The TP-Link RE450 is the best overall Wi-Fi extender because of its stellar network-enhancing performance. In our tests, the RE450 performed the most consistently well across multiple runs of our five setups. It’s easy to use, monitor and set up thanks to its large RE button, front-facing status lights and smartphone app. It’s a little bulkier than many other Wi-Fi range extenders we tested, but its ungainly appearance is a small compromise for its powerful network extension.
We ran each Wi-Fi extender through five sets of tests to see how well it handled wireless signals in a variety of configurations. Two tests were conducted in a long, straight hallway without obstacles. We put the router at one end and a laptop at the other, measured the baseline network metrics using Ixia’s IX Chariot, and then ran the same test after introducing the RE450 halfway between the two. We repeated the test five times and averaged the results to calculate the percentage of available bandwidth the RE450 captured and rebroadcast to the laptop on the extended network. At distances up to 150 feet, the TP-Link extender managed to maintain 98-100 percent connection. Our multi-story tests were conducted with the router in an enclosed soundproofed room and the test laptop on the floor above. Our tests showed that the RE450 performed admirably across the board, but it ran slightly faster when placed on the same floor as the router as opposed to the same floor as the laptop.
During testing, the internet speeds in our testing facility ranged from 150 Mbps to nearly 500 Mbps. The RE450 is equipped to handle speeds up to 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1,300 Mbps on its 5 GHz band for a combined max throughput of 1750 Mbps. We couldn’t test the higher ends of RE450’s abilities, but its speeds more than cover most home networks. The RE450 acts as an access point when you use its single Gigabit Ethernet port to connect it to your router via Ethernet cable. This gives it an advantage over the less-expensive TP-Link RE305, which only has a Fast Ethernet port. The port can also connect an Ethernet-only device into your system without running a wire all the way from your router to the device.
The RE450 has all the best features: dual-band compatibility, WPS, an access point mode, a Gigabit ethernet port, helpful indicator lights, external antennas and a 2-year manufacturer warranty. TP-Link also offers the Tether smartphone app, which lets you set up, monitor and control your network preferences. All these features work together to make the RE450 a cinch to use. The RE button enables WPS pairing and glows red or blue to indicate router signal strength. You can also elect to shut all the indicator LEDs off, which is a great option for after setup.
Like many wall plug extenders, the TP-Link RE450 isn’t a particularly elegant device. It houses an ungrounded plug on the back near its base and is extremely top heavy. As such, its installation isn’t particularly secure, and is likely to get knocked down if bumped by a passerby or pet. Its three external antennas either slide or flip up, but they aren’t adjustable beyond that. As a wall plug, it isn’t very flexible as to where you can install it, but we recommend placing it somewhere out of the way to avoid accidental bumps.