AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender Round-Up

Today we take four prominent 802.11ac-based range extenders for a test drive to determine the best option for expanding your wireless network.

Wireless networking reaches new levels of performance with 802.11ac — both in range and bandwidth. But what options are available to extend the network even farther, and what sort of throughput can you expect when using a wireless range extender?

Wireless range extenders represent a simple and cheap way to stretch your home network out even farther without needing to penetrate walls and run cable to the far reaches of your home. In our Range Extender 101 story, we covered some of the basics of what to expect in terms of hardware and configuration, so give that a look if you're not familiar with range extenders.

The devices we look at in this round-up are in the home or small office category, and rated for AC1200 performance. Each range extender offers essentially the same core functionality, but also includes something unique. Let's take a look at some of the contenders and dig into their configurations, features and performance.

Specifications

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  • SurfingDude
    The test results didn't disclose many of the factors affecting WiFi range and performance, I'd like to know more about these. I think the key factors are:
    * Nearest other WiFi unit. Interferance from nearby networks can hurt the signal-to-noise ratio.
    * Proximity to walls and ground, as reflected signals may affect signal strength up or down.
    * Polarization and coverage pattern, as lobes and nulls are inevitable.

    The quantities I am really looking for are:
    * Maximum usable range in free air and best conditions.
    * Data rate in those conditions.
    * Attinuation due to each intervening wall or ceiling on both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.

    With this information I might better evaluate which solution is best for a particular situation.
  • littleleo
    I think it would have been good to add a price/performance metric to the review. I also would have liked to seen the TP-Link ARCHER C5 AC1200 and Asus RT-AC56U 802.11ac included.
  • dmitche3
    I'm sure that I'm not the o only one who has questions. So let me ask:

    1. From a distance of n feet means that the distance from the router and device is only n feet? Why put an extender 5 feet from the router?

    2. I don't know if the link to how you tested is meaningful. How far away from the extender were your wireless devices? If your extender is only 5 feet away from your router who is to say that the PC 's wireless device won't differ and add a variable to the equation that is not accounted for?

    3. Line of site, walls? If y your office is 50 feet as you described how did you test 75 feet?
  • zodiacfml
    pricey. better off with a real wifi router.
  • Jeff_64
    LOL zodiacfml!! man that was a good one hly shit. haha fuck, thats actually a really mean troll when i think about it though because the people that are beginners might take you seriously and actually buy a wifi router and will be really confused when they have to run an ethernet cable to it... but pretty good joke nonetheless i guess