Rock Space AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender (RSD0618) Review | PCMag

2022-05-21 23:44:00 By : Ms. Amber Liu

Look elsewhere to reliably extend your Wi-Fi

The Rock Space AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender will help broaden your router’s signal range, but it is short on features for the money, and its performance could be better.

If your Wi-Fi 6 router is having trouble delivering a strong signal to certain areas of your home, it may be time to invest in a Wi-Fi range extender. The Rock Space AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender (model number RSD0618, $99.99) is a dual-band, plug-in extender that installs quickly and provided decent 2.4GHz throughput performance in our tests. Its 5GHz throughput was sluggish, though, and its signal range was narrow, making it a questionable choice for reliably increasing your Wi-Fi coverage. Our current Editors’ Choice pick for range extenders, the TP-Link RE603X, offers better all-around performance and a useful mobile app, not to mention a lower price.

At 4.7 by 2.7 by 2.2 inches (HWD), the RSD0618 is a bit shorter and thinner than the TP-Link RE603X and RE505X extenders, both of which measure 4.9 by 2.9 by 1.8 inches.  It has a black finish and sports two adjustable antennas (one on each side) that bring the total height to 7.5 inches when fully extended. The two-pronged plug on the back of the extender is positioned toward the bottom of the device, to allow access to the second outlet of a two-outlet wall receptacle. 

The front of the extender contains power and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) indicators, as well as 2.4GHz and 5GHz signal strength indicators. There’s a 1Gbps LAN port on the bottom of the device, while you'll find a WPS switch and a reset button on the left side.

Powered by a dual-core CPU, the RSD0618 is a dual-band extender that can reach maximum (theoretical) data rates of up to 573Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,201Mbps on the 5GHz band, hence its total AX1800 rating. It supports Wi-Fi 6 technologies, including WPA3 encryption, OFDMA data transmissions, MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming, and direct-to-client signal beamforming. As with most Wi-Fi 6 gear, this range extender is backward-compatible with Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 devices.

But the RSD0618 is missing a few key features that we expect to find on modern range extenders. Most important, it won't let you roam seamlessly throughout the newly expanded wireless coverage area in your house, as it requires a separate SSID from your main wireless router. 

Neither does the Rock Space RSD0618 offer a mobile app, like the above-mentioned TP-Link extenders and the Netgear EAX15 do. Instead, you control it via a web-based console, which you can access by typing or http://re.rockspace.local into your browser’s address bar.

Once you're logged in to the console, settings are limited. You can scan for available networks to extend, edit the extender’s SSID and password, update the firmware, reboot the device, and switch between repeater and access point (AP) modes, but that’s about it. Missing are blocklist and allow-list settings, and the ability to see which clients are connected to the extender, all of which you get with the TP-Link RE603X.

The web console opens to a System Status screen that contains a basic network map and device information, including the firmware version, which channel each band is using, the MAC address, and the running time. In the Repeater Setting screen, you can scan and select available networks to extend. In the Wireless Setting screen, you can edit the SSID for each extended radio band, change the password, and hide the SSID.

Use the Operating Mode screen to choose AP mode or repeater mode. Meanwhile, the Management screen is where you go to change your administrative password, update the firmware, change the time settings, and reboot the device.

The RSD0618 was easy to install in our tests. I plugged it into an AC outlet in the same room as the router that I was extending, and used my laptop to wirelessly connect to the extender’s SSID. Once connected, a browser window automatically opened, and I was prompted to create a password for the management console. A list of available Wi-Fi SSIDs appeared on the next screen, so I selected my router's SSID, entered the Wi-Fi password, and moved the extender to my living room to complete the installation. 

The RSD0618 turned in lackluster scores on our throughput performance tests. Its score of 62Mbps on the 2.4GHz close proximity (same room) test was slightly slower than the Netgear EAX15 (65Mbps) and TP-Link RE505X (80Mbps) extenders and significantly slower than the TP-Link RE603X (104Mbps).

Results on the 20-foot test were better. The RSD0618’s score of 35Mbps beat the TP-Link RE505X (30Mbps), and was right behind the Netgear EAX15 (37Mbps) and the TP-Link RE603X (38Mbps). On the 40-foot test, the RSD0618 scored 9Mbps, as did the TP-Link RE505X. The Netgear EAX15 and TP-Link RE603X delivered 15Mbps and 12Mbps, respectively.

The RSD0618’s 5GHz throughput performance was mixed. Its score of 174Mbps on the close-proximity test was half as fast as the competition here, with the other three scoring in a tight cluster from 353Mbps to 358Mbps. On the 20-foot test, the RSD0618’s score of 158Mbps trailed the Netgear EAX15 by a mere 13Mbps, but the Rock Space extender was much slower than both the TP-Link models, which each registered close to 250Mbps. And at 40 feet, the RSD0618’s score of 130Mbps was just a tad slower than the Netgear EAX15 (132Mbps) but again well behind the two TP-Links, with their scores right around 200Mbps.

To measure Wi-Fi signal strength, we use an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and Ekahau’s Survey mobile app to generate heat maps that show the extender’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz signal strength throughout our test home. (Ekahau is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag's parent company.) The circles on the maps below represent the location of the extender, and the dark green colors indicate the strongest signal. Yellow colors indicate a weaker signal, and gray indicates no measurable signal reception.

As shown on the heat maps, the RSD0618 provided a good signal within 20 feet of its location, but the signal grew weaker as I moved further away. It was particularly weak in the back bedrooms.

The Rock Space AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender makes it easy to bring Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to those areas of your home that your main router can’t reach, but you can find better options out there. It was easy enough to install and showed decent 2.4GHz throughput, but its 5GHz performance was sluggish, and its signal strength was questionable.

Moreover, it doesn’t come with a mobile app, and its management options are limited to a few basic settings. For $10 less, the TP-Link RE603X gives you superior performance across both radio bands, a user-friendly mobile app, and much better signal coverage. It remains our Editors’ Choice pick for Wi-Fi range extenders.

The Rock Space AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender will help broaden your router’s signal range, but it is short on features for the money, and its performance could be better.

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As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of the Labs technical staff, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of the Labs testing machines and procedures. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, John spent six years in retail operations for Federated Stores, Inc. before accepting a purchasing position with Morris Decision Systems, one of New York's first value-added resellers of the original IBM PC. For the next five years, he was responsible for buying and configuring IBM PC, XT and AT desktops for many of New York's financial institutions. He then worked for the now defunct ComputerLand chain of PC dealers before joining PC Magazine in 1987. is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.

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