You’d probably all agree that the Internet has deeply affected all of our lives. It enables all of us incredible opportunities and access to enormous amounts of data and information. Yet many of us don’t know the basic concepts and devices that help us use the internet, devices that create WiFi signals to be exact.
To correct this mistake just slightly, we will have a closer look at the WiFi repeaters and WiFi extender. We will explain what each of the two does, how it works, what is the main difference, how to install each of them, which one do you need, and present you with a few currently best wireless extenders and repeater available on the market.
WiFi Repeater vs Extender – Key Difference
Before we can take this discussion any further, we must all know what the repeater is and what the extender is and what the main differences between the two are. However, we should warn you that many manufacturers use the two terms interchangeably.
NOTE: There are two types of WiFi Extenders – the WiFi range extenders and the WiFi network extenders. The WiFi range extenders are essentially enhanced WiFi repeaters, while the WiFi network extenders differ slightly more. Herein, the WiFi extenders we have in mind and refer to are the WiFi network extenders (these are often mistaken for routers, however, some can serve as a WiFi router as well). Some call them WiFi boosters. Generally, there is a lot of confusion when it comes to naming WiFi repeaters and extenders as there is often no consistency amongst different manufacturers, making the names often interchangeable.
Essential, the WiFi repeater and the WiFi extender are very similar, thus it is not a surprise that many don’t know the difference between the two. Moreover, they have the same ultimate purpose, which is to make the WiFi connection available in areas where the WiFi router is not able to do so.
The main differences between the WiFi Repeater and WiFi Extender are :
- The most obvious difference that everyone’s eye may notice, is the fact that the WiFi repeater connects to the existing WiFi signal, while the WiFi extender connects to the network via wired Ethernet connection.
- They both emit a WiFi signal, however, the repeater receives the WiFi signal and simply re-broadcasts it, while the WiFi extender extends the signal (does not create a new wireless connection).
- The WiFi extender does not limit the bandwidth output while extending the reach of WiFi.
- Essentially, the WiFi repeater can’t create as strong of a signal as the WiFi extender can. Thus, the WiFi extenders are considered to be the better option when it comes to creating a better WiFi network.
How Does a WiFi Repeater Work?
WiFi repeaters, also wireless repeaters, are basically the first generation WiFi range extenders (see the NOTE above). As the name suggests, WiFi repeaters repeat or re-broadcast the WiFi signal without cable received to a finite (smaller) localized area. Since they repeat the signal, the emitted signal will be of the same quality as the received signal. The WiFi repeater does, however, typically increase the WiFi network’s response time (also known as latency) and amplifies it as well. WiFi repeaters are a good choice if you plan on connection only up to 5 devices and don’t plan to stream anything.
WiFi repeater needs electrical supply to function.
How Do I Install a WiFi Repeater?
WiFi repeaters are very easy to install. You simply position a WiFi repeater in a stable way, plug its adapter into the socket, and turn it on (some have a turn on/off switch, some don’t). Afterward, you must use your laptop to connect to the WiFi repeater’s network and connect the repeater to your existing WiFi signal, thus you need to know your existing WiFi signal’s details (name and password are essential, some models require IP address).
In addition, once you are setting up the connection between the WiFi repeater and the existing WiFi signal, you may also change the WiFi repeater’s password and name if you wish or simply use what was set by default.
How Does a WiFi Extender Work?
You may have figured out this part by understanding the difference between the WiFi extender and the WiFi repeater, but just to make things as clear as possible, we want to tell you how the WiFi Extender work.
The WiFi extender is connected to the network via the ethernet cable. It receives a signal through the cable and then emits/extends the wireless signal, which doesn’t limit the bandwidth output. Thus, it creates/extends a strong WiFi network.
NOTE: Most modern WiFi extenders are also able to work in two ways; either to receive a signal through the Ethernet cable and emit a WiFi signal or to pick up WiFi signal and reemit it (similar as WiFi repeaters do).
WiFi extender also needs electrical supply to function.
How Do I Install a WiFi Extender?
WiFi extenders are even simpler to install than W-Fi repeaters. However, the prerequisite to installing a WiFi extender is that you have an Ethernet cable wired to the place where you want to station the WiFi extender. Simply plug the ethernet cable into the Ethernet socket intended for incoming signal (most WiFi extenders also have output Ethernet cable sockets) and then plug the adapter into the wall socket. Turn it on (some have a turn on/off switch, some don’t).
You can use the generic name and password to connect to the WiFi signal or sign in to the settings of the extender with the use of a laptop.
Do I need a WiFi Extender or a Repeater?
Now that you know the main difference between the WiFi extender and the WiFi repeater, you should be able to determine which one will better suit your needs.
As the rule of thumb, you may follow our guidance. If you need a very reliable, fast WiFi network that can handle multiple devices, we advise you to use a WiFi extender.
However, if you can’t manage to install an Ethernet cable from your WiFi router to the location you intend to position your WiFi booster, then the use of the WiFi repeater might be a better alternative. However, expect to lose even up to 50% of the bandwidth capability.
Top 5 Best Wireless Boosters (Extenders & Repeater)
NOTE: As we mentioned at the beginning, most manufacturers use the two terms (extenders and repeater interchangeably), thus it can be rather difficult to distinguish between the products. All you need to know as a consumer is if you will use an Ethernet cable to get the signal to the internet boosting device or existing WiFi.
Since there is a lot of confusion regarding what are WiFi extenders and repeaters, we decided to focus on the term that covers them all – WiFi boosters.
1. Netgear AC1200 WiFi Range Extender EX6150
Many consider Netgear EX6150 to be the best WiFi booster currently available on the market. Its simple installation is impressive.
- Bands: 802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz
- Connectivity: 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port
- WiFi Protected Access (WPS), Extender/Access Point mode switch, power button
- Super simple setup
- Compact design
- Only one Ethernet port
2. Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 Mesh Range Extender
If you are in need of a high-performance internet that will allow you to play online games, stream 4K content, then this is the go-to WiFi booster.
- Bands: 802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz
- Connectivity: 2 x Ethernet
- WiFi Protected Access (WPS), Mesh connectivity
- Small design
- Easy to use
3. TP-Link RE350 AC1200 WiFi Range Extender
TP-Link RE350 might be the best combination of quality and price available on the market when it comes to WiFi boosters.
- Bands: 802.11ac 5GHz and 2.4GHz
- Connectivity: 1 x Ethernet
- WiFi Protected Access (WPS), LED shows connection strength for easy placement
- Ethernet connection
- LED showing connection strength makes installation easy
4. D-Link DAP-1320 Wireless N300 Range Extender
D-Link DAP is a very affordable and simple option, however, it is a rather slow WiFi. It is very compact and built to last.
- Bands: 802.11n 2.4GHz
- Connectivity: N/A
- WPS, internal antennae
- Very small
- Not the fastest WiFi
- No Ethernet
5. Plume SuperPods
If you are looking to extend your network and at the same time protect your devices, Plume SuperPods might be the best choice for you.
- Bands: 802.11b/g/n/ac
- Connectivity: 2x Gigabit LAN ports
- Parental controls, Cloud-based ad-blocking, and cybersecurity
- Excellent coverage
- Easy setup
Quick Tips For Shoppers
As you can see there are many high-quality WiFi boosting devices available. They offer different options, have very different capabilities, and thus come at very different prices, ranging from $10 to well over $100 dollars.
As such, it is important to know what you need. Do you need to connect more than 2 devices? Or do you need an Ethernet connection option? Do you plan on streaming? Will the signal come via Ethernet cable or in wireless form?
All of these and more will determine which device to choose.
We hope you have learned a few new things that will help you with your next WiFi repeater, WiFi extender, or any other WiFi booster purchase.
Happy browsing to you all.