Clamshell mode means slow wifi

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by agaskew, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2009
    I just started hooking up my Rev C Air to an old external LG monitor. The plan was to run the Air in clamshell mode sometimes, with the lid closed, using the bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

    It all works reasonably well like this except, when the lid is closed the wifi (airport) speed slows to an utter crawl.

    If I use the Air with the lid open, in exactly the same spot in the office, either with the LG screen as extended desktop, or with the Air in clamshell mode but with the lid open, speed is OK again.

    This seems to be a known issue with some Apple laptops when the lid is closed. Anyone got any remedies or good ideas?

  2. colourfastt macrumors 6502a


    Apr 7, 2009
    The wifi antenna essentially runs around the edge of the laptop upper lid. When you clamshell the laptop you're making the antenna horizontal rather than vertical and basically orienting it out of the wifi signal path.
  3. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    the antennas in the air do not wrap around the screen at all they are just below the macbook air logo below the screen. when you close the lid they become incased in alu causing the signal to drop.
  4. agaskew thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2009
    Thanks - sounds like a Big Fat Design Fail to me.
  5. Gadgetman99 macrumors regular

    Sep 1, 2009
    Not the best solution, but worth a try. Buy a good USB wifi dongle compatible with the MBA. Install any software needed for the wifi dongle and get it working. Now it should work fine in "clamshell" mode.
  6. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    It may depend on the orientation of your MB and base station. All unibody Alu macbooks basically have all their wireless antennas in the small plastic area at the hinge point (some facing you but only useable when the macbook is open and some always facing the rear (open or closed).

    Because of the thinness of the MBA thats not a lot of area and when closed its more directional.

    I have not noticed this. It may be because my base station is "behind" my MBA when I use it in clamshell mode (and only a few feet away), or more perhaps because I tend to be using the usb dongle when in that mode (a 7 port powered hub with keyboard, trackball, usb dongle etc connected to it).

    All unibody Alum MB's have limited antenna area that will degrade some in clamshell mode. Its the price we pay for the unibody all aluminum skin. One of the reasons the second generation iPhone went from an almost all metal back to an all plastic back. Much more antenna area.
  7. agaskew thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2009
    Thanks for your replies :)

    I am going to try moving things around on the desk to see if it helps when picknig up the signal with the Air closed. The router is 3 rooms away, can't move it.

    Another option I found, that works OK, is to close the Air lid, wake it in to clamshell mode by clicking the mouse, then opening the lid. It stays in clamshell mode, so the OS desktop is all directed to the second monitor.
  8. darkus macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2007
    I used my air in clamshell for a few months but I really dont think this computer is well suited for clamshell mode. I think it has to do with the heating up process and subsequent slowdowns, in clamshell mode it heats up alot faster and so it slows down sooner. Im moving on to a MINI myself
  9. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    Darkus, what rev of MBA are you using and what types of things do you do? I just ask because my RevC seems to do ok in clamshell mode but all I'm usually doing is Office, Browser, Mail, Calendar, IM, Skype etc. A lot of things but none overly taxing.

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