Love my new Air - dont think I can live with the wi-fi xfer rate tho

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by waikikiTed, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. waikikiTed macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2008
    I'm searching for info - Im trying anything I can think of..... Download/x-fer thruput is absolutely unacceptable on this. Keep in mind that this notebook is made for portability.

    I have a very powerful, high performing home network - dual band, dual channel Linksys - Im even standing in the same room as the router and my x-fer speeds via internet are slower than edge speeds on my iPhone Vol 1. I get an average download xfer rate in the low double digit range whether the file is a meg or multi-meg. I dont get this.??

    I have great speeds on every other laptop I own. I can take my powerbook w/ Airport in the yard and get good speeds. I can stream HD to my MediaCenter two floors down - but the MB Air?

    But here's where Im confused -

    alt/Airport click shows only a transmit rate of 50-60 on average. Dropping in the teens often enuff. This changes only slightly when I switch between the 5gHz band and the 2ghz band. So signal is low on the MB Air.

    BUT, when I run DSL speed Test, I can get a report of acceptable rates (between 700 kb/sec and higher). BUT when I then try and do some real life downloading, like a simple mp3 or pdf - I get the crawl. The same file being d/l on my PowerBook will blaze.

    What could be wrong?

    I seriously may return the MB Air if this is something I have to live with. I want this notebook for the portability, but if I can get acceptable WiFi connect speeds, then its useless. I already have had to make the compromise of knowing I can't easily get Broadband wireless on this thing without a frankenstein looking usb device (which also would require me to eat the cost of a $200 upgrade from my new PMCIAwifi card)

    Am I missing something obvious?
  2. brudy macrumors member

    May 23, 2008
    I would try a few things:

    1) Take your MBA somewhere that has free wifi and try it there. If it's still wonky then it's probably the MBA

    2) Did you try connecting to another machine on your lan/network and copying files across? How's that speed?

    3) Your network is set up for 802.11n?

    4) Just out of curiosity, what OS is your powerbook running? My wife had serious wireless issues with her macbook once we went to leopard and lasting until I dumped my old airport and got a new one. My 10.4 powerbook ran great all the time and I never updated.

    I'm running pretty much at 130 all the time and never have an issue with speed here...
  3. Abbas macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2008
    I have Airport Extreme 802.11n at my place and WiFi rates are as good as my MBP. I can easily stream a 720p hi-def on my MBA and downloads max at my Internet Conenction speed of 400Kbps.

    As suggested, try your MBA at another WiFi and if speeds are still sloppy, then get it changed.

  4. Alan Taylor macrumors 6502

    Alan Taylor

    May 14, 2006
    Sorry, I miss-understood. Why can't you get wireless without a $200 'frankenstien' USB card?
  5. Savagestorm macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2008
    Sounds like a faulty MBA to me, take it to an Apple store to get it checked out. My MBA, as I'm typing is streaming video at 950 kb/s without an issue, airport card at 49 degrees, CPU at 57 and fan running at 4500 rpm. Slow wireless reception on a device such as the MBA is unacceptable, however mine has the best WiFi strength of any device I own.

    Basically take it to an Apple store and get them to check it out.
  6. dudup macrumors regular


    May 28, 2008
    São Paulo, Brazil
    I can ensure you that the Air has the best wireless performance of all MacBooks, and it crushes the wifi on my iMac 24 Alu. Tried and true.
  7. waikikiTed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2008

    I was expressing myself "tongue in cheek" but referring to my dislike for the USB wi-fi dongle (AT&T - Verizon - etc) It kinda reminds me of the old days of laptops where we had to have those usb 802.11b usb adapters when home wi-fi got popular.

    Personally, I prefer the PMCIA cards, even if thy may be a little weaker. I just like the lower profile look of tucking it into my laptop.

    I travel the Western US 3-4 days per week, and anything I can do to carry one less accessory, and have one less thing hanging from my system is important to me.

    I'll probably have to bite the bulet tho and buy a AT&T USB Adapter. I just got a new contract and PMCIA card about 3 months ago, so the only way I can qet it, is to outright buy it and swap sim cards I guess.
  8. waikikiTed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2008
    WOW Thanks for all the replies! I appreciate the help and advice.

    1. Im on the road for work on Monday morning. I plan to try out the MBA in a couple airports and see what I get downloading the same file. I'm also going to see what I get downloading from my home server remotely, since that's a connection I can control access to and see the x-fer log.

    2. I have copied files across the home network, - speed seems decent. That's why I was wondering if there was something I was missing as far as setting up the network adapter or power saving on MBA. Guess not tho.

    3. 802.11n - yes. I played around with the settings today - set the 5.8ghz band for 802.11n exclusively - narrow band, CTS protection disabled, and then set the 2.4ghz band for mixed-mode (g&N) - wide band, CTS disabled, max power. My transmit rate on 2.4 has been hovering between 48-54 (once again in the same room as router) and its about 10 lower when I switch to 5.8

    4. 3 of the Mac Laptops are all running Leopard - latest updates. The PowerBook G4 with the good xfer rates and the MacBook both ae running the latest updated Leopard just like the new MBA in my lap.


    Maybe Im just being too picky, or paranoid. I'll see and report back when i fo as you suggest and check out the connection and xfer speeds on the road tomorrow.

    Thanks again
  9. rom macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2006
    My MBA wifi transfer speed goes to as high as what my broadband connection can provide (300+ KB/s). Local file transfer (wireless to a wired computer) goes up to 10MB/s.
  10. voi666 macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2007
    mine maxes out at about 2.8mb/s (direct line of sight to my brand new wireless n-router). avg. is about 0.9 with large files.
    not enough to watch my ripped dvds (yes, i own the originals) over the network. a shame.

    any chance of boosting wireless performance?
  11. waikikiTed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2008
    Hi all -

    Well, I didn't get to check the x-fer rate on the road yesterday - at last minute, I realized that I wouldn't have Broadband Wireless if I brought my new Air instead of my work provided Dell (since my wireless lifeline for work is the PMCIA 3G card....) Had to choose one or the other

    TOMORROW - Im heading to San Diego and traveling lighter so can bring both the Air and the Dell as carry-ons and check the x-fer rate for comparison.

    Interesting tho - every time I check my wi-fi/DSL speed with Speakeasy DSL Speed Test, I consistently get high rates - around 1.5 mb/sec. This is coupled with my transmit rate being about 40 (yet 4 bars on airport). Maybe Im just putting too much significance on this, and all is just as it should be - and I should be content.

    How important a number is that "transmit rate" number in relation to performance if Im getting 4 bars in the airport strength icon? I decided to connect my older airport express block as an extender and put it right next to me. I connect at "g" only and see transmit rates of single digits, but good connection so Im thinking it's something I shouldnt obsess about.
  12. waikikiTed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2008
    Just an update -

    Received my AT&T 881 wi-fi card today and it's not as "frankenstein" as I thought. I can live with it.

    As for the wi-fi transfer test with my Air - I can live with this. It's sporadic as far as speed goes, so maybe Im just now paying more attention to it than before since I "noticed" it. I received enough good wi-fi transfer rates on my last roadtrip to San Diego Thursday to believe that the slowdown Im seeing is just the nature of the wi-fi beast in general.

    But, I DO love my Air!
  13. shafj macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008
    I share my ADSL connection via my home network using wireless and wired ethernet. Internet downloads were extremely slow on all of my macs (MBP, MBA & Mac Mini). It was literally one fifth the speed I was getting from my Windows XP systems (an old sony Vaio & an Asus EEEpc).

    After much frustration, I came across something on the internet. Apparently, there might be conflicts with the TCP Window Scaling (RFC1323) feature on Macosx and some ISPs. Windows Vista, Linux and Win2000 users are also affected. For some reason Windows XP users are unaffected. Anyway my problems completely disappeared after I turned off this “feature” on my Mac systems.

    To do this, open terminal and type:
    sysctl -w net.inet.tcp.rfc1323=0

    this change will only affect the current session. To make the change permanent type:

    sudo echo "net.inet.tcp.rfc1323=0" > /etc/sysctl.conf

    Note: you may need to enter the root password.

    For more info click here.

    Hope this helps!
  14. waikikiTed thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2008
    AWESOME advice! That's what I was hoping for - some sort of reason that could cause a conflict since outside of the house (ie traveling) the xfer is OK, but at home its kinda wonky. This could explain why my wife occasionally complains about the net being so "sloooow" inside the house. I never believed her and figured it was cause I had too many torrents going in the background!

    Im gonna try this out. Thanks again.

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