Is moving from a 4th gen Airport Extreme to the 6th gen (newest) Airport Extreme worth it?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by glitch44, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. glitch44, Mar 24, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017

    glitch44 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    #1
    Some things:
    • My place is too small to need mesh networking.
    • The only way I'd go to mesh networking is if it offered more features (QoS, VPN, etc) than the Airport Extreme, but Eero, Google Wifi and others seem to be works in progress with features to be added later.
    • I'd rather not spend money on an Airport Extreme because it's not the newest technology and Apple seems to be ignoring them, but at the very least Airports are rock solid reliable, so I'll take that.

    The question is if it's worth it to move from the 4th gen Airport Extreme (a,b,g,n) to the 6th gen Extreme (a,b,g,n,ac). Will the AC wireless + better antennas + beam forming make it peppier? (I doubt my connection will ever saturate AC speeds, but maybe for local file transfers?)
     
  2. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

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    Sep 19, 2010
    #2
    I've never owned the 4th gen, but the 6th gen covers about 2000 square feet. From my experience it's been rock solid. I had a Netgear Nighthawk before and although the AE doesn't have as much range, the signal was more reliable.

    I ended up buying a second AE recently to extend my main AE. It doesn't have the mesh networking technology, but it seems to work ok.

    In your situation, you might not feel a difference over WAN considering you live in a small place. Over LAN, you'll definitely notice a difference.
     
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #3
    I wouldn't buy an Airport Extreme now. You're buying a product that (in its latest iteration) is several years old (is it 3 years now since the last update?), and there will be no more of them.

    Even the development team for them has been disbanded.

    Question:
    How big is your house/apartment?

    I'd suggest that before you write off the "mesh" systems, that you spend some time investigating each of them.

    They're ALL "works in progress" as ALL of them represent the "first iterations" of an emerging home/wifi technology that seems to be "the future".

    A good place to start are the amazon.com reviews and the Q&A's posted there.

    If you're looking for a more "traditional" approach (i.e., a router that's set up using an internet browser), then look at Netgear's Orbi. It's the only one that works that way, all the others must be set up from a smartphone or similar device.

    But again, at this point in time, I wouldn't buy an Airport Extreme.
    To do so is "buying the past"...
     
  4. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

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    Sep 19, 2010
    #4
    The AE is several years old, but it's still a very good router. Router tech hasn't advanced that much and all the crazy alien looking ones aren't that much better and sometimes worse than the AE.
     
  5. Badrottie Suspended

    Badrottie

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    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #5
    I think small apartment like single apartment is fine with AE.
     
  6. Alrescha macrumors 68020

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    Jan 1, 2008
    #6
    Apple has not updated the hardware, but there have been many software updates for the 2013 Airport Extreme / Time Capsule, as recently as this past December.

    A.
     
  7. mattg3 macrumors 6502

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    ma.
    #7
    Yes and the last software security update broke the Airport Express optical out that is now full of audio dropouts when you try to send Itunes to powered speakers
     
  8. Alrescha macrumors 68020

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    Jan 1, 2008
    #8
    I think that would be unfortunate if true. Thus far I have been unable to reproduce the problem. I do not doubt that some people have problems but I would guess it is a bit more complicated than just a firmware update.

    A.
     
  9. mattg3 macrumors 6502

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    ma.
    #9
    Well I dropped my firmware back from 7.6.8 to 7.6 and no audio dropouts that I have been getting all weekend even with wired Ethernet connection between my router and Apple Express. Of course with 7.6 I dont have the security firmware.So Apple gives me a choice,Audio dropouts through optical out and a secure device or no dropouts and device subject to networks hacking. This pretty much looks like a firmware issue to me but could you share how you are not getting the issue with your setup.I would love to try something since apple is not going to address this problem.
     
  10. Alrescha macrumors 68020

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    Jan 1, 2008
    #10
    I have 7.6.8 on the old (wall-wart style) Airport Express, streaming through the 2013 Time Capsule using the latest iTunes (12.6.0.100) on macOS 10.12.3. The Mac is connected by wired Ethernet to the TC (so there is only one wireless segment from the TC to the AE).

    I have been listening pretty much constantly since you made your original post with no dropouts. Are you using the new AE? If so, maybe the problem is unique to that hardware?

    A.
     
  11. mattg3 macrumors 6502

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    ma.
    #11
    thanks I am using the same wall style older airport express and an older version of itunes(same one that came loaded on Imac i bought new in 2010) I never upgraded cause I have so many combined cd collections of close to 700 cds I feared the upgrade would mess up my Itunes set up.I dont have a time capsule.Perhaps the older Itunes is causing this issue but then again why does firmware 7.6 work flawlessly with my powered speakers? Doesnt seem as if you are using optical out from Airport express which is where the problem lies.Im ethernet wired from Comcast router to AE and optical out from AE to powered speakers.We really have different setups going here.
     
  12. Alrescha macrumors 68020

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    #12
    I am using the optical out to a Radio Shack optical to coax adapter and then coax to my speakers. Not sure why you think otherwise - what would be the point of my replying?

    Anyway, it is possible that the old iTunes is part of the problem but there is only one way to find out... I understand why you might be reluctant to upgrade. Even though I have had very good luck with iTunes over the years, the current version is a slow pig compared to some older versions. In any case - good luck.

    A.
     
  13. mattg3 macrumors 6502

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    ma.
  14. TheMountainLife macrumors member

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    May 24, 2015
    #14
    If you have the budget for an Airport Extreme then there are far more better options for whats out now and is past being future proof at this point. I regret my purchase because I upgraded to 1 gigabit internet. The max the AE can handle on the WAN side is about 450 down wired which required me to purchase a new router.

    With it becoming more common for ISP's to offer speeds of 300+ its best to look elsewhere. I'm currently using a linksys wrt1900acs and handles all 41 of my wired/wireless devices just fine where as the AE struggled to manage anything above 20.

    Your setup is probably more basic than mine but you'll have a better buy with just about anything in the same price range that came out within the last year.
     
  15. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

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    Sep 19, 2010
    #15
    All the ethernet ports on the AE are gigabit. That's odd that you're not getting gigabit speeds over wired.

    You're lucky to get gigabit internet. I'm speeding by at an amazing 10mbps.
     
  16. TheMountainLife macrumors member

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    May 24, 2015
    #16
    That's the catch...its capable of providing gigabit speeds over LAN but WAN is a different story. So in other words, file transfers locally have the ability to reach gigabit and that's it.
     
  17. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

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    #17
    But the WAN port is also gigabit and should work. Strange that it doesn't.
     
  18. steve23094 macrumors 68000

    steve23094

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    #18
  19. aristobrat, Apr 7, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017

    aristobrat macrumors G5

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    #19
    Weird (to me) to see the maximum Mbps they got on that test was 727 Mbps. When I do a speed test with Cox's gigabit home service on mine, my Airport Extreme always hits 900-950 Mbps maximum (both up and down).

    fast.com is usually in the 600-700 Mbps range.
     
  20. SteveJobzniak macrumors 6502

    SteveJobzniak

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    Dec 24, 2015
    #20
    I use the latest AirPort Time Capsule from like 2013 or whatever. The big white tower.

    The WiFi from it is rock solid and strong enough for even devices with weak antennas to be able to connect to it.

    But the big hard disk in it is very noisy. And its 802.11ac was an "early draft" of the standard, there are faster routers out now.

    I would pick a top-rated 802.11ac router instead. And for backups I recommend Arq with Amazon Cloud Drive Unlimited. For $50 a year (ACD subscription) you can back up unlimited data and unlimited computers. And the restore is often faster than the locally connected Time Capsule, because that old, honking 3.5" hard drive and the ultra-INEFFICIENT Time Machine protocol is dog-slow. It takes about 2 minutes to load a particular folder to see its files, and restoring a file is done at a rate that's only marginally faster than the download speed from Amazon Cloud Drive.

    Usually I can open Arq, search for a filename and download that document in a third of the time it takes for the Time Capsule to wake up the hard disk, mount, find the folders, show all files and pull out a file...

    So no, I do not recommend the Apple routers at all. They do have great range and are reliable, but they're a terrible backup solution - and faster and smaller and cheaper dedicated routers exist.
     
  21. steve23094 macrumors 68000

    steve23094

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    Apr 23, 2013
    #21
    Firmware can make a difference, you're probably using a more recent version. There is also some debate whether these web based tests are accurate. What sort of speed are you getting downloading extremely large files (giving time for the connection to stabilise)?
     
  22. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #22
    True about the firmware. I've since migrated over to a UniFi gateway/AP setup. Performance is similar (I wasn't having any issues w/ the Airport's performance, just wanted a new project to work on). Love it!

    Now just need to sell my Airport Extreme (current gen) and Time Capsule...
     
  23. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

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    #23

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