Airport Time Capsule AC vs Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 Router

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by keystothecity, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. keystothecity macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2013
    #1
    Hi Guys,

    Currently have two Apple AC devices: MacBook Air and an iMac

    As of right now I'm shopping for a new wireless router and I'm stuck with a tough decision:

    Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 for $150 taxes in.
    http://www.netgear.com/home/products/networking/wifi-routers/R7000.aspx

    Airport Time Capsule 2TB for 300 taxes in.
    https://www.apple.com/airport-time-capsule/

    Storage aside, which router do you think has the better signal/speed/range? The Nighthawk supports using an external hard drive connected to the router to back-up using time machine.

    Does anyone have any experiences to share on which router I should opt for? I'm interested to hear any personal experiences with Apple's AC signal.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #2
    I have the 2tb Time Capsule and a 2013 MacBook Air. Have been pleased with it, but there is one oddity from time to time. If I take the MBA out of the room with the time capsule and go out on the porch, sometimes I lose connectivity even though it still indicates a full signal. Turning wifi off and on again always solves the problem. I wonder if this has something to do with the "beam forming" not realizing I have left the room?

    I have a Mac Mini connected to the Time Capsule with gigabit ethernet. When I connect to it from the MBA on ac wifi, I get transfer speeds of about 60 MB/s. But the internal drive of the Time Capsule is much slower. I only get about 30 MB/s transferring files to it from the MBA on ac wifi.
     
  3. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #3
    A regular tower-style Extreme can have a USB hard drive added for Time Machine purposes. You do not need a Time Capsule anymore.

    Did you upgrade to 7.7.3 firmware. I know that makes a big difference.
     
  4. keystothecity thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 4, 2013
    #4
    Yea that's definitely an option as well for me. The New Airport Extreme like you mention works out to roughly the same price as the Nighthawk R7000 (I can get a really good deal on the R7000 relative to MRSP).

    So I guess hard drive aside, which one should I go with? The Airport or the Nighthawk?

    ----------

    Thanks that's actually a really big help. I'm wondering if that should not make me lean towards the Nighthawk.
     
  5. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #5
    The AirPort has stability, reliability, and simplicity in the bag. The Nighthawk is going to be a bit faster and have slightly longer range. However, once you are at the point where you need the additional range that the Nighthawk adds, you would be at a very poor and slow connection.

    That problem Boyd01 was supposedly fixed in the new firmware too.
     
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #6
    I am running the newest firmware on my Time Capsule. AFAIK, the only thing that the most recent update did was address heartbleed vulnerability. Maybe I didn't describe the problem properly though. I am using my MBA in the same room, about 3 meters from the TC and everything is fine. If I carry the MBA out of the room and go outside on the porch (about 12 meters away) while it is still running, sometimes I lose connectivity. That is the only time this happens, if the MBA is asleep and I wake it up on the porch, there are no problems.

    BTW, if you add an external drive to an Airport Extreme it will be slow. The internal drive in the Time Capsule is about twice as fast (although it's still no speed demon). See this: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1747622
     
  7. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #7
    While the USB drive on the Extreme or Time Capsule will be slower than an internal drive, it is a perfectly usable storage option. I have done software installs off it without issues. I am going to look into that the losing connectivity problem. The next time before you turn Wi-Fi on and off hold OPT and click on the Wi-Fi icon first. Report back with the transmit rate when it isn't connecting.
     
  8. Weaselboy, Jul 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014

    Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #8
    Hands down the Netgear. Read the test of the Netgear here and the Extreme here. The Netgear wins by quite a bit in every objective measure.

    I have the newest Time Capsule and it works just fine, but if you want the fastest router with the best range the TC is not it by any objective measure. The Netgear is also more feature rich than the TC.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #9
    The benchmarks are higher on the Nighthawk but it is reported to have more problems.
     
  10. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    #10
    No offense to Weasleboy, but the numbers of Apple's products represented in SmallNetBuilder's web site are pretty much bogus. That now-outdated review was done on 10.8.4 and the Airport 7.7.1 firmware - 10.8.5 included a patch to the local Airport software and when combined with the 7.7.2 Airport firmware significantly improved throughput, and SNB hasn't updated their review. See this Macworld post, which sold me at the time: http://www.macworld.com/article/2048946/os-x-update-doubles-802-11ac-time-capsules-performance.html

    And real world numbers aren't necessarily found in reviews and product specs. I had that Netgear and it was all over the place, from 700 to 878 to 1450 and back again, while my AE is pretty much always pegged at 1300. And, I didn't buy into the AC1900 hype. I installed Tomato on the Netgear and shipped it to one of my field offices, with Tomato making a big difference in stability. The only reason I kept the Netgear was the USB 3 port for DAS.

    I also picked the AE because it's just stupid easy to use. Both are great routers. I'd buy an AE or TC first, but that's me.
     
  11. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    NH
    #11
    How many times did they have to reset that netgear box during the test? I haven't used netgear for several years because of stability issues, but my neighbor's recent experience with a netgear has been abysmal.... so it looks like the same issues remain... excellent benchmark performance but frustrating to use.
     
  12. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #12
    Link/source?

    I know you like your Apple routers, but objective tests just don't show them to be top performers. If you have objective tests that show the Netgear product the OP asked about getting better performance than the Apple product, please post it up.

    Sorry... but no. That patched a bug with in ML that was not even used in the SNB review.

    Even the review you touted shows the Asus router getting double the performance on long distance wifi connections.

    Like I said, I own a Time Capsule and there is nothing wrong with it at all. But OP asked what has "better signal/speed/range" and it pretty clearly is not the Apple product.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #13
    For some reason you posted about the ASUS RT-AC66u. This link by reputable source, CNET, shows that the Extreme offers better range than that ASUS. It does indeed have a lower bench in throughput however.

    There is problems with the Netgear. Compare these Amazon links for the Netgear and for the Apple. You see that the Netgear does indeed have more sub-4 star reviews. There are less reviews on the Apple so keep that in mind.

    There is no denying that the AirPort is not going to be the top performer. I wouldn't even challenge someone like yourself on that. However it comes down to what you need and want. Think of it like trucks! The AirPort is a great work horse, never breaks down, and will handle whatever load you put it under without whimpering. The Netgear won't handle as much load on it, but it will go farther on a tank of gas (Range) and faster down the highway. You choose what you want!
     
  14. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #14
    I posted the ASUS chart because it was in the review campyguy mentioned.

    OP asked which has the best signal/speed/range, and clearly the Netgear unit does. I'm not sure what conclusions we can draw from Amazon reviews. There are plenty of reviews for both products saying it is great vs. a piece of junk. I would not push anyone away from the Extreme because some Amazon reviews say it is junk, nor would I do that for the Netgear.

    Also, I'm not clear where you get that the Netgear won't handle as much load. I'm not seeing any test results that show that.
     
  15. spaceballl macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

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    #15
    As a former owner of the R7000, the router I would currently recommend is the AC68U from Asus, with the most recent "merlin" firmware. This router was buggy at first, but my uptime with the most recent firmware has been over a month, and my wife's 802.11AC MBA stays connected at over 800mbps all the time, even in crowded San Francisco. Now that being said, there are a bunch of new Wi-Fi technologies coming out right now... There's a Nighthawk R8000 and an Asus AC87U. However, BOTH the Asus and the Nighthawk were really buggy when they were first released so for your sanity, I wouldn't recommend getting the newer versions of either right now.

    But going back to your original question, if you just want to set it and forget it, get some AC lovin', you might be better off with just getting the Apple Time Capsule...
     
  16. dyn macrumors 68030

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    .nl
    #16
    Reading a review is one thing, trying to understand what they are measuring and how is another thing. In order to properly read and understand a test you need to have all that information. Luckily they provide you with those details. If you read them carefully you can see that a lot of they do is theory, it is the maximum you can get. It is not a real world test which in case of wifi is useless anyway since no environment will be the same and thus the results will be different.

    It is better to go through those tests while realising they are only theoretical. Use user reviews on various well known sites to build a more complete picture. Do realise that none of this information will accurately predict how well the device will operate in your environment.

    In this case you shouldn't be using a word like "objective", it has to be replaced with "theoretical".

    Another thing to note is that nearly all tests (no matter what) are like pictures: they are a measurement of that exact moment. They group them together and take the average. They all do this in a short amount of time. There are no continuous measurements over an entire day for example. In other words: tests will not tell you how things are over time. Sustained performance isn't measured either. You want to have stable performance over a long period of time. You don't want speed to be all over the place.

    The above shows why some products may have better results in a review but work like crap in the real world.
     
  17. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #17
    I disagree.

    The test environment is documented as you said the the site tested both mentioned routers in the same environment using the same methodology, and posted the results. That is an objective test.

    Now you can argue you don't like their test method if you like, but the test is objective.

    If you have better or more thorough reviews of the mentioned routers that would helpful to the OP, by all means post up the links.
     
  18. dyn macrumors 68030

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    #18
    Something is not objective just because it is documented. When you test something you get certain results. What they do is not only tell you those results but also give you their interpretation of those results. Therefore the test cannot be objective. If it were objective you'd only get the results and you have to interpret them yourself. Such tests won't come with a conclusion. The same thing applies to blue print for the test itself. It is build on theory, interpretations and so on.

    Since they only test the theoretical side of things the best alternative is "theoretical". If they would have included real world testing than it would be "a more complete test" for lack of a better way of describing it.

    One thing to note: not being objective doesn't make this a useless test. This is one of the very useful tests because it tests things on a theoretical level. It tells you a bit about how much truth are in the manufacturers claims. I'd use tests like these for a different thing: problems. That's what you want to know and avoid. Things need to work reliably. Something that is fast and unreliable is far worse than something that is reliable but slow.
     
  19. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #19
    That is not at all what I said, and I think you know that. What I said (you even quoted it) was "The Netgear wins by quite a bit in every objective measure" and that is true. That site did the tests and posted the results. I am not referring to any interpretation or conclusions reached by the site, I am referring to the objective results of the tests themselves.

    I agree the best case would be for OP to take both routers home and try them out for a week, but short of that, we need to rely on tests by sites like SNB. Like I said, if you have seen a site that compares the two mentioned routers in a more thorough way, I'm sure the OP would be glad to see the test.
     
  20. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #20

    I offered evidence which proves yours; it is faster than the AirPort. My reasoning for posting Amazon reviews is because you can have "experts" test things but that isn't real world. This expert test took all of one hour and they post their results with various levels of credibility. The voice of the consumer is who I listen to! Experts say Kias are fantastic cars with great warranty and reliability. They test them for at most a week or two. Real people say the warranty is great to cover all the problems with them!
     
  21. dyn macrumors 68030

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    #21
    Exactly. The problem with numbers is that you need to interpret them which most people can't. That's why testers/journalists do it for you (and that's why subjective tests are better for most than really objective ones ;)). You do need to know a bit about what you are reading so you can estimate how good it is. And that also means reading the non-theoretical, non-scientific tests that you can find on sites like Amazon. They usually tell you something about actual usage which most testers won't cover (is it easy to manage, does it come with cabling, does it attract dust, does it still work fine after 3 months).
     
  22. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #22
    I read both spec sheets, expert reviews, and consumer reviews for most any purchase over $30.00 when it comes to technology! Saves me a lot of time, money, and hassle by doing the research up front!
     
  23. cynics macrumors G4

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    #23
    I can't comment on the Netgear but I've never been more satisfied with a router then my AirPort Extreme. I bought it in February and haven't touched it since. Only power cycle it's seen in when the actual power goes out, which I can only remember happening once since I bought it.

    Previous routers have never come close to it's reliability.

    I find this true with most all Apple products. They aren't the best at everything or the cheapest but they generally work very well. Back when I used to always go with the fastest most powerful products I found I gained a full time hobby of keeping them working correctly. I'm done with those days and I just want something that works good/well constantly not very good/good sometimes. Btw I'm not saying that's the case with that particular Netgear router.
     
  24. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #24
    I also use, and can recommend, the Asus RT-AC68U. While I'm not using it for Time Machine, I do use its NAS feature with a 3TB external drive connected via USB3.

    I can concur that earlier firmware versions were a bit buggy but it's been rock solid for me with the past 2 revisions.
     
  25. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #25
    Now if only real people posted the majority of online reviews.

    SmallNetBuilders not only posts very thorough and well-respected reviews, but they also have an active forum community filled with folks actually using the various products they review. RMerlin, coder of the custom Asus Merlin firmware is a daily contributor.
     

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