The TP-Link RE220 is our top range extender pick -- it doesn't cost very much, it's easy to use, and it can provide a steady, workable connection with surprisingly good range. 02. There's a lot to think about as you work to upgrade your home network, so here's a quick rundown of what you should know. However, if you find that the signal is weak close to the router and there's still plenty of house left that needs Wi-Fi, then chances are slim that a repeater placed right there can forward the signal to the rest of the home unless your house is quite small. For example, if your home has three floors and several bedrooms, and your downstairs router just isn't capable of penetrating the walls and other obstructions throughout the home, it might be easier to upgrade the network with a mesh system so that a room on all floors can have its own Wi-Fi "hub. Like real estate, wireless networking is about three things: location, location, location. It'll pair you up with one of several nearby servers as soon as you load the page -- from there, just click the big "GO" button and wait about a minute to see your current upload and download speeds, as well as the connection's latency. You'll plug it in, press the WPS button to put it into Wi-Fi Protected Setup mode, and then press the WPS button on your router to pair the two together. Many of them cost a lot less than in previous years, but you should still expect to pay at least $160 for a decent system, and hundreds more than that for something top-of-the-line. This type of configuration, however, would be just fine for immobile devices like a wireless desktop computer. The best systems will always know when to connect directly to the router and when it's better to route your connection through one of the satellites, but others with less sophisticated software might get tripped up and route you incorrectly, which can needlessly slow your connection down. ", Wi-Fi mesh networks are easier to set up since most come with a mobile app that provides a quick and simple way to get all the hubs working together. One last thing worth remembering: Wireless speeds are all well and good, but a wired, Ethernet connection will always give you speeds that are as fast as possible. Gauging the size of the building is an important step in deciding which device to buy. We have a handful of recommendations, including Amazon's Eero and the AC1200 version of Netgear's Orbi, as well as the Asus ZenWiFi AX as a worthy upgrade pick. While a range extender leaves you with multiple Wi-Fi networks to deal with, a standard mesh system such as the eero, Netgear Orbi or Nest Wi-Fi by Google, simply replaces the original network with one that automatically knows whether to connect via either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. Mesh setups can have three or more hubs, which might be a lot of technology to have sitting around various places. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Router vs. That said, mesh network hubs are usually much more attractive and rarely if ever, have visible antennas. If your problem is bigger than a single room where you can't connect -- say, an entire floor where your speeds are spotty -- then your best move is almost certainly to upgrade to a mesh router. What can you do? Range extenders, on the other hand, are often confusing to set up. Alternately, mesh routers are best for whole-home coverage. Range extenders like these are a cinch to use. From there, it's just a matter of finding the right hardware for the job. I've already outlined some of the initial steps you can take to boost your connection without buying anything, but in a lot of cases, eliminating dead zones like those will require a hardware upgrade. In this case, there's no compelling reason to upgrade the entire Wi-Fi network with new mesh devices. Just keep in mind that location matters a lot with these things, because they can only put out a network that's as strong as the incoming wireless signal from the router. If you're dealing with dead zones, your home network might be ready for some new hardware. It aims to maximise coverage on a single fibre broadband network. A WiFi extender is essentially like a small hub that can physically be placed in between both your router and your PC to take the WiFi signal from your router and extend it out to a longer distance. In most cases, you'll see it listed as the existing network name with "_EXT" tacked onto the end. NETGEAR Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Extender. After they're all ready to go, you can move through the house and automatically connect to whichever one provides the best signal since there's only one network that's used simultaneously by all the hubs. Side note: While our Deco M3 (3-pack) uses mesh satellites that look similar … There's a huge difference in price between a wireless extender and a mesh system Wi-Fi. Hi @alcat,. However, mesh networks tend to be much more expensive than repeaters and they require several devices around the house. It made a world of difference, as that heat map indicates. Some newer homes may even be hardwired with Ethernet connections that offer effortless connectivity. However, it's also easy for a mesh system to be more than you need in a smaller home. This approach is great if your house isn't very big, and it's inexpensive when compared to mesh Wi-Fi systems. If you have a home office that's far from the router, for instance, then placing either a plug-in range extender or a mesh router's satellite in the room and wiring your computer to it can guarantee speeds that are faster and steadier than what you'd get if you tried to connect wirelessly from afar. At this point, you'll want to run through the basics. The Ookla Speed Test is a quick and easy diagnostic tool for your home network's health. A good Wi-Fi extender might cost just $50 USD while a mesh Wi-Fi system can set you back as much as $300. The two-piece setup with the router and a single extender would be a good fit for single-story homes, and costs $269. Get smart home reviews and ratings, video reviews, buying guides, prices and comparisons from CNET. Try moving the router to a different spot (out in the open is best, preferably as high up and as centrally located as possible). A good powerline extender will use your home's wiring like a shortcut to get around obstacles like those. A mesh network is designed to be a more seamless experience than a Wi-Fi extender. Number of devices. So should I get a Wi-Fi extender? A wireless range extender could be considered an in-place upgrade since all you have to do is attach the extender to your existing network to broaden the Wi-Fi signal and extend the range. Mesh Wi-Fi networks are very easy to set up, and are good for: Extending your Wi-Fi to your whole home or bigger offices. That'll ensure that the range extender or mesh point is able to put out the best possible network, and that it'll be able to cover your dead zone. There are a couple of massive improvements that help mesh networks achieve far better results. If you have a coaxial cable running through your home, that will suffice. Plus, you can still use your existing router. That might not sound like much, but it's fast and steady enough to support video chats, HD video streams, and even basic online gaming if you need it to. All things considered, aside from cost, a mesh network is very often the best way to go since it's almost guaranteed that a quality system can provide Wi-Fi for almost any sized home. The hubs are already programmed to work with one another, so it's usually as simple as powering them on and setting up network settings like a password. However, mesh Wi-Fi is more stable than Wi-Fi extender. With a repeater setup, all you need is the router, which you already have, and the repeater. Another downside to mesh networks is that you have multiple devices positioned throughout your house. Mesh WiFi is faster and more efficient at delivering a WiFi signal than a range extender. This process is usually much more time consuming and complicated compared to a mesh network setup. And don't worry too much about the brand. Mesh Wi-Fi Vs Traditional Wi-Fi Routers: Which is better? If you want, you can repeat this process at different times of day. 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