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Technology.

Updated: 27 Jan 2022

Best mesh networks and wi-fi extenders 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

Few things are more frustrating than wi-fi dead spots. A Best Buy mesh network or wi-fi extender will solve your wi-fi coverage problem
Martin Pratt
wi-fi range extender plugged into wall outlet

Sometimes a router just won't cut it. It won't get a strong and reliable signal into the far reaches of your home and that's where mesh networks and wi-fi extenders come in.

Mesh networks are an advanced whole-house solution that create a seamless net of wi-fi wherever you want the internet to be. Extenders are simpler solutions that give your router more reach more cheaply.

In this guide we'll delve into the differences between the two systems, so you know which is right for you, and we'll recommend the top models.

Best mesh networks

Four excellent mesh networks that combine great coverage, top speed and simple control apps.

  • 95%
    £399.99

    A close to flawless mesh network that's packed with advanced features, but even if you don't use them, the speed and coverage are unparalleled.

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  • 90%
    £258.00

    This wi-fi 6 mesh network is ready for anything and has a great app so you can easily control even the most advanced aspects of the router.

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  • 90%
    £178.99

    We wish the app was a bit simpler, but you can't argue with the speed and coverage of this mesh network. It's easily one of the best around.

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  • 90%
    £219.00

    This is one of the best mesh networks and one of the cheapest. Set up is simple and the coverage you get is superb. We were impressed with how well it coped when lots of devices were connected, too.

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What is a mesh system and do you need one?

A mesh network is made up of a series nodes, effectively extra routers, that sit around your home. One of the nodes is connected to your router, or can take the place of your router in some cases, and all the other nodes act as a repeater.

It's like a daisy chain that creates a net of wi-fi to cover your whole home. In theory you could continuously add extra nodes to make a huge net, but most people will only need two or three to get a solid signal throughout a two-storey home.

Each node doesn't create an individual network, it just boosts the range of your router's network, so you don't need to log onto a different network as you move into the connection radius of each node, which makes the wi-fi seamless.

You should choose a mesh network if there are several areas in your home where you're struggling to get wi-fi and you don't want to have to connect to different networks as you move into different parts of your home.


We test routers, as well as mesh networks and wi-fi extenders. See all our wi-fi device reviews to see which will work best for you


Best wi-fi extenders

Three wi-fi extenders that are simple to set up and give you excellent speed when you're far from your router.

  • 89%
    £111.78

    This terrific wi-fi extender is at the pricier end, but it's worth it. It has better range than many routers.

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  • 83%
    £56.98

    This extender will boost your wi-fi range very effectively, with fast transfer speeds. It's also simple to set up and even has an Ethernet port for direct connection.

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  • 80%
    £35.49

    This model is a great choice for boosting your wi-fi to a room or two, and it handles multiple devices well for a basic extender. It's our cheapest Best Buy.

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What is a wi-fi extender and do you need one?

A wi-fi extender (or wi-fi booster) is used to amplify and repeat the wireless signal from your router to extend its coverage. It helps to rebroadcast the signal to where the wi-fi may be weak or non-existent. Using an extender can reduce your network speed and you may find speeds are slower than when you're connected to your router.

Some extenders create a separate extra network that your device will connect to when in range, while others increase the range of your existing router network. The latter is better because you don't need to switch between two networks, so it's behaving more like mesh.

You should choose a wi-fi extender if you only have one area of your home where you lose signal and you don't necessarily need the very best speeds in that area. Otherwise a mesh network may be a better option.


If you think you just need to upgrade your existing router then read our top five best wi-fi routers to see which we recommend


How much should you spend on a mesh network or wi-fi extender

A mesh network is the most expensive home wi-fi setup mainly because you're adding multiple devices in your home. Generally mesh networks come with two or three nodes. One will connect to your router and the others can be dotted around your house where you need them.  

Best Buy two node system are available for under £200, which puts them in the same bracket as a high-end router. Expect to pay around £100 more for a three node system, but the expandable nature of mesh networks mean you can start with a two node setup and add more if you need to.

You're paying for flexibility. You can add nodes if you need to and you can position them in the perfect spots to give you best coverage. Mesh networks are often the top performers in our tests, too. The best models make the complex world of wi-fi setup simple with deft control apps. They often have the highest speeds, too.

Wi-fi extenders are far cheaper, but you can still pay close to £100 for a more advanced one. You can pay around £30 for a Best Buy, but cheaper models are unlikely to have a seamless extension. It's more likely that you'll need to connect to the extended network when you're in range and back to the router network when you're close to the router. 

TP-Link powerline adapter

What about a powerline adaptor?

Powerline adaptors send internet through your home's electricity cabling. You plug in one adapter near your router and connect it with an ethernet cable and plug the other adapter where you want internet.

The second adapter will have ethernet ports, so you can connect devices in a different room out of reach of your router. There are some that have wi-fi capabilities, too, so they work like an extender.

Powerline adaptors won't work in every house - their success will depend on the state of the electrical wiring in the property and how long the wires are that connect the two sockets you use for the adaptors. Electricity cabling can snake all over your home before reaching another socket and there's no real way of knowing how long the internet's journey from one powerline adaptor to another will be.

Both these things can affect the speed of the signal, or determine whether you'll get any internet at all.  

Head to our wi-fi router and extender reviews to compare all the models we've tested.