Best Portable WiFi Extenders of 2020

  Comparison

Product Size Weight Price range
Amped Wireless Athena-EX, High Power AC2600 WiFi Range Extender with MU-MIMO Amped Wireless Athena-EX, High Power AC2600 WiFi Range Extender with MU-MIMO 11.3 x 13 x 3.2 inches 2.6 pounds $$$
Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 Mesh Range Extender Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 Mesh Range Extender 6.9 x 8.7 x 5 inches 1.17 pounds $$$
NETGEAR N300 WiFi Range Extender (EX2700) NETGEAR N300 WiFi Range Extender (EX2700) 7.1 x 5.8 x 4 inches 9.1 ounces $
TP-Link N300 WiFi Range Extender TP-Link N300 WiFi Range Extender 1.3 x 2 x 2.6 inches 4.2 ounces $
TP-Link RE350 AC1200 WiFi Range Extender TP-Link RE350 AC1200 WiFi Range Extender 3 x 4.9 x 1.7 inches 1.2 pounds $
D-Link DAP-1650 D-Link DAP-1650 8.7 x 6.1 x 5.3 inches 1.61 pounds $$

We have all experienced that one moment of happiness when you are joyfully playing an online game, merrily streaming your favorite video tutorial, or listening to a podcast while enjoying a good video call on FaceTime as you stumble upon a dead WiFi Zone - that's when everything comes to a halt. Every other room in your house is receiving full signal bars; however, for some odd reason, the WiFi doesn't tend to reach just where you are sitting. Or maybe the hotel where you are staying for your business conference doesn’t allow those signal bars to pop up unless you hold your laptop outside the window at a 45-degree angle. 

A portable WiFi extender is the easiest way to improve the WiFi and get a strong and reliable Internet connection around your house or your hotel room. 

What is a portable WiFi extender?

A portable WiFi extender also known as a portable WiFi booster or WiFi repeater, is a compact yet powerful device designed to help Internet users extend the coverage area of a WiFi network by harnessing the signal from the router and amplifying it to reach areas where normally the WiFi signal is weak.

 The extender transmits these signals and boosts them providing an effective twice as before coverage area to even the farthest corners of your house, office, hotel room, different floors of a skyscraper and can even extend them to the back of your yard. WiFi extenders hold a distinct advantage – they can have strong antennas and can be placed strategically between the main router and the locations you require the signal boost.

A portable WiFi extender that can easily fit in your backpack might be the perfect travel accessory when you travel for business or you are a digital nomad who wants to meet all your deadlines while discovering the world. Continue reading to find out how to choose the best WiFi extender. 

What's the difference between a portable WiFi booster, repeater, or extender?

Portable WiFi boosters, extenders, or repeaters are almost the same considering their purpose - each device is designed to bring your WiFi a performance boost. There is not a clear difference between them, but what we know is that not all of them work in the same way. 

There are many portable WiFi extenders available on the market with different advantages so, before choosing the right portable WiFi extender for you, you should consider some important factors we will discuss below.  

 

 Factors to check before purchasing a portable WiFi extender

The best WiFi repeaters won't just extend your network coverage but will ensure a thorough and reliable coverage while minimizing any possible dropped or slow connection at your home place, office, or hotel room. 

Before you purchase a portable WiFi extender, you need to take into consideration a few factors that can help you choose the best one for your needs.


Frequency

There are two types of frequencies available:

2.4 GHz

5 GHz

Most portable WiFi range extenders are compatible with a single 2.4GHz frequency, while the expensive ones support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums. You can opt for a single band, but if your router supports a dual-band and you wish to enjoy the perks of 5GHz, then you need to save up a good amount since it's a bit more expensive. However, 5GHz is a lot faster and is a must for modern-day gaming and streaming, so if you require a fast, stable connection, make sure that your extender supports it.

 

Standards Compatibility

IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n

IEEE 802.11 b/g/n

IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Standards compatibility is associated with the age of your router and its frequency spectrum. The best way to find out your router's specs is to check its specification sheet online or in its settings. Regardless, if you are still stuck with a few doubts, opt for a universal extender that is compliant with any 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac routers. The emphasis on compatibility is to ensure that the connection between the portable range extender and the router is possible. Otherwise, you might end up with a range extender that can't extend anything because it cannot connect to the router.

 

Profile

Before you purchase a WiFi extender, you should consider some features regarding the device’s physical outlook - whether it has dual antenna, single antenna, internal, or an external one, if it is plug based or desktop based - wall plug based portable WiFi extenders take a minimum amount of space and require a vacant socket on the wall. On the opposite side, modern portable WiFi extenders are designed for desktop use since they have external or built-in antennas that resemble a router's outlook. You just need to place them on a flat surface, which means they might take up a bit of space. 

 

Security

The highest level of security that home users require is support for WPA2-PSK security protocol - the only thing you need to check if you want to keep your network secure and safe.

 

Manufacturer

It is natural to want to look for a portable WiFi range extender from the same manufacturer as that of your current router to make sure that they work together efficiently, however, it is mostly based on the standards and frequency spectrum. If you already have a router that works on 2.4GHz and 5GHz, then a portable WiFi repeater operating on similar frequencies would be an ideal choice for you, no matter what manufacturer you choose. Similarly, if a router is compliant with IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, then a WiFi range booster that supports the same is going to work. You can always look into technical specifications to confirm if the two devices work well together. Of course, the one thing you need to ensure is that you get a device from a reputable manufacturer as they have proven themselves over the years with quality products and support.  

 

The wired backbone or WiFi mesh 

There are two ways of extending your WiFi coverage.

WiFi mesh is the first one, also known as WiFi repeater; it is a wireless connection that bounces wireless signals between your devices and the original. However, a problem with this type of connection is that it links both the router and the device simultaneously, reducing the wireless bandwidth allocation to 50%. Besides, the further away the booster is placed from the router, the less bandwidth you will receive. It is, though, better than no signal at all!

On the other hand, wired based WiFi extenders work differently, by using a wired connection with the router, they manage to save the wireless bandwidth for your devices - this results in a robust, powerful and independent WiFi signal. But you do have to connect the two devices via a cable, which is not always ideal and not something you can do while you are traveling.

 

Cost

Some devices, especially those from reputable brand names, might be expensive, the price is usually justified by something, be it range, be it speed, specifications, software features, or even support. You should find the right ones that tick your requirement boxes when it comes to frequency and standards then look for the one that's closest to your budget. Always remember that poor quality products can malfunction, and they can end up costing you a lot more than the more expensive product because you have to replace them often or because they do not accomplish the task that they were acquired for in the first place. 

 

Ports

Ports refer to the ethernet availability for a wired connection. If you are choosing a plug based WiFi extender, then most of them might have either one or two ethernet ports available. Although desktop based WiFi extenders can have up to a maximum of 5 ethernet ports, they are ideal for devices that are unable to receive any sort of WiFi connectivity, for instance, an IP camera, an old desktop, or a printer.

 

External antennas

As mentioned, some WiFi boosters come with external antennas - the more, and the stronger they are, the better network coverage you are bound to have.

 

Top 7 Best Portable WiFi Boosters of 2020

We have put together a list of the best portable WiFi extenders to make your search easier. We understand that choosing the best portable WiFi booster is not an easy task, this is why we have reviewed the best extenders available on the market so you can make the most informed decision. 


Bands: 2.4/5GHz simultaneous 
Protocol: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Connectivity: 4 x RJ-45 10/100/1000M LAN ports
Antenna: 4 High Gain Internal Antennas

The Athena-EX WiFi range extender from Amped Wireless, a leading manufacturer of high-quality network devices, is described as the "most powerful range extender on the market". With a powerful dual-core processor, it promises not only to extend and repeat your router's range by up to 15,000 square feet, but it also offers multiple features including data streaming on multiple devices and uninterrupted video streaming. 

With its four high gain antennas and 16 powerful amplifiers, the ATHENA-EX is designed to provide optimal speed, performance, and reliability. It is perfect for a busy network environment, for home and office due to the MU-MIMO technology that can allow up to 8 network guests for robust connectivity and it even promotes file sharing Via USB 3.0. 

The ATHENA-EX is very easy to use and install. It comes with a video installation guide that is helpful even for non-technical people. You simply connect your device to it, access its menu for configuration, and it’s good to go. 

Bands: 5GHz and 2.4GHz 

Protocol: 802.11ac

Connectivity: 2 x 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports with auto-sensing technology

Antenna: 4x Innovative Antenna design


The Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 Mesh Extender is a combination of power and connectivity that extends your WiFi network area up to 2,000 sq. ft. through your office or at home without the hassle of switching networks as you move. It is considered one of the most advanced WiFi range extenders available on the market. 

It has an interesting, sleek, non-plug-in design so you can place it anywhere in the room in order to find the best spot to harness the power from your router. You can easily install it in just 5 minutes, and it is packed with multiple smart features, including the MU-MIMO technology that supports multiple users. 

With its ease of use, simple browser installation, and WEP standards, the Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX700 is a great choice that works with all routers. Plus, it is small enough so you can take it with you in your luggage when you travel. 


Bands: 2.4 GHz

Protocol: 802.11 b/g/n

Connectivity: Fast Ethernet Port to connect a wired device

Antenna: External antennas for better performance

With NETGEAR N300 WiFi Range Extender, you can easily enjoy a stronger internet connection anywhere, at any time. It has a straightforward installation method - with its extended guaranteed coverage of up to 300Mbps, you can enjoy a faster connection without any disruptions all within just a few minutes.

The NETGEAR N300 WiFi Range Extender is ideal for an indoor portable WiFi extending facility, especially for mobile phones and gaming consoles. Moreover, it can work wonders with laptops and wired devices. It comes equipped with two external fold up antennas to ensure an amplified WiFi coverage with a better and faster speed. It has a compact, wall plug design that fits in any interior design.

 Plus, it is a great option for travelers who need to connect to the Internet when they are away from home be it for work purposes or to keep in touch with their loved ones. 

It works perfectly with any standard router and can keep you connected on all your devices. A suggestion would be to keep a different SSID network name for your WiFi extender device than the one on your router.

NETGEAR N300 comes with a Limited Warranty Period (for parts and labor) of 1 year. It is compatible with Firefox 2.0, Safari 1.4, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0, or Google Chrome 11.0 browsers or higher. 


Bands: 2.4 GHz

Protocol: 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n.

Connectivity: Fast Ethernet Port for a wired connection to compatible devices.

Antenna: Two internal antennas for faster and more reliable WiFi. 


The TL-WA855RE WiFi booster works to expand a router's weak signal and converts it into a strong and reliable connection, especially indoors. This device allows you to have a good internet connection by extending the WiFi range for your main device and will enable you to stream without a dead zone.

With the TL-WA855RE's highly compatible ability to sync with access points, standard routers, and service provider gateways that support N300 WiFi, you can extend to a device faster than before. It doesn't matter if it is your router or the one at your hotel; once the setup is complete, you will enjoy a fast and reliable connection.

You can also use the TP-Link Tether app, which gives you access to manage your network settings via your smartphone, may it be any Android device or IOS. The cherry on top, the device is trendy yet chic with a sleek, compact design that will complement all sorts of decors. Plus, its compact and lightweight design makes it the perfect travel accessory for digital nomads. 

Lastly, the TP-LINK N300 has a Warranty Period (for parts and labor) of 1 year. The product is compatible with Windows NT, XP, 2000, Vista, 98SE, and future versions. 


Bands: 5GHz (867 Mbps) and 2.4GHz (300 Mbps) 

Protocol: 802.11ac

Connectivity: 1 x Fast Ethernet Port

Antenna: 2 High Gain External Antennas

 

This simple and easy to use WiFi extender from TP-Link is powerful enough to expand the WiFi to spots that a router can’t reach, it is pocket-friendly, and comes at a reasonable price. It is portable and perfect for travel so you can enjoy WiFi whenever, wherever you are. The RE350 WiFi range extender can expand your WiFi to rooms your router is unable to reach. It has a small, compact plug-in design that fits into any home decor. 

The setup process is quick and simple which makes this device a preferred option amongst people with no technical knowledge. TP-Link Re-350's intelligent light signal assists the user in finding an ideal position by showing the signal strength, and the installation process becomes a breeze with its LED signal indicator on the front side.


Bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 

Protocol: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Connectivity: 4 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN ports 

Antenna: 2 High Gain External Antennas


The D-Link DAP-1650’s with its tech-savvy and breezy setup is amongst the best WiFi extenders on the market. It has a sleek, modern cylindrical design and it aims to improve your signal strength and expand its coverage. Plus, it's 4 Gigabits Ethernet ports have become a selling point, especially for multiple high speed wired connections. 

The D-Link DAP-1650 is easy to set up and use, gives smooth streaming with Wireless AC, and has the potential to be a fast and reliable addition to your home networking setup. It comes at a reasonable price and it is a great option for home and office use. 


Vip Doctor on Demand

Frequently Asked Questions: Portable WiFi Extenders  

Will my wireless extender work with my existing router?

WiFi extenders are considered to be universal devices that can work with any existing routers. They are usually compatible with the majority of devices available on the market, but it is always recommended to check the specifications for the product you are going to acquire and ensure its compatibility with your device or that it covers most of the tools on the market.

 

Where should I place my wireless range extender?

The ideally recommended place to position your portable WiFi extender is halfway between your laptop or PC desktop and your router. If that's not possible, then place the extender as close as possible so that it gets a good signal – which in turn it can extend to your device.

 

How do I set up my WiFi range extender?

All devices come with a manual that explains how to set them up. Ensure you follow the steps in the manual, and you should always be able to set up your extender easily.

 

Where can I find videos on the range extender setup?

Most of the time, you can find videos of the setup on YouTube. However, if your device is not built by a well-known brand, you might not find any information online, so please make sure you always store your device's manual for future reference.

 

Are WiFi extenders secure?

Yes, they can offer the same amount of security as the traditional devices and the networks that they extend.

 

Can I have 2 WiFi extenders in my house?

Yes, you can have two devices in your house. However, do not connect them to each other. They should connect to the main router and extend that router's signal. Extending signals through multiple devices can and will become very slow.

 

Can I add more than one Range Extender to my Router network?

Yes, you can have as many extenders as you need, but to ensure that you get the most out of them, try to make sure that they always extend the leading network's signal and not one of the other extenders.


Does a WiFi extender have to be connected to the router?


WiFi boosting devices are specifically designed for a direct plug-in to your wireless router via an Ethernet port. Once the connection is established, the incoming connection will be broadcasted by the booster with an additional wireless signal (usually via an antenna).


Are WiFi extenders good for gaming?

Depending on the specifications and distances, they can be an excellent source of smooth and reliable Internet connection if you want to play online games. If you get the right specification-placement setup, then you can have incredible speeds on your extended network too.

 

Do WiFi extenders increase Internet speed?

WiFi boosters do not increase the internet speed. What they do is they increase the signal coverage. One could say that they do increase the internet speed if you compare it to the speed you get in a poorly covered spot, but the only real benefit with an extender/booster is the signal.

  

The Final Verdict

The above research should be the starting point for you to truly understand how a WiFi boosting/extender works and which particular device you should get for your needs. 

Performance, speed, security, port, profile, and cost are a few primary factors that you should research before making the final purchase.

Lastly, ensure that you are aware of the warranty in case you are not satisfied with the device. And if you are unsure of how to set up the device or you are unable to comprehend the instruction given in the guide, you can always try and search on YouTube for a tutorial. 

We hope our guide will help you make the best decision and say good-bye to dead WiFi zones. 



Rate this article:

...

1Amped Wireless Athena-EX, High Power AC2600 WiFi Range Extender with MU-MIMO
Amped Wireless Athena-EX, High Power AC2600 WiFi Range Extender with MU-MIMO
2Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 Mesh Range Extender
Netgear Nighthawk X6 EX7700 Mesh Range Extender
3NETGEAR N300 WiFi Range Extender (EX2700)
NETGEAR N300 WiFi Range Extender (EX2700)