How to Get a Stronger WiFi Signal
Few gadgets in your home can make you quite as frustrated or bewildered as a router with a crummy WiFi signal. Without a fast and reliable internet connection, you find yourself huffing as you wait for websites to load on your laptop, fidgeting as YouTube videos freeze on your tablet, and staring in despair at email inboxes and social media feeds as they struggle to refresh on your smartphone. As for streaming the latest edition of “WrestleMania” on your smart TV? Forget about it. To add to your angst, you may not know how to troubleshoot those problems—beyond calling a tech-savvy relative and pleading for help.
Sick of all the waiting? Let our experts bring you up to speed on solutions.
Understanding the basics of what your wireless router does will go a long way toward helping you fix some hiccups.
“Think of a router as an electronic traffic cop,” says Richard Fisco, who oversees electronics testing for Consumer Reports. Once it’s hooked up to the modem provided by your internet service provider (ISP), a router directs the internet connection throughout your home, making it wirelessly available to devices like your laptop, smart speaker, and smart TV.
Your router serves as a link between the outside world and all of your personal and financial data. The tax return you filed electronically? It travels through your router. Those credit card numbers you share online with Amazon? They exit through the router, too.
That’s why a router has to be a security guard in addition to being efficient and convenient. A good one receives routine firmware updates from the manufacturer to combat potential threats from hackers and other ne’er-do-wells.
If your WiFi connection is noticeably sluggish, you may be tempted to write off your current router as a dud. But don’t be too hasty—there may be other factors at play.
First, take a look at a bill from your ISP to see what level of broadband you’re paying for. You’ll need a connection of at least 25 megabits per second to stream Netflix video for 4K TV, for example. If you’re not paying for that, or if you don’t have access to that kind of speed where you live, a brand-new router won’t help you.
You can easily run a speed test using a service like fast.com to see what you’re really getting. You may want to run this test a few times. First, run it with your laptop plugged into your router to check your speed in the best-case scenario. You can then move around with your laptop to different areas of your home to see how fast WiFi is at different locations.
Next, you’ll want to assess the placement of your router. They tend to do best when set up in the center of a home, allowing the signal to reach out in every direction. A router tucked away in a corner may not have the range to travel to the other side of the house, or from the second floor to the basement, because the signal degrades the farther it gets from the source.
If your router is in a suboptimal spot (the basement, for example), try moving it. One way is to buy a long Ethernet cable (keep it under 300 feet), plug it into the modem and the router, and move the router yourself. Or you can ask your ISP to help you relocate the modem, though the company may charge you depending on the labor involved. If you’re planning to change providers, Fisco says, you may be able to get the job done free, so ask while you’re negotiating the switch.
If your router is already in a central location, the slow connection might be due to obstacles in the house that can impede a WiFi signal. (See “5 Common WiFi Roadblocks & How to Fix Them,” below.) You can try moving the router around a room to address such problems.
If those tweaks don’t help, it may be time to find a model better suited to your needs, especially if you’ve been using a single-unit router in a multi-story home.
These days, you’ll find two types of wireless routers: traditional models and mesh network models. You’re probably familiar with the former. They’re single-unit devices that plug into a modem. They can be plenty fast, supporting even the data-hungry activities of families with dozens of internet-connected devices. But they don’t always have the range to effectively blanket a whole home in WiFi, especially if you have a large or obstacle-laden layout.
Mesh routers are typically packaged in a set with multiple units—a hub and one or more satellites—that work together to spread WiFi into the far-flung corners of a home. If you place the hub, which plugs into your modem, near the center of your dwelling, you can shift around the satellites, which help relay the WiFi signal, until you find a configuration that helps you eliminate any dead spots.
So why doesn’t everyone simply choose a mesh router? They’re pricey, for one thing. The top-rated models in our ratings cost $400 to $500. By contrast, our top-rated single-unit model sells for $200, followed by one that goes for about $160. There’s also an argument to be made for simplicity. With a mesh system, you have several devices strewn about your home vs. just one with a traditional router. If you don’t actually need mesh routers, there’s no reason to invest in them.
Once you start shopping for a router, you’re likely to hear a lot of buzz about WiFi 6, a new technology standard that promises faster speeds, a longer range, and better support for the ever-expanding fleet of connected devices in modern homes.
Also known as 802.11ax, WiFi 6 replaces the WiFi 5 standard formerly known as 802.11ac, which debuted in 2013, and WiFi 4 (802.11n), which dates back to 2009. The consortium that sets these standards announced a WiFi 6 certification program in September 2019, and a number of routers that support the standard are now available, including three models in our ratings.
But only a few internet-connected devices are currently WiFi 6- compatible. (The latest Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones are examples.) WiFi 4 and 5 devices can connect to a WiFi 6-compatible router, but they get none of the technology’s speed benefits. So our experts say it’s fine to hold off on making the leap if you can save money on a slightly older model. “If you still have a WiFi 4 router but your smartphone, TV, and laptop all support WiFi 5, get a WiFi 5 router instead,” Fisco says. That will set you up for a good five years.
Many consumers simply accept the model provided by their ISP. But internet companies usually charge a $10 to $12 monthly rental fee for the privilege, which can eclipse the price of a new router within two years.
In addition to providing potential savings, buying your own router gives you far more say in the operation and security of your home WiFi network. Using a simple mobile app, you can set up your router to receive automatic firmware updates. If you have a large family or frequent houseguests, our experts suggest a model that offers robust settings that let you establish parental controls and a guest network to wall folks off from certain websites and private information.
If your router doesn’t come with a companion app, however, instructions on how to update routers vary by brand. For most models, you need to log in through a browser on your computer, using the router’s IP address. Here are links on how to update widely used routers: Apple, Asus, D-Link, Linksys, and Netgear.
You may also be able to get security notices via email from your router’s manufacturer. To learn how, go to the company website—you’ll probably have to register the device.
“WiFi is electromagnetic radiation, just like light,” says Bhaskar Krishnamachari, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science at the University of Southern California. “There are objects that block it and others that let it through.” Here are some common obstacles to think about as you place routers and use connected devices. In this diagram, we’ve arranged a three-piece mesh router network to help eliminate potential dead spots in a multilevel home.
For the best results, place the hub in the center of your home (1) and between the satellites (2 and 3), says CR’s Fisco. Note that satellite 3 sits on the kitchen counter away from the refrigerator (4). The WiFi signal from both the hub and satellites can also reach up and down to other floor levels, eliminating potential dead zones.
Thicker walls tend to absorb more of a WiFi signal than thinner walls, Krishnamachari says. While you can’t easily change how thick your walls are, simply repositioning a mesh satellite closer to a room’s entrance may help boost the signal.
A refrigerator and other appliances that contain a lot of metal can cause trouble, too. WiFi signals may bounce off them instead of passing through to the other side. Metal plumbing and rebar in your walls create similar problems.
If you live in an apartment building or a heavily populated neighborhood, you might be susceptible to wireless congestion created by nearby devices running on the 2. 4GHz frequency band. Try changing your router and devices to the 5GHz frequency band, which has many more channels. If your router doesn’t support 5GHz, select another channel in the device’s settings.
Microwave ovens also operate in the 2.4GHz frequency band, Krishnamachari points out. That can cause interference, he says, if, for example, you decide to make a second bag of popcorn while streaming a Netflix movie. To avoid the interruption on movie night, try switching your laptop or smart TV to the 5GHz band.
The Fish Tank
Water absorbs radiation, Krishnamachari says. So your WiFi signal is likely to get hung up near pools, tubs, and, yes, that 100-gallon fish tank you installed.
Check out these wireless routers that impressed our product testers.
Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the March 2020 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
Can’t get a decent wireless internet connection in your home? On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports’ expert Nicholas De Leon explains to show host Jack Rico how mesh networks provide faster speeds and better coverage.
Nicholas De Leon
I’ve been covering consumer electronics for more than 10 years for publications like TechCrunch, The Daily (R.I.P.), and Motherboard. When I’m not researching or writing about laptops or headphones I can likely be found obsessively consuming news about FC Barcelona, replaying old Super Nintendo games for the hundredth time, or chasing my pet corgi Winston to put his harness on so we can go for a walk. Follow me on
The differences between a WiFi booster, WiFi extender and WiFi repeater.
The term WiFi booster was a catch-all phrase for devices that extended a WiFi signal. A WiFi booster now is more accurately defined as a wireless range extender, MoCA® wired extender or a MoCA/Ethernet WiFi Wireless Network Extender.
Central to WiFi boosters is WiFi bandwidth ‘extension’. To completely cover your home and yard, you may need more than one WiFi booster.
Wireless repeaters are first generation WiFi signal extenders. As the name implies, wireless repeaters re-broadcast the WiFi signal received to a finite localized area. The quality of WiFi signal strength received by the wireless repeater will be the same WiFi signal strength distributed. Latency, or WiFi network response time, is typically increased. If you need a short hop, have less than 5 wireless devices and are not going to stream anything, a repeater might work – but I doubt it.
Wireless range extenders are stand-alone equipment which sit between your wireless router and the location where you want better wireless coverage. Similar to a wireless repeater, a wireless range extender grabs existing WiFi signal from your wireless router and re-broadcasts it. Range extenders rebroadcast on a different wireless channel from the one used by your wireless router. The challenge with range-extenders is location. Incorrect placement means a range extender may not obtain sufficient WiFi signal from your router to simultaneously rebroadcast, stream and engage in online gaming or watching a video. To solve this challenge you can hardwire a wired range extender to your router, improving the speed of your entire network.
WiFi Network Extenders are the best WiFi boosters for consistent, reliable high speed WiFi to every floor and corner of your home. Unlike repeaters or range extenders that rebroadcast existing WiFi signals, ScreenBeam’s WiFi Network Extenders communicate directly with your gateway or WiFi router using a wire.
Just like cellular towers, WiFi Network Extenders use a “wire” or cable as the means of communicating back to the router or source. ScreenBeam’s WiFi Network Extenders then use that “huge pipe” or “Internet Autobahn” to create a second or third WiFi boosted network.
As you may know, the further away a WiFi device is from the WiFi access point/router, the slower its speed. So by using WiFi Network Extenders around your home, you can shorten the distance between your WiFi devices and the WiFi signal thus increasing each device’s speed and improving performance.
ScreenBeam WiFi Network Extenders are the key to unlocking complete WiFi home network coverage as the ultimate WiFi booster.
5 Reasons you need a WiFi Booster
Getting reliable and fast WiFi around the entire house can be a challenge. Maybe there’s a dead zone in an upstairs bedroom where your kids want to stream a movie, or maybe the signal drops in the backyard. WiFi has become as indispensable as electricity in many homes, yet WiFi performance can be temperamental. Given all the devices, metal appliances, and architectural features that can cause interference in the typical house, even the most powerful WiFi router can miss some spots.Here are five common scenarios where a WiFi booster can help improve your wireless experience:
Simple Tips to Boost your WiFi
Tired of videos buffering when you’re binge watching on Netflix? Are there places in your home where surfing speeds slow down to a crawl? The broadband plan you signed up for promises blazing fast speeds, but that’s not what you are getting in the living room. Sometimes a simple change in your home network can crank up the speed and make a huge improvement on your surfing, streaming, and gaming experience. If you’re suffering with slow speeds and patchy Wi-Fi coverage, here are several things to try to boost WiFi:
WiFi Boosters | GSM-Repeaters.RU
GSM-Repeaters.RU » Sales » WiFi Amplifiers
Name (A -> Z)Price (ascending)Price (descending)Rating (ascending)Rating (descending)
Wavlink WL-WN560N2 WiFi Repeater (2.4 GHz)
WL-WN560N2 is a compact home WiFi repeater with hotspot functionality from Wavlink. The device operates at a frequency of 2.4 GHz and supports std..
1 500 rubles
TP-Link TL-WA850RE WiFi Repeater (2.4GHz, 100mW)
The TP-Link WiFi repeater is designed to expand the coverage of a wireless network and increase the strength of the wireless signal, as well as to eliminate. .
1 800 rubles
TP-Link RE205 Wi-Fi Extender
TP-Link RE205 is a dual-band WiFi signal repeater (repeater) at speeds up to 750 Mbps.
Expansion of network coverage;
Broadcast on channel
2 000 rubles
TP-Link RE300 Wi-Fi Extender
TP-Link RE300 is a Mesh Wi-Fi signal booster with speeds up to 867 Mbps.
Dual band Wi-Fi throughout the house
AC1200 Mesh WiFi Signal Amplifier RE300
2 400 rubles
TP-Link RE200 WiFi Repeater (2.4 + 5 GHz, 100 mW)
Recently, the wireless option for connecting devices to the Internet via WiFi has become increasingly widespread. However, it happens that the power of a home router ..
2 500 rubles
High Power WiFi Adapter Alfa Networks AWUS036NHR
A fairly promising model that embodies all the experience of ALFA in the development of the most powerful and long-range Wi-Fi adapters.
AWUS036NHR is one of the best Wi-Fi adapters..
4 000 rubles
Wi-Fi Amplifier 2.4 GHz, 4 W, RP-SMA
Many WiFi hotspots and routers have limited power as dictated by the standard’s specifications. Because of this, the wireless range and connection stability suffer.
4 900 rubles
Wi-Fi Extender 2.4 GHz, 8 W, RP-SMA
Powerful 2.4GHz band booster to extend your WiFi range. The device has an output power of 8 W and is suitable for use with wireless routers and points..
6 900 rubles
Today, wireless Internet through WiFi technology is in high demand. Installation does not require serious costs and can be implemented almost anywhere. This system guarantees a high data transfer rate, due to which it is installed in many public places.
However, as you move away from the signal source, the WiFi connection becomes weaker. And there is no Internet access at all. Within the framework of a one-room apartment, such an adapter will be enough. However, if you need to create a WiFi network with coverage of an impressive room or provide communication for those who stand separately on the site of a building, you will need mechanisms to amplify the impulse.
Thanks to the amplifier, it becomes possible to increase the signal and significantly expand the coverage area. They are ideal for country houses and offices: their express installation allows you to recreate comfortable conditions for a large number of users.
And when buying a head unit, it is better to pay attention to the presence of an LTE / 3G antenna to get the best result. Also available USB-port allows you to connect an external drive. These two settings are highly recommended for a good WiFi experience. It is worth mentioning the company GSM-Repeaters.RU. The organization has its own online store, where the buyer can always make an informed choice based on a detailed catalog.
If you have any questions about ordering an amplifier, we recommend that you contact our consultants. They will help you make the best decision. It is easy to cooperate with us, as we always meet the needs of our clients.
Choosing a Wi-Fi amplifier: stable Internet over a large area
- Computer store
- Articles on the topic: Wi-Fi extenders (repeaters, repeaters)
Article author: Sergey Koval
Published: 4 November 2020
How to increase Wi-Fi coverage without buying a new router
In most cases, for stable wireless Internet at home and in the office, you need only one device – a router. However, even expensive, fine-tuned routers have one limitation – coverage.
The signal from the router to the devices inevitably scatters – for example, it is delayed by thick walls. Not only obstacles in the signal path are affected, but also the area of the room itself: the farther from the router, the lower the quality of the signal that your computer, laptop or smartphone receives.
This problem is solved with a Wi-Fi signal booster. Also, these devices are called repeaters or repeaters. They allow you to expand the coverage area, get rid of “dead zones”, improve the overall quality of communication and make the signal more stable.
Wi-Fi amplifiers come in two form factors: they are either quite compact or more like a router in size. To operate the repeater, you do not need an additional Internet cable, a new login or password: the repeater picks up the signal from the router, duplicates and broadcasts it to devices. Now there are two points in your network from which the signal comes – the coverage area has increased, the quality of communication has improved. Where the signal from the router and the signal from the repeater intersect, the devices will connect to the signal that is stronger.
The choice of repeater is always limited by the characteristics of the already installed router – the parameters of the repeater cannot be higher. You can purchase a more technologically advanced repeater and connect it to a router with lower performance, but then the repeater will not reveal its full potential – all connection quality is limited by the capabilities of the router and the speed from the provider.
In fact, the repeater only repeats the signal from the router – it cannot increase the connection speed or change the signal frequency.
Consider this example: your router outputs a speed of 1300 Mb / s, and the repeater only supports speeds up to 433 Mb / s. In this case, the Internet will work at a speed of 1300 Mb / s near the router, but as soon as you approach the repeater, the speed drops to 433 Mb / s. The connection speed will be different in different rooms or offices in the office. There are use cases where this is beneficial. For example, the living quarters of the house are covered with fast Internet from the router, and the office is covered with slow Internet from the repeater, so as not to be distracted from work. However, this use case is not for everyone.
Let’s look at the reverse example: your router provides speeds up to 433 Mb / s, and the repeater supports up to 1300 Mb / s. In this case, over the entire coverage area, the Internet speed will be limited to 433 Mb / s – the potential of the repeater will not be fully used. However, this configuration is suitable as a temporary solution if you plan to upgrade your router to a more advanced one in the near future.
Like routers, a Wi-Fi signal amplifier has two important parameters: frequency and standard.
Routers operate on two frequencies – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The first is intended for standard connection of PCs, laptops and smartphones to the Internet. The 5 GHz frequency is more stable and is therefore more commonly used for more specialized applications, such as wireless video transmission from a PC to a TV. When choosing a repeater, pay attention to the frequency at which your router operates – this frequency will limit the potential of the repeater.
The communication standard is another important parameter. There are currently three standards on the market:
- common but obsolete 802.11 b/g/n;
- more current 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac;
- is the latest 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax.
The newer the communication standard, the higher the speed. In the case of a communication standard, the potential of the repeater is also limited by the capabilities of the router.
Let’s move on to specific models. We categorized them by maximum connection speed.
Speed up to 300 Mbps
The models listed below extend the 2.4GHz WiFi coverage of the legacy IEEE 802.11 b/g/n WiFi standard. You can connect to the Internet at a speed of 10/100 Mb / s. Here, when choosing, you can focus on the manufacturer:
– TP-Link TL-WA855RE , TL-WA854RE and TL-WA850RE ;
— Asus RP-N12 ;
– ZyXEL WRE2206 ;
Separately, we note the model TP-Link TL-WA860RE with a built-in socket. Such models are convenient with a limited number of available outlets – such a repeater does not actually occupy an outlet.
Speed up to 433 Mbps
These models can operate both at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. They work according to the current WiFi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standard, they also have the ability to connect cable Internet 10/100 Mb/s. Three models work with this speed:
– TP-Link RE205 and TP-Link RE200 ;
— ZyXEL WRE6505 v2 .
Speed up to 867 Mbps
Models TP-Link RE305 and ZyXEL WRE6602 work with this speed. They work according to the current WiFi standard IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, have the ability to connect cable internet 10/100 Mb/s and support both frequencies (2.4 and 5 GHz).
Speed up to 1300 Mbps
Models increase the WiFi coverage area at a frequency of 2.4 or 5 GHz according to the current WiFi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standard, have the ability to connect cable Internet 1 Gb/s.