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How to Choose a WiFi Extender?

I needed some help when choosing a WiFi extender, but now I’m a pro. There are a lot of different features and specs that you’ll need to know about, and unless you are a tech savvy person, you won’t know how to choose a WiFi extender that works best for you.

What I’m going to do today is explain what you should look for when choosing a WiFi range extender and what some of these features actually do to help extend your WiFi.

How to Choose the Right WiFi Extender

Speed Capabilities

What are the maximum speed capabilities of the extender? If you’re running a 1 Gbps line, you need to have an extender that is able to offer this same speed. A lot of extenders will offer 300 Mbps of speed which is more than sufficient for most Internet users.

But if you’re one of the lucky ones that have fiber Internet, these speeds may actually be much slower than your current maximum speeds.

Antennas

A general rule of thumb is that the more antennas, the better. The antennas will allow you to receive a stronger signal and broadcast the signal further. You’ll want a WiFi extender that has at least two antennas, but the more the better.

The RangeXTD WiFi extender comes with two built-in antennas and works very well.

Encryption Support

When choosing a WiFi extender, you will be extending your WiFi signal and losing some of the protections that encryption offers from your router. The good news is that a WiFi extender will have its own built-in encryption system, but you need to make sure that this is a good quality encryption that hasn’t been broken yet.
You’ll find that most common encryption support includes:

  • WPA-PSK
  • WPA2-PSK

WPA2-PSK is one of the strongest forms of home encryption available. This is the setting that you will want to choose, and look for, when purchasing a WiFi extender. This will allow you to keep your home network safe and secure, and it is what I highly recommend you to use until a stronger encryption comes out.

Band Options

When learning how to select WiFi extenders, you will want to look at the frequency or the dual band compatibility that is offered by your WiFi extender. This may seem like a lot technical information to understand, but it is really simple once you sit down and take the time to understand what this technology offers.

Everyone has heard of 5G WiFi and when using a router, you’ll also be dealing with the 2.4 GHz band. Both of these bands can provide you with strong Internet, but the 5 GHz offers better speeds and runs on a different frequency level.

A dual band option will allow for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz support to allow you to run on the band that is the best suited for you.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that a dual band option is best because you may have a lot of people running on the same band making it slower. You’ll also be able to go into your router and change the channel that your router is running on to help clear up some of this congestion.

You’ll also want to consider the theoretical capabilities available:

  • 5 GHz has a theoretical distance of 390-feet to 820-feet
  • 2.4 GHz has a theoretical distance of 125-feet to 820-feet

Speeds can vary from the 2.4 GHz band from between 11 Mbps and 300 Mbps. The 5 GHz band’s speeds can be from 6 Mbps to 1.7 Gbps.

The different standards dictate these speeds and distances:

  • 802.11a
  • 802.11b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
  • 802.11ac

If you want the best of the best standards, it’s currently the 802.11ac standard. You’ll find that the real-world speeds and distances are slightly lower than mentioned.

LAN/WAN Ports

Listen, I know that you want a WiFi connection so that you’re not tethered to your computer or a cable, but it is very important to have a LAN or WAN port available. I know from personal experience that WiFi does not offer the best connection even when you’re right next to it sometimes.

As a gamer, I had a lot of issues with WiFi that made it difficult to play competitively on numerous MMORPGs.
When your latency rises or your connection is a weak, this can mean the difference between getting a kill or being killed in a competitive game.

LAN or WAN ports allow you to have a much stronger connection that is not reliant on your WiFi. This will be a cabled connection, and while it may not be used all the time, it is something to think about if you have issues streaming or playing games due to signal dropping or connection issues.

Even with the absolute best router or WiFi extender, using a cable to connect your Internet connected device through to your router or extender will offer the best speeds and lowest latency.

Installation

Installation may not be a major concern for a lot of people, but if you don’t know much about the Internet or how to set up different devices like a router, you will want to pay special attention to the installation and setup process.

A lot of different devices will have setup wizard’s that allow you to easily set up this type of device, and apps are being used to help speed up the process.

Some of these devices will have a WPS button on them that will allow you to connect to a WPS router with a tap of a button. While this is a great feature to have, it’s also a security risk as WPS has been proven to be an insecure method of security.

Now that you know how exactly to choose a WiFi extender, I am confident that you will find in extender that works best for you and your Internet connection. There are multiple different extender types on the market, and we review the top-rated models so that you can be sure you’re always making a smart purchasing decision.

September 10, 2020

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