Performance issues when extending airport extreme network with airport express

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Birkovic, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Birkovic macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2013

    I am new to the forum as well as a new mac owner. Hopefully I have come to the right place for asking questions. :)

    I am trying to extend my home network that is based on a 5th gen airport extreme with a new 2nd gen airport express. I do this mainly because I need a printer in a different room shared with the rest of the network while at the same time I want to connect my NAS.

    Now the problem is that as soon as I extend the network I drop network speed quite dramatically. Im sort of picky with the speed so I cant let that happend. When only the airport extreme is connected I get just over 90 Mbit/sec connection all around the appartement. With the airport express I get only 40 Mbit/sec.

    Why is this happening? Is it to be expected that the express is "slower" than the extreme in this way? I have set it to extend the 5ghz network and this increases it slightly (from 30 to 40). Should I head back to the store and ask for a replacement express, or just simply get a new extreme (or rather a time capsule in this case).

    Happy for suggestions

  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    It's my understanding that the problem you are experiencing is common. By extending your wifi you have reduced your bandwidth because the devices are using some of the bandwidth to communicate with each other. The way around this is to connect the two airports via Ethernet (either direct or using power line converters). Changing the device will not help.
  3. Birkovic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2013
    OK. Thank you very much for a fast reply. Seems to be quite a significant drop though. Does this mean that If I want to use for instance a time capsule together with my already existing extreme, I will also have to settle for a reduced bandwith as long as I dont hook them up via cable? If so, that kind of sucks.
  4. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia

    WIFI is a shared medium, and unfortunately there is only so much bandwidth available in the frequency we are allowed (via the FCC) to use.

    This is not an apple problem or an airport problem - it is common to any 802.11 wifi product.
  5. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    It's my understanding that the bandwidth reduction isn't related to sharing the bandwidth, but because the data has to be sent twice. Same outcome.

    With a wired connection the network becomes a roaming network, not an extended network.
  6. Giuly, Feb 18, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013

    Giuly macrumors 68040


    The problem here is this: The AirPort Express only extends one of the networks, either 2.4GHz (40MB/s) or 5GHz (90MB/s). Your Express extends the 2.4GHz network, and your client device connects to the strongest network around.

    Either configure your AirPort Express to extend the 5GHz network or get a dual-band extender like the Netgear WN3500RP.
  7. corvus32 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2009

    It extends both.

    The 2012 Express (which the OP has) is simultaneous dual-band, plus it's not possible to disable either radio on an Airport.
  8. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I think that's true with the older WDS method (which is the only option on b/g networks), but I don't think the Extend method (which only works on n networks) has that issue.
  9. FreakinEurekan, Feb 19, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013

    FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    I have the first-gen Express, but I assume the 2nd gen can function the same way - I set up my 1st gen as a "Client" on the network. If your wireless range is adequate with the Extreme alone, you shouldn't need to use the "Extend" feature; just let the Express act as a client for your printer (I use mine just for speakers).

    The 2nd gen manual doesn't seem very clear on whether "Client" mode is an option like it is in the 1st gen (see page 15) so I'm not positive this is a workable solution, but someone else may have more experience with the 2nd gen Express.

    Edit: Just to clarify, here's the page on the AirPort utility for my Express - set to "Join a wireless network" instead of "Extend a wireless network"

    Attached Files:

  10. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    as the last poster said, if you don't need the range extension, have the express join the main.

    another option...
    if you can hardwire the express, you won't see the drop in speed, and still get the incresed wireless range.
    (you can either use traditional ethernet, or powerline networking if running an ethernet cable isn't an option)
    just set up the express to be in bridge mode, and give it the same SSIDs as the main base.
  11. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
  12. Birkovic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2013
    Thank you very much for the replies. I will try to connect as a client tomorrow. That sounds as a workable plan. Wires are kind of my last resort right now, so if that doesnt work I will turn to the powerline option. :)

  13. Birkovic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2013
    Hi and sorry for picking this up again after some time, but I've been working and have not really had the time to finish my set up until now.

    Anyway, I now have a working setup wit the express not used to actually extend the network. Instead it is connected as a client. My printer is connected to the express and my iMac finds it without problem. However this is not the case with my two PC's (running Windows 7). Do I need to change something in particular inorder to get this to work. I suppose I could share the printer from the iMac, but this would not really be the same thing now would it? If I turn of my iMac then the other computers will not be able to print in that scenario.

    So... any suggestions?
  14. BBorges macrumors newbie

    Jul 17, 2014
    Hi, you should go back to "extending" the wireless network, you will take a 50% hit on speed, but unless you use the wired approach describe previously to make a "roaming" network (which is difficult, you've said), then it is what it is. See here for explanation:
    Anyway, Extend the network, the Windows machines will then see the same wireless network as the Extreme puts out. Make sure to use the same SSID, password and Security settings (WPA, WPA2 etc.).
  15. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    This thread is over a year old.
  16. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    So what? It was a helpful reply that may assist others who come across this thread through a search. Nothing wrong with that.
  17. B&B, Sep 1, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014

    B&B macrumors newbie

    Dec 1, 2013
    I'm also seeing a drop in speed but I'm using different hardware. I'm extending a time capsule with an Extreme. I also see a significant drop in speed when trying to extend the network.

    I've tried moving the Extreme to different locations but ultimately my speed takes a hit when it is used to extend the network so I'm guessing the above made points apply in my case too?

    My iMac gets download speeds of 80+ Mb/s. iPhone 5s getting 20-30 down on extended network but 10 up same as iMac.
  18. steveradams macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2014
    I am using a new AirPort Extreme and then extending my 3rd generation time capsule. I have a 50gbps service at my house but could only get 8gbps download in the new AirPort Extreme. I read this post and went upstairs and unplugged the power to the time capsule to take it off the network and BOOM! I'm running 42gbps download of the bed AirPort Extreme. The extended network using the older Time Capsule was the culprit.
    Thanks to this thread.

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