PROS – Easy setup. Very good throughput and range performance in testing.
CONS – Bulky. No pass-through outlet.
BOTTOM LINE – The TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE450) delivers some of the fastest throughput scores we’ve seen, and it’s a snap to install.
If your router lacks the signal strength needed to bring Wi-Fi to the far corners of your house, give your wireless network a boost with the TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender ($119.99). This dual-band extender plugs into any wall outlet and delivers solid throughput speeds and good signal range. Even though it’s bulky and lacks a pass-through outlet, its performance in our tests, particularly at long distances, makes it our Editors’ Choice for wireless range extenders.
Design and Features
The RE450$88.90 at Amazon is an 802.11ac range extender with a maximum data rate of 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz band. With two fold-out antennas on either side and one that pulls out of the top of the device, the glossy white and gray device looks like something from a Star Trek episode. Measuring 6.4 by 3 by 1.2 inches (HWD), it is about the size and shape of a 6-inch smartphone and at least twice as thick. Its bulky frame blocks access to the second outlet in a two-outlet receptacle, and it lacks a pass-through outlet like the one found on the Linksys RE6700 AC1200 Amplify Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender$77.35 at Amazon.
The front of the RE450 sports a large Range Extender (RE)/Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button with an LED light ring around its outer edge. The ring is blue when the extender has a good connection to the router, and red when it is too far away. It blinks blue while a WPS connection is in progress, and is off when there is no active connection. Below the button are 2.4GHz- and 5GHz-band status indicators and a Power indicator. The left side holds Power and reset buttons and a button that turns off the LED lights. Over on the right side is a single gigabit LAN port, and there’s a two-pronged plug at the rear. By way of comparison, the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Wi-Fi Range Extender (EX7000)$160.99 at Dell offers five gigabit Ethernet ports, but it doesn’t plug directly into a wall outlet.
The RE450’s Web-based management console lets you view your network status and create SSIDs for both bands. You can also select a security protocol (WEP, WPA, or WPA2) and assign passwords for each band. Other settings include access controls with white list and black list modes that limit which devices can use the extended network, a DHCP option with a DHCP client list, a system log, and a firmware upgrade option.
Installation and Performance
Installing the RE450 is a snap, especially if your router supports WPS. Start by plugging it in to an outlet that’s close to your router and wait for the Power light to turn blue. Press the WPS button on your router and immediately press the WPS button on the extender. Once the LED ring changes from blinking blue to solid blue, you’re done. I used this method, and it took less than three minutes. You can now move the extender to a location that is ideally halfway between your router and the dead spot in your home. If the LED ring turns red, you have to move the extender closer to your router.
If your router doesn’t support WPS, plug the extender in, connect to its SSID using a wireless laptop or a mobile device, and type http://tplinkrepeater.net in your browser address bar. This takes you to the Quick Setup page where you can scan for available networks to extend and apply security settings.
The RE450 delivered very good scores on my throughput- and range-performance tests. Its score of 47.6Mbps on my 2.4GHz close-proximity (same-room) test was right behind the Netgear Nighthawk EX7000 (50.2 Mbps) and ahead of the TP-Link AC750 Gigabit Wi-Fi Range Extender RE210$56.46 at Amazon (32.5Mbps), but couldn’t keep pace with the Linksys RE6700 (93.9Mbps) and the Amped Wireless High Power AC1750 Plug-In Wi-Fi Range Extender REC33A$107.99 at Amazon (89.1Mbps). However, it beat all comers on the 25-foot and 50-foot tests with scores of 44.5Mbps and 42.5Mbps, respectively. The Netgear EX7000 scored 38.8Mbps (25 feet) and 28.6Mbps (50 feet), and the Linksys RE6700 scored 38.2Mbps (25 feet) and 14.4Mbps (50 feet). The RE450’s score of 32.1Mbps at 75 feet is the fastest we’ve seen from any range extender.
On the 5GHz tests, the RE450 delivered solid throughput speeds as well. It’s score of 192Mbps on the close-proximity test beat the Netgear EX7000 (179Mbps) and the Linksys RE6700 (177Mbps), but couldn’t catch the Amped REC33A (210Mbps). It delivered a league-leading 152Mbps on the 25-foot test, and its score of 86.9Mbps on the 50-foot test was second only to the Netgear EX7000 (105Mbps). Once again, the RE450 led the pack with a score of 85Mbps on the 75-foot test. The next closest contender was the D-Link Wi-Fi Dual Band Range Extender DAP-1650$105.99 at Dell (39.5Mbps).
The TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE450) is an excellent choice if you’re looking to extend the reach of your wireless network. It offers solid close-proximity throughput, and performed wonderfully on our range tests. Moreover, it’s a cinch to install. Granted, it takes up two outlets and doesn’t have a pass-through outlet, and it doesn’t offer as many LAN ports as the Netgear EX7000, another top pick. That said, it’s a better all-around performer and costs around $50 less, which is why it’s our Editors’ Choice for wireless range extenders.
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