WiFi Extender vs. Mesh WiFi: Which One is Better for You?

2023 Best WiFi Extenders
A Buyer's Guide

UPDATED: APR 12, 2023

Are you looking for ways to boost your WiFi signal at home but don't know how to choose? Come and find out which one is more suitable for you, WiFi extender or mesh WiFi!

WiFi Extender vs. Mesh WiFi: Which One is Better for You?

When looking for ways to improve your WiFi coverage, you might be confused by products likes mesh WiFi, WiFi repeaters, WiFi extenders and WiFi booster. The most popular options are mesh WiFi and WiFi extender. But what's the differences between them? 

What is WiFi Extender?

What is WiFi Extender?

WiFi extender is a device that can help your WiFi signal reach further. They use an Ethernet cable to capture the WiFi signal from your router and then rebroadcast it. 
Once the devices are paired and connected, the WiFi extender creates its own WiFi signal for your smart home devices to use to provide better coverage. The WiFi extender has its own broadcast name, and the word EXT is usually added after your original name.

1. Signal Amplification Within Limited Range: If your main goal is to eliminate dead spots throughout your office space or home, a WiFi extender can do just that. Its base model offers up to 1,200 square feet of coverage, with some even up to 4,000 square feet, and this is ideal if you need to cover a limited area.
2. Easy setup: All you have to do is plug it in and configure it with your main router, then you can manage it easily.
3. Inexpensive: If you're on a tight budget, a WiFi extender is a great choice. They're cheap, running as little as $20 to $40 for a basic extender.

Drawbacks of WiFi Extenders

1. Having to switch networks manually: Your device may have a weak signal as you move around due to different signal names. The network will only switch automatically when it is completely out of range. This means that the connection is unstable, and if you want to get a full signal, you must switch the signal yourself in the correct position.
2. Reduce your internet speed: WiFi extenders can provide very slow speeds because the WiFi signal has to travel from the router to the extender and back again.

What is Mesh WiFi?

What is Mesh WiFi?

Mesh WiFi is a new type of WiFi system in recent years. Unlike WiFi extenders, it uses a group of mesh extenders called nodes or satellites that work together to create a large seamless wireless network. 
Nodes are placed in areas where WiFi connectivity is required. Each node needs to be within range of the other node in order to cover the entire home with a strong signal. Each device in a mesh network is called an "access point" or "node". These nodes share the same WiFi network name(SSID).

Benefits of Mesh WiFi

1. Whole house WiFi coverage: Mesh WiFi can fully cover an area of up to 6,000 square feet. Even two-story or large residences have no impact. Get network coverage no matter where you are in the room. This eliminates the dead corner of the network at home for you.
2. Seamless connection: Mesh WiFi all broadcast the same network name, and your WiFi devices (such as cell phones and laptops) are able to roam between mesh access points of their choice. This makes the network seamless.
3. Excellent and stable network speed performance: Mesh WiFi systems can be expanded with additional mesh satellites, eliminating slow WiFi at the edges of the coverage area.

Drawbacks of mesh WiFi

1. Very expensive: Mesh WiFi is sometimes more expensive than a single wireless router of the same performance level, usually starting at around $200.
2. Time-consuming to install: you must place each node throughout the house strategically. You may need to call an electrician to fix the wiring and install nodes throughout the house, which further increases the time cost.

Differences Between WiFi Extender and Mesh WiFi

After the above reading, you must have understood the WiFi extender and mesh WiFi. Next, let us compare the differences between WiFi extender and mesh WiFi!

WiFi Extender
Mesh WiFi
Network coverage
Smaller areas:
300-2,000 square feet
Larger areas: 
Up to 6,000 square feet
Even two-story or large residences
Internet connection
Having to switch networks manually
Seamless connectivity
Easy to set up but requires manual configuration
Time-consuming to install:
Manually set up the nodes before installation
Good ones cost between $50-$80
Better mesh WiFi is $200-$500
Add-on nodes are $100-$200

WiFi Extender vs. Mesh WiFi: Which One is Better for You?

Now that you learn the difference between WiFi extender and mesh WiFi, you might be wondering which one is better for you. 
The answer...
It depends on many factors, including the size of your home, the number of dead spots, and your budget.
A range extender will suffice if you live in a smaller house or apartment and only find one or two areas of poor signal. However, WiFi extenders are unlikely to reach your network's maximum speed. But it's good enough for video chatting, HD video viewing, and even basic online gaming. It's also very price friendly, making it a good choice if you're on a lower budget.
A mesh network will be the best option if you live in a multi-story home and want to improve internet signal coverage evenly across multiple floors. They are a little more expensive up front, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, especially in the long run.
WiFi extenders and mesh WiFi are excellent ways to improve your WiFi signal. However, they have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Finally, the best option is determined by your needs and budget.