Airport Extreme or Other (Cheaper) Wireless Networking?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by astrostu, Jun 23, 2007.

  1. astrostu macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    #1
    I just moved into a new apartment and the only internet available to me (for various reasons) is cable. The cable in the apartment is way more than 20' from where I am setting up my computer, and it's in a different room, and as soon as Apple updates the Mac Pros I'll be buying one, so I'll have 2 desktops in different rooms and a laptop that I'll roam with.

    Someone suggested that, instead of running cables everywhere, I just set up a wireless network in the living room where the cable is and that way avoid all the clutter and not have to bother with running cables through doors and along walls.

    My desktop is ancient and has an original Airport (802.11b) card, my laptop is 2 years old and has an Airport Express(?) (802.11g) card, and the new desktop whenever I buy it will be the 802.11n, so I definitely want something that's capable of broadcasting at n speeds, which is why an Airport Express won't cut it.

    The educational price for the Airport Extreme is $160, and though this is better than the $300 the original Airport base station cost way back when, I'm still not thrilled about plunking down that much.

    Do other, cheaper, alternatives exist that will allow me to network N<5 computers at up to 802.11n speeds? I suppose that, theoretically, it would be nice also if I could hook up an external hard drive to the base station to use when 10.5 comes out with TimeMachine, so if the alternative has that, it'd be a plus.
     
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #2
    One thing that I'm not super clear about... there are lots of options to get a hard drive on a router... NASes, routers that provide drives as Samba shares, etc, etc. But it's not at all clear that they'll work with Time Machine. As far as I know, the backup volume has to be available to OS X as an HFS volume, either directly or through AFP share (or possibly as a ZFS volume). I don't think there are very many routers or NASes that can provide you that. There might be one or two NASes that can do it, although really, you need someone who has used TM to tell you about that.

    I'd personally say that, if you are going to use either or both of printer or disk hosting on the router, the AEBS is actually a fair value. If you're willing to live with neither, then I guess you can go cheaper, although I think a Linksys or a Netgear is still going to be >$100. I would get the AEBS, but that's me. I have an 802.11g AEBS (the UFO-ey one), and it's been flawless for the past 3.5 years. Once 802.11n is stable, I'd say anything is fine... like I put a Netgear 802.11g router in my parents' house, which cost $30 or so. But in the beginning, you're probably safer buying a draft N device from Apple than from most anyone else, also.
     
  3. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #3
    One advantage of going with the Airport Extreme, aside from AirDisk, is that you can always extend your network with an Airport Express should you find a dead or weak spot in your home… like near the stereo into which you can plug your AirTunes connection. :D
     
  4. eluk macrumors 6502a

    eluk

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    Location:
    East London, UK
    #4
    As I understand it on a mixed wireless network it will run at the slowest speed. In the OP's case if he keeps the old desktop it will all run as 'b'.
     
  5. janey macrumors 603

    janey

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Location:
    sunny los angeles
    #5
    You could do that pretty much with any access point that supported WDS. however, it's not a standard and implementation is flakey, so...probably best to stick with all Apple hardware.

    nope. overall network speed will drop, but not as drastic as 802.11n to 802.11b.
     
  6. astrostu thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    #6
    I don't have a stereo nor TV, so the Airport Express isn't something I really care about.

    I was under the impression that, as long as the actual internet connection could support the n speeds, any computer connected would run as fast as it could. So the Mac Pro would run at n, the PB would run at g, and the old paperweight would run at b. So what you're saying is that having a slower computer on the network would slow everything else down?

    And as for printer sharing, I was planning on having the printer hooked directly into whichever desktop computer is faster (so the paperweight at the moment, the MP in a few months), and just turn on printer sharing (which is what I've done in the past and has worked fine, so long as I remember to actually turn the printer on). That way I can still have the living room free of a large printer for people to trip over.

    So it sounds like my options would still be around or over $100 for the initial setup, which means I might as well go with Apple, right?
     
  7. janey macrumors 603

    janey

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Location:
    sunny los angeles
    #7
    Yes, slower computer means slower network. No drastic drop in speed, but if you can you should either get a 802.11g station or find some way to get two and have 802.11n on one, and b/g on another, if speed is a priority.
     
  8. eluk macrumors 6502a

    eluk

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2006
    Location:
    East London, UK
    #8
    Interesting. Thanks.
     

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