Buying guide: better coverage with a WiFi repeater

Internet & Home

Everyone suffers from it: bad wifi. Whether it is due to thick walls or because you live in a densely populated neighborhood, it is very frustrating if you keep on buffering videos and loading websites slowly. In this article, we help you choose the right WiFi repeater to improve your Wi-Fi signal.

Tip 01: Wifi standard

One of the most important things to look out for when choosing a WiFi repeater is the Wi-Fi standard for your current router. At the moment, the following standards are on the market: 802.11n or 802.11ac. If you have a very old router, it still has 802.11g. It would be better to first replace that router before you purchase a WiFi repeater. In general, it is a good idea to buy a repeater that supports the same standard as your router. If you combine an old router with a new repeater, you cannot make optimum use of all functions of that repeater. Vice versa also causes problems: an old repeater with a newer router cannot amplify the signal from the router because it does not support that new standard. You check which standard supports your router by means of the manual or by googling the type number.

Tip 02: Single or dual band

In addition to the WiFi standard, there is another important aspect to take into account: single or dual band. What we mean by this is the frequency 2.4 or 5 GHz and whether the repeater supports one of the two or both. 2.4 GHz is the old familiar frequency, but since a number of years, 5 GHz has been added. The reason for this is that only 2.4 channels are available at 2.4 GHz. If then two routers broadcast on the same channel, it causes disruptions and delays. With the addition of 5 GHz, there are many more channels and space to transmit, although the range is less. It is important to know which bands your router supports: an old router will probably only support 2.4 GHz, newer and more expensive routers often both support. Check the manual and the type number to be sure. You have a number of options with your Wi-Fi repeater. For the light use, you can choose single band 2.4 GHz: they are cheap but do not offer much speed. Your speed is halved: such a repeater can either send or receive, not both at once. If you want more, go for a dual band. These are more expensive but offer considerable speed improvements. It is important that your router supports both bands, both 2.4 and 5 GHz. but offer considerable speed improvements. It is important that your router supports both bands, both 2.4 and 5 GHz. but offer considerable speed improvements. It is important that your router supports both bands, both 2.4 and 5 GHz.

There is another important aspect to keep in mind: single band or dual band

The half speed with a repeater?

We mentioned it in the article, a single-band repeater halves your original Internet speed – at best. This works as follows: with a single-band repeater, you have a frequency to transmit, 2.4 GHz. Such a device only has one Wi-Fi chip that can transmit or receive. So if you send data to the repeater with your laptop, it cannot communicate with the router. Only when you have finished transmitting, the repeater can forward the data to the router. As a result, steering takes twice as long. This is the most optimal case. Another problem is the channels of 2.4 GHz, there are only 13. If your router communicates with your repeater or vice versa, they will reject the transmission: they both have specific intervals at which they communicate with each other so that they do not talk to each other. Network these same agreements do not apply to other devices that communicate with the router and devices that communicate with the repeater. As a result, the router and repeater can still be mutually obstructing each other, resulting in a further decrease in speed.

Tip 03: Types

Each repeater has its own type that matches the Wi-Fi standard that the product supports. Roughly there are the following types: N300, N600, AC750, AC1200 and AC1900. These are arranged from slow to fast, so AC1900 is the fastest and latest type. A repeater with N300 can be single or dual-band, with a maximum speed of 300 Mbit / s in total. N600 reaches a maximum of 600 Mbit / s and is dual band, so has 300 Mbit / s per frequency. AC750, AC1200, and AC1900 are newer types of repeaters: this gives you up to 750 Mbit / s with AC750 and up to 1900 Mbit / s with AC1900. AC1900 only works on a 5GHz band, because 2.4 GHz cannot handle such a high speed.

The choice for the design of the repeater is very close and depends on the speed

Tip 04: Design and place

A somewhat smaller point, but not entirely unimportant: the design of the repeater, especially in combination with where you want to place the repeater. If, for example, you want or even have to place the repeater in the hallway, then a socket model is the best choice, because it is very unobtrusive. However, if you have a room where you could put it down, you might want a router-like repeater. The choice for the type of repeater listens very closely because it depends on the speed you can still achieve. What you have to pay attention to when placing your repeater is that you are just getting a good speed from your router, but you are not too close. So, walk through your house with, for example, speedtest.net and see how far you can go before the speed becomes unacceptably slow. Make sure you have to divide the speed by half! For the light use, you need at least 15-20 Mbit / s. You can place the repeater on the spot where you just reach it. Only then can you actually look at which design fits best there?

Tip 05: Price and brand

Wifi repeaters can vary considerably in price: they are from two to three decades to more than a hundred euros. The difference depends on the Wi-Fi standard used and which GHz band supports the device. A dual-band device with support for ac can theoretically reach speeds of up to 2 Gb / s, where the cheaper models with single band stick at 300 Mb / s. Another advantage of the more expensive models is that they can serve as an access point. This gives you more options and you can also use the device later in other ways. For light use, you can find with the somewhat cheaper models, but if you make good use of Netflix, you can still look at the models around 60 to 80 euros. Another consideration is the brand repeater: although no hard rule, it can still be advantageous to buy a repeater of the same brand as your router. You are therefore more certain of the compatibility because even though there are wifi standards, manufacturers sometimes add a number of their own functions that only the brand itself can use.

Tip 06: Really needed?

A WiFi repeater is just one solution for improving your Wi-Fi signal. Other ways might work better in your situation. For example, if you have a big house, a Wi-Fi repeater will make little difference. You can use two repeaters in one network, but you cannot put them together to cover more surface. If you already have a newer router, mesh wifi may be a better option. Mesh Wi-Fi consists of a package of two to three routers that you distribute over your house, after which they automatically provide optimal WiFi coverage. Another solution is to use the power cables in your house to send the internet signal to other places in your house and to connect an extra router or repeater with the access point. Only then is your speed not always optimal and it is also a hassle with the cabling. If you do not like this solution and you only have poor coverage on one floor, you can look at a WiFi repeater. Incidentally, if you have an old router, there is a chance that you can also use it as a repeater if it is supported by the firmware.

If you have an old router, there is a chance that you can use it as a repeater

Tip 07: Connections

Another consideration that you should consider when choosing a repeater is whether you need ethernet ports on the repeater. This may be the case if you want to connect other devices to the Internet that do not have a wireless connection (for example, a desktop PC) at the location where the repeater is located. Some repeaters have five ethernet ports, someone and some none. This decision is also related to the position where the repeater lands: if the repeater is in a room, you have more to ethernet ports than when it is hanging in the hallway. In addition to ethernet ports, repeaters can have other extras, for example, a 3.5 mm connection. You can connect speakers that can be accessed via the network by means of, another consideration may be the socket:

Buying tips

In these buying tips we will distinguish three categories of repeaters: a high-end repeater, for when you want the maximum in terms of range and speed, a repeater in the form of a socket model, for when you need one in the hallway and a low- end model if you simply want to have a better reach and do not feel like spending too much money.

High-end: Netgear EX7000 AC1900

Price: € 129, –

If you want to get the most out of your connection and money is not a problem, then you can look at the Netgear EX7000. It costs a lot, but also offers a lot. In terms of appearance, it is indistinguishable from a normal router. The repeater offers five Ethernet ports of 1 Gbit / s each and supports 802.11ac with a maximum speed of 1.9 Gbit / s. The Netgear app tells you which channels you can use best and what the speeds are per channel.

Outlet model: Asus RP-AC56

Price: € 69.99

The Asus RP-AC56 is a socket repeater for about 70 euros. The repeater supports the 802.11ac standard and achieves a maximum speed of 1.1 Gbit / s. However, this repeater blocks two sockets, so keep that in mind. There is also one ethernet port that offers a speed of 1Gbit / s. Extra useful for this handy model: there is a LED strip that indicates how well the Wi-Fi signal from the router. Placing the repeater on the spot at the optimum speed is a breeze in this way.

Low-end: TP-Link RE200-AC750 WiFi Range Extender

Price: € 29.99

This cheap repeater from TP-Link (also happens to be a plug-in model) only costs three euros, at some stores, it is even cheaper. The RE200 has a beautiful design and can be used almost anywhere. As far as the functions are concerned, this repeater does not suffer from the rest: it offers support for both 2.4 and 5 GHz and 802.11ac, which also makes it useful for newer routers. It also has an ethernet port for when you want to connect another device. And above all, this repeater is easy to set up, namely with one press of the WPS button.

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