Airport Exteme ac 6th gen vs n 5th gen range

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by roland.g, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. roland.g macrumors 603

    roland.g

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    One mile up and soaring
    #1
    i have a 5th generation 802.11n dual band airport. The last of the flat editions. I am interested in getting a 6th generation 802.11ac model.

    Will the newer unit have a longer signal range?

    Currently when I go to the front porch, I can browse web pages and text and read email on my phone, tablet or laptop, but any streaming video on YouTube or other really doesn't work. It is approx 50-60ft from the broadcast point to the router.

    I currently have a CenturyLink Fiber modem coming into my basement (100Gbps) and a 4th or 5th gen n base station connected to it. This unit does not broadcast. It has 3 LAN ports in use (DirecTV, in house Ethernet, 2nd in house Ethernet). The 2nd runs up to the master bedroom where it feeds into a Slingbox (non wifi model). The first runs to our main tv room where my broadcast 5th gen is creating the home network. The new tall Airport would go here.
     
  2. jamall macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #2
    I'm not sure whether the devices you use to connect to your wireless network support the ac standard, or how your house is laid out for that matter, but it seems to me to be a waste to have two AirPort Extremes but to only be using the wireless capabilities of one of them. I would have the two base stations set up in opposite corners of my house with the same SSID and login details but set to operate on different, fixed, non-overlapping wifi channels, allowing your devices to automatically connect to the best signal. The specifications for 802.11a/b/g in the 2.4 GHz band cram fourteen 20MHz wide channels into 100 MHz of spectrum, which means every channel overlaps with between 4 and 8 neighbouring channels which causes interference and dramatically slows network throughput. If you (and ideally your neighbours as well if you're on speaking terms) only utilise channels 1, 6 and 11 in the 2.4 GHz band you can minimise interference as they're spaced far enough apart to not overlap. If you're in an apartment building with dozens of networks across all channels there are several utilities to help you choose the least crowded part of the spectrum. In my base station settings I also go to Advanced > Wifi Settings and set the regulatory domain to New Zealand as their equivalent of the FCC permits higher tx-power on several channels compared to most other countries.
     
  3. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603

    roland.g

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    One mile up and soaring
    #3
    Hmm. I know when I acquired the second base station, I added the dual band capability and that some set up separate 2.4 and 5 SSIDs. I have a 2014 Mac Mini which I just got this year, a 2012 MacBook Air which I think has AC, a 3rd and 4th generation Apple TV, an iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, an iPad Air, an iPad Mini Retina (1st retina generation) and my wife has a Surface Pro 4. All of that for the most part is quite new or relatively new tech.

    I do also have 2 older Airport Express that connect simply for AirPlay to speakers in the kids rooms.

    And a Yamaha receiver that is around 3 years old that connects via AirPlay.

    As for not turning them both on, the one base station is older, I think a 4th gen, and it is in the basement where the modem is. Broadcast from there is not great.

    The other unit is essentially upstairs on the main floor. I had planned on replacing it with the 6th generation and putting the 5th generation as a repeater either near the front of the house or in the master bedroom.

    I don't know much about the options for repeating vs identical SSIDs on different settings etc. I did find that I had issues initially when Yosemite came out due to settings and handoff with my iPhone. I think that either I changed that or it might have gone away when I updated from an iPhone 5 to a 6 Plus in 2014.
     
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #4
    This might be an interesting article for you - http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wire...oes-an-ac-router-improve-n-device-performance

    In many cases, a 802.11ac router tends to provide better performance from devices that are 802.11n. While I can't speak fully on the differences between the two Apple routers you mentioned, perhaps others can. I just know it did make a difference (actually quite a difference) with a couple of other brands of routers.
     
  5. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #5
    @roland.g I have found that the sixth generation does perform significantly better in terms of signal range due to beamforming even for Wireless N clients. However, if you are looking for a free fix to the issue, you could create a roaming network with both AirPorts provided they are placed properly. Furthermore, I recommend that you do not separate the network by 2.4 or 5 GHz as it can cause a client to stick to a weak signal rather than automatically switching like Apple intends when left on the default configuration.
     
  6. jamall macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #6
    Thanks phrehdd, interesting article but very incomplete. Those test results were unexpected, and I wouldn't have left off where the author did as no conclusions whatsoever can be made when there's an unexplained anomaly like that. I would have at least obtained a couple of different 'n' routers to see if the baseline was skewed, otherwise the only thing those results tell us is that the author wasted an afternoon. The gist of my post above was simply to point out that by optimising the network topography and utilising his existing gear more effectively, roland.g can speed up his network's performance without spending any additional money.
    On that point roland.g, avoid extending/repeating wifi unless it's absolutely unavoidable - your whole network takes a massive hit. Ideally you'd have any base stations connected via ethernet to your modem, or if your modem's only got one ethernet jack to a switch/router connected to the modem, as well as any gear that isn't portable and unlikely to need to move, like your Apple TVs, Yamaha receiver and Mac Mini. Your network must crawl along with all those devices connected to a single access point, especially when streaming to the AppleTVs!
     
  7. roland.g thread starter macrumors 603

    roland.g

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    One mile up and soaring
    #7
    I picked up an Airport Extreme AC router today. My issue in trying to use the 2 existing (1 4th gen and 1 5th gen) is that one is in the basement utility room and can't be relocated from there. Turning on its broadcast antenna won't provide coverage for anywhere the active router isn't currently reaching. Also, the active 5th gen can't be relocated to a more central point because of the hardwired connections that connect to it. That said, when I activate the new AC tower router in place of the existing 5th gen, I may be able to also move the 5th gen to a new location to widen the reach of the overall network. Not sure if that will be necessary though after setting up the AC router.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. Anyone have any tips or links to info on how best to setup Apple AirPort routers, SSIDs, possibly with 2 AirPort units, etc. to get best performance. I don't want to compromise Handoff/Continuity.

    Thanks!
     
  8. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #8
    You are trying to do too many things at once. You need to have the newest AirPort at a central location. I would not keep the AirPort in a place just because of what plugs in there, that is what a unmanaged switch is for. There is no sense in knocking your network to its knees rather than buying a switch.
     
  9. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #9
    Agreed. As you recall, I did a rather simple hands on exercise with two other routers (Netgear and Asus) and both made a huge difference over the AE (and an older DLink).
     

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