Group Test: Wi-Fi Extenders

By
Group Test: Wi-Fi Extenders

Bennett Ring extends his home Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi is a fickle beast. Whether  it’s a wall, a microwave, a cordless phone, surrounding networks or simply the distance between devices, the range of a Wi-Fi router can be hugely affected by its environment. This is why Ethernet is still our connection of choice, but we understand that most smart-devices now rely upon Wi-Fi to operate, be it your phone, ultraportable laptop or tablet. Unfortunately the chances that a single router will extend to cover your entire home are about zero squared, which is where Wi-Fi extenders can prove to be useful. 

They do exactly what they say on the tin – receive the signal from your Wi-Fi router, and then rebroadcast it at higher strength, thus increasing the Wi-Fi coverage through your home. Well, that’s the theory at least. During our testing of the following extenders, we found that some actually lowered the default performance of our network without any extenders installed. This is because the cheaper devices are generally limited to the 2.4GHz network, so you’ll miss out on the speed offered by faster 5GHz networks. Thankfully most decent products cover both networks, and as you’ll see, delivered substantial performance improvements.

To test the following extenders, we placed the extender approximately ten metres away from the Synology RT2600AC router that we use for all Wi-Fi testing. We then used a laptop equipped with a 2x2 Wi-Fi antennae another 15 metres away, in the backyard of our property, from the extender to test the throughput of a 1GB file between our host computer and the laptop. We tested performance on the 5GHz band if possible; only one extender didn’t support this. Initially we had massive issues getting the extenders to connect at all – they simply wouldn’t show up on the laptop. After a frustrating day of trying to test, we had a light-bulb moment. The rear windows of the test environment were covered entirely in metal Venetian blinds, which appeared to make for the perfect Faraday cage. It’s worth keeping this in mind if you’re going to be using an extender – concrete is much less of an issue than a set of metal blinds! 

Tags:

Most Read Articles

Upgrading to Windows 10 is still free, if you use this loophole

Upgrading to Windows 10 is still free, if you use this loophole

What's new in iOS 11?

What's new in iOS 11?

Skylake-X and Kaby Lake X: The Core Wars

Skylake-X and Kaby Lake X: The Core Wars

Review: Dell XPS 15 laptop (2017 model)

Review: Dell XPS 15 laptop (2017 model)

Would you like to receive

Our Newsletter?