router advice...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by HBOC, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #1
    so long ago, i had a linksys router. had issues with it (having to reboot often, dropping signal, etc), but this was early 2000s. Since 2008 i have had the airport extreme and it has been rock solid.

    fast forward to 2017, and it isn't that fast anymore. I was thinking of sticking with Apple and getting the "new" extreme, but see that they are exiting the router biz, at least for now.

    i did a quick search on the google, and the Netgear Nighthawk AC1750 seems to get amazing reviews, and the price is pretty good. I don't want to spend a ton, but don't want junk either.

    any suggestions or experiences with routers that "just work" and will last me as long as my 9 year old Extreme?

    thanks!
     
  2. CoastalOR macrumors 68000

    CoastalOR

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #2
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #3
    Nothing to add other than the r7000 by Netgear from time to time goes on a good sale at Amazon and Best Buy. Both the ASUS and Netgear offerings you mention not only do better on testing than Apple's AE, but have far more features. I hope the OP takes an opportunity to explore these contenders.
     
  4. arggg14 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2014
    #4
    Id give the Synology 2600 a look. The most user friendly UI I've ever used.
     
  5. LiveM macrumors 6502a

    LiveM

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2015
    #5
    Get the Extreme. Great performance and ease of use and if they ever get discontinued, you might even make a profit.
     
  6. techwarrior macrumors 6502

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #6
    The 2007 Extreme (likely your model) should be capable of 150Mbps on 5GHz 802.11n signal. If you are connecting using 2.4GHz, it may be suffering from interference from neighboring networks. I recall it could use either 2.4 or 5GHz, but not both (simultaneous) as most newer routers can do. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of things sold that don't support 5GHz Wi-Fi (printers, IP Cameras, etc), so if you have these devices, setting the Extreme to 5GHz would disable wi-fi for some of these devices.

    In the iOS version of AP Utility, you can enable a wi-fi scanner (Settings > Airport Utility > Wi-Fi Scanner). Then, open the app, click the Scan link at the top right and run a scan. It will tell you what channels and the RSSI (signal strength) for each network access point in range. The RSSI will be stated in a negative number, the higher the negative number, the weaker the signal (RSSI of -90 dBm is weaker than -50).

    If your network SSID is using the same channel range as neighbors, you are contending for access to your radio signals. If you set your range different than the default, you may experience less contention and faster speeds. Also, most 2.4 networks gravitate to channel 6, right where microwave ovens, radars, wireless home phones, wireless keyboards, etc broadcast. Each range will actually use up to +- 2 channels, so setting channel 6 means it would use 4-8. The less overlap, and less contention from channel 6 will probably help. Given everyone has Wi-Fi these days, and newer routers often have stronger signals, the fact that it has slowed makes some sense, but it is probably not due to the router itself, but contention.

    I name my 5GHz SSID slightly different than 2.4 (NETWORK vs NETWORK5G for example). This way, devices that can use 5GHz can specify that SSID and "forget" the 2.4GHz network and never try connecting to it. The fewer devices connected will also help with speeds.

    5GHz is a shorter range and uses more channels, so contention is less likely but coverage distance can suffer.

    If your ISP service is faster than 150 Mbps, then a newer router may help you take advantage of it. 802.11ac routers can generally offer 1Gbps or more on 5GHz signals and use tech to increase the number of simultaneous channels used to rx\tx data. The newest Extreme is capable of up to 1.3Gbps with ac capable devices (most 2012 or later devices support ac). But if your ISP service is 50 Mbps, you will never see internet speeds greater than 50Mbps, even with the fastest routers. If you do a lot of large transfers between devices on your network, newer routers might speed that up even if the ISP service is slower.

    The other routers mentioned are probably very good devices as well. I favor the Airport line as my home is primarily Apple devices and I like the simplicity of it. I also use my Time Capsule for Mac backups. The newest Extreme can be used as a Time Machine backup destination with a USB drive connected to it.

    Finally, count on obsolescence. 5G technology is expected to offer fixed Wi-Fi home internet service at speeds of 1-4Gbps at lower prices than fixed cable services offered today. So, most of us will be looking for internal Wi-Fi routers capable of extending this speed to all of our devices. The 802.1ac will be replaced soon with something that should be able to match 5G speeds. So, knowing that your investment is likely only for a 3-5 year solution, keep price in mind.

    I find Apple's Refurb products are a great way to get their stuff at good prices. Right now, the current Extreme is available for $129 ($70 off) and offers the same 1 year warranty as a new device.
     
  7. HDFan macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    #7
    Nice!
     
  8. bopajuice macrumors 6502a

    bopajuice

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    #9
    Lots of information, but you are focusing on router speed only in relation to internet speed. What about communication between devices? 802.11ac is a lot faster than 802.11n. Whether it be streaming content, movies, music... why limit yourself to 802.11n? What about a tri band router for less than what Apple charges for old technology? Any recent router will support 2.4 and 5ghz at the same time. Apple doesn't seem to care about supporting their routers anymore. And if you use a NAS to stream media? Why in the world would you use an AirPort Extreme?

    Further, the ease of use excuse does not cut it anymore. I use a Netgear router and a QNap NAS in an all Apple household. Multiple Macs, iPads, iPhones, and iTV's. Easy to use, set up, and no issues. I have time machine back up and iTunes support. No reason to limit yourself to only Apple gear anymore. And... it costs less.
     
  9. Telomar macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2002
    #10
    I have the Asus and it has been fantastic. Flexible and reliable.

    Having said that I also have a Synology NAS and they are pretty fantastic too so I hope their routers are as good.
     
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #11
  11. Winterfibre macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    #12
    I have the netgear AC1900 and i can't fault it never drops out and handles file sharing and plex well.
     
  12. HBOC thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #13
    So i bought the Netgear 1750 from BestBuy for $110. It was ok, i dislike the interface - having to log into the router. Perhaps i am spoiled with the interface of Apple.
    The speeds were faster, but i ended up returning it. i did some searching, and the Apple Extreme (newest version) was rated a tad higher than the 1750 in several reviews. So i am going to get a 6th gen extreme on eBay (used) and see how i like it.

    The Netgear i got is about the same age as the 6th gen Apple.

    thanks for all the info thus far!!
     
  13. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #14
    Did you install the Genie application on your computer? It is by far a more full fledged interface than Apple's offering for their AE. If you didn't then you are not really providing a reasonable assessment of the Netgear offering.
     
  14. celticgrid macrumors newbie

    celticgrid

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    #15
    Another vote for the new Synology 2600.
     
  15. techwarrior macrumors 6502

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #16
    I also stated the newer routers would speed things up for transfers between hosts on the LAN even if the ISP service is not faster than 150Mbps that the current router is capable of. I find 1.3 Gbps for file transfers between my Macs, PCs, and QNAP over an Airport ac network to be as fast as any router in the market today. Sure, one might get slightly better Wi-Fi performance with other routers, but with 1Gbps Ethernet being the bottleneck, how much would one really gain by incrementally faster Wi-Fi? Further, most home media streaming apps benefit little from speeds in excess of 100Mbps, thus AppleTV uses 100Mbps Ethernet and not 1Gbps. Ok, maybe 4K if Apple decides to support that in ATV5?

    Whether or not Airport devices are going to be discontinued, current models are roughly on par with most other routers in the ac realm, and will likely be supported long enough for the current ac lifecycle. Ease of use (and familiarity) is still relevant for those invested in Apple infrastructure. Who knows what the new APFS (that may be standardized in 10.13) might do to Time Machine on other routers and NAS? I wouldn't put it past Apple to enhance Time Machine and make interop with other devices undesirable or unsupported. Maybe Time Machine for AppleTV, watch, and iOS which might be constrained to Apple devices? They have stated 2017 as the year APFS hits the mainstream. Just speculating...

    Apple has not stated they will discontinue the line, analysts have. They re-assigned engineers to other product teams, so perhaps there is another product that might step up and carry the networking technology forward? Perhaps the Apple TV? Or a new product such as a low priced Mac Mini based Home Server Lite with routing, Time Capsule, Home Kit, update caching, and iTunes Media Server (capable of streaming to ATV) built in, but without some of the other server capabilities such as mail, chat, web server?

    Don't forget that Apple thinks different about things. Current thinking of a dedicated router may be old school, and they may have something interesting up their sleeves? Chances are, current Airport devices would get firmware updates for a few years to keep up with some of these changes. $129 for a refurb Extreme is a compelling proposition for those who want to update to reasonably current technology without having to re-invent workflows, and may just be a wise investment if Apple goes in other directions with local backups.
     
  16. bopajuice macrumors 6502a

    bopajuice

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    #17
    Point taken. I have ventured outside the Apple ecosystem for some things and have not had to "reinvent any workflows" at all.

    If somewhere down the line Apple ventures into some of the things you suggested I will take a look. In the meantime I am enjoying a router and NAS using link aggregation that gives me the potential for 2gbps. We all know rated speeds and actual speeds vary, but I can assure you my system works great and without any difficulty, was easy to set up, and plays fine with all my other Apple computers and devices.
     
  17. Oldmanmac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    #18
    " So i am going to get a 6th gen extreme on eBay (used) and see how i like it."

    Get it from Apple and you'll get a warranty to boot Refurb is the way to go.
     

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