Airport card discrepancy

joinks

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 28, 2007
7
0
About 4 months ago I got a new MacBook PRO and connect via an airport network in our house. Recently our internet connection went down and I've been struggling to mooch off a neighbor's weak signal until we can get things fixed.

About 3 weeks ago my wife got a new Macbook. While I was struggling to send a single email the other day, I realized she was still online and zooming around the web. I discovered the range of her airport card must be twice as mine. I can see about 8 networks, and she can see nearly 30! What's the discrepancy? Aren't all airport extreme cards alike? Have they been putting something fancy into the new macbooks?
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,248
1,319
MacBooks have plastic cases.
MacBook Pros have aluminum cases.

Guess which one is more conducive to not blocking signals? :D

IMO, I'd rate the MacBook Pro's WiFi reception as good to great, and the MacBook as exceptional.
 

anirban

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2007
689
0
Houston, TX
I have heard a lot of debate that the aluminum acts as an insulator and therefore the performance of the airport in MBP suffers, whereas the same airport card in MB works a lot better, because of the plastic housing.

But honestly, I am not willing to believe this. The signal strengths are the same in my MBP as in my friend's MB in several locations.

Apple engineers would have definitely worked around a different design (maybe they have) if having an aluminum case was an issue.

I know that a lot of R&D goes into designing the smallest device, and I highly doubt that engineers would just leave the airport suffering at low reception due to the casing.
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,248
1,319
The signal strengths are the same in my MBP as in my friend's MB in several locations.
Same here. Inside my house, their reception is virtually the same.

The further you walk away from the access point in my house (i.e. go into the back yard), the MacBook holds the signal for a lot longer than the MacBook Pro does.

Same thing when it comes to picking up distant networks. In my living room, the MacBook can see certain neighbors networks that I'd have to walk outside with the MBP to pick up.

Like I said, I consider the reception of the MacBook Pro to be good to great. I'd never consider it "low". Likewise, I think the MacBook's WiFi reception is simply outstanding.
 

joinks

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 28, 2007
7
0
Wow I never would have thought, but basically what you are describing aristobrat is the problem I am having. We both can stream HD movies on our laptops inside the house, and it works fine. But yet she can pick up open networks that I'm certain are at least a block away from our house, while my Pro doesn't even list them.
 

zepharus

macrumors 6502a
Aug 7, 2007
684
2
About 4 months ago I got a new MacBook PRO and connect via an airport network in our house. Recently our internet connection went down and I've been struggling to mooch off a neighbor's weak signal until we can get things fixed.
You realize this is friggin illegal correct? Wardriving is ILLEGAL!
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,248
1,319
Isn't wardriving where you take your notebook, hop in your car, and drive around, noting the location of access points?

That's not the same as mooching off of someone else wifi connection from your house. Now that may very well be illegal in some areas. :confused:
 

anirban

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2007
689
0
Houston, TX
Isn't wardriving where you take your notebook, hop in your car, and drive around, noting the location of access points?
I believe that this is the correct definition of the term- When someone says that they have been wardriving, this is what comes to my mind.
 

heatmiser

macrumors 68020
Dec 6, 2007
2,430
0
To all the "I don't believe MBPs have worse reception than MB" people...

You don't have to believe an aluminum case shields wi-fi more than a plastic one does. You don't have to believe in gravity, either. But they're both factual, and no amount of engineering will change a basic physical property of metals that doesn't affect plastics. A plastic laptop will always be more transparent to wireless than an aluminum one--forever and ever and ever. The only thing Apple can do is move the card back and forth to try to place it somewhere with comparatively little aluminum.