Airport Extreme wifi speed varies greatly across devices

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by edwardthefifth, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. edwardthefifth macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2004
    I'm driving myself crazy trying to figure out why my wifi speeds vary so greatly across devices.

    First, my setup:

    I have Time Warner internet rated for 100 Mbps

    An Airport Extreme in my living room (A1143 2nd Gen) is connected to the modem via ethernet. I have a Mac Mini connected to this Extreme via Ethernet as well.

    Wifi does not travel well in my house, so I run ethernet from the Extreme to a 200Mb power line adaptor (this model:

    In a back room, I run ethernet out of the same model power line adaptor into a 1st gen A1143 Airport Extreme. Although the power outlets using the power line adaptors are on the same circuit, there's usually a pretty big drop in speed from the front of the house to the back of the house. My house is old and the wiring is terrible, so I figure that's to be expected. That's not my problem here. My problem is that everything connecting to my airport in the front room is connecting at drastically different speeds.

    Just now, when I run Speedtest on my Mini that's connected to the Airport Extreme via ethernet, I get a download speed of 106 Mbps

    When I run the test on my mid-2011 Macbook Air using wifi, I get a speed of 54Mbps

    When I run the test on my iPhone 6 using wifi, I get a speed of 27.4Mbps

    I'm running the Macbook and iPhone tests in my living room, 8 feet from the Mac Mini/Airport Extreme setup

    Both of my Airport Extremes are set up to "Create a New Wireless Network" using the same network name and WPA2 security.

    Radio mode for both Airports used to be 802.11n (802.11 b/g compatible), but I first switched both to 802.11n only (2.4GHz) and then to 802.11n only (5GHz), but there was no change in wireless speed.

    Might the solution be as simple as my having outdated Airport Extremes?

    Even so, I'm at a loss as to why my iPhone consistently shows a lower wifi speed than my laptop.

    If it makes a difference, I have quite a few devices hooked up to wifi at any one time: 2 iPad 1's, a mini retina iPad, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, a very old mac mini (different than the one in my living room), an apple TV, wireless printer, and a few Sonos devices.

    Any leads are most appreciated.
  2. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    on your macs, alt-click the wifi icon, you can see the actual speed of your network link. it also has the channel and mode (b/g/n) your'e connected at.

    simultaneous dual-band would probably help, The sonos is definitly, and I'm guessing the old mac and printer are 802.11g which can drag down the speed of the others on the network.

    and a new router with updated processing will probably help too.

    I use a lot of "probably", wireless can be a bit tricky, but updating your router will help

    don't limit yourself to apple, check out the list of routers out there, I've got a netgear nighthawk that rocks, and is about the same price (i haven't had much luck getting the time machine function to work, but don't need it)

    and an airport express should be fine for the back room, or netgear also has a repeater with similar features.

    I would go ahead and go with AC, even thought you don't have many devices that support it yet, it should hold you for a few years.

    and i would give separate names to the 2.4 & 5ghz bands, that way you can select which to connect to, and devices that don't need the speed will connnect to the 2.4 and leave the 5 bandwidth available for your other devices.
  3. edwardthefifth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2004
    excellent advice, Thanks Waw

    I'm going to start with a new airport extreme and airport express and I'll take some of the steps you've mentioned. I think I can also go back to connecting the sonos to the router with ethernet so that sonos will set up its own wifi network.

    I'll report back.
  4. edwardthefifth thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2004
    For those curious, I bought an Aiport Extreme and Express (fyi, best buy has great prices on refurb models). These made all the difference. I'm getting full download speed via the Extreme, and the Express is doing better than the old extreme, and has better range too boot.

    Turns out I just had old equipment.
  5. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Also, the modern 802.11 devices are full of technical gimmicks, that the "average" consumer simply does not know to understand.
    My point is, that despite the common 802.11n or 802.11ac label, various devices reach vastly different performance levels due to their MIMO setups (means how many antennae and parallel radio channels they have).
    iOS devices and MacBooks have it very different.
    The new iPhone 6 is the first iOS device to reach the level of MB Air - i.e. have 2 antennas and radios. Up until iPhone 6 they had only 1!
    MB Airs have 2 radios.
    MB Pros and Minis have had 3 radios for quite some time by now.
    Just don't know about the iMac-s and Mac Pro-s.
    The same holds for AirPorts - Expresses have 2, Extremes have 3.
  6. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    Your issue was probably a mixture of having both non-simultaneous dual band radios in your Extremes and a poor link between them.

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