Question about new Airport Base station-n, gigabit, etc.

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by RickR, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. RickR macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2006
    I have a system that is set up currently as below:
    My home office which is the basement of the house I have a Windows XP desktop which acts as a server. This computer has a Linksys router where the internet comes in and as well that connects via Ethernet (100) to the main desktop.
    As well, another ethernet cable goes out of this which then connects to another 10/100 hub which from then connects to 3 items, two large printers as well as a slingbox.
    The 3rd ethernet going out of this router then goes to the main floor of the house which is the living area. This living area has another 10/100 hub. At this point it hooks into another Windows XP laptop and the 2nd cable going out of this main level hub hooks into a Linksys Wireless Access Point. This wi-fi is used for several things such as the MacBook Pro I'm typing on now as well as a XBox 360 and Nintendo Wii.

    I wish I could draw this out without confusing anyone. My problem is with purchasing an Apple TV and with having the newer C2D MBP with n networking I really want to upgrade to 'n' networking but have several questions as stated below:

    1. I am very interested in the new Airport Base Station but yet it doesn't have gigabit. There are other brands out there such as Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, and Belkin. Some seem to have gigabit and as well 'draft-n'. Do these draft-n work with the draft-n apple uses and in the future which is likely to be more compatible? What I mean is if the final n has major changes will it possibly be that other brands won't work with Apple products where the Airport Base Station is made to work with the final n spec as well as the 'draft-n' on Apple products?

    2. If I go to another brand any suggestions?

    3. I'm considering going to an Airport because I just am a switcher and am happy how Apple products seem to be so much easier to set up and use and the USB port is a nice bonus. I plan on upgrading the main computer this summer to a Mac Pro. I assume by then the wi-fi option will support 'n' so plan to use that. The main computer is used as a file server in general and I may even upgrade my one remaining desktop to a draft n card and since wi-fi seems more reliable now (in the past I never had much luck with it and used to only want to use wired if possible) I am considering possibly just basically converting my entire wired network over to wi-fi except for the slingbox and printers since they only offer ethernet. Then again I've heard I could buy a print server to hook into both of the printers which would make them wi-fi so I may well look into that.

    4. Range-Currently my linksys WAP is on the main level which gives good converage all around the house as well as the front and back yard. The basement where my office is is in range for most of it but some areas are weak but workable. if i switch to the airport this would be hooked onto my main computer. This would definitely give a strong signal there but would it as well cover my main level and front and back yards. I have a ranch brick house and around 1/3 acre of land.

    5. I'm concerned about this fact that 'g' networking slows down the entire network. I understand on a n network the 'g' items still will run at 'g' speed and probably have 'g' range but would they actually slow down the other items? if this is true I may consider keeping my Linksys WAP on the main level and using that as a 'g' network for the xbox and wii since those are 'g' products and on the main level and use the airport for the mac products.

    6 Of course the final thing and I know no one knows this but maybe within a year a Wireless Base station will be able with gigabit. I just don't think Im' willing to wait so may just have to upgrade then. how often are these base stations updated?

    I apologize for the many questions I have asked. I'm a relative newbie to the mac field and obviously this new networking. I just want to make sure I go about it right. Thanks in advance for the help.
  2. Kelmon macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2005
    United Kingdom
    As best as I understand these things I'll make the following comments based on your statements and questions:

    Firstly, the current 802.11n implementations are based on a draft specification that is liable to change and therefore means that the manufacturers are not designing to a standard. Given this you can expect that the devices of each manufacturer will play nicely with their own products but there is no guarantee that they'll play nicely with those of anyone else. It is probably that firmware updates will be released to update these devices to the full standard when it is finally ratified but in the meantime you're taking a risk mixing and matching devices.

    I've no idea which manufacturers are reliable but my MacBook Pro has been able to happily connect to devices from the likes of Netgear and D-Link.

    The signal range of the new Airport Extreme station is supposed to be better than that of previous routers but whether this proves to be the case or not remains to be seen. I am, however, looking to buy one myself and one of the reasons why is that I have a very low signal in parts of my house that I hope this unit will resolve.

    In the time that I have switched to a Mac (almost 4-years now) and bought an Airport Extreme base station Apple has never updated it apart from firmware updates. They did introduce the Airport Express system a few years back but I definitely consider that to be a new product rather than an update. Given this information it is entirely possible that Apple might never update this unit with Gigabit ethernet until a new wireless standard is developed that supersedes 802.11n. I certainly wouldn't hold your breath but I could be wrong...

    Hope that helps in some way.

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