Which Non-Apple router to use with Airport Express?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Earendil, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. Earendil macrumors 68000


    Oct 27, 2003
    I'm sure this has been asked upwards of a million times around here, and I've read a few of them. What I'm looking for is updated information. I was all set to buy a Linksys WRT54G as suggested by Arstechnica in 2004. However reading the first reviewer here suggests that Linksys has changed their internal firmware, and that I may not be able to use it anymore.

    All that has put me back at square one. Since this is a hack, different versions of each router may or may not work. I really want to know what currently sold routers people have managed to work with their Airport express.

    Network information, current:

    PPPoE ----wired----> Airport Express [far away from stereo]
    Airport Express ----wireless---> Mac Mini [rightnext to PPPoE wired connection]
    Airport Express ----wireless----> Macbook

    Network as I'd like it to be:

    PPPoE ----wired----> 3rd party wired/wireless hub
    Hub ----wired----> Mac Mini
    Hub ----wireless> Airport Express
    Airport Express ----wired----> stereo [now in same room, yay!]
    Airport Express ----wireless----> Macbook

    The benefits of the new network are
    A: I can move the AE next to my stereo.
    B: The Mac Mini gets a hard wired connection to the internet.
    C: The Macbook (and all guest laptops) can be used throughout the house.

    So, which router to get?
    And please don't say the Airport... 3rd party hardware costs $50-$75. The regular Aiport runs $179. And I'm the kind of guy that stalked the refurb section forever waiting to find a discounted express :)
  2. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    re: Which Non-Apple router to use with Airport Express?

    Huh? The Airport Express is a router.
  3. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    you won't be able to extend a third party router, but you can have an express join another wireless network. All wireless is the same (802.11B G or N) regardless of manufacturer

    All of your wireless devices, including laptops, would join the wireless created by whatever you get new.

    to have an express join a network, and then share it out the Ethernet port, the express needs to be a newer "N" version. so as long as yours is less than a couple years old, it will work.

    if you do need a range extension, and you can get an ethernet cable to the express, that will work, and is more robust than a wireless extension. once set up correctly, your devices will just connect to the stronger signal, you won't know if they're on the wireless from the express or the main base.

    One thing apple doesn't talk about loudly, is that with wireless extension, for every jump, your speed gets cut. I've heard as much as in half for every jump that it makes.
  4. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    People freaked out, so Linksys released a WRT54GL model which has a similar hackable firmware.

    waw74's suggestion is what I'd do if I were in your situation.
  5. Earendil thread starter macrumors 68000


    Oct 27, 2003
    Thanks everyone for your suggestions and help.

    Based on the replies, perhaps a little more information is warranted.

    My Internet connection to the outside world currently comes in through a hole in my basement. Additionally, my house is not wired with Ethernet.

    The best solution would be to have different wireless routers plugged into the same network via a web of ethernet ports spread across my house. However that isn't an option :(

    The only way (besides stringing an ethernet cable across a hallway up the stairs and across the living room), is to do a Wireless extension. In other words, my problem is not getting wireless internet to my entire house, but getting any form of internet at all to a location besides my basement. A wireless router in the basement, and an extension (via an AE) on the main floor seemed like the cleanest, simplest solution, while also offering the ability to stream music to the AE, which could live next to my stereo.
  6. Earendil thread starter macrumors 68000


    Oct 27, 2003

    Awesome. I plugged WRT54GL into google along with "airport express" and found a number of "how to" articles on using the AE as an extension. Bonus: They were all written in the last year ;)

    I think this should work as a solution to my problem.

    If anyone has alternate advice, tips, or warnings, feel free to reply!
  7. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    I run a wrt54g (not the L though) running dd-wrt, which serves my G network,

    I also have an Express-N that serves my N network, it's hardwired back to the wrt

    i have an Express-G that connects to the wireless from the wrt and feeds speakers in the kitchen.

    I've been using this setup for quite a while with no issues. and it's pretty seamless, i can use the itunes remote on my iPhone (connected to G) to control my laptop (connected to N) with no problems.

    the only thing is every so often (once a month or so) i have to reboot the wrt when i loose connection to the express in the kitchen, don't know why, but it still shows up in available speakers, but won't connect.

    Like i said earlier, if you don't need the range extension, don't use WDS, Just have the express join the network. If you do, and you can get an ethernet cable to the express, go that way instead of wireless

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