Friday, December 3, 2021
Ios/Mac

Wi-Fi Range Extender Goes the Distance


The TP-Link RE505X is a reasonably cheap Wi-Fi extender which notably features support for Wi-Fi 6 (aka 802.11ax), the latest Wi-Fi standard. 

This means that the latest phones, tablets, and laptops will be able to connect to this and enjoy faster speeds, more robust connections, and over a wider distance – in theory, anyway. 

Priced at around £60, the RE505X is a tad more expensive than your typical extender, but improved compatibility with the latest devices might make this a more attractive buy. Like the TP-Link RE305, the RE505X supports OneMesh, which means that it can be paired with a compatible TP-Link router, and those devices will act as a mesh Wi-Fi system, as opposed to a typical router and Wi-Fi extender. 

Features & Design

The TP-Link RE505X is a bit bigger than most Wi-Fi extenders, which are relatively small, barely any larger than a pack of cards. The RE505X is about twice as tall, but a similar width. This is only really something to be mindful of if you’re thinking of plugging it in somewhere where perhaps there are a lot of other devices jostling for some mains socket space. 

Likewise, the gigabit Ethernet port is located on the left-hand side of the RE505X – again, no big deal, just something to consider when you’re setting it up.


Installation

As with the TP-Link RE305, setting up the RE505X is easy, thanks to the TP-Link Tether iOS and Android apps.

Once you’ve powered the RE505X on for the first time, you can choose to connect it to your router and set everything up via a browser-based interface, by heading to tplinkrepeater.net, but the apps let you do the same thing and make it easier. 

Whichever option you choose, it’s a simple case of connecting the RE505X to your main router via Wi-Fi, creating an admin password, and then have it ‘extend’ the signal of your router, which you’ll pick from a list of available SSIDs. You can then choose to rename the RE505X’s network name, or sticking with the default name. 

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Not only do the TP-Link Tether apps make getting up and running a piece of cake, but you’re also able to see at a glance which devices in your home are connected to the RE505X, block and manage access, as well as change the passwords, and rename the SSIDs from your phone. 

You can also enable TP-Link OneMesh from here, which lets you pair the RE505X to a compatible TP-Link router as if it were a mesh satellite, which promises to make for a stronger, more resilient network.

Supported TP-Link routers include the Archer AX20 V1, Archer AX90 V1 and Archer GX90 V1, none of which, sadly, I had to hand, so I can’t comment on how easy this is to set up, or how effective it is.


Performance

For testing, the TP-Link RE505X was set up in a spare room one floor up and one room along from where my main router, a Netgear RBK750, connected to a Virgin Media Super Hub in modem mode, sits. My M200 service usually gives me between 180-210Mbps most days, and the average download speeds recorded here reflect how that changes over distance. 

The speed tests were conducted on two devices – a Huawei Mate 10 Pro and a RealMe X50 Pro – which feature Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 radios, respectively. Multiple speed tests were taken in two rooms, one directly next to the room where the RE505X was installed, and the other, two rooms away, to reflect the kinds of speeds you can expect in a number of different locations, on different devices. 

The WiFi Speed Test Android app was used to record Wi-Fi link speeds, and download and upload speeds, and the results presented below are averages:

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Wi-Fi 5 client test: One room away

  TP-Link RE505X (2.4GHz) TP-Link RE505X (5GHz) Main router (2.4GHz) Main router (5GHz)
Average Wi-Fi link speeds 138.84Mbps 259.38Mbps 52.97Mbps 187.55Mbps
Average download speed 46.68Mbps 122.91Mbps 48.98Mbps 174.71Mbps
Average upload speed 18.92Mbps 21.61Mbps 17.58Mbps 21.60Mbps

Wi-Fi 5 client test: Two rooms away

  TP-Link RE505X (2.4GHz) TP-Link RE505X (5GHz) Main router (2.4GHz) Main router (5GHz)
Average Wi-Fi link speeds 100.12Mbps n/a 27.29Mbps n/a
Average download speed 51.29Mbps n/a 17.72Mbps n/a
Average upload speed 19.92Mbps n/a 4.99Mbps n/a

Wi-Fi 6 client test: One room away

  TP-Link RE505X (2.4GHz) TP-Link RE505X (5GHz) Main router (2.4GHz) Main router (5GHz)
Average Wi-Fi link speeds 59.07Mbps 177.27Mbps 32.18Mbps 203.6Mbps
Average download speed 58.83Mbps 93.05Mbps 21.52Mbps 198.57Mbps
Average upload speed 21.62Mbps 14.51Mbps 24.65Mbps 21.29Mbps

Wi-Fi 6 client test: Two rooms away

  TP-Link RE505X (2.4GHz) TP-Link RE505X (5GHz) Main router (2.4GHz) Main router (5GHz)
Average Wi-Fi link speeds 23.73Mbps 18.93Mbps 5.67Mbps n/a
Average download speed 51.29Mbps 42.83Mbps 8.39Mbps n/a
Average upload speed 18.83Mbps 11.17Mbps 7.96Mbps n/a

Speeds recorded one room away were good, quite a lot better than what I could pick up in the same location from my main router.

Impressively, I was able to maintain a 5GHz connection on the Wi-Fi 6 client with the RE505X, something I’ve not been able to do with any of the other devices I’ve tested recently. While the speeds here are admittedly not fantastic – barely any different to what I got on the 2.4GHz band – the fact that the RE505X is able to connect to a Wi-Fi 6 phone two rooms away is significant.

In terms of speeds and range, the TP-Link RE505X is one of the best Wi-Fi extenders I’ve tested to date, though given that it’s Wi-Fi 6 compatible, you would hope that’d be the case.

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Price & Availability 

The TP-Link RE505X is available now. The standard price for this, according to TP-Link, is £59.99. At the time of writing, a few places are offering this for a bit less. 

The best price on offer is currently from CCL Online, which offers the RE505X for £49.99, as does Amazon, which has the RE505X on offer for £49.99 – but it usually sells it for £59.99. 

You can also buy it from Currys PC World, Scan, Ebuyer and Very – some of which are also selling it for £49.99.

Readers in the US can pick up the RE505X from Amazon for US$78.17, down from the usual US$89.99 price. 

Best Buy also stocks the RE505X for US$79.99, as do Newegg and Target

In Australia, the TP-Link RE505X is available from Amazon for AU$95.68, while The Good Guys have it for a bit more, at AU$149.

Verdict 

The TP-Link RE505X is a powerful Wi-Fi extender that adds extra reach for a reasonable price, especially if you’ve got a new Wi-Fi 6 device, and you want to benefit from that.

For targeting specific Wi-Fi not-spots, this could be a very cost-effective buy with good speeds, range and an easy-to-use app with handy features.

If you’ve got the right TP-Link router, the RE505X could also operate as a mesh Wi-Fi satellite as a bonus.

Specs

TP-Link RE505X Wi-Fi Range Extender: Specs

  • 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) on 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2×2 dual-band
  • 1 x Ethernet
  • WPS
  • Repeater Mode
  • AP Mode
  • Supports TP-Link OneMesh standard
  • 124.8 x 74 x 46mm
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