Airport Extreme - from 4th to 6th gen?

r6mile

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Feb 3, 2010
437
92
London, UK
Hi all,

After getting fed up with my ISP modem/router (Virgin Media Superhub 3.0 802.11ac), I've decided to get a second-hand Airport Extreme. Ours is a small 2-bedroom flat, and the router is in the middle of the flat. There is a 2010 iMac directly connected via Gigabit Ethernet which serves as a home server for Plex and Time Machine backups, a 2013 MBA (802.11ac), a 2010 MB (802.11n), a Playstation 3 (802.11g), a Samsung Smart TV (802.11n), and two smartphones: a iPhone 5c (802.11n) that will soon replaced by an SE (802.11ac), and my Moto X Play (802.11n). We've recently upgraded to 50Mbps fibre optic broadband.

Given that there is only 1 (soon to be 2) 802.11ac devices, and ours is a small flat, I thought that a 4th-gen 802.11n Airport Extreme would be enough for our needs and ordered one for £35 second hand. I very rarely transfer large files within the local network -the only one I can think of was when I did the first Time Machine backup on the MBA and MB but that was a one-off.

I have yet to receive the AE, but I have been considering whether I made the wrong choice and should have gone for the £90 6th-gen Airport Extreme with 802.11ac support (or even the 5th-gen at £50).

What do you guys think?
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
29,144
8,813
California
If you can swing the extra cost, I would definitely get the newer AC model. Even the older N devices will likely see better performance due to the better antenna designs in the newer model. Also, give this article a look.
 

r6mile

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Feb 3, 2010
437
92
London, UK
If you can swing the extra cost, I would definitely get the newer AC model. Even the older N devices will likely see better performance due to the better antenna designs in the newer model. Also, give this article a look.
Thanks a lot for your reply and article. Do you think the difference would be noticeable even over small distances? Since the flat is small and the router is centrally located, at most we are talking about a 10m (30ft) distance between device and router.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
29,144
8,813
California
Thanks a lot for your reply and article. Do you think the difference would be noticeable even over small distances? Since the flat is small and the router is centrally located, at most we are talking about a 10m (30ft) distance between device and router.
I don't think it would make much of a difference just for Internet browsing, but I do think things like your Time Machine backups and Plex video streaming would be faster. I think we will see more and more AC devices at lower price points, so also for that reason to me it makes sense to pay the small extra amount to have AC.