Transitioning from 802.11g to 802.11n

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by jgmacrum, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. jgmacrum macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2009
    Hey there ...

    Currently I have two 802.11g Airport Express adapters. My setup is that I have my cable modem feeding into AE #1 (which also plugs into a stereo next to it) and then AE #2 is working as a wireless bridge in another room (and plugs into a stereo there). My apartment isn't nearly big enough to warrant both adapters, but I like having the ability to stream to either stereo.

    On my network are a variety of machines, some of which are 802.11n capable. Presumably the proportion of n machines will increase over time.

    What I'd like to do is to get an 'n' device as the base node of the network. This could be one new airport express to replace AE #1, or perhaps it could be an airport extreme (I do like how it has actual ethernet jacks). My fear is that using the 'g' adapter(s) on the 'n' network will cause problems. For instance, my desktop sits next to AE #2 - if that one stays here and the base network is upgraded to 'n', will my desktop simply connect to AE #2 at 'g' speeds?

    I suppose one solution is to simply replace both AEs with new AEs for the cost of a single airport express.
  2. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    If you do get an Extreme, you can set up simultaneous dual band with unique SSIDs for both bands and set up the Expresses to join the b/g band. You can then set the 5 GHz band to wireless n only (at 300 Mbps). This way any wireless n devices will only connect to the wireless n band without falling back to the wireless g band.

    If you were to replace the Expresses with newer Expresses however, you'll be forced to run in b/g/n mode (if you have any b/g devices on your network) and you will lose much of the speed advantage of wireless n. Network speeds slow down when a b/g device is actively using the network. They don't necessarily slow to b/g speeds, but they are slower than the 170 Mbps you get with wireless n 2.4 GHz.

    I'd go with the first option, as you are looking to spend the same amount of money either way. At least with that option, you get to keep using your current Expresses with their audio streaming as well as gaining the Ethernet ports on the Extreme.
  3. jgmacrum thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2009
    If I understand you correctly, that'd be a perfect solution for me. Not sure that I do though :)

    Let me make sure that I got this right:

    - All three adapters would be part of the same actual network (LAN shared entities, e.g. CIFS shares, etc would be accessible from any machine)
    - Any 'n' device will get pure 'n' speeds and hitting the extreme
    - Any 'b' or 'g' device would be directly connecting to one of the expresses

    Does that sound right?

    So for instance, if I'm on my desktop (an 'n' machine) connected directly to the extreme, would i still be able to seamlessly stream to the two expresses as I do now, or would I need to switch to a different network name?
  4. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    If you claim your apartment inst big enough for two access points, get an 802.11n AEBS or AE and use ONLY that one (in mixed mode) for wireless. Your other AE's can still stream to the stereo, but only have them do that. Don't let them broadcast a signal because that could get picked up at 54Mbps by your 802.11n devices.
  5. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    "SSID" is not synonymous with "Network". While in most situations a single SSID may be the only way to join a particular network wirelessly, it is possible for networks to have multiple SSIDs broadcasting simultaneously. All that an SSID does is provide a way for a wireless client to join a particular network. A simultaneous dual band router, such as the AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule, has the ability to broadcast two unique SSIDs which allow access to the same network. In fact, the Extreme is capable of broadcasting a third SSID as a guest network, but that SSID will not be connected to the main network.

    By default, the SSID for the 5 GHz band is the same as the 2.4 GHz band and devices have a choice when connected to the network of which band to join. Most devices will choose the stronger, faster signal, but for better control over which band a device joins, I suggest creating a unique SSID for the 5 GHz band. Now as the Extreme will be broadcasting two SSIDs (one 5 GHz n only and one 2.4 GHz b/g/n), your b/g devices will actually be joining the Extreme's b/g/n SSID. Your Expresses can be set up to join as clients and not actually extend the network at all as that is unnecessary in your situation (if it indeed is a small apartment, there is no need for a wireless extender/bridge in a separate room). Additionally any client connecting to either the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band will be able to stream music to either Express as well as share network resources with one another.

    Another option would be to purchase an older, non-simultaneous dual band Extreme and set it up as 802.11 n only on the 5 GHz band. Then you could connect an Express to one of the Extreme's LAN ports and set up that Express as a bridge creating it's own 2.4 GHz b/g SSID but still allowing the Extreme to handle DHCP (same situation as simultaneous dual band but more equipment). Then you would have the extra Express join the primary Express's b/g network as a wireless client. You'd be saving yourself some money over buying the newest version of the Extreme, but the setup will still be relatively the same.
  6. jgmacrum thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2009
    Oh ... didn't realize the AEs could be set up to only do streaming
  7. jgmacrum thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2009

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