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Do Wi-Fi boosters really work?

See a real-world example

Getting reliable Wi-Fi around the entire house can be a challenge. Are you plagued by slow connections or signal loss in some corners of your home or yard? The simplest solution is to use a dual-band Wi-Fi® range booster.

Wi-Fi boosters (also known as range extenders) rebroadcast your router's wireless signal. Dual-band boosters use one band to communicate with your router, and the other band to talk to your devices.

Wi-Fi booster illustration

In this home, the wireless router (A) doesn’t provide enough range. A Wi-Fi booster (B) amplifies the router’s signal and provides better network coverage to problem areas.

Choices vary in range and amplification power. Some models plug into the wall and are perfect for tackling one problematic area of your home. Other boosters sit on a desk or shelf. They have stronger antennas that cover several rooms or a large yard with robust Wi-Fi coverage.

My experience with a Wi-Fi booster

My house was built in 1920. It has thick wooden floors and unforgiving plaster walls that impede my Wi-Fi signal. To see if a Wi-Fi booster really works, I took one home and tried it out. I placed the NETGEAR AC750 one floor above where my wireless router is located.

I went to a bedroom that consistently suffers from slow download speeds. I switched my phone's Wi-Fi connection between the router and the booster to compare results. I used NETGEAR's Genie app (Apple®, Android™) to test the Wi-Fi signal strength. I also used Ookla's Speedtest app (Apple®, Android™) to measure download speeds. Here are the results with the booster switched off:

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In the test location, my router's signal strength checked in at a meager 51%. No wonder Netflix® streams so slowly in this room.

Here's what happened when I switched the Wi-Fi booster on

Setup was simple. I plugged the booster in and spent a couple of minutes connecting it to my network through my phone's web browser. Just like that, problem solved. Here are the test results:

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The booster brought the wireless signal up from 51% to 88%. It delivered downloads nearly 75% faster.

See how Wi-Fi boosters work

Here's a Netgear video that explains the benefits of Wi-Fi range extenders and shows how they work in a typical home.

Ethernet-over-powerline - another way to extend your network

Streaming 4K video or gaming online? Sometimes a wired network connection is the best way to go. Here's a simple way to create a hard-wired network across your house: an Ethernet-over-powerline kit. These modules use your existing electrical wiring as a network cable. Plug one in near your router, and the other where you want network access. You can now connect a computer, Smart TV, or gaming system for high-speed network access.

Wi-Fi booster illustration

Make high-speed network access across your house simple. Connect a powerline module to your router (A). Plug the module into a nearby wall outlet (B). Place a second module wherever you want hard-wired network access (C).

Orbi is a router and range extender

NETGEAR introduced a product in 2016 called Orbi. It's a fast, powerful router that plugs in wherever your modem is located. Plus, it has an additional satellite that repeats and boosts the original signal. Used together, the modules can cover up to 4,000 square feet with strong, fast Wi-Fi. They use a single Wi-Fi name (SSID) so you experience seamless connectivity as you roam throughout the house. Orbi is great for wireless multi-room audio systems in large homes, too. They need to communicate over a single SSID.

Better range and speed for gaming and movie streaming

My fellow copywriter Eric took an Orbi home to try it out. He connected it to his existing NETGEAR AC1600 router and placed the satellite at a Wi-Fi pain point in the home — near the PlayStation® 4. When he did a speed test afterward, the Mbps had nearly quadrupled. His teenaged son spent his next online gaming session laughing with friends instead of complaining about lag! Very cool.

NETGEAR Orbi AC3000 Tri-band Wi-Fi® System

The NETGEAR Orbi uses a powerful tri-band router and a dedicated satellite to cover up to 4,000 square feet with strong Wi-Fi signal.

Learn more about improving your network

Wireless technology has advanced a lot over the last few years. If your router doesn't support the latest Wi-Fi standards, you may not be getting the most out of your devices. If it's been a while since you've upgraded your router, it's worth considering a new one. Check out our wireless router buying guide as well as tips to building a stronger home Wi-Fi network to get started.

We can help

Want friendly, one-on-one help choosing the right networking gear for your home? Our expert Advisors can help. Call or chat with us today for free, personalized advice. Free lifetime tech support is included with every Crutchfield purchase.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/7/2018

    Hey Scott, I'm going to put you in touch with one of our Advisors, who will help you find the right wireless solution for your trailer. Thanks!

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/7/2018

    Hi Tasha — all the Wi-Fi booster is doing is improving the wireless connection between your devices (phone, laptop, etc.) and your router. The amount of data you pay for has to do with the plan you have with your IPS (internet service provider). Feel free to give us a call if you'd like some help choosing a booster for your house.

  • scott crier from Milwaukee

    Posted on 5/7/2018

    WE have a trailer in a campground. It"s about 150 FT to 200 FT away from router.what kind of extender would i need to receive a good single?

  • Tasha Bourgeois

    Posted on 5/6/2018

    Will these devices make wifi bills rise?

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/3/2018

    Hi Karen, I'm going to put you in touch with one of our Advisors, who will help you find the right wireless solution for your studio. Thanks!

  • Karen from Eufaula, OK

    Posted on 4/3/2018

    I need to boost WiFi to my studio, which is about 200' from my house. What is best to boost my signal?

  • James L Siler from Sanford NC

    Posted on 3/2/2018

    I just purchased the same plug in extender an an thankful for this info. Not a gadget person but gonna try it an Best Buy price is $10 higher than the ones I just saw!!!??? Thanks!! I'll be back!!!

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/18/2017

    Hi Greg, I'm glad to hear the range extender improved your Wi-Fi coverage. As for the noise, that can be a little tricky to pin down. Are you using a noise filter for your equipment at all? It's possible the extender is creating interference that your amp is picking up. That's where I'd start my troubleshooting.

  • Greg from Skiatook

    Posted on 5/17/2017

    I put a range extender next to my home theater rack of equipment. It really made a huge difference. But sometimes I am getting a very loud high pitched noise occasionally when streaming. Is this possible? Or do I need to have my amp and preamp checked?

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