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Does your router need a sidekick? These Wi-Fi extenders can give it a boost

Netgear EX6200 (AC1200) ($90)

Netgear’s powerful Wi-Fi extender has the ability to create dual band Wi-Fi speeds up to 1200Mbps and spread them throughout your house with a powerful 700mW range booster. So far, so good – but it’s the extra features that really make this powerhouse stand out from the crowd.

First, there are useful tracking features that check your Wi-Fi strength where you set up the extender, which allows you to pinpoint the precise spot in your home or office to put the satellite device for maximum range. You can also measure channel interference to help locate any serious problem areas. Perhaps even more interesting, you have the ability to use a dedicated Fastlane band to create an extra-powerful signal, which is ideal for demanding tasks such as HD streaming or online gaming.

There are also features here more suited for offices or complex entertainment setups, such as the ability to directly connect up to five wired devices into the extender using its Gigabit Ethernet ports, which ultimately gives you a more reliable connection.

Note that this extender uses a Wi-Fi connection to amplify the signal – it does not need to be plugged directly into your router to function (though it does need a wall outlet for power). This is a common type of setup these days. If you buy a Netgear router and specifically format it to be an access point, then you can attach the EX6200, but there’s not usually a good reason to do this.

Amped TAP-EX3 (AC1750) ($170)

Amped TAP-EX3 (AC1750)

The Amped TAP-EX3 is a very different model from our top Netgear pick, but is still one of the best Wi-Fi extenders we found, especially for larger homes and families that want an easy solution. We’re talking about a lot of range here, around 12,000 extra square feet of coverage for your network and some of the highest speeds we’ve seen in an extender with its AC1750 rating. The TAP-EX3 contains 12 amplifiers in all, designed to broadcast a dual-band Wi-Fi signal powerful enough to stream 4K content and play demanding online games without a stutter.

Related: Boost your Wi-Fi the easy way with Amped’s touchscreen extender

The standout feature here, however, is the touchscreen. While small, it allows for easy and obvious setup procedures (oddly enough, with an included, unnecessary stylus). If anything goes wrong, the touchscreen makes a great focal point to locate the problem, reset, or find a resolution. There are also five Gigabit Ethernet ports for directly connecting devices like smart TVs or gaming consoles for a more straightforward connection – these setups are handy if you don’t mind putting the extender right by your TV and the router at the other end of your house, a placement that may seem counter-intuitive at first.

On the downside, the price for the TAP-EX3 may be a little high for some homeowners, and its capabilities are overkill for a typical family home.

D-Link DCH-M225 ($43)

D-Link DCH-M225

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have a far more affordable model, suitable for smaller homes or offices where the primary problems may be interference instead of range (although of course range will also be boosted). It is a direct plug-in model that fits into the outlet like a little adapter. The small size, plus the low price, makes this one of the most accessible extenders on our list, although you will have to download the QRS mobile app to complete installation. Notably, this model also offers AirPlay support if you are an Apple fan and really don’t want to buy another AirPort device.

On a less positive note, this D-Link model only provides up to a 300Mbps, single-band connection. That’s certain okay, but it’s not enough for high demand situations like lots of HD streaming, or gaming from multiple devices. You’ll need a stronger device for the more demanding tasks.

Linksys RE6500-FFP (AC1200) ($80)

Linksys RE6500-FFP (AC1200)

This 10,000 square foot, dual-band extender is a strong middle-of-the-road offering, similar in many ways to our top Netgear model albeit with fewer extra features. However, you do retain the ability to speed things up a bit, this time with crossband tech that takes data from one band and delivers it using the other band for a higher rate of efficiency and speed. Other unique features include an audio jack for connecting music devices, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, and varied security options that offer WEP, WPA, and WPA2 encryption to choose from.

D-Link Wi-Fi DAP-1520 (AC750) ($55)

D-Link Wi-Fi DAP-1520 (AC750) Gall

This affordable, outlet-based model does provide dual-band extension – in fact, it can turn an older single-band router into a dual-band signal. This is a handy option if you have one of those single-band routers and still like it, but just wish it had more range and could handle more devices without faltering. This D-Link model is probably a less expensive solution than buying an entirely new router! However, the network speed is fairly low, so this is most suitable for low-key Wi-Fi connections that don’t need to stream the very latest ultra HD content.

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