Is the Apple Airport Series still worth it in 2017?

linkmon99

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 6, 2017
32
0
Hi guys, so right now I'm a high school student soon to be entering college, and I know a good wifi connection is a big deal. Currently at my home we have a Ubee DVW326 Modem which supplies internet to the whole house, but it definitely slacks upstairs and in the basement. I just recently bought an Imac which I plan to put in the basement, but fear that the connection will be poor. Also, since I plan to bring the Imac to college, I assume I'll need some sort of extender to bring with me there too?!

I'm not well educated in this router stuff, but from what I can tell the apple airport series are routers which help to extend the wifi range and also up the speed? This sounds perfect for me for the basement and my college dorm, but I'm kind of unsure what model to buy, if any.

I know there is the airport express, extreme, and the time capsule. The time capsule seems cool because I can backup my files, but would an external SSD just be better? If that's the case, should I just get the express? But one issue I found with all of these airport devices (according to some people) is that they fail after a year for some reason, which seems worrisome.

Based on this information, my question is, should I get an airport device (and which one) or should I get something totally different (and what do you recommend if so?)

Sorry that this is so much but I'm confused and can really use the help! :)
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,182
5,536
The last version of the Airport Extreme is now at least 3 (or is it 4?) years old, and Apple seems to have disbanded the Airport development team. I'm going to -guess- that at some point in the future, it's going to be deemed "obsolete" by Apple and will no longer be supported by software updates.

That said, I'm sure that any Airport Extreme running today will probably continue to run and still be usable for at least 3-4 more years, probably longer.

However, the AE is becoming "old tech".

For covering several floors of a house, one of the new-fangled "mesh" type systems is probably the way to go, such as:
- eero
- google wifi
- Ubiquiti Amplifi
- Netgear Orbi
- Linksys Velop
- Plume

Be aware that most of these require either an iOS or Android device to run an app to set up and manage them.
Orbi and Velop are accessible through a webGUI as well (although Velop is a bit more difficult to get going that way -- still wrangling with the Velop I got a couple of days ago).
 

robgendreau

macrumors 68040
Jul 13, 2008
3,286
229
That said, I'm sure that any Airport Extreme running today will probably continue to run and still be usable for at least 3-4 more years, probably longer.
Do NOT assume this. Apple is one of the very few manufacturers that requires use of a proprietary program to operate their network stuff, the Airport Utility. In a previous OS update they killed (rather arbitrarily) AU 5.6, which instantly rendered their old network equipment as paperweights if you needed to change configurations. Meanwhile, you can repurpose old Linksys or whatever equipment with a browser and even stuff like Tomato. So no, don't buy an Airport.

Also, a router with external antennas is gonna have better broadcast ability if you use a single one, or try the new mesh ones as Fishrrman suggests.

For backing up files at college I'd recommend a USB 3 caddy and bare HDD drives. SSDs aren't cost effective for backup since their speed is wasted. Rotate internal HDDs in the caddy and store one somewhere else, like at home. It's important to have something off site since dorms are just too accessible and if that NAS walks you're hosed.
 
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itsamacthing

macrumors 6502a
Sep 26, 2011
824
453
Bangkok
If I had to buy all over today, I would look at the MESH options. It's a shame Apple didn't stay ahead of the curve with this... they could sell it as a loss leader. Great part of the Apple Eco system.. I miss the old AU that was super granular
 
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RobbieTT

macrumors 6502
Apr 3, 2010
307
202
United Kingdom
Do NOT assume this. Apple is one of the very few manufacturers that requires use of a proprietary program to operate their network stuff, the Airport Utility. In a previous OS update they killed (rather arbitrarily) AU 5.6, which instantly rendered their old network equipment as paperweights if you needed to change configurations.
I use the last generation of Extremes as access points (x4) and a single Time Machine for AP & NAS. Super stable, super reliable and wife-friendly enough to have dotted around the place. The latest tweak on AU / Sierra to allow the selection or deletion of the 2.4 & 5 GHz was a welcome change.

Yes it is true that Apple moved away from AU 5.6 but it not completely dead. I still run AU 5.6.1 on Sierra via the launcher script so have full functionality on the older devices too.

Nothing else in consumer wifi comes close to the AE for stability and reliability. If you want to improve on AE you have to move to enterprise grade kit.
 

MacGizmo

macrumors 65816
Apr 27, 2003
1,403
768
Arizona
Apple's Airport was NEVER worth the cost, despite the fact they were easy to set up. Most modern routers are dead simple to set up and use. Most have USB ports so you can plug-in an external storage drive for use with Time Machine. And most cost about $100 give or take a little.

While the ones with antennas sticking out look rather ugly, they work SO MUCH BETTER. The range and signal strength in my house is far better with my Linksys router than it ever was with the three Airports I had over the years. And quite frankly, the router is sitting up on a shelf behind some items... so I don't even see it.

The Airport (Time Capsule models) were nice to look at, but they always gave up the ghost after about two years for me.
 

bigpoppamac31

macrumors 68020
Aug 16, 2007
2,172
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Canada

apple_iBoy

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2003
677
403
Philadelphia, PA
OP, if you're living in college housing, be aware that the institution's IT department may very well not allow you to put your own router on their network.
 

Glideslope

macrumors 603
Dec 7, 2007
6,126
3,145
A quiet place in NY.
OP, if you're living in college housing, be aware that the institution's IT department may very well not allow you to put your own router on their network.
Yes, a must do. Both my children had to get permission to set up their own "Network Bubble" in their room (when living on campus.) Had to pay for an outside ISP. :apple:
 

DaveTheRave

macrumors 6502a
May 22, 2003
597
168
I'm not well educated in this router stuff, but from what I can tell the apple airport series are routers which help to extend the wifi range and also up the speed?
From what I've read, what you're proposing is extending the network. With Apple gear you'll increase coverage but at the cost of cutting your throughput in half.

Apple routers do not support mesh networking, which is what I would be looking for if I had to buy a new router today.
 
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