Airport Extreme vs. Other Options?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jerry1, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. jerry1 macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    I'll be buying an iMac soon. I'm a big time novice when it comes to networking but my new location for the computer has no phone line. The router will likely be about 40'-50' from the iMac. I likely wouldn't consider anything but the Airport Extreme if it wasn't so darn expensive. I'm wondering if it's more than I need.

    I understand that the 802.11n is faster than (g). But I hear that the internet connection is the limiting factor anyway and you won't get the improved speed from (n).

    The exception would be if you are backing up to an external hard drive wirelessly. I'm not sure what advantage that would give me as opposed to just placing the external drive on my desk?

    Any other advantages to (n) vs. (g)? Or Disadvantages other than cost?

    If I decide on (g), what are some good choices for interfacing to a Mac? (my friend is using a Linksys router but I thought I read those were not compatible w/ Mac's?)

    And if I decide on (n), are there less expensive, yet good choices for interfacing to our Macs?

    Any input is appreciated. I'm a bit overwhelmed!
  2. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    The only thing (IMO) to be gained from an AEBS is ease of setup, with an integrated app in the OS.
    Other than that, you're paying (a lot) for the logo.

    I prefer Netgear. But Linksys would also be acceptable. I would not suggest crap like Belkin.
  3. jerry1 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    Thanks Yellow!

    So Linksys is Mac compatible huh.

    I tend to agree about Belkin. Suprisingly, I found a review that really spoke highly of the Belkin N Wireless Router. I can't say that I would take that chance based on other Belkin hardware experiences though.

    Anybody else? I'm ready to be educated!
  4. iPhil macrumors 68040


    I was using Linksys G router before buying AEBS (n) and my macs are like 20 feet away from the router.. linksys router signal was somewhat weak v. AE(n).. ease of setup on AE.. 10 mins worth of setup tops on XP sp2..
  5. stevegt87 macrumors newbie

    Jan 23, 2005
    If I'm not mistaken the apple basestation is the only one that includes support for 5Ghz operation.
  6. iPhil macrumors 68040



    Yes that's true,but other G devices will out of luck.. So all your devices need to be N draft to see full results.. to select which band you want is done in Airport Admin screen
  7. mrwizardno2 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 19, 2007
    Columbus, OH
    I don't know how you plan to use this, so I'll give you an example of how I use mine. I just upgraded to the AEBS to get (n) over (g) because of the speed difference. Not for internet access, but for access to my wired network. I share out video and music from another machine that has about a terabyte of media on it on a gigabit network. The AEBS lets me connect the mac wirelessly to that network at 300 megabits (n), versus 54 megabit (g). While that's theoretical throughput, there is a performance gain here.

    As far as the airdisk portion, I've come to realize that it's not that great for larger files (or probably backups) as it is slow. It is severely limited by the puny processor built into the base station. While it does serve as a great place to put small things (text docs, stuff you want to shuffle across machines, etc), I wouldn't look to be using it as a backup... then again, that's just me. Fast = necessary. You'd be much better off to just attach directly to your external drive.

    A disadvantage to the AEBS is if you have mixed nodes attaching. (might not affect you if you're not using it the same way I am). When a non n device associates with the base station, the throughput is limited. I can't say if it truly slows to the slowest device, but it does slow from peak performance. I left my wireless G router attached to the network so that my iphone, wii, and other various network devices could all connect to it without hampering the speed of the Macs on the AEBS (in 5GHz n-only mode).

    Hope some of this was helpful. Keep us updated on what you decide!
  8. jerry1 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    Thanks everyone.

    I guess I could shed some more light on my situation. Not only will I be new to the Mac world and to the wireless home network world soon, I'm pretty green when it comes to managing a home computer system in general. I can jump on a computer at work and easily do what I need. But, on the rare occasion that there is a problem...Hello IT department! Here is what I mean...

    I had a 180Mhz Pentium Pro about 10 years ago for my 1st computer. I probably turned it on less than 20 times and that was just for gaming. I now have a Dell laptop with a Pentium 3 in it. I don't even remember the processor speed. It was given to me and it's probably 6 or 7 years old. I shove it under a dinning room cabinet, then pull it out and connect the eithernet DSL cable when my wife or I need it! :eek:

    I have a baby daughter and we bought a digital camera and camcorder. Forget about doing much with those files on my Dell! So this brought me to the Mac arena. I plan on doing the typical family stuff with it. Do some net surfing, light video editing, video chats with the family, and some gaming. From there, who knows?

    How will I use a wireless router? I have NO idea! :confused: For now, I won't print from it because it will be too inconvenient due to the location. Obviously, I will use it for an internet connection and use it as a firewall. I might use it for a connection to my external hard drive (partially dependant on what I learn here).

    Other than that, I really don't even know what it COULD be used for. How's that for a novice!;)
  9. Juggler9000 macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2007
    Since I got my AEBS, I'll have a hard time recommending anything else. I've had no problems networking it with PCs, Macs, various game consoles, a printer, an external hard drive, and my iPhone. Before I bought the AEBS, I thought I was a complete idiot with wireless networking. I would always get one computer working then another would not be able to connect. I had bad wireless mojo or something. That was with a Belkin, a Netgear, and a Linksys over the years. The AEBS just worked for me. Security was easy, everything was easy and integrated well with my Macs and PCs.

    So, it is expensive, and it probably does things you don't need at the moment, but in my experience it is a fantastic router.

    You may be able to save some pennies with the same ease of use with an Airport Express, rather than the Extreme. It doesn't have the 'n' speeds, but you may not need that. I've never used one though, so I don't want to give you any wrong information.
  10. ceres macrumors regular

    Nov 14, 2007
    Dark Forests of Germania
    I am going to have to give two thumbs up to Apples latest router effort.
    It´s the only one that really works perfectly in the 5ghz band. This way you can avoid interference. Also, the chipset employed in Apple´s router delivers impressive throughput with AEX equipped Macs while other chipsets deliver less. Also, upgrading of software and firmware is made easy due to os integration. I didn´t have much luck with Netgear products and had quite a few reservations with AE because of price but it´s sure worth the money.

    hope that helps.
  11. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    There are severe stability issues with the latest firmware update especially with regards to AirDisk. I would only buy an AirPort Extreme Base Station if you want the simplicity of Apple's AirPort Utility. Otherwise, there are better base stations (that are cheaper) and have more advanced networking features (including true UPNP support, content filtering, QAS, etc).

    However, Apple has by the far the easiest and most reliable WDS setup I've ever used.
  12. jerry1 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    Thanks everyone. I haven't rulled out the Airport Extreme (or Express). It's just a price thing. But, since I am a bit of a newbie, the ease may be worth it.

    I bought a new desk last night. My first Mac purchase is drawing near!

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