If your Wi-Fi 6 router is having trouble delivering a strong signal in 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 delivered good 2.4GHz throughput performance in our tests. However, its 5GHz throughput was sluggish, and its signal range was narrow, making it a questionable choice for reliably extending your Wi-Fi coverage. Our current Editors’ Choice for range extenders, the TP-Link RE603X, offers superior all-around performance and a useful mobile app, not to mention a lower price tag.
Design: Black Finish, Adjustable Antenna
At 4.7 by 2.7 by 2.2 inches (HWD), the RSD0618 is slightly smaller and thinner than the TP-Link RE603X and RE505X extenders, both measuring 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 overall height to 7.5 inches when fully extended. The two-way plug is located on the underside of the device on the back of the extender, to allow access to the other outlet of the two-outlet wall receptacle.
The front of the extender includes 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.
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 overall AX1800 rating. It supports Wi-Fi 6 technologies including WPA3 encryption, OFDMA data transmission, 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 some key features that we expect to find on a modern range extender. Most important, it won’t let you roam around the newly expanded wireless coverage area in your home uninterruptedly, as it requires a different SSID from your main wireless router.
Neither Rock Space RSD0618 offers a mobile app, as do the aforementioned TP-Link Extender and Netgear EAX15. Instead, you control it via a web-based console, which you can access by typing 192.168.0.254 or http://re.rockspace.local in the address bar of your browser.
Once you’re logged into the console, the settings are limited. You can scan for available networks, edit the extender’s SSID and password, update firmware, reboot the device, and switch between repeater and access point (AP) modes, But that’s about it. Missing are the blocklist and allow-list settings, and the ability to see which clients are connected to the extender, which you get with the TP-Link RE603X.
The web console opens to a system status screen that includes a basic network map and device information, including firmware version, which channel each band is using, MAC address and running time. In the repeater setting screen, you can scan and select available networks to expand. In the Wireless Settings screen, you can edit the SSID, change the password, and hide the SSID for each extended radio band.
Use the Operating Mode screen to select AP Mode or Repeater Mode. Meanwhile, the Management screen is where you go to change your administrative password, update firmware, change timing settings, and reboot the device.
Testing Rock Space RSD018: Lackluster Throughput
The RSD0618 was easy to set up in our tests. I plugged it into an AC outlet in the same room as the router I was mounting, and used my laptop to connect wirelessly to the extender’s SSID. Once connected, a browser window opened automatically, and I was asked 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 took the extender to my living room to complete the installation.
The RSD0618 turned in a low score on our throughput performance tests. Its score of 62Mbps in 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).
The 20-foot test results were better. The RSD0618’s score of 35Mbps trailed the TP-Link RE505X (30Mbps), and was just 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 174 Mbps on the close-proximity test was half as fast as the competition here, with the other three scoring in a tight cluster ranging from 353 Mbps to 358 Mbps. On the 20-foot test, the RSD0618’s score of 158Mbps trailed the Netgear EAX15 by just 13Mbps, but the Rock Space Extender was much slower than both TP-Link models, which each registered closer to 250Mbps. And at 40 feet, the RSD0618’s score of 130Mbps was a bit slower than the Netgear EAX15 (132Mbps), but again behind the two TP-Links, with their scores around 200Mbps.
To measure Wi-Fi signal strength, we use the Ekahow Sidekick Wi-Fi Diagnostic Device and Ekahow’s Survey mobile app to create heat maps that show the extender’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz signal strengths throughout our test home. Huh. (Ekhow is owned by Jiff Davis, the parent company of PCMag.) The circles on the maps below represent the location of the expander, and the dark green colors indicate the strongest signal. Yellow color indicates a weak 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 as I moved further, the signal weakened. This was especially weak in the back bedroom.
Not the best option to extend Wi-Fi
The Rock Space AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender makes it easy to bring Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to areas of your home where your main router can’t reach, but you can find better options out there. It was fairly easy to set up and showed good 2.4GHz throughput, but its 5GHz performance was sluggish, and its signal strength was questionable.
Plus, 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 better performance in both radio bands, a user-friendly mobile app, and better signal coverage. It remains our Editors’ Choice for Wi-Fi range extenders.