Maddening Wifi Reception problem

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Solochris, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. Solochris macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2008
    In the last week my 2-year-old MacBook has developed an odd and increasingly frustrating problem -- hoping someone has advice: When the laptop gets more than about 5 feet from the wifi router it's using (whether the one in my apartment, or the one at my sister's place, or the one at the coffeeshop) it loses the signal. In fact, it doesn't just lose it - once about 20 feet away, it can't even find the signal. Even sitting next to the router, it only registers 4 bars, not full strength...

    I'm pretty certain it's my laptop's problem, as my buddy can have no problems in our apartment with his (older) MacBook. Ditto my sister at her place. I'm a computer moron, so I've tried the basics, to fix this (turning the connection on/off, mucking with the preferences). Nothing's helping.

    Anybody got a diagnosis/prescription? I'm a freelance writer and my computer and access to the Web is my life, so I'm increasingly worried about this. Thanks.
  2. chscag macrumors 68030


    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Run the hardware test for your MacBook and see what it says. It may be that your Airport card is dying. Another test to perform is to attach an ethernet cable from your router or modem to the MacBook. That will enable you to determine if the net connection is OK and stable. Even if the Airport card is defective, the ethernet connection will still work OK.

  3. Solochris thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2008
    following up

    So I plugged an ethernet cable into my home router... and the connection that way is aces. Fast as lightning.

    So what does this tell me -- that there's a wifi reception issue INSIDE my computer? Anything more?
  4. SHADO macrumors 6502a


    Aug 14, 2008
    You need to run the hardware diagnostic by inserting the Leopard Install Disk 1 that came with your computer (if your computer didn't come with Leopard and you upgraded manually, then just insert the Leopard disk). Then restart and hold down the D key on startup and let it do its thing. My bet is that your Airport card is fried and it's time to get a new one.
  5. maverick808 macrumors 65816


    Jun 30, 2004
    I'm not sure running a hardware test will achieve much (although you should still do it). I suspect the antenna has become damaged or disconnected from the AirPort card inside the machine. Although rare, I have seen this happen before.

    If you don't mind opening the machine, it is relatively easy to check for antenna damage.
  6. eman macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2007
    In the great white north
    Yes, I would check for this problem. The mini airport card could be bad. Any warranty?
  7. Solochris thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2008
    an update - maybe you'll have a further suggestion: so I put in the disk and ran the both the brief and extended diagnostic. The computer found no hardware problems with itself, at all.

    I'm at a coffeeshop today, and here's what happens: The computer starts by recognizing the wifi signal, 4 bars... then within about 5 minutes, drops to 1 bar, then immediately loses the connection completely (while other users are fine). Then, for a time, I can't access the wifi signal at all. (I'm sitting 5 feet from it, with just one other user in the room....) Now I'm sitting here typing this on one bar of signal strength, and have been knocked off a few times.

    At home, I can barely or not even get on my own wifi network, even sitting beside the router.

    I'm going to see the Apple Genius folks this afternoon. But I'm a poor freelance writer and am hoping to make this as painless as possible, if anyone has any other suggestions...
  8. cyberbuddhah macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2008
    The culprit seems to be Airport Utility 5.3.2 version.
    If you have Leopard 10.5.6 pre-installed, you may try to finf Airport Utility 5.2.2 somewhere on the net and downgrade it.

    Avoid Airport Utility 5.3.2 like “Leper” (nothing personal here)! I think this update is only for those with Time Capsule or Airport Express Router.
    That explains why, when you bring your MBP to the Genius Bar at the Apple store, the connection works great because you connect to Apple’s Router while at home or other places this Airport Utility thing keep looking for Apple’s Airport station and demand that you spend some more hard earned cha-ching to buy Apple’s hardware (router). Doh.

    If you use "mainstream" routers (majority of the cases), this update probably is the culprit to all headache.

    Somewhere along, I have updated this package by mistake.
    After tons of headaches, I found out the fix: get rid of that Airport Utility 5.3.2!

    What I did today is, re-installed Leopard from the DVD install disk (Leopard 10.5.2) then updated straight to Combo 10.5.6 update package.! My connection is rock..a.. solid!

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