Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender review: Fix WiFi dead zones

Fill in Wi-Fi dead spots with this powerful wireless network extender [Review]

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Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender review
Don’t put up with Wi-Fi dead zones. Rockspace’s wireless range extender can fill them in.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Wi-Fi dead spots happen in many homes and businesses, and they can be so frustrating. The Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender fills in the empty spot(s) in your wireless network, and because it has Wi-Fi 6 it can provide up to 35 devices with speedy connections.

I tested this access point in my home office. Here’s how it stood up to a battery of real-world tests.

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Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender review

There’s a patio on the side of my house that would be the perfect place to work on warm days… if Wi-Fi wasn’t so weak and spotty there. It’s not exactly a dead zone — it might be worse because I can sometimes get a connection but it always seems to fail me when I need it.

This is exactly the situation that Rockspace created its Wi-Fi Extender for. I put it near the dead zone in my wireless network and it filled in the gap.

It does so by creating its own Wi-Fi network for your devices to connect to. That’s very convenient, but please note that this is different from a mesh router. The Wi-Fi extender needs its own SSID and passwords.

Hardware and design

The Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender plugs directly into a wall socket. It’ll even share the socket with another gadget, and there are (generally) no cables to fuss with.

At 4.7 inches tall, 2.75 inches wide and 2.2 inches thick, it’s not exactly small, but fits easily behind a chair. A pair of movable antennas make the device look like it’s cosplaying as Sauron. Or just scored a touchdown.

A collection of status lights shows you whether the network add-on has a solid connection where you’ve placed it. Be sure it’s somewhere it can still get a solid connection to your primary Wi-Fi network but is close enough to the dead zone to be useful.

An Ethernet port on the bottom allows the extender to transform into a stand-alone router. Plug this device into a modem or Ethernet network (and change a setting) and it becomes a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender isn’t small.
It’s not small, but this network range extender doesn’t take up as much room as many Wi-Fi hotspots.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Software and setup

In my testing, setting up the Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender was as easy as pressing the WPS button on my regular hotspot followed by pressing the dual WPS buttons on the network add on.

That’s not an option for everyone so I also tried simply turning on the device, waiting until it created a Wi-Fi network, then connected to it with my iPad.

A pop-up window appeared that walked me through the setup process. If you go this route, be sure you have at your fingertips the Wi-Fi password for your current network, as you’ll need it.

Once you have everything set up, you can always got to https://192.168.0.254 in any web browser to change your passwords, SSIDs, etc. The web interface is easy to use.

Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender web interface web interface
The web interface used to set up the Rockspace Wi-Fi extender is easy enough to use.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender performance

The AX1800 in the name isn’t a product number — it’s the maximum bandwidth. It indicates the router is capable of handing 1800 Mbps. In the case of Rockspace’s offering, it’s split between 1201 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band.

But the access point is not magic. If the primary router you connect it to tops out at 1200 Mbps then that’s the most you can hope for.

The extender connects to your existing Wi-Fi network and uses it to make its own, secondary Wi-Fi network. While there’s potential for slowdown in the turnaround, I used Ookla’s Speedtest application and found that a connection to the primary router and the add-on one were essentially the same when right next to the secondary router.

When connecting to the Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender on the 5GHz band, the connection was solid 20 feet to 30 feet away from the router, and Speedtest shows I’m getting very nearly the maximum speed available. Switching to the 2.4GHz band lowers the connection speed slightly but that’s expected.

Moving to about 100 feet away behind a wall from Rockspace’s network extender brings only a moderate decrease in speed. In this situation, the 2.4GHz band offers faster performance because this frequency travels through solid objects better.

All in all, the product does what it’s supposed to. And very well.

Just remember, this is not a mesh router so the network add-on has its own SSID and passwords, and your Mac, iPad etc. won’t always jump between this and your regular hotspot seamlessly. Or when you’d like it to. For example, I’ll connect to the Rockspace network when I’m out on the patio I mentioned earlier, and later when I move inside my iPad will stay connected to the extender even when it could get a faster connection on the primary Wi-Fi network. It’s up to me to pick the fastest network available.

One of the ways this wireless network extender sets itself apart from cheap alternatives is support for Wi-Fi 6. This is the latest version, and is supported by recent iPhone, iPad and MacBook models. It’s not only faster than its predecessors but also allows more devices to connect simultaneously without interference.

Rockspace AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender final thoughts

The performance of this wireless network add on is all one could realistically hope for.

A collection of mesh routers is easier to use because they’ll have a single SSID and you won’t have to worry about switching between them. But Rockspace is offering a cheaper option than replacing a Wi-Fi router with a mesh system.

Pricing

The list price for the AX1800 Dual Band Wi-Fi Extender is $99.99 on the Rockspace website, but it’s currently $79.99.

Alternatively, Amazon has it listed for $64.38 at the time of this writing thanks to a 25% off deal.

Buy from: Amazon

Rockspace provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.