BearExtender Turbo Adds 802.11ac Wi-Fi to Older Macs

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    BearExtender today announced the launch of BearExtender Turbo, a new USB-based solution for adding faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity to older Macs. Regularly priced at $80 but available through Amazon for $70, BearExtender Turbo can boost Wi-Fi speeds by up to 2-3x for Macs supporting USB 3.0 but not 802.11ac natively.

    While speed bottlenecks for most users will continue to be their actual ISP connections when connecting to the Internet, 802.11ac is particularly useful for transferring large amounts of data between machines within a network.

    BearExtender Turbo supports maximum throughput of 867 Mbps and includes dual-band connectivity at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz for maximum speed and compatibility. The device's two antennas can also be removed for portability.

    Article Link: BearExtender Turbo Adds 802.11ac Wi-Fi to Older Macs
  2. troop231 macrumors 603

    Jan 20, 2010
  3. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    Seems decent...but I think I would just plug in a gigabit ethernet adapter if I am going to have a cord sticking out. AC is mostly going to be of use in your own home at the moment so portability isn't much of a factor here.
  4. tomhumphrey macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2010
    What about a thunderbolt version so i can use it with my mac mini. Pretty sure you can get gigabit ethernet ones of these tho so that could work
  5. clukas macrumors 6502a


    May 3, 2010
    Quite an expensive solution for what it does. The chipsets inside probably cost a mere $5. I dont see the point of this, unless you have to share vast volumes of data on your home network, and if thats the case then a wired ethernet solution would probably be better and cheaper.
  6. johnmacward macrumors regular


    Jul 12, 2011
    I really don't see the point in this. Considering the benefits of AC over N are negligible in the most realistic conditions, you also have to be within reasonable noise free distance of the AP and then have a piece dangling out of your Air. Why not get a dedicated gigabit cable and plug it into a much smaller and cheaper adapter. Even over long distances this is more reliable. The use case is so slim in my opinion
  7. jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    Maybe if you understand the point of Bear Extender in general, it would help...

    Most current notebooks don't have an antenna connector any more. In some cases, you might need an external antenna - perhaps even a directional one - to get a good WiFi connection. The only means of doing this, then, is by using some external adapter, typically connected by USB. (Unless you want to hack your notebook to bring out an external antenna connector.)

    So, that's the need that the original BearExtender addresses.

    For most such uses, 802.11ac is a non-issue, as well as even N. People in this situation are usually happy to get any kind of signal at all, and are usually connecting to access points that support neither 802.11ac or N.

    But this bascially fills-in their product line with something that will work with 802.11ac. Starbucks isn't going to have 802.11ac any time soon. But maybe you want to work from the pool, and your WiFi doesn't reach.

    I'd think that given the overall focus for BearExtender, adding 802.11ac to older Macbooks is really a minor point.

    There are a number of similar products from Alfa that are also excellent.
  8. mdelvecchio macrumors 68040


    Sep 3, 2010
    plugging in an ethernet adapter would be completely useless in my home -- there is no router in all but one room of the house, and the house is not hard wired. so how could i plug in an ethernet cable?

    so a wifi .ac solution is a much better solution for this common use case.


    ah yes. so where is your EE degree from? where can i view your product portfolio? very interested in your expert work. you are an expert in the field of components, right?

    a common problem. we'll forgive you.

    what good would an ethernet solution do in my patio? useless.


    again, a common shortcoming in techies -- inability to empathize with use cases not their own.

    the test data says otherwise. further, besides transmission speeds, the big advantage of .ac i see in my own home is that of range -- finally my router can reach the back of the home and the patio.

    living in a historic plaster home, wiring the entire thing for ethernet is not an option.


    where can we buy your more-elegant solution? oh, nowhere.

    ive brought products to market before. things come up, limitations arise. everything is perfect in your mind until you hit reality, then compromises must be made. so thats why this solition is less elegant than the one in your mind -- because it's real.
  9. advancewarsbest macrumors regular

    Mar 28, 2013
    Guys this isn't really for most people. I mean after a while the price would drop for people needing better range in a bigger home / bad wifi area.

    This is perfect for businesses with big buildings with botched reception in areas, but most importantly a way to get faster downloads and big files across faster, which makes this device worth it, you save time, you save money in the long run.

    Not to mention its a simple upgrade that anyone can do rather than buying a whole new sets of computers...Assuming troop231 doesn't work for that company :D
  10. furi0usbee macrumors 68000


    Jul 11, 2008
    I'm returning my Bear extender (the version right before this). It's only 2.4Ghz and it couldn't pick up a network across the street I can get with my iPhone.
  11. 9000 macrumors 6502

    Sep 29, 2013
  12. rodriguise macrumors regular


    May 6, 2011
    Sparks, NV
    What a nearsighted assertion. Is a home-office a realistic condition enough for you?
  13. AnonMac50 macrumors 65816

    Mar 24, 2010
    I believe that the AC card from the 2013 retina MBP can be used on the 2012 model.
  14. McGiord, Dec 14, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013

    McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    The current state of this solution is kind of cumbersome, if they make it a small dongle it would work better.
    I am a home user and I do see the advantage of having something like this, as I have a MBP with n speed and the a AirPort Extreme AC therefore to have Time Machine backups over the air it would be faster.
    Hopefully newer revisions and competitors may produce something more practical/portable.

    Here is one:
    Any functional difference between this and the bear extender?
    So the speed of the bus is still a limitation to get the right speed, unless they split the connection in parallel with the actual Mac Wi-Fi and combine it with the USB port input...
  15. macgabe, Dec 14, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  16. Mr Dobey macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2008
    I would be interested if it were a three antenna configuration for the full 1.3Gb/s 802.11ac experience.
  17. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    There are other ways to deal with ethernet cables than just shoving them through walls. You can just tape them to the carpet and they work just as good. Do it properly and you forget it's there. My dad does this, and so does my college. They just hook it directly to another router the machine (my college uses AirPort bases, the G4 era ones).

    It's a much better setup than having a dongle hanging off your machine. You're sitting in your patio, relaxing, why would you want that in your way?

    If you have at least ONE router, this is possible. Is it inefficient? Of course. But paying $70 for a solution like the BearExtender Turbo is neither more practical or efficient. It'll be a complete headache dragging that around the house.
  18. mikegrad, Dec 15, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013

    mikegrad macrumors newbie

    Aug 28, 2012
    good idea, why not thunderbolt?

    I wold actually consider using this on my 2010 imac - its in the same room as my new aiport extreme with AC, and my wife wont let me run an ethernet cable across the room. But since its only usb2.0 im not sure its worth it.
  19. Mr. Wonderful macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2009
    Regarding that second link, that poster doesn't know what's he's talking about. USB 3.0 is 5.0Gbps, theoretical, 802.11ac is up to 1.7Gbps theoretical. That user converted USB 3.0 randomly to MBps, while leaving the other in Mbps. Different units.
  20. Botts85 macrumors regular


    Feb 9, 2007
    On my rMBP, with 802.11n, I routinely hit 20-25 MB/s to my early 2006 MacBook which hosts my Time Machine.

    I'd be hoping for way better throughput than that to justify the expense.
  21. johnmacward macrumors regular


    Jul 12, 2011
    If I had this need, this monstrosity at that price would not be my solution. My MacBook is mobile. Not a plant with branches and twigs sticking out of it. Because it's so ungainly the only place you can use this practically is at a desk, not on the couch where it falls down beside you and you crush it with a cushion (or your ass) or someone else sits down and wrecks it or pulls it out of the port.

    Something tells me something more elegant may come around in the future and considering I "might NOT" get an actual 6 MB/s increase in "realistic" conditions, maybe 2MB/s then I think "negatives" win here against all the "positives".
  22. JamietheMac macrumors member


    Sep 5, 2010
    BearExtender Turbo can boost Wi-Fi speeds by up to 2-3x for Macs supporting USB 3.0 but not 802.11ac natively.

    so what macs are going to have usb3 but not ac natively?
  23. drambuie macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2010
    The 2012 Macs have USB3, but only 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi.

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