Have Apple improved WiFi

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by John_B, Dec 29, 2015.

  1. John_B macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2015
    Thinking about moving to Macbooks (again) and I'd appreciate some advice. Though I've owned and used Apple devices (over the past 25 years...), still do, and lurk on this forum, the killer for me switching from Thinkpad to Mac for my daily workhorse laptop is the Wifi. Recently I got a great deal on a 13 inch 2013 rMBP from a mate who fixes Macs in London (HampsteadMac, if I am allowed a plug). The next morning, after I said it was not the right laptop for me, he offered me a refund, which I immediately accepted, for one reason: poor WiFi.

    It had a clean install of the OS, and it worked fine in the same room as a good router. However, if you also like to connect in cafes, hotels and airports that is missing the point. My little Thinkpad x220 with Windows (or Linux), though nothing special, is far better than the rMBP at getting a signal, and staying connected, on a poor quality WiFi.

    So I have one question, ahead of trying again to make the jump: have Apple improved WiFi performance on recent rMBPs, or on the new MB, since the 2013 model I tried? Or is the Air better? If I buy a newer Mac laptop, can I expect it to match something like my x220 for performance on poor quality WiFi? Or are Apple still painfully behind the competition, when it comes to connecting to distant, non-Apple routers?
  2. John_B, Jan 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016

    John_B thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2015
    No replies? Probably means that no one has seen a significant improvement.

    At first sight, the Air and new Macbook could be good machines for taking on the road, the way you can with a Thinkpad. However they seem to be engineered for use near an Airport Extreme or at least a high-grade home router, rather than out and about. Still lovely machines. I now have bought a 2011 Air from my mate at Hampstead Mac, on the basis that I accept that the WiFi will only work in limited circumstances. The difference is that it cost less than the rMBP so I can accept the limitation. It would be hard to make the case for a new machine, as my use case involves a lot of weak WiFi signals.
  3. Nychot macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2011
    Well, I hope you got a great deal from your "mate" for all the free advertising you gave him. As for Macbook WIFI, it's 100 percent perfect and I've been using it for years in a variety of Mac laptops in all kinds of settings. I completely question your experience, and especially that of your "mate" who actually runs a Mac repair center, and appears from what you say to back you up that the wifi sux. .
  4. John_B thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2015
    Ah well. One of the places I work, I share the neighbour's WiFi. Thinkpad works (not too well, but it does). Neither of the Macs work. So if by questioning my experience, you say think that is untrue, there is nothing more I can say. The large number of results on Google, many from this site, in which people complain about their WiFi on Macbooks, gave me the idea that I am not alone. It is good to hear that those complaints do not, after all, reflect the norm.

    As for advertising... well it's nice to help friends, though I did think it was hardly doing him a favour to say he'd sold me Macbooks where I'd found the WiFi so disappointing! A real plug would have said only good things :)
  5. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    I personally had loads of issues with WiFi on OS X and over more than a single device (rMBPs) too. I know from this board there were constant posts about the issue. I'm not going to say it's "common" as I'm not in a position to judge that (and nor are many on here in a position to say it wasn't either). We can only give personal experiences.

    The issue was improved towards the end of 10.10, before that i used to get random drops and it was at times very hard to connect to my own wifi (which is an apple TM) - but the windows laptops would connect immediately and didn't experience drop outs.
  6. navaira macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2015
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    I noticed that when we switched our router from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz the wifi reach has dropped significantly. When I go upstairs the one and only device that still connects to wifi is my Air. The Z3 Compact, both phone and tablet, and iPad have no signal. (We didn't try to carry iMacs upstairs to check ;) )
  7. SteveJUAE, Jan 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016

    SteveJUAE macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2015
    Land of Smiles
    I would say my Mac's (running bootcamp) have been more consistent than my Windows laptops over the years.

    My Vaio Pro suffered badly for 6 months whilst there were numerous driver updates to fix the problem

    However of the few tablets I have owned I have had less consistent results with IPads than Android

    Often these Wi-Fi issues centre around one or two specific routers
  8. rbrian macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2011
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    My 2011 Mac mini never had a problem with wifi on snow leopard. I'm not sure exactly which os update caused the problem, but now it disconnects every single day, for no discernible reason. It's simple enough to reconnect, but I use it as a server and want it permanently connected. I always update, in the hope of a wifi fix, but that hasn't happened yet. A crappy cheap Lenovo in the same room stays connected with no issues in Windows 10, but it was flaky in Windows 7. I've tried 3 different routers, and the issues are consistent. The Mac mini won't even stay connected to an AirPort Extreme.

    My work laptop, a Lenovo T440 which I'm not allowed to update past Windows 8.1, has wifi issues at multiple sites, with 5 different kinds of routers, at work - it connects for about a minute, then disconnects and refuses to reconnect without a restart - but is just fine at home.

    So, various operating systems, various wifi chips, various routers, and certain combinations have problems, others don't. It seems the os, or the wifi drivers are the main problem, and Apple hasn't yet figured it out, but Windows has - at least on my hardware with the latest updates.
  9. Queen6 macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2008
    Putting out the fire with gasoline...
    I work internationally and resultantly travel frequently, therefore have little control over Wi-Fi routers once on the job. My primary Mac`s are 2015 12", 2014 13" & 2012 15" Retina`s none have had issue with Wi-Fi up to 10.10.5 across much of Asia & Europe, 12" & 13" get by far the most usage.

    10.11.2 killed Wi-Fi performance to approximately 10% of norm with a known good router. I also travel with a Huawei MIFI portable router which has known good connectivity, which I can also use as repeater if I require, so far I have not used it in that role, just as a standalone 4G router.

    As other members have stated the hardware/software mix is too wide to be definitive. Right now I am looking at Windows systems (Thx to 10.11 for multiple issues :rolleyes:) so my opinion may change once I have an up to date Windows based notebook to compare with Apple`s finest. When I was last using a ThinkPad T440U the Wi-Fi performance was demonstrably better than the portable Mac`s I owned at the same point in time.

  10. rbrian macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2011
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    That's an issue with high frequency waves of all types. You'll see the same thing with 4G phone networks, high speed outside, no signal (or much less) indoors.

    You can hear the bass notes of your antisocial neighbors' loud music, but not the treble. Whale song is low frequency so it can travel further.

    If you have a large house, or thick walls, you'll need either a mixed 2.4 and 5ghz network, or extenders.
  11. double329 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2008
    My household has a mixed Windows based and Apple devices. I am using Apple Mac Book Air sine 2010. Over time, I have mac mini, MBP 17, rMBP 15, 2015 iMac, iPad mini, Air to Pro. I had 2105 MB for few weeks with out issue, but returned due to slow CPU. All Apple devices never had any issue with WiFi. Comparing to Windows laptop(my kids) and SP3 I have. There were all kind of WiFi issues with Windows. My routers over time: Netgear r7000, Asus AC87, Netgear X8 and old Airport Extreme. They all work well. Bottom line, I have never seen WiFi issue with Apple devices.
  12. username: macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2013
    I will just share my experience. I had an older budget Acer laptop which was cheap and I don't think had a very good WiFi chip. When I bought a new MBA in 2013 it performed better but not great. My brother had a HP laptop that had great WiFi. I have seen the performance of WiFi on my MBA go up and down through updates on Mavericks and Yosemite and El Capitan. Right now on 10.11.2 WiFi is great and I have seen an improvement over the last version. No idea what they did but my WiFi seems to work in places that it didn't before.

    So yes I believe you are correct that WiFi has been an issue for Macs but also it is improving and for me anyway the last update made a significant improvement on my MBA.

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