Time Capsule/AP Extreme 5th gen: Can you "lock" to a particular base station in an extended network?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Anuba, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. Anuba macrumors 68040

    Anuba

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #1
    So here's the deal...

    My home network starts with a Time Capsule 5th gen (ac) connected to 200 Mbit fiber.
    A bunch of iPads and two iPhones are connected via a/n. Also, a MacBook Pro (a/n/ac), a Mac Mini (a/n) and an old 2008 iMac (b/g/n).

    Signal quality is reported as "excellent" all around, -44 to -52 dBm. The TC is smack in the middle of a 900 sq ft apartment, I can't go farther than 30 ft from it in any direction so the signal can only be excellent really.

    The MBP connection speed varies between 877, 1053 and 1300 MBit according to AirPort Utility. Running internet speed tests I manage to squeeze out 160 Mbit/s which is WiFi speed I should be happy with. Running the same tests wired (Time Capsule bypassed) it maxes out around 180 Mbit/s.

    Problem was, the Mini is my media server and it managed only 60-70 Mbit/s. The old iMac (with g speed only), much worse, around 20-25 Mbit/s. I couldn't run an ethernet cable from the TC to the room where the Mini and iMac are, the installation would just look nasty.

    So I thought I'd extend the network with an AirPort Extreme 5th gen and wire the Mini and iMac to it so they could enjoy full ac speed. It worked out pretty well. The iMac and Mini now manage 110-130 Mbit/s.

    However, once the AirPort Extreme was introduced, the MBP is for some reason hell bent on clinging to it instead of the Time Capsule. And once the MBP connection is relayed via the Extreme (which is ridiculous as they're around 15 feet apart and would probably still report excellent signal if I was across the street), internet speed for the MBP drops from 160 to around 70-80 Mbit/s. Much slower than the Mini and iMac since they're ethernet-wired directly to a strong WiFi transmitter rather than having their WiFi signals relayed via one.

    Once I unplug the Extreme, the MBP merrily snaps back to the TC and 160 Mbit/s. Within minutes after I plug the Express back in, I find it French kissing the MBP again and internet speed is cut in half.

    1) Is there any way to lock the damn MBP to the TC?

    2) Also, since I've given the 5GHz network a separate name and connected the MBP to that network alone and made it blind to the 2.4Ghz network, how is it possible that AirPort Utility still occasionally shows that the MBP is on b/g/n rather than a/n/ac? b/g are 2.4 only.

    3) Why is it that AirPort utility sometimes report that a device is connected via WiFi to both the TC and the Extreme? I often find 2-3 duplicates in the lists. AFAIK a single wifi adapter can't be connected to multiple base stations simultaneously.
     
  2. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #2
    Why not eliminate the extending base station and use power line networking for the best possible speed?
     
  3. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #3
    Not an option. I tried with a 500 Mbps kit once and the actual speed was around 50-60, worse than extended wireless. Also, all wall outlets are spoken for by APC power strips in both spots. Prissy powerline networking devices won't accept that. They demand the full royal treatment – wall outlet exclusivity with sea view, jacuzzi and a butler.

    It's extended wireless or nothing. I just thought maybe there were ways to beat the TC and Extreme into submission, like giving them separate 5Ghz network names or making one handle 2.4G and the other 5G... I guess not.
     
  4. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #4
    Extending the network is the issue as you are offering a lot more signal congestion than you otherwise would have. One option would be to use something like an Express to "Join" the Time Capsule's network, but the Extreme lacks that functionality. Do you have any other older routers sitting unused?
     
  5. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #5
    I have a D-Link DIR-855 w/ 5Ghz and 802.11n lying around. Apple-wise I have a TC 4th gen and the aforementioned TC 5th gen and Extreme 5th gen. If the Express offered 802.11ac I would've gone for that in a jiffy but it's a/b/g/n. I foolishly thought extending with an Extreme would 'take care of it', Apple-magic style, but AirPort devices aren't so much magical as they're dumbed down. Guess I should've gone for a BearExtender or some other ac dongle for the Mac Mini instead... I just like to keep the ecosystem as purely Apple as possible.

    On the upside, the system is very stable now. Mostly because as I was messing with the Extreme installation I looked deeper into the 2.4/5 GHz issue. I didn't have a separate 5g network name before and realized that quite a few devices defaulted to 2.4 for no discernible reason. I created a separate 5g name and gave everything a false password for the 2.4g so they couldn't go there even if they tried. Now I'm no longer seeing intermittent orange light weirdness in AirPort Utility or sudden loss of AirPlay connections.

    The only issue is the strange love affair between the MBP and the Extreme. It's always the first thing offloaded from the TC to the Extreme, no matter where the MBP is located. I think I'm gonna switch their positions just for the heck of it and have the Extreme be the main gateway. Logically it should make no difference whatsoever but I'm hoping for a voodoo factor.
     
  6. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #6
    I was going to say that if you could eliminate the second AirPort entirely and use a third party router running DD-WRT your issues would be solved as they can become client bridges for the main network.
     
  7. mmomega, Sep 27, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2015

    mmomega macrumors demi-god

    mmomega

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #7
    are you wirelessly extending your network ?

    If you happened to have a CAT5e or CAT6 cable long enough to simply bridge the two together, check the speeds that way.

    An two AC devices want to talk to each other more than than AC and N device does when available.
    The WiFi output signal may be better from the Extreme but the amount of bandwidth the Extreme is receiving from the TC isn't all that and a bag of chips.
    A repeater just takes the amount of bandwidth it can get from the source and then repeats that same amount of bandwidth, it can't increase what isn't there.

    Which is just why I suggested if you had a cable long enough to test with, I'm sure you'd immediately notice speeds from the Extreme jump through the roof... or to near your max because the Extreme would now be everything there is to offer from your TC/main router to then distribute.

    Maybe even set the Extreme as the Main Router and put the TC as the repeater since the Extreme has more powerful antennas to broadcast to begin with. The TC would have a stronger signal to then repeat to the rest of the home.


    I used to have 2 Airport Extremes and a TC to basically create a triangle and make sure I had great signal everywhere around the home.
    I was also wirelessly extending. I'd have excellent full bar signals but sometimes half my bandwidth.
    As soon as I hardwired the routers together, pings dropped like crazy and I had my full bandwidth throughout my home. And I dropped from 3 devices to 2 Extremes.
     
  8. Anuba thread starter macrumors 68040

    Anuba

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #8
    Thanks for the advice. I actually returned the Extreme and I'm back to using only the Time Capsule. I've also purchased the WiFi Explorer app in order to get a sense of what's going on, and I'm seeing some weirdness.

    The TC seems quite weak, I'm seeing 70-75% signal strength only 7-8 meters away with one wall inbetween. It's in an open and clear place 5 ft above the floor. Some neighbor has an ASUS router that's showing stronger signal (80%-ish) than my TC. When I had the Extreme, which the MBP was thrilled to latch on to once connected, AirPort utility reported 1300 Mbps speed at all times. With the TC I'm seeing it alternate between ≈600 and ≈800 Mbps. It was much better with the Extreme at the exact same spot. Odd, considering the hardware is identical... except for the metal thingy inside it called a hard drive.

    Since I live in Europe I'm allowed to use the UNII-2 Ext channels 100 and up on the 5GHz band, and once I do I have that space all to myself. Nobody in the neighborhood has an ac base station that goes there. However, the TC doesn't allow you to select channel 100 manually. Only 36, 40, 44 and 48 are on the drop-down menu. Channel 100 is only available in auto selection mode. And once in auto mode, the TC will occasionally leap from ch 100 to ch 36 for no particular reason, which is the same channel used by the pesky, uber-strong ASUS router somewhere in the building, and that's when the signal strength goes from 70-75% to 60-65%. WiFi Explorer is currently reporting 88% signal strength on the neighborhood ASUS and 64% on my TC. Why does the TC insist on jumping to ch 36 when ch 100 was just fine and dandy?
     
  9. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Location:
    Elkton, Maryland
    #9
    There have been reports that the Time Capsule will indeed lose some performance presumably due to the metal internal hard disk. However, your numbers seem to be a bit low.

    You could have periodic interference that is not being picked up when you are surveying in Wi-Fi Explorer. I had a similar issue where a nearby house had a Wi-Fi network for their children that only turned on at 3:00 P.M. and turned off at 9:00 P.M. It took a while to figure out the root cause of the interference since when I would survey it would show as a "clean" channel.
     

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