Netgear AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Extender (EAX15) Reviews | PCMag

2021-12-14 13:42:47 By : Ms. Lily Guo

Increase Wi-Fi coverage

Netgear EAX15 is a plug-in Wi-Fi 6 range extender that provides good overall performance, but with fewer settings.

Wi-Fi 6 routers are known for providing strong remote signals, but even the best routers can use some help to provide strong Wi-Fi to every room in a larger home. With the Netgear EAX15 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh extender ($129.99), you only need to plug it into a wall outlet and configure it using the mobile app to achieve a wall-to-wall Wi-Fi 6 connection. This wireless range extender does not have many setting options, but it provides stable 5GHz performance and showed good signal strength in our tests. In other words, the TP-Link AX1750 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender (RE603X) provides better overall performance at a price of $40 lower.

The matte white EAX15 case measures 5.9 x 2.7 x 2.1 inches (HWD), which is larger than TP-Link RE505X and TP-Link RE603X, both measuring 4.9 x 2.9 x 1.8 inches. However, TP-Link extenders use external antennas, and when fully extended, their actual height can reach 8.2 inches. The EAX15 uses two built-in antennas and has a three-phase plug on the back that is located at the bottom of the device to allow access to the second of the dual-socket sockets. 

The front of the extender contains four LED indicators. The power LED lights up green when the device is powered on, and amber when it starts up. The Router Link LED tells you the signal strength between the router and the extender. It is green when the connection is best, amber when the connection is good, and red when the connection is bad; no light means the connection is lost. The client link LED tells you the signal strength between the extender and the client device, and uses the same color code as the router link LED. The WPS LED flashes green when establishing a WPS connection, and it is steady green and strong when establishing a connection. . On the left side of the extender is a single Gigabit LAN port, a reset button and a WPS button. Like most plug-in range extenders, you will not find any USB ports on the EAX15.  

Driven by a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, EAX15 is a dual-band AX1800 extender that can achieve a maximum (theoretical) data rate of up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequency band and 1,200Mbps on the 5GHz frequency band. It supports single SSID naming for seamless roaming and can be used with any Wi-Fi 6 router. In addition, it is backward compatible with Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 routers. 

EAX15 uses the same Nighthawk mobile app (for Android and iOS) as the Netgear XR1000 gaming router, but has very few settings. It opens a dashboard that shows the current status (online, offline) and has four panels. Click on the Device Manager panel to see which clients are connected and which frequency band they are connected to. Click on any client to view its IP and MAC address and the current link rate in Mbps. Tap the Internet speed panel to run the Ookla Speedtest utility, which measures your Internet upload and download speed. The network map panel will take you to a screen with a map showing the host router and all connected extenders, and the Wi-Fi settings panel will open a screen where you can change the extender’s SSID, password and Security method (WPA2 personal, WPA3 personal, WPA/WPA2 personal, WPA2/WPA3 personal).

Installing the EAX15 extender is easy. I downloaded the Netgear Nighthawk mobile app, created an account, and followed the on-screen instructions to add a new Nighthawk device.

I selected the Range Extender from the device list and plugged it into the wall socket between my router and the room where I want to extend the Wi-Fi signal. I clicked Next, and the app immediately found the extender. I click Next again, select the 2.4GHz and 5GHz network SSIDs I want to expand, and enter their respective passwords. After about 45 seconds, the extension was configured and I was prompted to create an administrator login name and password and answer two security questions. After completion, the application checks for firmware updates and completes the installation.

EAX15 performed well in most of our throughput tests, but its 65Mbps speed in the 2.4GHz close range (same room) test was a bit slower than TP-Link RE505X (80Mbps). TP-Link RE603X leads with an impressive 104Mbps speed. At a distance of 20 feet, EAX15 provides a speed of 37Mbps, beating RE505X and differing from RE603X by less than 1Mbps. In our 40-foot test, EAX15 leads with a speed of 15Mbps.

The 354Mbps speed of EAX15 in the 5GHz close-range test is a little faster than RE505X and only 4Mbps slower than RE603X. However, in the 20-foot test (171Mbps) or the 40-foot test (132Mbps), it cannot be synchronized with the TP-Link extender. 

To measure the Wi-Fi signal strength, we used Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic equipment and Ekahau’s Survey mobile app to generate a heat map showing the 2.4GHz and 5GHz signal strength of the extender in the entire test home. (Editor's note: Ekahau is owned by PCMag's parent company Ziff Davis.)

The circle on the map above indicates the position of the extender, and the shaded color indicates the signal strength: dark green indicates the strongest signal, yellow indicates weak, and gray indicates no measurable signal reception. As shown in the heat map, EAX15 did a good job in expanding both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi signals in our test home. However, the signal in the far corner of the back bedroom is slightly weaker. 

If your router cannot provide a strong Wi-Fi signal to certain areas of your home, a range extender such as Netgear AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Extender (EAX15) can help. It is easy to install, you can use it to create a mesh network with a single SSID, and it provides a relatively fast throughput score in our tests. In other words, our Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender Editor's Choice Award winner TP-Link RE603X offers faster throughput performance and more settings, but it costs less, so it is more worth buying.

Netgear EAX15 is a plug-in Wi-Fi 6 range extender that provides good overall performance, but with fewer settings.

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As a contributing editor of PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networks and smart home devices as well as various other hardware and peripherals for nearly 20 years. As a veteran who has worked in PC Magazine's laboratory for 13 years (most recently as Director of Operations), John is responsible for the recruitment, training and management of laboratory technicians, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of laboratory testing machines and procedures. Before joining Ziff Davis, John worked in the retail business of Federated Stores, Inc. for 6 years, and then accepted a purchasing position at Morris Decision Systems, one of the first value-added resellers of the original IBM PC in New York. For the next five years, he was responsible for purchasing and configuring IBM PC, XT and AT desktops for many financial institutions in New York. Before joining PC Magazine in 1987, he worked for the now-defunct ComputerLand chain of PCs.

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