The Netgear EX7500 Nighthawk Mesh X4S Wall-Plug Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Extender the lesser version of the EX8000. It’s much smaller, has no port, and is designed to plug directly into a wall socket. In return, currently, at $160, it’s also more affordable.
If you don’t want to (or can’t) replace your existing router, the EX7500 can be a convenient and effective way to create a fast Wi-Fi mesh network for your home, as long as you have a good location to plug it in.
Netgear EX7500: Tri-band Wi-Fi extender
The Netgear EX7500 shares the same concept as the EX8000 by having three built-in Wi-Fi bands — one 2GHz band and two 5GHz bands — and using one of the 5GHz band as the back-haul. This band has the only job of connecting the extender to an existing Wi-Fi router, leaving the other two bands free to serve clients.
The dedicated back-haul concept was first used in Netgear’s Orbi and is one of the most effective ways to reduce signal loss, second to only using network cables. The EX7500 is similar to the satellite unit of the Orbi RBK40 Wi-Fi system.
Compared to the EX8000, however, both of the EX7500’s 5GHz bands use the dual-stream (2×2) setup of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, meaning they have the cap speed of 867 megabits per second. The 3rd band of the EX8000 is a 3×3 802.11ac band (1733Mbps).
Negear EX7500’s hardware specifications
Netgear EX7500’s detail photos
The setup process of the EX7500 is the same as that of the EX8000. The two also share the same web interface.
That said, you can plug the extender near the existing router, press the WPS button on the router, and then on the extender, wait for a minute for the two to sync and that’s all. The extender will automatically replicate the existing router’s Wi-Fi setting (name and password) and extend it.
The harder part is to find a suitable place to put it.
And this can be a hard job since you need a wall socket for the EX7500. Chances are, you won’t conveniently have one at a perfect distance from the router.
Too far, the signal between them is too weak, and you’ll have a slow Wi-FI network at the far end; and too close, your mesh network will have less coverage than you’d like. Therefore, before getting the EX7500, make sure you have a lot of options in terms of where you can plug in the extender. Keep in mind, as a plug-in adapter, the extender is bulky and will block access to adjacent wall sockets.
Helpful status lights
Like the EX8000, the EX7500 has set of status lights on its top — including one for the router connection, one for 2.4GHz clients and another for the 5GHz clients — that change color to indicate Wi-Fi condition:
- Blue: Best connection
- Amber: Good connection
- Red: Poor connection
- Off: No connection
- Blinking (blue): The extender is resetting to its factory default settings
Netgear EX7500: Good performance
The Netgear EX7500 worked well in my testing. I tested it with the Asus RT-AC86U, stacking it up against satellite units of other Wi-Fi systems and it was able to beat many of them in close range. In long-range tests, however, it could use some improvement.
The seamless hand-off worked well, too. As a result, I was able to roam between the router and the extender while maintaining connectivity. And the extender was also reliable. It passed my 24-hour stress test without disconnection once.
Thanks to the 3rd dedicated back-haul band, the Netgear EX7500 works well with any existing Wi-Fi router to create a mesh network.
Keep in mind, however, that using EX7500 is still entirely different from having a real mesh system. Among other things, if you change the router’s Wi-Fi settings (name or password), you’ll need to set up the extender again. Also, you’ll need to tweak the bands on the two units to make sure there’s no interference.
Nonetheless, if you need to quickly extend your Wi-Fi network and have plenty of wall sockets around the house, this is an excellent extender to get.