Airport express or AirPort Extreme

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by abz1981, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. abz1981 macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2011
    Hi guys

    I have been thinking if I should or need a AirPort Extreme or airport express. I will explain my current set up and needs and hopefully someone with more knowledge can help.

    I have a BT homehub 3 wireless router here is the link to it:

    Now my broadband speeds on wifi I can get up to 17mbps but currently maximum I have managed to get is 14mbps. Now the wifi connection in the house seems to be okay. However my sister complains in her room her wifi signal isn't that good. I checked with my MBA and it seems fine to me. If I get any one of the above devices will this help increase my wifi speed and extend the wifi signal as in help my sisters connection and in a sense get a faster download speed or would it not make much difference and just best to stick to what I have? The devices that use the wifi in my house are 2 iPhones one Apple TV one MBA and one dell laptop and a iPad air.

    Thanks for reading
  2. an-other macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2011
    Airport Extreme

    I'd go with (and did myself!) the airport extreme. You'll also have the advantage of 3 ethernet ports on the airport extreme to plug in your appletv (video game, smart tv, dvr, whatever else is near...)

    Yes, you're underutilising the Airport Extreme as a wireless bridge/network extender. The Express isn't cheap, and the Extreme has more future flexibility. (A good mate of mine just replaced his express for an an AppleTV-although he had different needs than you.)

    Yes, even using the ethernet ports on the Airport Extreme you still a wireless connection based on bridging the routers.

    Both my routers are Airports, so being able to check things with the ipad app is a really handy feature. I'll also say my work VPN PC laptop computer works much better plugged into the router than wirelessly. I've got to assume the same would hold true for other connections such as using ethernet for the AppleTv. I make no claim of scientific analysis. Just my experience.

    I'm very happy with my set-up, and I'd do it again. I'm a convenience guy. Set it up, have a small headache getting everything to work (hint: manual mode for Airport configuation), and walk away.

    You can't go wrong either way. The decision becomes how much money you're willing to spend, the convenience you're after, and "future proofing" to the extent possible with technology. There's some clever folks here that may offer better/cheaper options. It's a good thing to have choices!
  3. abz1981 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2011
    Thanks for your input. Seems like you have a good set up there. It's the price of the extreme I guess it making me think if it's really worth the money for my needs. My ATV would be connected through wifi as the current set up is. So wouldn't really need the use of the Ethernet connection. Hmm decisions decisions I guess lol.
  4. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    Your link didn't provide any technical info on the BT Home Hub 3, but there's a little bit in this wikipedia article.

    BT Home Hub 3: released 1/2011, 802.11n, not dual-band
    BT Home Hub 4: released 5/2013, adds dual-band ("smart" whatever that means)
    BT Home Hub 5: released 10/2013, adds gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac, and integrated VDSL modem

    Just trying to get a picture of what you've got.

    Unfortunately, answering your question is really hard. One of the Apple devices might give you better connection/performance, but might not. The signal may reach farther, or may not. With WiFi it's hard to predict.

    It appears your wireless router doesn't have dual-band capability, so the main technical feature you'd gain from going to one of the Apple products is simultaneous dual-band, which can transmit/receive on both the 2.4 GHz band and the newer 5 GHz band. This could only help if one or more of your devices can operate on the 5 GHz. If they're fairly new they should have that capability.

    I believe a 5 GHz connection, in the right conditions, can transmit wireless data significantly faster than a 2.4 GHz connection, so the potential for improvement is there. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong!) However, a 5 GHz signal usually doesn't travel through walls and distance as well as a 2.4 GHz signal, so for example it may be worse for your sister's room. The cool thing about the recent Apple routers (and others with simultaneous dual-band) is you could set up the 2.4 GHz band for your sister's equipment, and also the 5 GHz band for the closer devices. That may give you what you're looking for. But there are no guarantees!

    The latest Airport Extreme also has 802.11ac capability -- even faster than "n", but I doubt you have any devices that could take advantage of it (I think only the latest MacBook Airs and MBPros have it) so it may not be worth the money.

    Check on this, but I think Apple has a 14-day money-back return policy. You could get an Airport Express or Airport Extreme and try it out -- see if it gives you any benefits.


    I'll also add that I got an Apple refurbished Airport Express for $75 instead of the usual $100. Latest model and everything, same warranty -- the online apple refurbished store is really great!
  5. mpantone macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    Well, this leads into the question: how long to plan on keeping this router?

    Even if you don't have an 802.11ac compatible device today, you will probably end up with one in the future.

    I tend to keep routers for a long time. I have two 6-year-old wifi routers, plus an 8-year-old wifi router. I'd be a fool if I bought anything but an 802.11ac-compatible model the next time I purchase a wifi router.

    Frankly, I see a non-802.11ac router as a waste of money today.

    But that's just me...
  6. spatlese44 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2007
    You could get a refurbished Time Capsule. It's only $55 more than the regular price Extreme and you can back up to it. Just an idea.

    You didn't bring up Airplay at all, which is something the Express has and the Extreme and TC don't have.

    I've seen used Airport Express's selling on CL for $40. Hard to go wrong at that price.
  7. whittle74 macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2013

    I'm no expert but i have airport express and was recently connected to a router the same as you have linked. It worked great to be honest.

    Using remote on the iphone and airport connected to the home surround theatre system is great!,

    I did have to amend a setting on the router though through the admin settings on your router but it was pretty simple, you may not have to do this.

    Hope this helps.Andy
  8. abz1981 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2011
    Hey thanks for all your replies. Thinking of just getting the express, now time to see the best place to get one. :) Mods can close this thread now. thanks for your input guys/gals.

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