Wireless iMac Question

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Sassers, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. Sassers macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    #1
    I bought my first ever Mac (a slick 27" iMac) a few months ago and am still enthralled with it. I've had Verizon DSL for 10+ years, and kept holding on in the hopes of getting FIOS, but have finally accepted that it just ain't gonna happen in my area. So, between the dismally slow speed I have (anywhere from 4 to 8 mbps download and, if the stars align and I'm really lucky, .9 mbps upload), and ongoing problems I have with their email, I'm thinking about switching to our local cable company's service instead.

    The problem is, as a renter, the only place for the modem will be across the room from my iMac, which means I'll most likely be running the mac wirelessly. Will I regret that? I do realize it will probably be a bit slower than having it hardwired, and expect that there will be occasional blips, but in general, does the signal hold fairly steady? Also, if i do go that route, the modem & router would be inside a cabinet. Does that screw up the signal or should I have it set out?

    I don't do any gaming other than working in Second Life as a content creator, so the occasional wifi dropout won't really screw that up too much.

    Also, If i do go with Cox Cable, I have the option to get my own DOCSIS 3.0 modem - are there any that are particularly recommended? I have an Airport Express that I thought to use with it, but am also toying with getting the new Extreme if it might make the signal more stable.

    I do have to say that I'm really impressed with the Mac OS. I'm still adjusting after 20+ years of Windows, but the integration of everything between my iPad 'n phone 'n touch is really a joy and the OS is very intuitive. Plus, the iMac is a gorgeous piece of technology. I only wish I had seen the light earlier, so I could reminisce about the previous iterations of OS too!
     
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #2
    What is the cabinet made of? If it's metal there will definitely be an issue. The other concern is will there be enough ventilation so the equipment won't get too hot. A wood cabinet with ventilation should be fine.

    As for the cable modem, get one without WiFi as that would be redundant. The Airport Express should be good enough in the same room. If it turns out not to be, if it's not the latest AirPort Express version, you could choose between the latest express or just go with the Extreme.
     
  3. Sassers thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    #3
    Thanks for the reply! The cabinet is wood with a cut out back (current TV cabinet) so I think the ventilation would be ok. The modem I was looking at is just a regular modem (no wireless router combo), so that sounds like it should work. As I'm still new to the mac ecosystem, I wasn't sure if there were specific things I should look for in a modem that might not be compatible with Apple stuff - looks like they're fairly generic though.

    Thanks again for the input.
     
  4. MeatRocket macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    Location:
    In the Sandbox
    #4
    I'd absolutely advise against getting your own DOCSIS 3.0 modem, here's why:
    Several years back, cable companies were using the DOCSIS 1 standard, then 2, now 3. Obviously, if you invest in a technology that's only relevant to the cable providers infrastructure, you're screwed when they upgrade to a different standard or a completely different infrastructure altogether. The other side of that is that the modem is considered "provider equipment". All that basically means is that there's a line in the network where your responsibilities end & theirs begins. IF you assume repsonsibility for the DOCSIS modem, then they're pretty much off the hook for any protocol/line quality problems once the end of the calbe is reached. If you call up saying the connection is slow, all they have to say is "the cable is fine". Unless you have the several thousand $$ cable diagnostic tools, you'll have hell trying to prove the issue isn't your modem.
    Now if the modem is theirs as well, then they have to be able to provide a clean signal from it to your computer, which any free network utility online can easily troubleshoot. The more "provider equipment" they have in your home, the less you have to worry about & be responsible for.
    Considering it's only about $4/month to rent theirs, it's a no brainer. Be responsible for your side of the network up to & including the router, nothing more.
    As for signal strength and speed - your mac probably supports 802.11n. Any Airport Extreme/Time Capsule up to & including the newest one will work. You won't realize max speed with the 802.11ac one, but if you have nothing now then I'd get the latest & greatest you can afford. You say your router will be across the room, so I'm assuming you mean within 10'-20'. You could put your router in just about anything except a bank vault & get signal at that distance. You're more likely to run into problems of channel overlap with your neighbors than anything else. Also, you don't HAVE to get an Apple router. Any router on the market today will work with your iMac. Again, get the most advanced one you can afford that meets your needs.

    ----------

    BTW, you WANT a router! Don't just plug up to a cable modem & start surfing - you're BEGGING for trouble. You'll at the very least get a private ip address on the provider's network which will be open to everyone else on that network. At the worst, you'll have a public IP address that's open to everyone. The router has 2 provisions to protect you in the computer-router-modem scenario. 1) It uses network address translation to assign a global IP address to the outbound interface of your private network. This basically means that the address on your computer will not be open to anyone outside of your own private home network. It makes communications initiated from the internet inbound to your computer very difficult. 2) It provides a stateful inspection firewall which scans ever inbound packet & determines if it violates certain security criteria. If it does, it simply drops the packet without your computer ever having to acknowledge it. This is the main line of defense in stopping a hacker.
     
  5. Sassers thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    #5
    Oh - you threw a wrench in it! The only thing the cable company will offer is a modem/Netgear router combination (at $6.99/mo or purchased for $129), though. They don't offer just the modem anymore. My understanding was that those combos were all right, but not the best.

    Now I gotta rethink things...

    ETA: I do plan on using a router - I have an unused Airport Express (or was thinking about getting the new Extreme) for the router, but I'll definitely use a router. I just wasn't sure how stable the iMac was running purely wireless instead of being hardwired to the 'net.

    Thanks for the input, though!
     
  6. Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2005
    Location:
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    #6
    I use my own ( purchased ) Motorola 3.0 modem and connect my MBP wirelessly with an Airport Extreme with no real problems. I get about 2-5 mips download speeds.
     
  7. Bear macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #7
    The AirPort (Express or Extreme) acts as a router. Also most (if not all) DOCSIS Modems do have NAT.

    Based on your $6.99 month, that would be basically $84 a year meaning you could (more or less) buy a new one each year and break even, so don't worry about future changes.

    And you should have no issue with WiFi usage on the iMac.
     
  8. Sassers thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    #8
    Good to hear that's its been working without problems. I've never run a desktop wirelessly - but then I've never had a desktop computer capable of running wirelessly, so it's all new to me. I mean, my ipad is fine over wifi (although slow) but it seems, somehow, more intimidating to connect a computer wirelessly, for some reason.
     
  9. ApfelKuchen, Jun 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013

    ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #9
    I don't think you'll have any regrets on the matter of wi-fi speed. I just tested my mid-2011 iMac on hard-wired vs. wi-fi (it's in the same room as the router), using Speedtest.net. The results were nearly identical. I have cable. Speedtest tells me my hardwired connection gives me 55.34Mbps download, 11.1Mpbs upload, while the wi-fi test gave me 55.26Mpbs/10.93Mbps. If you repeated the same test on the same type of connection, you'd find a similar test-to-test variance (sorry, I'm too lazy to take a group of tests and average the results).

    You've got an existing wi-fi installation. Why not experiment right now?

    Placing the router inside a wood cabinet within the same room is not optimal, but no worse than going through walls and floors, which is typical in a home installation (the early 2008 iMac I'm using now is two rooms away). The downside might be reception elsewhere on premises, since you've added one more barrier.
     
  10. Sassers thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    #10
    Thanks ... I do think I'm going to pull the trigger and switch providers and run this lovely machine wirelessly. I can always, if desperate, run a cable across the floor if I absolutely need something steady for a bit.

    ----------

    Ok - drooling over those speeds! And here I am all excited about 15 down & 2 up!

    And great idea about testing it out - that's a d'oh moment for me. I'll do that today and see how it runs.

    Thanks!
     
  11. Bear macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #11
    It would be good to have a long cable you could drop against the wall and run around the room in case you need to troubleshoot.

    And remember, don't cancel your old internet service until the new service has been stable for a few days.

    A point of information, using an older AirPort Extreme (only supports 802.11B/G) and an iMac a room away I never had issues with the wireless. It seemed to add at most a 10ms delay to network traffic - in other words not noticeable, with 802.11N it should be even lower.
     
  12. Sassers thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    #12

    Good idea about the cable. I do have an express I just bought a few weeks ago thinking to use it with my dsl set up, but never got around to it - that does support 802.11N, so I should be good with that. Great to hear that my reservations about iMac wirelessly were, in the main, unfounded. I think reading too many wifi issue threads colored my view.

    Thanks again for all the help and advice
     

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