USB Wifi Adapter Suggestions - Alternative to Airport Extreme

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by ungraphic, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. ungraphic macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #1
    I've been looking high and low for a USB wifi adapter for my mac pro. I'm on my second airport extreme card and its just as useless as my first: constant dropped signals, not to mention them being weak. I have 2 laptops, one an acer aspire one netbook with wireless g, a macbook with wireless n, and two routers (linksys and dlink, however only one is used for obvious reasons).

    SO, now I'd like to get a USB Wifi adapter. I know Dlink makes a Raling DWL-122 rev. b1 wifi adapter thats compatible with macs, but its only wireless g, and its difficult to come buy these days.

    I've seen some of the Rokland USB wifi adapters but havent heard or read anything about them being any decent.

    Do you guys know of, or have had experience using other wifi adapters? I see a bunch for sale on ebay but theyre all no-name. Any tips or suggestions? How does the 'Airport Express' work?

    Wireless N would be perfect.
     
  2. 4JNA macrumors 68000

    4JNA

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Location:
    looking for trash files
    #2
    not a fan of usb adapters due to range/power/sleep issues, so my recommendation would be to find a wireless N bridge.

    it connects to your wireless network at N speed, and has a ethernet port on the back that you plug a standard network cable into. your computer thinks it's connected to the network via standard ethernet. easy to set up, always on and won't interfere with sleep, can be used to connect several devices if connected to a switch, etc.

    as an example, OWC has one listed HERE, but there are lots more around. you can usually find them by searching 'bridge N' if that helps. best of luck.
     
  3. quantum003 macrumors 6502a

    quantum003

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Location:
    Superposition
    #3
    I second J4NA's suggestion. If you don't want to spring for a bridge is there any way you can get an ethernet cable from your router to your Mac Pro? I moved my router to a different room and ran Ethernet cable behind the floor paneling of my office and I couldn't be happier with the results. Airport is great... for laptops. :rolleyes:

    You may also want to look into a wireless PCI-e card from Linksys or another company... I've gotten those to work with G4s and G5s without an trouble before. USB network connections are ugly...
     
  4. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #4
    The PCI-e solution would be AWESOME for me, i don't like having any running cables. But im on a mac pro, so i wonder if theres anything that would work. How'd you get those to work, Quantum?

    I opted today for the Airport Express. I've got it connected to my Linksys wireless router and my mac pro is connected to the airport express via ethernet cable. So far, no dropped signals. I suppose thats what the Linksys does that 4JNA posted?

    Do you guys think having 4 hard drives and two video cards could interfere with the signal inside my mac pro with the Airport Extreme? All four drives produce a lot of audible noise and heat, as do my two ATI HD3870s.
     
  5. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #5
  6. quantum003 macrumors 6502a

    quantum003

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Location:
    Superposition
    #6
    I'm confused... don't you have the Mac Pro successfully connected via ethernet right now? No way that USB wireless piece of junk is going to be better than a direct line into your router...
     
  7. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #7
    Well Dlinks adapters (as well as linksys) should be the most reliable of any kind.

    However, my mac right now is wired to my airport express via ethernet. and the airport express is connected wirelessly to my router. The only thing i dont like about this setup is the damn ethernet cable. However, the airport express is far more fucntional for 20 bucks more seeing how it works as ONLY a wireless router (which means i cant really use it that way seeing how my airport extreme card in my mac is useless), can be used to extend a network and other **** too.

    I'm sort of debating on what to do.
     
  8. SqB macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Location:
    Northern Colorado
    #8
    Have you considered that the trouble may be on the router end of the equation? I had tons of problems with my latest linksys router. Finally packed it up for eBay and bought an Airport Extreme. It has worked flawlessly since day one. I don't think linksys is as reliable as it once was even with the Cisco influence.

    I'm so happy with the extreme that I went out and bought the latest version a few weeks ago when it came out. Lots of other folks did the same so there are lots of the last gen models out there very cheap.
     
  9. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #9
    Its definitely not a router issue. I have two routers, and two laptops, one is a macbook with wireless n, and the other is a netbook with wireless g. Both laptops perform PERFECTLY from distances further away from my mac pro, on either router I have. The only computer that is giving me problems is my mac, and im on my second airport extreme card. Its a useless card.
     
  10. quantum003 macrumors 6502a

    quantum003

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Location:
    Superposition
    #10
    I see, so you do have wireless in the equation there, from the linksys to the Airport Extreme base station. Yeah I could see your point then about going after a wireless USB adapter.

    What type of Airport Extreme base station do you have just out of curiosity?

    Also, did you say that you're on your second Airport Extreme card in your Mac Pro? Behaving exactly how the first one did, which was crappy huh?
     
  11. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #11
    Right now I'm using the very standard and known Linksys WRT54G wireless router connected to my modem. I've got my Airport Express plugged into an outlet next to my Mac Pro and setup to connect wirelessly to the Linksys router. Using an ethernet cable, my Mac Pro now finally has a stable connection to the net via Airport Express. I'm thinking of returning it because;

    1) It needs an outlet
    2) It needs an ethernet cable to solve my problem
    3) Its kind of clunky compared to usb wifi adapters
    4) Its a little expensive

    However, the pros are nice:

    1) It works as a wireless router (but then has no ethernet ports since the modem would use the existing one)
    2) It can extend a network
    3) It works as a wifi adapter in my case using an existing cable
    4) If used as a router, its by far the smallest i've seen and would require the least amount of space, cables, etc. Its a nice investment


    The USB adapter from Dlink would really *only* give me connection to my mac pro. Its also about 80 dollars, about 30 bucks less than the airport express, so I'm not really saving a whole lot unless I go to ebay and even then i still dont save much (shipping).

    The Airport Extreme card I have currently does not hold a signal, and when it does, its very weak. The router is only about 10-15 metres away, but i cant have cables running through the hallway and rooms. This is the second card in my Mac Pro, because the previous one was acting the same way. I'm guessing its a problem with the cables in my mac pro that connect to the airport extreme card, possibly poor quality? I just dont see how or why two cards would be of such poor quality, when one was purchased brand new from an apple reseller in toronto and then replaced by the same guys.
     
  12. weckart macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #12
    It's probably less the card and more that the aluminium in the Mac Pro is not the best aid towards grabbing a signal from the router. An external aerial should help matters. Either way, you are going to have wires.

    USB dongles either have Airport compatible (Broadcomm or Atheros) or Ralink/Realtek chips inside, which have custom drivers and applications to capture a signal. In my experience, the Ralink/Realtek options were an excercise in frustration. Constant dropped signals, literally every five minutes, or errors where Networking kept reporting an unplugged network card. This was with both usb dongles and internal PCI cards. The problems only stopped when I got a Broadcom PCI card that was compatible with Airport. YMMV.
     
  13. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #13
  14. quantum003 macrumors 6502a

    quantum003

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Location:
    Superposition
    #14
    This is a very interesting conundrum. I'm enjoying scratching my head over it.

    Please don't be insulted, but have you made sure to plug the antenna into the Airport Extreme cards inside your Mac Pro? I could be way off but that would perfectly explain the poor reception and why both cards aren't working...

    I also had nothing but trouble and frustration with USB wireless adapters. I would definitely investigate the PCI-e route if you're going to get away from Airport; mine was a Broadcom I believe.
     
  15. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #15
    Yeah the cables are all fine, on both cards, I checked. I had the guys from the apple reseller install the cards for me, but i checked to see if they did it right anyway.

    Which Broadcom PCI-e card did you have? I would love a wifi card with antenna's using my PCI slot.

    Any opinion on the Edimax I posted earlier?
     
  16. quantum003 macrumors 6502a

    quantum003

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Location:
    Superposition
    #16
    Honestly yeah, the Edimax looks great and I'd probably pick it up in your position.

    Truthfully though I suspect something is wrong somewhere in between your Airport card and your Mac Pro. I just don't believe both Airport cards turned out to be bad the same way. And there's no way all Mac Pros like yours have the same Airport problem you are reporting, so if I were you I'd post your story in the Mac Pro forum and see if anyone there has any suggestions.
     
  17. fantmanto1974 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    #17
    Mac Power Charger,what s missing

    Hallo

    I have a silly question. I have just moved to uk and bought a new Uk charger for my macbook. When i arrived home I noticed that it seems to miss one piece(the part actually oing into the plug). Is it normal?or they forgot to give me something?

    thanks
     
  18. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #18
    I think i'm going to pass on the Edimax. It requires an application to use it (bad) it requires to be shut off via menu bar (bad) stall if done so via dock (bad) and hangs the computer if not completely turned off before sleep mode (bad). I think i'd rather put up with the ethernet cable running to my airport express.

    If any of the broadcom PCI-e wifi cards dont give this much of a headache, let me know which one to look into (if u can :) )

    I do agree, that it must be a problem with my mac, seeing how both airport extreme cards give problems, im thinking theres gotta be an issue with the connection or cables from the mac pro to the card itself. Unfortunately, im out of warranty, so theres not much I can do at this point, i own a mac pro 1,1.
     
  19. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #19
    Theres also a Belkin Wireless G wifi card available, the Belkin F5D7001 to be exact. It's Wireless G so it's not all that great, but it sells cheap on eBay: click here

    Theres a guy I managed to find that has had this to say about the card:

    I wonder, if this card will work on a Mac Pro 1,1 and in OS X 10.6. Again, another problem trying to buy the right hardware, since I'd be taking a gamble at it. The price is really fair though.
     
  20. quantum003 macrumors 6502a

    quantum003

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Location:
    Superposition
    #20
    Yech... definitely skip that Edimax card.

    Another dumb question- you've got one of these sticking out the back of your Mac Pro right? I googled your Mac Pro 1.1 and found out the Airport kit is an MA688... a google image search for "MA688 Airport" brought up the antenna.

    [​IMG]

    (if you don't happen to have one I've got an extra). :)

    If you do have the antenna, I think it's time to get in there and see what's going on for yourself a bit closer. Some link in this chain is broken. Airport card to internal antenna to external antenna- something's not right. Also might be worth running the Apple Hardware Test and making sure it passes the Airport portion.
     
  21. quantum003 macrumors 6502a

    quantum003

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Location:
    Superposition
    #21
    Also, and this is a stretch... this is your card:

    [​IMG]

    The bluetooth antenna and the Airport antenna each connect to the card with the the same type of tiny clasp (far left side of the card in pic). Any chance the knucklehead mixed up the bluetooth and airport clasps twice?
     
  22. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #22
    Thats very generous of you, thank you. But looking at my mac pro (because i remember these antennas on older powermacs) i dont have a connection or plug on the back of my mac to use an antenna.

    I'm gonna have a look later on and see if the guys installed the second card properly. I have a feeling its done right though, its probably just my mac.
     
  23. quantum003 macrumors 6502a

    quantum003

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2009
    Location:
    Superposition
    #23
    Well my friend, you may be sick of hearing from me at this point. But I am determined to help you resolve this issue and get you up and running with a deliciously smooth Airport wireless Internet connection in your Mac Pro.

    Please refer to this old Macrumors thread:

    Bluetooth Range Problem

    Here are a couple of relevant posts:

    I think the cables and the labels are the problem here. I'm willing to bet your Airport is trying to use your Bluetooth cable or something like that. I'm familiar with the card you have in your Mac Pro, it's a good one. Something's not right with the connections. If your Mac tech made a mistake, or if the cables came incorrectly labeled as that thread says does happen, it would explain your problem perfectly.

    I say strap on an anti-static wristband, grab a flashlight, and get in there and check it out.
     
  24. ungraphic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #25
    Quantum: Thank you so much for all your help. I took a look at the instructions and messed around with the cables myself (apparently self installation of airport express voids the warranty).

    So I opened up the case and took a look at the cables. The cables should be installed as follows:

    Antenna '1' connects to the bluetooth module (if present)
    Antenna '2' connects to the upper airport module (if present)
    Antenna '3' connects to the lower airport module (if present)
    Antenna 'BT' remains unconnected

    Instead, I had it as follows:

    Antenna '1' connected to lower airport module
    Antenna '2' unconnected
    Antenna '3' connected to upper airport module
    Antenna 'BT' unconnected

    Jesus christ, talk about completely missing the mark! So I connected all cables as they should be, and I'm getting full bars according to the menu bar, but looking at some stats using an application called iStumbler (gives signal strength and noise in percentages) and the results are now:

    Signal strength = 42%
    Noise = 14%.

    Before:

    Signal strength = 30-35%
    Noise = 30-35%

    So all in all, my signal strength has gone up and my noise has gone down significantly. What worries me is how long this connection will last. I don't care if the signal strength isn't at 100%, its the dropped signals that piss me off to no end. I should note, I now only have 2 of the 4 hard drives inside my mac and took out one of my ATI 3870s. Maybe the lack of other parts is improving the signal/noise.

    We'll see how this goes for now. *fingers crossed*

    On a side note: after fiddling around with the cables and removing some parts from my mac, turning it back on caused a weird high pitched bleep (not a beep, but it sounded like a shock). It didnt turn on. It just made a slight shock sound and stayed off. I disconnected the power cable, plugged it back in and turned it back on. It did the shock sound again only this time the machine powered back on. Weird.

    *update*

    placing my two other hard drives back in (for a total of 4) made no difference in signal strength or noise. however, my second ATI 3870 has been removed (the fan on it was always on, heat and especially noise has dropped significantly). After about an hour of use, the signal hasnt dropped, but according to the menu bar it fluctuates between 4/5 and 5/5 bars. Again, many many many MANY thanks to quantum!!!! =D
     

Share This Page