the corners of the home (or office) in case of lack or weakness of the signal.
WiFi repeaters can have very different shapes and prices. We start from more basic models that cost a few tens of euros similar to boxes to be connected to the power outlet, up to more expensive products with different antennas and features.
Here we had listed out the best and latest models of wifi extenders that are given below.
Wifi Extenders Buyer Guide
A wifi repeater is a particular product useful to those who connect to the internet through the use of portable devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and notebooks.
In fact, almost all of these devices are connected to the network using Wifi technology. Like everything, however, this also has its pros and cons.
Especially if you live in a very large house, often the wifi signal does not reach every room and, where it manages to arrive, many times the signal is weak, causing a very annoying jerky reception.
Shape and Appearance of The Wi-Fi Extender
WiFi repeaters can have different shapes and sizes. There are some that are practically identical to modems and routers and others that have a more compact shape – we could define them as boxes – and plug directly into the power outlet.
In light of the above, we must be careful not to confuse the Wi-fi repeaters/range extenders (i.e. the type of device you need and we are talking about today) with the modems, routers that are used instead connect to the Internet and distribute the connection across multiple devices.
In fact, many routers can also be set up in repeater mode and act as Wi-Fi repeaters, but that’s another matter. To be on the safe side, buy a device that is defined on the packaging as a “repeater” or “range extender”.
Another important thing to know is that, in some cases, range extenders can also be used in access point mode. Using a WiFi repeater in access point mode means taking the Internet signal from a wired network (therefore not from a Wi-Fi network) and transmitting it wirelessly.
If you don’t need to extend an existing Wi-Fi network but you need to transform a wired network into a wireless network, buy a repeater that can be configured in access point mode or a simple access point, like the ones I mentioned in my buying guide dedicated to this type of products.
Supported Wi-Fi Classes and Frequency Bands
Let’s go back to the wireless classes for a moment, that is, the type of Wi-Fi supported by the repeaters: you need to know that there are several, each of which guarantees a different data transfer speed.
The one called wireless 802.11 b (which is the most “dated”) reaches up to 11 Megabits per second, that 802.11 g reaches up to 54 Mbps, while the wireless class 802.11 n.
Which is currently the most common standard – reaches 450 Mbps The latest router and repeater models then support a new class, called wireless 802.11 AC, which is capable of reaching 1.3Gbps (or 1331 Mbps) speeds.
Another very important aspect to consider is that relating to the frequency bands supported by the repeater. If on the device package you find the word dual-band.
It means that that repeater supports both the 2.4GHz radio band (the one that includes the classic channels from 1 to 14) and the 5GHz one, which is less subject to interference from other devices but has a shorter range of action and is not yet supported by all devices.
Furthermore, it must be said that it is possible to use 5GHz networks only with computers, smartphones, and other devices equipped with support for this type of connectivity.
Staying on the subject, you must know that the wireless ban classes can exploit both radio bands while the new wireless AC operates only on the 5GHz band.
This however is not a problem as all dual-band and wireless AC devices are able to operate even with the lower wireless classes and with the 2.4GHz radio band, just configure them properly.
On the market, there are also modems/routers and range extenders that are called tri bands as they combine a 2.4GHz frequency band with two 5GHz bands to ensure a higher data transfer speed than dual-band devices.
For the moment these are high-end products intended only for users who have very advanced needs (and economic availability of a certain level), in any case, it is good to be informed also on this type of device.
Another typical feature of some medium-high end routers and repeaters is MU-MIMO support: it is a technology that exploits the 5GHz frequency band and allows the router or range extender to communicate with a maximum of four devices. at the same time.
Considering that “traditional” routers and repeaters can handle requests for only one device at a time, this means that with MU-MIMO devices, much higher efficiency in data transfer is obtained.
To take advantage of the MU-MIMO technology, the target devices (computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.) must also be prepared for its use.
If in the datasheet of a WiFi repeater you read that it supports Beamforming or Beamforming + technology, it means that it uses a signal addressing technology that directs the wireless network (the 5GHz one to go into more detail) in a precise manner towards the devices that use it.
Ports and Connections
Other specifications that you need to evaluate before purchasing a wireless repeater are those that concern the number and type of ports built into the device.
The Ethernet ports are those that allow you to connect computers, decoders, and other devices to the Internet via cable and can be of various types.
There are Fast Ethernet ports that guarantee a data transfer speed of up to 100Mbps and those Gigabit Ethernet that instead allow you to transfer data at a maximum speed of 1,000Mbps.
Then we have the USB ports that allow you to network devices such as printers and hard drives and then there are the audio inputs, through which you can transform any traditional audio system or speaker into a Wi-Fi device and play music from your smartphone, tablet or computer with a simple click.
They have great importance also the number, the type, and power of the antennas mounted on the repeater, which can be internal or external, fixed or removable, and whose power is measured in dBi.
Another feature that must be carefully considered is the support for WPS (an acronym for Wi-Fi Protected Setup), a technology that allows two wireless devices to communicate – such as a repeater and the modem/router of to extend the signal – at the push of a button.
Many repeaters now support it, but I advise you not to use it for security reasons, as in the past it has been subject to numerous security holes. Indeed, if you can also disable it in the modem/router by following the instructions in my tutorial on how to put the password to a Wi-Fi network.
Mesh Networking support
Do you need to distribute the WiFi signal in a very large home or office? In this case, it might be advisable to contact a Mesh Networking system. These systems are composed of various routers.
The main one to be connected directly to the ADSL / Fiber modem and others to be used as “satellites” to spread the wireless network throughout the environment, which communicate with each other ( without hierarchies) and send/receive data at the same speed.
They differ from standard systems (those formed by a wireless router and one or more external WiFi repeaters) in that they create a single wireless network.
With a single SSID and a single protection key, do not cause disconnections when going with the own devices from one satellite to another and ensure very wide coverage of the signal even in the most remote areas of the home (or office).
At the moment, Mesh Networking systems oriented towards the consumer market are quite expensive, especially when compared with the classic repeaters, but in very large houses, perhaps with thick walls and / or arranged on several floors, they may be worth the expense.