What is the fastest WiFi network I can set up?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by freerangeotter, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. freerangeotter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2016

    Right now our family has Charter internet. It's incredibly slow and expensive. We are using the modem provided by Charter, along with a very old AirPort Extreme (probably at least six or seven years old). We have an old AirPort Express to extend the WiFi in the house, but I have doubts about whether it is doing anything. We have a 2010 iMac that we use occasionally, but mostly use iPads and iPhones.

    We live in a 50 year old Cape Cod with three levels - basement, main level where the computer/modem/AirPort Extreme is, and upstairs where the bedrooms are.

    Next month we will be canceling Charter and switching to the fastest package from TDS Fiber, which should be significantly faster. I am willing to replace the AirPort Extreme and the AirPort Express and get something new. What would you suggest I buy? Would a new AirPort Extreme combined with new Airport Expresses be the best to pair with the 1 gig fiber? Do non-Apple WiFi routers work with Macs? If so, is there another one I should look at that would be able to handle a higher bandwidth?

    Thanks for any advice you have.
  2. InfoTime macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2002
    New Airport Extremes (or Time Capsule) would be good. I wouldn't use Airport Expresses with 1GB Internet connections as the Express's Ethernet port is limited to 100Mbps.
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Get an ASUS router. Much more reliable and cheaper than Apple's AirPort Extremes. Plus they are frequently patched with firmware upgrades for better performance and security.

    Can't recommend them enough.
  4. Hilbert92 macrumors member


    May 21, 2015
    I would recommend a central router of your choosing that will only do the DHCP and ip leases. Then i would install 2 - 3 Ubiquiti Access points. You can get AC speed Access points from them for around 100$ per device. They also offer outdoor options as well. Solid Stuff
  5. freerangeotter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2016
    Thank you everyone for the feedback! I'm looking into all of these.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 26, 2016 ---
    Do you have an ASUS router you recommend? Honestly, I'm not that tech-savvy and I can't tell the difference between the models I'm looking at on Amazon. They all look well-reviewed but I don't know what the specs mean.
  6. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    I went for a cheaper one, but that's only because I don't have any 802.11ac enabled devices. What devices do you have, which you'd be connecting either wirelessly or wired? What year/make/model?
  7. freerangeotter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2016
    We have:
    2010 iMac - likely to be replaced in the next couple of years by a new iMac
    iPhone 5S
    iPhone 6
    Two iPads (both 4th generation)
    Vizio Smart TV (M602i-B3 2014 model)
    PS3, rarely used
    Wii (original, not Wii U), rarely used
    Xbox 360, rarely used

    *Edit - I just found online that the Vizio is an "ac" device, and we use that probably most often for Netflix, Plex, stuff like that. So I guess I would need to buy an "ac" router?
  8. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    RT-AC66U or above would be perfect! By 'above', it's basically a case of 'more expensive is better', if you're shopping on Amazon. :D

    @Weaselboy should have a fair few great suggestions too for ASUS routers (sorry to drop you in it).

    May I ask what your budget is?
  9. freerangeotter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2016
    I don't mind spending a couple of hundred dollars for this. Lately our WiFi has not been able to handle everything going on at once, including FaceTime sessions with the grandparents, and that makes the kids kind of upset and prevents us from seeing the grandparents. So I don't mind spending a little extra to get a good, fast solution for our family.

    I was checking Amazon and some of the pricier ASUS models were $350 or higher. I probably wouldn't spend that without knowing what I was getting, but something like the 66U, which I see is around $130, is definitely not a problem.
  10. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Yeah if you've got gigabit internet connection shared with a family, then I wouldn't go lower than a AC66U. To be honest, that would be more than fine for the family. No real need to pay the extra for anything additional.

    I have the N66U as I couldn't really justify anything above, due to the bottleneck of our wireless devices. Even that was a big improvement. Just to give you an idea of speeds based on hardware, my housemate has the iPhone 6 and gets 120/120 on Speedtest. I have a 5S with flaky Wi-Fi but get about 90/90. Wi-Fi on 2011/2012 15/17 MBP gets about 150/150, and Ethernet is a solid 900/900! Tested with a seedbox attached too. ;)

    So that's just with a budget ASUS router and outdated hardware! The AC66U would be an absolute beast and certainly get preposterous wireless speeds if you've got any 802.11ac devices. They're so easy to set up as well. I honestly can't recommend them enough. If it's just a CAT5e/CAT6 cable for your new Internet (likely if it's gigabit), you can plug that straight into the router and not require the ISP's router whatsoever.

    I absolutely know you'll love your new Internet connection and you can really pick up a great ASUS router for much cheaper than an AirPort Extreme; and the ASUS ones are frequently more capable too. So win-win. :)

    I hope you have a great evening and do let me know if you have any other queries!
  11. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Those $350 models you mentioned are way overkill for most people and use things like MU-MIMO that are not even widely available in client devices yet.... so are pretty much a waste of money. For example, currently no Apple devices support MU-MIMO.

    Give this article a read. I agree with the article's conclusion that the sweet spot right now is the AC1900 class of routers. Among the top performers in that class are the Asus RT-AC68U or the Netgear R7000. My preference is Asus (Amazon link) since they have tended to keep up with firmware updates better as their routers get older.
  12. freerangeotter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2016
    Thank you for your help! I do have one other question for you, if you don't mind. If I find the range of the AC66U (or similar model) does not reach the upstairs bedrooms, what kind of device would you recommend to extend the range? Our current old AirPort Extreme has this problem, but I don't know if it would happen with a newer device.
  13. keysofanxiety, Jul 26, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016

    keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    She should be absolutely fine — a stable range of 300 feet. Depends how thick your walls are, though! If you're in an old Victorian building then you might have a few hiccups. Other than that, it'll be perfect. :)

    EDIT: just to add, Weaselboy's recommendation for the RT-AC68U would be the better choice for longevity and 'err on the side of the caution'. It's not much more expensive so I'd definitely go for that one!
  14. Sbarnesvta macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2013
    If you are going to spend $300, As suggested before you should look at a couple of WAPs vs a single router.

    Put a cheap router up front (Miktroik RB2011) and a couple WAPs from Ubiquity and you will be much happier with this setup vs a single consumer router. NOTE this setup requires some configuration and is not plug and play, but there is a ton of info available online about this setup.
  15. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    ...then you don't have to spend $300, if there's a cheaper alternative option which will do exactly the same thing, for less hassle and effort.

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