A Wi-Fi booster is a type of device that helps you get better Wi-Fi coverage within your network area. Whether that area is at home, in an office, a restaurant, wherever.
You may have heard of a Wi-Fi Extender, Wi-Fi Repeater or Wi-Fi Range Extender? These are types of Wi-Fi boosters. They all help “boost” your Wi-Fi. The difference between these devices comes down to a few things:
- Signal strength / speed
Spoiler: Wi-Fi extenders are your best bet. But here’s a brief overview of what each device is, what it does and when to use it:
What it is: A type of Wi-Fi booster that repeats (or re-broadcasts) the received signal.
What it does: A wireless repeater receives your Wi-Fi signal and re-broadcasts it to a finite localized area. A repeater’s challenge is that it only repeats the exact quality of Wi-Fi signal strength received. Therefore, if you Wi-Fi signal is weak and your speeds are slow, your repeated signal and speed will continue to be weak.
This results in latency or lag, which is a poor Wi-Fi network response time.
This will make gaming or video streaming a frustrating experience.
When to use it: Repeaters can improve latency and response time. However, only if you have a small number of wireless devices (like 5 or less) and you don’t plan on gaming or streaming videos. (Unlikely.)
Wi-Fi Range Extenders
What it is: Another type of Wi-Fi booster that repeats (re-broadcasts) the received Wi-Fi signal.
What it does: A Wi-Fi range extender is similar to a repeater. The difference is that the re-broadcasted signal is on a different wireless channel from the one used by your wireless router. But just like a repeater, if your signal and speed are weak, they will continue to be. Your wireless performance will struggle as a result.
The challenge with Wi-Fi range extenders has to do with location. If your stand-alone range extender device isn’t close enough to the router or is not in a direct line to receive the signal, it will struggle to receive and extend the reach. Like a repeater, this will result in latency or lag.
When to use it: The use case is similar to repeaters. Best for a small, open space. Limited wireless devices. Not likely to online game or stream videos.
What it is: A type of Wi-Fi booster that uses a wired connection to extend the reach of your Wi-Fi. Actiontec’s Wi-Fi Extenders offer coax and Ethernet-based models, so they are versatile for any home network setup.
What it does: Unlike the Repeaters and Range Extenders, Wi-Fi Network Extenders communicate directly with your gateway or Wi-Fi router using a wire. While it may not seem like the best solution because of the wired setup, you might be surprised.
Wi-Fi extenders do not require loads of cables running all over your space. Instead, they require a cable connection to your router and then an adapter plugged into a wall power outlet. That’s it. As a result: solid internet to every inch of your space.
When to use it: Remember, wireless internet is convenient, but it can be inconsistent. These are the best solution for consistent, reliable internet coverage.
Wi-Fi extenders are a gamer’s best friend. If you are an avid video streamer, you will benefit from these, too.
How do you know if you need a Wi-Fi booster?
You need a Wi-Fi booster if you answer “yes” to any of these questions.
- Content pausing or lagging?
- Gaming slow and painful?
- Poor connection scrolling through apps on your phone?
- Your router is modern, but you still experience Wi-Fi drops, lags or slow speeds?
To read more about whether you need a booster or an extender, check out this article. We also have a Complete Guide to Wi-Fi Boosters for you to checkout. As always, return to Actiontec’s blog as a resource for Wi-Fi tips.