Airport Extreme 2nd Gen vs 5th Gen

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by jamin100, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. jamin100 macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008
    Hey guys,

    Im thinking about replacing my 2nd Gen Airport Extreme with a 5th Gen one. The reason being is that I want to use the 5ghz band on my late 2012 Mac Mini but also need to use the 2.4ghz band for my older devices such as ipads iphones etc.

    Typically on 5ghz mode I can transfer files from my server (wired to the AEBS) to my mac mini (wireless) at around 7mbps. However the transmit rate on my mac mini always shows around -65. Its probably 15-20ft away from the AEBS.

    So, my question, will I get a better transmit rate / file transfer rate if i move to the 5th Gen AEBS?

    TIA :)
  2. Ledgem macrumors 65816


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    Probably, but it partly depends on the wireless chipset in your Mac Mini, too.

    Just for reference, I have an Airport Extreme 5th generation, a late 2011 Macbook Pro, and an early 2008 Macbook Pro. Both are on 802.11n at 5 GHz. I sent a large file from the 2011 (RSSI -35 dBm data rate 450 mbps) to the 2008 (RSSI -57 data rate 247 mbps) and noted speeds of 8-9 MB/s, typically closer to 9 MB/s (or if you prefer, 72 mbps). Factor in that the wireless bandwidth was split between two computers, and the total transfer capacity was 16-18 MB/s (128-144 mbps). My iPad is also on the 5 GHz band, but I don't think it should have affected the speeds much, if at all.

    My devices are within a 15 foot radius of the router. However, as long as there's no wall or wall-like obstacle between your Mac Mini and the router, the distance you're talking about shouldn't be a problem for 5 GHz. When I read reviews compared the 4th and 5th generation Airport Extremes, I believe the finding was that there were improvements in the range at 5 GHz for the 5th gen but that the 4th gen performed slightly better at 2.4 GHz. I'd expect that both are superior to the 2nd generation in that regard.

    If you can find a good deal on one and/or can afford it, go for it. You're sure to see an improvement. It's also really nice to have 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks up simultaneously.
  3. jamin100 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008
    Well actually I have managed to find a 2nd hand one less than a year old for £65. They usually sell for around £90-£110 2nd hand here in the UK.

    I hopefully plan to get around £40 - £50 for my Gen2 so the upgrade should hopefully only cost me between £15-£25 ish

    And the main reason for me upgrading is so that I can have both band on simultaneously
  4. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Yes, you will see an improvement. A mixed 2.4/5 environment like your is exactly what simultaneous dual band helps. Here is a good review that shows the difference.
  5. jamin100 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008
    Just to update incase anyone is interested.

    I've had the 5th Gen about week now and its defiantly an improvement.

    As i said before, my late 2012 mac mini connected to the 2nd Gen was transferring files at around 7MB/s on 5ghz and 4.5MB/s on 2.4ghz
    (file was a 2GB mkv)

    With the same file and all the hardware in the same location Im now getting 12-13MB/s on the 5ghz channel. I haven't tested the 2.4ghz as im leaving that open for all my other devices (iPads, iphones etc)

    I also noticed that the transmit power of the 2nd Gen in 5ghz mode was always around -65 whereas the 5th Gen is seeing a transmit power of -245
  6. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    Do you guys reckon it's worthwhile upgrading from a 3rd gen to a 5th gen? I have a rMBP so I guess I'd see quite a performance boost with the new antennas?
  7. Ledgem macrumors 65816


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    According to Wikipedia, the 3rd generation uses a two-antenna configuration, while the 4th and 5th generation routers use three-antenna configurations. You should see some speed improvement over wireless, probably similar to what jamin100 noted (the 2nd generation also used a two-antenna setup). There were also some adjustments made to power output, so your network range would be better. It's your call as to whether it's worth spending the money for those.

    One other consideration: 802.11ac is making its way into the market, and is already available on some routers. My guess would be that Apple will release a 6th-generation Airport Extreme anywhere from one to three years from now. It's not an imminent release, but if your 3rd-generation router is doing largely fine for you and you could stand to wait potentially for a few years, that might be the way to go.
  8. digduggler macrumors 6502

    Jul 2, 2007
    I am debating the same (2nd to 5th) but was wondering if you have found the antenna range to improve slightly? I have had to reconfigure my house and would love to get an extra 10 ft worth of strength if it's there.
  9. jamin100 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008
    To be honest in my house the signal strength is about the same. Maybe a very slight improvement but nothing major. What is a major benifit is the transfer speeds.

    Im now seeing a throughput of anywhere between 13MBs - 19MBs

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