Why is Wi-Fi signal weak on the Aluminum PB?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by f1restarter, Dec 9, 2005.

  1. f1restarter macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2005
    I have a 12" PB and it works great and i am very happy with it's performance since it's my very first Apple, no adware/spyware, virus bs either. One thing i feel it's lacking is a strong wi-fi signal. I've read it is due to the fact that the Wi-Fi card is enclosed in an all aluminum case therefore it will weaken/block the signal. Is that true?
  2. Fezwick macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2002
    Rhode Island
    I've never experienced a weak wireless signal on my 17 inch PB. I was on my friends wireless network, where the router is on the top floor of his house, and I was in his basement. I was still getting full service.

    Maybe I'm just lucky?
  3. benbondu macrumors regular

    Jul 2, 2004
    yup yup, my 12" pb is pretty weak with wireless too. over time I have grown to accept that fact.
  4. f1restarter thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2005
    thanks for all your feedback. I dont think this problem is just limited to the 12" PB as the case material, design and wifi card is exactly the same as the other PB models, so it seems the problem is the aluminum case that acts like a "faraday cage" as suggested by someone on one of the mac forums.
  5. eva01 macrumors 601


    Feb 22, 2005
    Gah! Plymouth
    well my 12" has just as good Reception as my PM G5
  6. matthewr macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2004
    Size of the Screen

    My brother and I were trying to poach a neighbour's wireless connection last weekend (we were both visiting my parents from out of town and didn't want to pay long distance to check e-mail). We were sitting in the same room, and he was getting a flawless signal on a 17 inch PB, while I was struggling to maintain a connection with a 15 inch PB (I kept tweaking the screen, and would get a signal, then someone would enter the room and I would seem to lose my signal again). We tried switching seats, but that didn't change things. We speculated that since the Airport antenna is in the screen, that the bigger the PB, the better the reception. Anyone know if there is any validity to this theory?
  7. wPod macrumors 68000


    Aug 19, 2003
    Denver, CO
    take your cell phone. wrap it in AL foil . . . will you get a signal? no. aluminum essentially blocks radio waves. so, if you have an entire laptop made of al will you get good wireless?

    thats why apple installed a couple little plastic pieces on the side of the screen. thats the location of the antenna. works great, except there is still a lot of al blocking your wireless signal. know what will help? buying an iBook. . . or buying a half dozen airport express to extend your current wireless network.

    thats just what happens with aluminum
  8. Jovian9 macrumors 68000


    Feb 19, 2003
    Planet Zebes
    My 12" PB has signal problems too. My wife and I are currently traveling the country hotel to motel to find a new area/place to live. We are staying only at hotels/motels with wireless internet. We have had to change rooms several times after checking in d/t the PB not getting signals.....all the while my iMac G5 gets full signals. We were in NYC for around 3 weeks and we were constantly losing signals on the 12" PB. I used to have a 17" PB and never had any problems with signals, not even in NYC in the same apartment we just stayed in with some friends who live there.
  9. f1restarter thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2005
    Well at least i did not have any problems with Wi-Fi when me and my wife were celebrating our wedding anniversary and we stayed in a hotel in denver with free wifi. We never had any connection problems and were able to use the internet just fine. Now i really think the signal problem is due to the aluminum case. It still wont deter me from buying another Apple pb btw.
  10. Rend It macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2003
    United States
    If the antenna in the PBs is a loop antenna (which I think it is), then the net signal received is proportional to the area of the antenna. So, yes, you are on to something.

    By the way, the Faraday cage concept technically applies only to electrostatics. Normal metals aren't capable of blocking magnetic fields (if you need that, try Mu-metal). However, it turns out that for most RF signals, the electric field part of the wave is more significant, and thus metals do a good job of attenuating oscillating electric fields, thanks to the skin effect.
  11. bursty macrumors 65816


    Jan 31, 2004
    No weak signals here, almost always have a 100% signal strength.
  12. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Individual results are highly dependant on the positioning of the Mac, the base station and the local environment -- walls, distance, interference from wireless phones etc. I have one client with an Airport Extreme Base Station and 2 15" AlBooks. The base station is in the basement, postitioned near the ceiling, and the Powerbooks are upstairs -- straightline distance is no more than 20 feet. However we had to install an Airport Express as a repeater because the signal couldn't get around or through a rock fireplace, even though there is an open stairwell immediately beside the fireplace between the two spaces. Apple's performance of their internal Airport Extreme cards in those two machines has been maddeningly inconsistent.
  13. Xeem macrumors 6502a


    Feb 2, 2005
    My dad's 15" alBook seems to get good reception everywhere my iBook does; I've never gotten a stronger signal than him.
  14. Meyvn macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2005
    My 15" hasn't had any problems. I think it may be more of an issue on the 12 than the 15, from what everyone's reporting here. Also, I get the feeling that the PB's antenna is significantly stronger than the iBook's to make up for the casing. Just a hypothesis.
  15. Megatron macrumors regular

    Nov 19, 2005
    How could that be possible if it is the exact same equipment?
  16. iZach macrumors 6502

    Apr 15, 2005
    West Bloomfield, MI
    my 12" 1.5 gets PERFECT signal almost everywhere
    i have one aebs upstairs and i get signal everywhere-main floor, basement, even outside. It almost always shows 4 bars of airport.

    I am at a big library right now with wi-fi, and everywhere i go, i have 4 bars.

    i love this.

  17. asherman13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 31, 2005
    SF Bay Area, CA
    maybe the plastic sides on the displays are bigger on the 17" than on the 15", and bigger on the 15" than on the 12"?
  18. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    My 12" PB consistently gets worse signal than my 12" iBook.
  19. GreenDice macrumors member

    Oct 5, 2005
    Better antenna at base station

    Does anyone here use a upgraded antenna at the base station? Will that help the situation?

    Thanks in advance.
  20. devman macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2004
    It's not just a PB12 thing. At home I have a PB15, two 12" iBooks and one 14"iBook.

    At very close range, they all get full strength. Outside of that, the iBooks get better signal strength and much greater distance. The iBooks also pickup other wireless networks nearby that the PB15 never sees.
  21. f1restarter thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2005
    that again enforces the "aluminum case" theory. I would've bought the ibook if it wasn't for the white colour, as i've seen permanent dirt marks on the mouse scroll pad area.
  22. devman macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2004
    I would not allow this wifi signal strength issue to sway a decision from PB to iBook. There are many other far more important differences between the two models.

    Also, to be clear, it's not that wifi performance on a PB is bad. It isn't. It's just not as good as an iBook.
  23. Melkor macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2005
    Ya I'm having signal problems aswell :(

    My PC is getting a perfect signal, and my PB is getting a really low one. I'm really disapointed. Is there anyway to strengthen the signal, arial?
  24. themacmaestro macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2005
    i get 50 feet away and I have no signal from my base... It sucks

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