Apartment networking advice (new router vs powerline vs repeater)


Supreme [H]ardness
Sep 25, 2004
Hi all, I could use some advice on networking in my apartment. I have some weird constraints and I'm trying to figure out the best way to go.

I'm using an old N300 dual-band router. The internet comes into the apartment at the back, but all the electronics are at the front. I can't move the router any closer, and in between the router and the rest of the apartment is a big metal, mirrored closet door. So the signal isn't great: my gaming PC only connects at 56 - 75mbps, and the 5ghz signal is pretty much worthless unless you're in the bedroom.

The gaming PC's wifi adapter is a decent AC1200 adapter with two ~3" antennas.

I also live in a medium-density residential neighborhood. This building is only 4 units, but its surrounded by 4 unit buildings on all sides.

Which of the three options make the most sense?

1. Powerline. This seems like the best, but the concern is that I don't think the router and the gaming PC are on the same circuit, and there is conflicting info as to whether that matters. Also, I've read they can have issues with powerbars - do the passthrough adapters work ok with a powerbar plugged into them?

2. Repeater / range extender. Definitely the cheapest option, I could just get an N300 repeater and plug it in about halfway between the router and the gaming PC. But I haven't been able to figure out if that would actually give me a speed boost, or just extend the range.

3. New AC router. In theory the AC speed boost and beamforming would be an improvement, I'm just not sure how much of an improvement. I also think the old router might be dying: if I set the wifi speed to 300mpbs my devices will connect to it and the Internet, but netflix and other services never connect. So I have to keep it set to 120mbps.

Things that are not options:

1. Moving. I know that one of you will suggest it ;)

2. Moving the router.

3. Drilling holes through walls or running ethernet through them.

What do you think? Any advice would be appreciated :)


Supreme [H]ardness
Oct 4, 2007
Honestly - having lived in apartments with your exact scenario, I would avoid spending money trying to address a wireless issue that may never actually work exactly how you want it - you'll probably never be satisfied.

I would definitely go with Powerline Ethernet, but plug directly into the wall outlet (no surge protectors or UPS at all). It's going to be the most hassle-free and honestly the best solution with consistent results. Apartments are incredibly noisy on the 2.4 radio with tons of channel overlap (and home routers generally aren't good at remediating this), and 5Ghz can be such poor signal coverage with old construction and tons of doors and walls in the way.

Repeaters/extenders are pretty much worse in all scenarios than Powerline Eth.


Limp Gawd
Feb 11, 2008
Powerline unless you are willing to invest in something more fruitful like an upgrade to AC. I cannot find where I read it at but I just read somewhere a review on a new powerline setup by Ubiquiti that was close to ethernet speed with only a bit more latency. If you game, latency is the issue with powerline. If you do not game, get whatever you want but I would try and find ones with decent bandwidth - and reviews to back those up. None of that mattered for my mother-in-law so it was easy to go with a cheap option.