A Wi-Fi extender is a gadget that sucks in a Wi-Fi signal, and then spits it back out on the same network name and frequency. Think of it as a radio repeater, because that’s essentially what it is.
It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive way to extend your network into those hard-to-reach spots in your home, and it’s much less expensive than a full mesh system (go. pcworld.com/mshs). But setting it up isn’t always a straightforward process. Here are some basic tips on how to get started, and advice on how to make the most of these handy devices.
BUYING THE RIGHT WI-FI EXTENDER
When buying a Wi-Fi extender, you want to make the most out of the connection you already have. So check your current Wi-Fi router—either the one you got from your ISP, or the one you bought yourself and connected to the modem.
You’re going to want to match two values between the router you have and the extender you want to buy: the Wi-Fi generation and the Wi-Fi speed. The generation will generally be either Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax; go.pcworld.com/wfax). The speed is expressed as a function of that connection: If the extender is marked as AC750, that means it’s using 802.11ac at up to 750 megabits per second. If it says AX1800, it’s using 802.11ax at up to 1800 megabits (1.8 gigabits).
You can buy an extender that’s newer and/or faster than your router, and it will work fine. But you’ll be paying for something you don’t really need, since the extender won’t be able to speed up the connection from the router itself.
WHERE TO PUT YOUR WI-FI EXTENDER
Choosing where to place your network extender is essential. Ideally you want it close enough to your Wi-Fi router at the source to get the most stable connection, but far enough away so that it will cover a large area the router doesn’t cover.
For example, if you live in a two-story house and your router is on the main floor in the living room, an ideal spot for the extender is plugged into an outlet at the top of the stairs. This will give it a fairly reliable, line-of-sight connection to the router, while rebroadcasting its wireless signal to the rooms on the second floor.
If you’re using a Wi-Fi extender for just one user (say, to get a better signal for a home office PC), you’ll want to put it in a location that’s approximately between that user and the Wi-Fi router. If you want to connect to the extender over Ethernet (see the “Connection” section), you might have to fudge it and go farther out.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
DOES YOUR LAPTOP FEEL SLUGGISH? - TRY THESE 9 THINGS BEFORE YOU GIVE UP
DON’T DITCH THAT AGING LAPTOP UNTIL YOU TRY THESE SPEED-BOOSTING TRICKS FIRST.
Dell XPS 17: The ultimate content creation laptop
With a giant screen and thin profile, the Dell XPS 17 is perfectly built for content creators on the go.
Mullvad VPN: Our favorite ultra-private VPN gets even better
Mullvad adds a few useful extras, as well as a big expansion of its network of servers.
How Windows 11 will speed up your slow PC
If your PC feels faster, is it faster? That’s Windows 11’s aim with some smart under-the-hood tweaks.
How to secure your home Wi-Fi network and router
Make sure what happens on your network stays private on your network.
WHAT IS DDR5? THE PC'S NEXT–GEN MEMORY, EXPLAINED
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PC’S NEXT RAM STANDARD.
Unpatched Office attack reminds us: Don't click on risky docs
An attacker will have to convince you to click on the document as well as turn off Protected View.
Gateway 15.6-inch Ultra Slim Notebook: Big screen on a budget
Getting a 15.6-inch display at this price is nice, but there are trade-offs.
GameSir GK300: Wireless mechanical keyboard goodness, just not for gaming
A removable wrist rest, backlighting, and a full-size layout help this wireless mechanical keyboard stand out.
Windows 11 to launch on October 5
The start of an exciting fall for PC users.
Asus ZenWiFi XD6
DESPITE OUR RAPID progress as a species over the last 200 years, the global footprint for radio noise has dwindled in the past two decades. Radio waves are slowly becoming quieter, the very things that ushered us into the realm of unhindered communication all those years ago are now becoming more refined and more sophisticated.
What we’re raving about this month
A versatile and impressive dual–band Wi–Fi 6 router
Asus ZenWiFi AC (CT8): Reliable Home Network Protection
These days, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) mesh systems have taken a backseat to those that use the latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) technology.
How to Set Up and Optimize Your Wireless Router
Although manufacturers have been making installation utilities easier to use, getting the best out of your new wireless router usually means delving a little deeper than the standard installation routine will go. Just because you’ve plugged everything in and all the blinking lights have turned green doesn’t mean your network’s performance or its security are as strong as they could be. Follow these basic steps to properly configure your router and optimize your wireless network.
How to Troubleshoot Your Internet Connection
Do you have a full house of social distancers working, gaming, streaming, and news binging, all at the same time? Before you schedule a service call with your cable company, check out our tips for troubleshooting your internet connection.
What Is Wi-FI 6E?
If you’re in the market for a new router or any device that uses Wi-Fi, you should first understand the new Wi-Fi 6E standard and what it means for the future of wireless networks at home and in offices around the US. The Wi-Fi Alliance, a group of Wi-Fi platform vendors that work with the FCC and electronics manufacturers to set standards for Wi-Fi technology, announced the Wi-Fi 6E designation in 2020 for any IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) products that support 6GHz wireless spectrum. Essentially, this means Wi-Fi 6E enables faster speeds and lower latencies than Wi-Fi 6 and earlier iterations.
PERIMETER SECURED - Motorola MH7020 Mesh Ready Wi-Fi Router
Motorola has certainly captured our attention with their first router in the Indian market that packs a lot of features in a well-designed device
Amazon eero 6
Another great mesh router from Amazon
MX-Fluxbox Pi 21.02.20
Les Pounder is always on the lookout for a new slice of Pi and with MX Linux he discovers something fresh from the oven.