Best wireless router for Mac & PC, Print server or no?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Chinashaw, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    #1
    Hi,
    I originially posted this in the wrong location, have posted a message next to it to say it has move here.)

    I was wondering if anyone can give me advice on the best wireless router to buy for a pc & mac household.

    Currently we have a Belkin wireless router, a Mac Pwrbck, IBM T40, Built gaming PC. (I am going to replace the IBM within a year with a new laptop for my wife. I am tempted by getting her a new iBook, she only uses the computer for emails, writing letters and some webshopping and it would make things easier but I do like the new toshibas and IBMs.)

    What I would like to do is enable the IBM & Mac to wirelessly connect to the web and if possible network with each other. The Gaming PC to connect via a cable and the whole lot to be able to use a single multi function Epson printer.

    Questions:
    a. Which is the best wireless router? - I don't ever want a Belkin one again and I have heard that the Airport range is not that great and has problems with PC's.
    Personally, I have never had any problems with a Netgear model but am open to other recommendations.

    b. Do I need a small print server for all the pcs to use the printer, I know I can share it via one pc but then will this work with a Mac or is it simpler and more stable to invest in a print server?



    C. Or should I do something totally different? If so...


    Many thanks
     
  2. macrumors 601

    liketom

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    Location:
    Lincoln,UK
    #2
    if you have posted in the wrong area , just PM one of the Mods to move it to the right place -:)

    regarding your question -

    i have used most of all of the names and even though i prefer Apple - i will also use Netgear as well - but at the end of the day - what ever works for you !

    just avoid D-Link as i think they are rubbish - but that's my personal opinion
     
  3. Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2003
    Location:
    Citizens Bank Park
    #3
    I think the Linksys WRT54G it the by far the best home use router on the market. I've also had no trouble with Belkin or D-Link. I've used 2 Netgear routers and both were terrible. These types of threads always have a million contradicting posts. If Netgear never gave you problems, then I think you should stick with Netgear.

    About the printer. The cheapest thing to do it share the printer via one of the computers. A print server is expensive and not worth it for the average user in my opinion.
     
  4. macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #4
    I have a network with three PCs, an iMac and a PB, with the two Macs wirelessly sharing a printer. The router is a Linksys WRT54GX2, which I bought shortly after I got the PB, because I decided it was time to update my old three-year-old Netgear router. I'd heard good things about Linksys and so went with that this time rather than Netgear, but I had no problems with my Netgear equipment and wouldn't hesitate to recommend that brand as well. I needed to have wired ports as well as wireless capability because of the two PC desktops. One of these is an old WIN 98 SE machine which will soon be retired once I finish cleaning out the files and the other is a WIN XP Pro machine which I'll keep around but am not planning to use very often now that I'm in the Mac world.

    The two PC desktops are plugged into the router. When transferring files from the one PC into my iMac, I have also connected an ethernet cable to that machine, but otherwise the iMac and the PB both function wirelessly. I bought an Airport Express and plugged my HP Photosmart 8450 printer into that so that it could be shared wirelessly between the two Macs, and I stuck an older printer on the WIN XP machine in case I need to print something while using that one. My Photosmart printer also does have an ethernet port so that I could have plugged it into the router for sharing with all computers on the network but I chose not to do that because of the more complex configurations required with the PC. Took the easy way out... LOL! Actually, I am not intending to use that PC much at all, and it just seemed that it would be not only easier but more expeditious to simply have the printer available wirelessly to the two Macs. When I'm at home out on the deck with the PB it's nice to be able to print as easily as if I were sitting in the house with the machine physically connected to the printer.

    In your situation it sounds as though a Linksys wired/wireless router would serve your purposes nicely, and as though you'll need a print server if your current printer is not already equipped with an ethernet card/port.

    When it comes time to buy your wife a new laptop -- yeah, go for either an iBook or a PB! :) Depending upon what's available at the time you're ready for that purchase, chances are that one or the other or maybe both will have Intel inside...

    Good luck and I hope everything goes smoothly setting up the new router!

    OTB
     
  5. macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #5
    The only problem with sharing the printer via one of the computers on the network is that then you've got to be sure that machine is actually on when you're using another computer and want to print something. I used to do that and while it is a cheap and quick solution, it is also a bit of a nuisance. Can't tell you how many times I would be on one computer and click on "print," only to remember that, oops, the other computer wasn't on and then I'd have to run in and fire it up, wait for that process, then finally get back to being able to print. I think it's probably worth it to have a print server!

    OTB
     
  6. macrumors 601

    liketom

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    Location:
    Lincoln,UK
    #6
    airport express works a charm with a printer in it - windows users can use Bonjour for windows to make it work
     
  7. macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    #7
    I agree completely with the post by grapes911. I've had pretty bad experiences with Belkin - it sucks like hell even within a few feet and is highly prone to interference. I've heard several people recommend D-Link, although my personal "liking" has been Linksys. Just make sure you read up (if you haven't already) on the things to watch out for - interference and range are major issues with wireless and it's better to plan well instead of breaking your head over your setup. Also use an application like netstumbler to know about the wireless networks in your neighborhood - this will help you configure your router as optimally as possible with respect to interference (like channel selection).

    I'd suggest using one computer to share it through would be better, mainly because it's cheaper. Although I haven't done this, a search on the Internet should help.

    Skip wireless if you can! :eek: :D If you're not lucky, you may have a very bad environment which could make wireless life miserable. Even the best Internet connection can feel completely unreliable if your router drops packets and disconnects the computers once in a while.
     
  8. macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    #8
    I'm partial to ZyXEL boxes for little networks. This is the stuff Netgear used to resell back when Netgear were good. Just be careful that whatever you get is runing ZyNOS, because they now sell some low end boxes that aren't made by them and really aren't as reliable.
     
  9. macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #9
    Yep, I love Airport Express with my two Macs and the printer -- works a treat! :) Hadn't thought about using Bonjour for Windows to include the PC -- good to know about that option! In my case I really didn't care about including the Windows PC, since I had an old printer to stick on it for the rare times I might be using it and needing to print, but for someone who does want to use a printer with all the computers on their network, using Bonjour for both Mac and Windows would be a good way to set things up.

    OTB
     
  10. macrumors 68000

    wPod

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #10
    no doubt. with linksysinfo.org you can download some pretty powerful firmware for the WRT54G to do stuff like expand the range or allow WDS connections. great base station especially if you would ever like to add the airport express. you will have all of the functionality of the airport base station with about half the cost (or less than half!)

    ive also had d-link routers and they tend to be a little more flakey than the linksys. i have also used belkin and not been very impressed on range and compatibility. buffalo is also ok, but its WDS interactions are a little tricky.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    #11
    Many thanks for all the advice and comments. We had a chat over lunch and she wants an iBook, looks good. So Christmas is sorted. Meaning we are now down to 2 Macs & gaming PC.

    Figure I will
    a. Check out Linksys, NEtgear and ZyXel, with a Linksys preference. Oh and Airport express.

    b. PC only needs web connection no printer requirements really as its only there for games.

    c. Print server, will hang on that one and see what costs etc come up.


    Thanks again,
     
  12. macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #12
    Well, then, you'll be good to go with a setup similar to mine: a router to establish the network, with cabled connection to the PC and wireless to the Macs, then Airport Express wirelessly connecting the two Macs to your printer! No printer server needed then. Sounds like a plan...

    OTB
     
  13. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #13
    Let me ask this a different way, because I have basically the same question:

    For a mac environment, what advantages does Airport provide that justify its much higher price than alternatives like the Linksys (or your other favorite brand)?
     
  14. Moderator emeritus

    grapes911

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2003
    Location:
    Citizens Bank Park
    #14
    It is easer to be set up by the average user. Other than that, I don't see an real advantage.

    PS. It does have that Mac look which other routers lack. :rolleyes:
     
  15. macrumors 65816

    Seasought

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    #15
    Personally, I have never had any problems with a Netgear model but am open to other recommendations.

    I've had terrible luck with Linksys routers. I would recommend Netgear as well.
     

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