Network Airport Expresses

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by peixesloucos, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. peixesloucos macrumors member

    peixesloucos

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Location:
    Brussels
    #1
    Hi,

    For our 2bedroom apartment I have spots without good coverage of WIFI. My cable modem is connected with an ethernet to Airport Express (A1392). I use powerline to bring internet to another Airport Express (A1392) at the bedroom. Now I want to bring internet to 2nd room and for this reason considering to buy A1264 so that I can plug it to the electricity socket. Can I have WIFI extension with this approach? If it works I would also like to connect ethernet to apple tv in this room.
     
  2. techwarrior macrumors 6502

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #2
    Your approach to the second A1392 is a good one, if the WiFi signal is weak, connecting AP Express via Ethernet (direct or over power line) will always be a better bet than extending the network using Wifi. So, get another power line adapter to connect the third AP Express via Ethernet.

    AP Express can "extend" your WiFi in two ways. If configured in "Bridge Mode" and connected to Ethernet, the WiFi signal from the secondary Access Points will devote 100% of it's WiFi capability to wireless client connections. But, if configured to wirelessly "Extend" the network, it will use 50% of the WiFi capability to connect to the primary Airport, and the other 50% for client connections. If the room with the third AP Express has a weak signal and is splitting the WiFi capacity between backbone to the primary Airport and clients, speed in that part of the home will be miserable.

    The best approach is to use Ethernet to connect your secondary access points to the primary. And keep in mind, each secondary AP should have a direct (or powerline) Ethernet connection to the primary router for best results:
    (AP1 <> router <> AP2) as opposed to serially stringing them (router <> AP1 <> AP2).

    I did this with TP-LINK AV1200 Powerline Adapter (TL-PA8010P) which theoretically offers 1200Mbps ethernet speeds over power line and you can have one adapter connected to the main router, and two secondary adapters connected in each room (total of 3 adapters) with AP Express connected via Ethernet to each of the secondary adapters. Since these offer power pass through, the A1264 works well and affords a compact solution in the remote rooms. But, the A1264 and A1392 WiFi is 802.11n only, so max speeds will be about on par with the Ethernet over power line speed. If your internet service is less than 100Mbps, and you don't transfer or stream large amounts of data across your WiFi, you should be good.

    However, if your internet connection is better than 100Mbps, or if you will do a lot of video streaming (such as iTunes video content to your TVs), then an 802.11ac solution with dual band (2.4GHz + 5GHz) bands may be a better solution. While distance on 5GHz bands is generally less than 2.4GHz, the AC routers generally offer more WiFi bandwidth using MIMO or multiple streams. Generally, speeds at the same distances from AC routers are far greater than speeds with N routers. So, you may find one AC router such as AirPort Extreme ME918LL/A may be a better solution than 3 Airport Express 802.11n devices. Also, if possible, place the router in a central location in the home to ensure the best coverage.
     
  3. peixesloucos thread starter macrumors member

    peixesloucos

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Location:
    Brussels
    #3
    Thank you very much!

     
  4. peixesloucos thread starter macrumors member

    peixesloucos

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Location:
    Brussels
    #4
    Just a follow-up,

    I was thinking that A1392 is a simultaneous dual-band router. I am now considering to purchase used A1408 to place next to the cable modem and then perhaps move the second A1392 or keep it in the second room using powerline adapter.

    My question is (assuming A1408 and A1392 are compatible) wont I have dual band solution, perhaps not fast as the 6th gen Airport Extreme (A1521). About this I read ac matters for new MBP and iPhone onwards. I have late-2011 MBP, my wife uses iPhone6s but not so sure will be the added value of ac. Our internet is upto 100 Mbps (download) and 15 Mbps (upload). With the current setup I am avg 70-80 Mpbs (download) and 10 Mbps (upload).


     
  5. techwarrior macrumors 6502

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #5
    Yes, they will be compatible. My setup is current Gen Time Capsule as main router, APExpress 1392 and AP Express A1264. The TC is AC, broadcasting both AC and N on 2.4 + 5GHz, the 1392 is dual band N on both 2.4 and 5 GHz, and the 1264 is single band 2.4 GHz N.

    The main consideration is the signal strength. As you intend to connect the third AP via Ethernet (over power line), you will not diminish your speed by adding the third AP.

    The 1392 has a WAN + LAN port, so if you have Ethernet capable devices (ATV for example), they can connect to the LAN port while the power line connects to the WAN port. Thus, the 1392 is effectively both a Access Point for WiFi, and a bridge\switch for Ethernet devices. If you have 2+ Ethernet devices, a cheap hub\switch connected to the LAN port on the 1392 can share the LAN port with multiple Ethernet connected devices. Theoretically, the more devices sharing WiFi, the less bandwidth for each. So, any Ethernet connected devices leave more WiFi bandwidth for the rest of your devices.
     
  6. peixesloucos thread starter macrumors member

    peixesloucos

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Location:
    Brussels
    #6
    At the end of the day, I decided to make a forward looking purchase and luckily found a second hand Airport Extreme (6th gen with AC). Since we may soon or later move to a bigger apartment (thee bedrooms, doublex) I will tend to keep the 2 APExpress 1392s. In terms of performance, will it make sense to add the Airport Extreme as a third branch with a powerline to my new office room which currently takes wifi signal from the bedroom (see the screenshot)?
     

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  7. techwarrior macrumors 6502

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #7
    I would make the AP Extreme the main router. The Extreme has 1Gb ports (WAN and LAN), so if your ISP increases speed and your modem has 1Gb ports, the Internet connection won't be restricted by the 100Mb WAN port on the Express. And, any newer devices that connect via 5GHz AC will get the best possible performance connecting to the Internet. Further, the Extreme's 1Gb ports vs. the Express's 10\100 would presumably mean the overall throughput on the Extreme is greater than the Express (it has faster CPU as well as more backbone bandwidth for handling both wired and wireless traffic). So, using Extreme as the router will likely be slightly faster. or less lag. In general, you want the best performer at the core of the network, with the weaker links at the edges.

    Good choice thinking about the future, Apple AC routers are solid performers. Certainly, there are better routers, but given ISP services are often no faster than 100Mbps, they may be overkill for many of us. For Mac\iOS\ATV users, having all Apple solutions makes a lot of things just work without tweaking.

    The keys to best performance with multiple devices are Ethernet (direct or powerline) between the devices, use the same SSID and password (to enable easy roaming), and setting the secondary devices to be bridged mode for Connection Sharing. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204616 is a decent high level overview of setting up a Roaming WiFi network, though it is a bit dated (AP utility has changed quite a bit since the article was written), but concepts are solid.

    As for 5GHz vs 2.4 GHz using the same or different SSID, I haven't seen a clear benefit with one strategy vs the other. The same SSID makes it easier for devices to just connect to the best signal, but the separate SSID lets you choose which band to use. Most devices are smart enough to choose the best WiFi signal without intervention, and you can prioritize your WiFi connections on the Mac (which propagates to iOS devices if you use Keychain sync feature of iCloud).

    I enable Guest WiFi only when needed. That reduces contention as it competes with your 2.4 and 5GHz network signals.
     
  8. peixesloucos thread starter macrumors member

    peixesloucos

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Location:
    Brussels
    #8
    Hi again. My AC arrived and I established as a main router. I observe one issue with the AirPort Utility. The new Extreme some how disappears from the Utility but keeps working. I may need to perform a hard reset to see if it relates to old settings.

    While checking all settings, I am not sure which one to choose for Internet Options: Configure IPv6 (link-local only or Automatic?) Which one should I choose especially for the two Airport Expresses?
     
  9. techwarrior macrumors 6502

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #9
    There is an update that came out yesterday that fixes the disappearing router, it has something to do with Back To My Mac being enabled and is supposed to fix this disappearing act. I had this happen, and I did a Hard Reset on the router (see https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201945) and then restored the previous settings when prompted. No issues since doing this, but will apply the update tonight for good measure.

    I have simply left IPv6 settings at default. If your ISP supports v6, it will assign both a v4 and v6 address to the WAN port. IPv6 is generally deployed with DHCP due to the ungodly complexity of addresses. Automatic will presumably assign IPv6 addresses to local devices if supported, as well as v4 addresses. I suspect the link-local setting is for disabling v6 on the WAN if the ISP doesn't support it and it causes issues.
     

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