Airport Extreme Vs. Netgear RangeMax

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Kauai, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. Kauai macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2010
    So I have a few questions regarding Wifi N.

    I'm currently using a fairly old Wifi G router. Will I see a nice speed boost if I switch to Wifi N with my current internet service? I don't even know what package I have, but will it be more smooth and capable of streaming video without buffering as much like Wifi G does?

    What are your experiences with Airport Extreme? I've been doing some research on the top Wifi N routers and I'm pretty sure I'm deciding between AE or this Netgear router. Any other suggestions?
  2. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I have an AE and an Airport Express used as a range extender for the kids at the opposite end of the house 2 floors up. I love the speed boost I got when I went to N. I have had gigabit ethernet for a number of years and I preferred it to wifi until I got N working. The nice thing about the new AE is it can handle both G and N at the same time without a speed hit. It can also set up a guest network. I have the kids' games and such on the guest network.

    I do like Netgear products but I went through a string of routers over the years and have never been as happy as I am now with the AE. In fact I think I replaced a Netgear with my AE. I have comcast and they frequently did strange stuff that caused my cable modem and routers to get into a state where they needed to be unplugged and reset. It was a monthly and sometimes weekly ritual but since getting my AE, it only happened once in 18 months. Comcast was befuddled when I told them that after resetting my cablemodem my router (AE) came back online within seconds and it didn't need me to reset it using a switch or using airport utility. Yes, it's supposed to be that easy I assured them.

    AE is a very robust piece of gear and provided you don't mind having to use Airport Utility to set it up (instead of a web browser), and you don't need some of the features of the other routers (like setting up your own vpn), AE is clearly the better choice.
  3. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Both of the routers you are looking at are among the best consumer routers available today. It seems like the Airport is somewhat more reliable, but, as noted, relies on the irritating Airport Utility to administer.

    That said, you must know what your Internet speed is to know if you will improve it by replacing the router. Unless it is greater than 20Mbps, you are unlikely to see any improvement, unless you are in an area with a lot of other wifi networks or other sources of 2.4ghz interference, in which case the 5ghz option might work well for you.

    Also note that your clients must be capable of N speeds, or else the presence of these slower devices will also slow the faster N devices down to their speed. (only when they are online and transmitting, though.) Lastly, your clients must also be able to work with WPA/AES or else the speed of the network will be extremely slow (possibly worse than straight G). As you can see, this is not a straightforward upgrade.

    One way to mitigate these issues is with a dual band router like you are looking at. Set up two networks - one on the 2.4ghz network for B/G clients, and the other one on 5ghz for N clients.
  4. SteveNYC macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2010
    The best of two very good choices.

    I own the NetGear RangeMax WNDR3700 and it is nothing short of fantastic. Dual Band, guest networks options on each band, DLNA compliant media hub feature. The only people who were initially disappointed were those who wanted to install DD-WRT firmware on the device. Early reports showed problems. But that only matters to people who are hardcore DD-WRT fans (myself included). But the stock firmware is outstanding with the minor negative that the reporting stats could be more robust.

    I think both routers are excellent. In most reviews, the NetGear comes out ahead of the Apple with respect to speed and range. But that doesn't mean the AE is bad. Not at all. It's just that the NetGear tends to get higher speeds in actual usage. But on functionality, they are pretty close to identical.

    If you're in an all Apple environment, there's the obvious comfort of going with the AE. If you want the absolute best of the best (until the next best thing comes out), then you go with the NetGear.

    The best hard core technical reviews for consumer networking equipment these days is SmallNetBuilder. Admittedly, they don't review the AE too well. However, there's an indication in the comments that later firmware updates significantly improved the AE after the initial review was done. That said, even a cursory glance at either the AE or the NetGear on Amazon's website shows that both devices are extremely well regarded. I doubt you would be disappointed with either one unless you were at the fringe of range.

    Good luck!:)

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