Frustration with Airport Extreme


macrumors member
Original poster
Aug 6, 2007
So in the next couple weeks I will be making the switch to Mac. In anticipation, my mother bought me the Airport Extreme for my birthday. I didn't have any trouble getting it set up here is the basics of my setup..

AEBS (Gigabit, running 7.2.1 firmware)
1 Laptop running Vista
1 Laptop running XP (wife)
1 Desktop running Vista
1 Printer using JetDirect 170x

The wired desktop has no problems at all. My wife's laptop has sluggish internet once every hour or so for about 30 seconds. She does not use the AirDisk so I have not tested that.

The big issues are with my laptop the internet is really flaky. It takes 20-30 seconds to load pages, trying to play WoW with my kid is impossible. Trying to use the AirDisk is another story. 30 seconds minimum to open each folder.
I am really at a loss for what to do. I read that downgrading the firmware to 7.1.1 may do the trick, but when I try to do that in the AirPort Utility only 7.2.1 is an option. I have looked at a few places to try and download 7.1.1 but have come away empty handed.

Any ideas? I don't think it is an issue with the Apple Hardware, but I am not going to rule anything out at this point. I use two other routers at work and school (both Linksys) and have no issues where.


macrumors 68030
May 29, 2007
As a good as many Apple products are, networking is not one of their strong points. I have two AEBSs and regret ever buying them. They are flakey and I've had more issues using them in 4 months than I did using LinkSys devices in the last 6 years or so.

And I really feel kicked while down – I bought these because I wanted to use them for Time Machine with Airport drive, but Apple just pulled that feature before releasing Leopard. I am pissed about that. I could have just stuck with reliable networking hardware.
Disclaimer: I've never owned -- and only once ever used -- any of Apple's wireless networking products.

Frankly, I don't like Apple's Airport or Airport Extreme products, and I also don't like many of the 3rd party wireless products either. Let me try and explain why.

Most of Apple's wireless products make use of -- and more to the point can only make use of -- an internal antenna. Now, no matter what, an external antenna is better than an internal one pretty much any day of the week. Moreover, ideally you want a router which makes use of removable external antennas so that, if necessary, you can get an external antenna rig to better suit your specialized needs.

I also don't like Apple's wireless products because you have to use their administration software -- instead of merely a web browser -- to set up and otherwise adjust the unit's settings.

Now, on balance, I also don't like many of the non-Apple products out there, either, and the reasons are:
  1. Most of the units out there now run with too little on-board RAM (typically only 8MB);
  2. While almost every non-Apple wireless router has either 1 or 2 external antennas (some have 3), many times they are not removable;
  3. Many of the products have really crappy controls, their firmware is in general pretty limiting, and oftentimes even on the lower-end products the hardware you get has very under-realized capabilities because the regular retail products aren't being marketed for "corporate" or "enterprise" use.

What I would suggest is a completely different approach altogether.

First off, you really ought to know what's inside the unit you're buying so you know what you're getting for your money. Second, you really ought to know what's out there and available to buy so that you know what you could get for your money. And third, you need to understand that many other people have trod this path ahead of either of us, and of those there have been quite a few who are programmers by trade, and therefore have the wherewithal to actually do something about it.

I'm going to post two links here. The first link is to a table listing from which you can glean insight into the first two criteria listed above -- namely, knowing what's actually in the unit you buy, and knowing what all is out there to buy. So even if you don't go one single step further than that, at least you can make an educated purchasing decision.

The first link also tells you which of those products are capable of supporting a replacement firmware -- that is, the mini-operating system that actually drives the device -- and that's important because many routers, even the crap ones, typically are capable of much more than the manufacturer lets them do "out of the box".

Now, the second link will take you to the main page of one of two open-source development groups' web site where you can read through and become knowledgeable about the for-free replacement firmware they make available.

Where you go from here is up to you, but at least you'll get to where you're going empowered with more knowledge than you started.

Good luck!
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