What Are WiFi Signal Boosters?
A WiFi signal booster is a device that extends the WiFi network coverage by amplifying the signal that is already coming into the building. It is intended to be used when the signal coming in from the WiFi transmitter is weak. Often, when this happens, all the devices won’t be able to connect to the WiFi or the signal will frequently cut in and out. WiFi signal boosters can eliminate these problems. A good signal booster will extend the coverage to all the square footage of whatever building houses the WiFi, and in many cases, the signal will extend outside to the yard or parking lot.
WiFi signal boosters are different than switches or hubs. Both switches and hubs repeat any signal that comes through the device. Hubs and switches are not intended to boost your WiFi signal, but sometimes they are confused with boosters. What you are looking for is a WiFi signal booster.
Do I Need a Wi-Fi Booster?
If you are experiencing consistently low signals or frequent drops in coverage, you should consider WiFi signal boosters. There are several free cell phone apps available that can help you test the signal strength of your WiFi. It’s a good idea to do a signal check before purchasing any new equipment to make sure you have a weak signal and not some other technical problem. The following are reasons to get a WiFi signal booster.
Benefits of a WiFi Booster
There are several benefits to using a WiFi signal boosters. Here are the top reasons to use one in your home:
- They increase signal up to 3-fold
- Bi-directional signal boosters increase the signal by up to 600%
- Easy installation
- Low cost
Installation and How It Works
Top 5 WiFi Boosters
TP-Link RE450 – Best Overall
The TP-Link RE450 is currently rated as the best WiFi signal extender on the market. It consistently rebroadcasts 100% of the original signal. The device boasts speeds of 450 Mbps on a 2.4 GHz frequency and 1,300 Mbps on a 5 GHz frequency. This is more than most homes need, but it very fast regardless. The device is very easy to set up. The instructions are simple, it has an app that goes along with the device, and the status LEDs are front-facing, which makes it easy to upgrade. The one downside is that it’s not pretty and can be a little heavy for a wall unit.
- Best extending performance
- Signal strength indicator
- Easy setup
- Easily knocked over
- Top heavy
This product can be found for about $70 on Amazon.
TP-Link RE305 – Best Value
The winner for Best Value when it comes to WiFi signal boosters is the TP-Link RE305. It’s less expensive than the number one pick and does not have a Gigabit Ethernet port. This is a wall plug unit that has two adjustable antennas. The status lights are on the front and the WPS button is on top. The display is a bit hard to see, especially with something else sharing the outlet with this device. The device has two frequency bands, so it’s able to achieve AC1200 speeds and it will work with any router or access point. There is also a smartphone app.
- Great extending performance
- No Gigabit Port
- Status lights on top
- Hard to see
This product can be found for about $45 on Amazon.
Netgear EX6200 – Best Desktop Extender
The Netgear EX6200 has adjustable antennas and an optional vertical mount. This is a nice looking device, with triangular vent holes and a black and red color scheme. The device doesn’t have to sit right on an outlet, so you have more options when it comes to placement. However, it is larger than most Wifi signal boosters. It has 5 ports for wired devices. Also, you can connect this booster directly to your router and use it as a wireless access point. This booster is fast, reaching speeds of AC1200 on both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The unit has high-gain antennas and a 700 mW amplifier.
- 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Directional antennas
- Sits vertically or horizontally
- Larger than wall plug extenders
- WPS did not work in testing
This product can be found for about $99 on Newegg.
Netgear EX6200 – Best Low-Profile Wall Plug
This unit uses internal antennas and MU-MIMO technology to boost your signal. It should travel up to 10,000 square feet. This device is smaller than most tested. There is a status/WPS light on the front and buttons on the side for Reset and WPS. It offers Gigabit Ethernet and can be used as an access point. Setup is a little more complicated than some.
- Simple design
- 10,000 square feet of coverage
- Internal antennas
- Doesn’t have separate band lights
- Complicated setup
- Unlabeled buttons
This product can be found for about $89 on Amazon.
Motorola MX1200 – Best Individual Band Control
This is the only WiFi signal booster with a GHz band switch built into the hardware. It uses internal antennas, which makes it look good. It has a five-signal indicator. On the bottom, there is a WPS button, a reset button, a host band switch, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a power switch. The setup is easy, with comprehensive directions. This unit broadcasts about 40% of the original signal most of the time.
- Nondescript design
- Internal antennas
- Gigabit port
- Failed one multi-floor test
- Only boosts 40% of the signal
- Crowded buttons
This product can be found for about $39 on Amazon.
If your’re having trouble getting a solid, fast signal all over your home or place of business, it’s time to consider a WiFi signal booster. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and make a huge difference. After reviewing several boosters, the best overall is the TP-Link RE450. This unit combines speed with useful features. With this model, your WiFi signal will be 100% boosted all the time. The other options are not far behind in terms of quality, but you can’t beat the signal reliability of the RE450. With the addition of a WiFi signal booster, every inch of your home of business will be online, all the time.