What are the differences between the weBoost Drive X and the weBoost Drive Reach?

weBoost Drive X (475021) vs. weBoost Drive Reach (470154)

weBoost’s Drive X has been the best-selling mobile cell signal booster since it launched as the Drive 4G-X in 2014. Five years later, weBoost introduced the Drive Reach with a radically different look an enhanced capabilities. How do these two mobile systems compare?

weBoost Drive X kit 475021 weBoost Drive X
weBoost Drive Reach kit 470154 weBoost Drive Reach

Price

  • weBoost Drive X: $399.99 (November 2019)
  • weBoost Drive Reach: $499.99 (November 2019)

The Drive X costs 20% less than the Drive Reach. Because the Drive Reach is dramatically superior to the Drive X in performance, we expect that many people will be willing to pay the extra hundred dollars to get the Reach.

Booster design

  • weBoost Drive X: Metal case
  • weBoost Drive Reach: Metal case with heat sink and mounting bracket

Both the Drive X and Drive Reach have metal cases, but the extra power in the Drive Reach means it runs hotter than its predecessor. The Drive Reach therefore has a large heat sink—eight 15‑mm‑deep grooves on the top to disperse the excess heat the booster generates. Because the Drive Reach needs air to cool itself, you’ll want to install it in your vehicle under a seat or in another well-ventilated area, not in the glove box.

The Drive Reach has a click-on mounting bracket with VELCRO® strips that adhere to a carpeted floor and screw holes so you can mount the booster on the roof of a car trunk or other drillable surface. The Drive X also has a mounting bracket with screw holes, but it doesn’t have the VELCRO® strips.

Booster dimensions

The Drive Reach is slightly shorter and 50% taller than the Drive X. Because of its large heat sink, the Drive Reach is more than twice as heavy as its predecessor:

Drive X
Drive Reach
Length
6.25″ / 15.88 cm
6.00″ / 15.24 cm
Width
4.50″ / 11.43 cm
4.50″ / 11.43 cm
Height
1.00″ / 2.54 cm
1.50″ / 3.81 cm
Weight
0.77 lbs. / 349 g
1.80 lbs. / 816 g

Power (gain)

Gain is the increase in the signal strength the booster gives to the signal it receives from the outside antenna, measured in dB (decibels).

  • The Drive X has a maximum gain of +50 dB.
  • The Drive Reach has a maximum gain of +50 dB.

The Drive X and Drive Reach are both rated at the maximum gain the FCC allows for carrier-preapproved mobile cell signal boosters. Where the two boosters differ is in uplink and downlink power:

Uplink and downlink power

  • Uplink power is the amount of power the booster uses to connect to a cell tower, measured in decibel-milliwatts (dBm). The more uplink power, the greater the distance the booster can be from the tower and still make a connection.
  • Downlink power is the amount of power the booster uses to connect to phones and other cellular devices inside the vehicle, also measured in decibel-milliwatts (dBm). The more downlink power, the greater the distance a phone can be from the inside antenna and still receive improved cell signal.

Since dBm is measured logarithmically—every 3 dB increase is twice the power and every 10 dB increase is ten times the power—it’s helpful to convert uplink and downlink figures to milliwatts (mW) to compare the signal strengths involved.

Uplink frequency
Drive X
Drive Reach
700 MHz (SMH bands 12, 17)
24.8 dBm / 305 mW
28.3 dBm / 676 mW
700 MHz (SMH band 13)
24.4 dBm / 272 mW
29.1 dBm / 813 mW
850 MHz (CLR band 5
23.4 dBm / 219 mW
29.5 dBm / 891 mW
1700 MHz (AWS band 4)
21.3 dBm / 135 mW
28.5 dBm / 708 mW
1900 MHz (PCS bands 2, 25)
24.4 dBm / 277 mW
28.3 dBm / 676 mW
Average
23.7 dBm / 242 mW
28.7 dBm / 753 mW
Downlink frequency
Drive X
Drive Reach
700 MHz (SMH bands 12, 17)
2.87 dBm / 1.94 mW
5.00 dBm / 3.16 mW
700 MHz (SMH band 13)
2.79 dBm / 1.90 mW
5.20 dBm / 3.31 mW
850 MHz (CLR band 5
2.80 dBm / 1.91 mW
5.20 dBm / 3.31 mW
2100 MHz (AWS band 4)
2.00 dBm / 1.58 mW
5.00 dBm / 3.16 mW
1900 MHz (PCS bands 2, 25)
1.92 dBm / 1.56 mW
5.10 dBm / 3.24 mW
Average
2.48 dBm / 1.78 mW
5.10 dBm / 3.24 mW

The weBoost Drive Reach has considerable advantages over the Drive X in both uplink and downlink power:

  • The Drive Reach has over three times the uplink power of the Drive X (753 mW ÷ 242 mW = 3.12). That means the Drive Reach can connect to towers that are much farther away than those the lower-powered Drive X can reach.
  • The Drive Reach has nearly twice the downlink power of the Drive X (3.24 mW ÷ 1.78 mW = 1.82). That means the Drive Reach can connect to more phones in your vehicle at a greater distance from the inside antenna.

In summary, the weBoost Drive Reach is significantly more powerful than the Drive X.

Indicator lights

The Drive X and Drive Reach both have a single indicator light on the front of the booster to indicate the amplifier’s status:

  • A solid green light indicates that the booster is operating normally across all frequencies.
  • Blinking red-then-solid green indicates that the power to one or more frequencies has been reduced to prevent signal oscillation.
  • Solid red indicates the booster has shut down because of oscillation to prevent interference with the tower. (This should rarely ever happen.)

The manuals for the Drive X and Drive Reach explain how to interpret and troubleshoot the lights.

Connectors

SMA vs. SMB connectors The Drive X uses SMA connectors (left), while the Drive Reach uses SMB connectors (right). (Click to enlarge.)
  • weBoost Drive X: SMA connectors
  • weBoost Drive Reach: SMB connectors

The Drive X uses threaded SMA connectors. The SMA‑male connectors on the coax cables twist onto the SMA‑female connectors on the booster. SMA connectors are easier to remove if you want to use the booster in more than one vehicle.

The Drive Reach uses SMB connectors. The SMB‑female connectors on the coax cables plug into the SMB‑male connectors on the booster, producing an audible “snap.” SMB connectors are less likely to come loose over time, especially with a booster that gets hot like the Drive Reach. They don’t remove as easily as SMA connectors, however; they’re designed to be inserted and left in.

Coax cable

  • weBoost Drive X: RG174 to the outside antenna; LMR100 to the inside antenna
  • weBoost Drive Reach: LMR100 to both antennas

The Drive Reach and Drive X both use thin, 50-ohm coax cable. The difference between RG174 and 100-type coax is negligible—they’re the same diameter and the signal loss per foot is nearly identical. Neither the Drive X nor the Drive Reach has any real advantage in this area.

Antennas

Wilson 314418 4-inch mag-mount vehicle antenna and Wilson 314419 low-profile inside vehicle antenna The Drive X and Drive Reach both use the same types of antennas.

The Drive Reach and the Drive X both use a 4-inch magnet-mount rooftop antenna to communicate with cell towers and a dashboard-mounted low-profile antenna to communicate with cell phones inside the vehicle.

Other than the connectors on the cables attached to these antennas (see above), they’re identical for both systems.

Power supply

  • weBoost Drive X: 3 amp DC power supply
  • weBoost Drive Reach: 4.5 amp DC power supply with pass-thru 2.1A USB-A port and a power button
Pass-thru 2.1-amp USB-A power port on the Wilson 850020 12-volt DC power supply The power supply on the Drive Reach includes a USB port for charging your phone. The LED light is also an on/off button.

Both booster systems include a power supply that plugs into your vehicle’s 12-volt DC power port.

Since the Drive Reach has considerably higher power requirements than the Drive X, each system has its own power supply; they are not interchangeable.

The Drive Reach’s power supply includes a 2.1-amp USB-A power port for plugging in your cell phone to charge it while you use your booster.

The LED light on the Drive Reach’s power supply is also a button that will turn off the booster if you don’t need to use it. This is helpful if your vehicle’s 12-volt power port is always on, even when the key is not in the ignition—turning off the booster when your vehicle is parked will keep it from draining your car battery.

Which mobile cell signal booster is right for you?

The Drive Reach is substantially more powerful than the Drive X and can connect to weaker and more distant cell towers. In many situations, you’re going to appreciate having this booster’s longer reach and greater power.

The Drive X may be the better solution for you if you’re on a budget or if you want to use your booster in more than one vehicle because its SMA connectors are easier to repeatedly detach and reattach.

weBoost Drive Reach systems available from Powerful Signal

weBoost Drive X systems available from Powerful Signal