Range of Airport Extreme in three story house

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by TheyCallMeBT, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. TheyCallMeBT macrumors regular


    Jan 9, 2013
    Hey folks. I've been running with a Linksys WRT54G/L for quite a few years now. It's amazing how many reviews that thing has on Newegg. It's at the top of the list of most reviews. But it's just too problematic and I've been trying to find something different. I've only recently started looking at the Airport models. I didn't think much of them at first. But from what I have seen, I think that they will have an "it just works" approach and not be the complicated mess that most routers are.

    As far as range, I have never had a problem with the Linksys with my devices. But others in the house have. There's six of us (from ages 6 to 56), so there's probably at least 20 wifi devices between us all from iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, PCs, Macs, Xbox, and a TV.

    The layout is basement, then main story, then second story. The main story (middle) is where the router is. I'd say it's about 1500 sq. ft. The second story is about 1200 sq. ft. And the apartment style basement is about 800 sq. ft.

    The place that has the worst pickup is the bedroom in the basement apartment. The router is on the north side of the main level. And that bedroom is on the south side of the basement level, and it's an addition to the house, so it's even farther away.

    So I have the Linksys set to default output, which is 18dBm. And I found that the max output for the Airport Extreme is 32.5 dBm AND that it has the direct beaming functionality (though I think most of the devices in the house don't have the correct version of 802.11 to use that).

    So ultimately, my question is, would I be better off in range with the Airport Extreme vs my Linksys? Or even the Express.. I wouldn't mind saving $100, but I didn't think it would work out. Thanks!
  2. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    The AirPort Extreme performs well. As to if it will give you adequate coverage, no way to know without trying it - too many factors that can affect range.

    However one huge benefit of the AirPort system is how easy it is to supplement your wireless coverage by adding one or more AirPort Express auxiliary stations. They can extend your wireless coverage by putting access points where you need them most. Ideally you'll connect the Expresses back to the Extreme using Ethernet (for best wireless performance) but it actually works pretty well running them wirelessly also; if you're primarily sharing an Internet connection & not so worried about local LAN traffic speed you probably won't notice the difference between the remote nodes being wireless vs. wired.
  3. eecyclone macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2013
    My 2nd gen airport extreme covered my 2 story + basement house pretty well, and it is in the basement. I have since upgraded to a 5th gen (dual band) airport extreme and made the 2nd gen extreme a wifi extender. You could do something similar with your existing Linksys. You might have to put dd-wrt on it to enable wifi-repeating but it there is probably a tutorial somewhere online for it. I have done it with a few other Linksys routers to turn them into 5 port gigabit switches and it works pretty well. The dd-wrt firmware is much more reliable.

    If you are interested in trying out dd-wrt, you should do that first. The custom firmware would probably allow you to boost the power of the Linksys to around 71dbM I think. Since it's free, I would try that first.
  4. TheyCallMeBT thread starter macrumors regular


    Jan 9, 2013
    Thanks, guys. That's good info. I had looked into the fact that you can use the Airport Express to extend the range. But that would be for later on-- if I'm spending $200 on a router, it needs to cover everything on its own.

    Cyclone-- that makes me pretty confident that all of my house will get coverage with it. I actually have tomato installed on my Linksys. Is dd-wrt much better? So you're saying that I could use the Airport Extreme as the base router, and then use the Linksys as a repeater (all wireless)?

    I do have the option of boosting the output wattage on the Linksys with this firmware. I was a bit worried about doing it, though. I wasn't sure if that could possibly lead to more instability or heat issues (i.e., fire hazard) if there was a problem. I honestly haven't looked much into it-- do you think it is safe?

    But even if I boosted the range with it, it still stops working with some frequency. A hard reset (unplug, then plug back in) is the only thing that will fix it. And it's definitely the router, not the modem. So that's why I'm considering just getting something new.

  5. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    I have a similar range issue in terms of house size.

    I just run an AirPort Extreme with two Ethernet wired airport expresses in the far corners.

    Having said that the AE has excellent range.

    Not sure about ac as I am not using it.
  6. Youngesttim macrumors newbie


    Aug 7, 2012
    Northern California
    Using New Airport Extreme and older Airport Extreme to extend

    need to do Ethernet...
  7. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    I think you should have a look at a LAN solution, either through PowerLine (not very fast) or a real cable. I have a long tall house (think L), 4 floors, with 4 AEs in total. 2 on the ground and 1 on floors 1 and 3. All linked by CAT6 or 5e.

    2 are V2 Expresses, 1 Extreme V4 and 1 Extreme V6. I get full rate coverage everywhere for all the WiFi devices (2 iPhones, 1 iPad, 1 MBA and 1 Mini).
  8. eecyclone macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2013
    I believe dd-wrt has more features than tomato. I don't know if those are practical features or not though. There should be a setting in one or both firmwares to have the router act as a repeater. You can do this wirelessly or wired. Obviously wired would be faster but if you are limited to wirelessly it is still a better option than no signal at all.

    I looked it up and I was getting dbm and mW confused on the power settings. I actually have mine set to 71 mW which is about 18 dbm. Most people say 84mW is the maximum which I think is about 19 dbm.

    Since your router is based off of a router that is going on 12 years old, it might not be a bad idea to upgrade. If $200 for the airport extreme is too pricey, you could look into a refurbished 5th gen for $125 since you mentioned that your devices aren't new enough to take advantage of the newer technology.
    Between that, and possibly getting your linksys acting as a repeater, you should have pretty good wireless coverage throughout your home. Especially with the router near the center like you mentioned.

    Worst case, you can get it and try it out, and if it doesn't help simply return it. But I am much happier with my airport extreme over the various linksys and dlink routers I have tried, even with custom firmware on them.
  9. lexvo macrumors 65816

    Nov 11, 2009
    The Netherlands
    Every house is different, best is to try it out. I have a 4th gen Airport Extreme in the basement of a three story house. It covers all floors and also large parts of the garden. So in my situation, range is very good. 5th gen Airport Extreme and the new ac model will only be better.
  10. ohns macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2015
    Range of AirPort Extreme (802.11ac)

    The range of AirPort Extreme is great! Single device can cover basement, 1st floor, and 2nd floor of newly built house without a problem. For more information, see Router AirPort Extreme Review.

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9 July 18, 2013