Worth upgrading to Airport Extreme?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by SteelBlueTJ, May 1, 2016.

  1. SteelBlueTJ macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2012
    Location:
    USA
    #1
    I currently have the older Airport Extreme that's only Wireless N. I bought it in 2011 and it's the flat mac-mini sized base station. It still works great but recently realized all my devices are now AC capable. Would it benefit me to upgrade? I kind of like the newer design as well since it has a smaller footprint, but taller, taking up less room on my shelf. Is it well shelling out the nearly $200 for it now in 2016? Thanks
     
  2. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #2
    I have several of both units, the flat 4th Gen and the current AC unit (personal and my small business) along with other brands (for my small business). I personally like the new AE design but shopped around - I bought the units we're using at a deep discount at a Best Buy sale. A few of my friends saved a bit more and went with the Apple Refurb units @$129, and that's what I'd do if I wanted one now - I can't tell the difference between the refurb units they own and my new units. FWIW, I repurposed my older unit into a router serving printing needs and connecting a media server - the older AEs are tanks...

    For that same $199 for a new unit you could wait a bit and snag a refurb 2TB TC @$179 (they're out right now) and keep $20 in your bank account!
     
  3. Par9Wilson macrumors newbie

    Par9Wilson

    Joined:
    May 2, 2016
    Location:
    PACIFIC
    #3
    My question is if anyone knows when Apple is releasing the 7th Gen Airport Extreme?
    I have a 4th Gen (square/flat) + the 6th Gen and will need to replace the Older 4th Gen Router soon, for obvious reasons.
    Have googled and even contacted Apple CS and they didn't know anything, except to re-direct me to a News page for Apple that I had already been on before.
    I just don't want to Upgrade and then 3 month's later, they release the next version.
    Thx
     
  4. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #4
    I feel Apple will not update it until a new Wireless standards are approved and devices are starting to sell!
     
  5. aajeevlin macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    #5
    You mean a new standard after AC? That will be years really, considering AC is still relatively new.

    I too, would like to know if Apple is planning on upgrading to the 7th gen. I have been holding off on buying because of that.
     
  6. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Location:
    Loveland, CO
    #6
    I am on my second current model Airport extreme. The first one started dying on me in the spring last year. It would suddenly just stop and the power light would go out. Unplugging and plugging it back in again would revive it. I kept it going until it reached the point of dying multiple times a day. (Yes I am a cheap skate.) I had purchased a second one last September and finally switched it a few weeks ago. Guess what ... this "new" is now exhibiting the same behavior.

    I will be looking elsewhere for my next router/wifi hub.
     
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #7
    Be aware that you can buy an Apple-refurbished Airport Extreme and save a little money...
     
  8. roland.g macrumors 603

    roland.g

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    One mile up and soaring
    #8
    I too currently have the flat version and am considering a refurb tower model but figured with the Google onhub and the time since refresh I would wait till WWDC next month to see if any sort of redesign comes out. I'd even consider a TC version if it had a 4 TB capacity as my current USB 3.0 Seagate TM drive is 4 TB.
     
  9. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    USA (Virginia)
    #9
    I'm a bit puzzled about what people are looking for in a "7th-gen" or refreshed Airport Extreme. Realistically what improvements would Apple make until new 802.11 WiFi standards are ready to be implemented? Sure, there must be ways to increase range/throughput somewhat, but I doubt the improvements would be very significant to most customers. Thus I doubt Apple will update the design anytime soon. Just my guess, though.

    Now, a 6 TB Time Capsule seems both eminently practical and significantly more useful. I ended up buying an Apple-refurbished 2 TB unit and putting in a 5 TB drive, and using the 2 TB drive elsewhere. Works great! (Still using my 1st-gen Time Capsule, too.)
     
  10. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #10
    Take a look at this article that discusses some new features in wifi routers that are out now. From that list of router "classes" in the article, the current Apple router is a AC1750 class device. We are in a bit of a chicken or egg situation right now since some of the features in those newer routers in the article (like MU-MIMO) need a client device that supports the same standard and Apple has none at this point. So Apple could come out with say a MU-MIMO client device and new router with MU-MIMO for example.

    If you follow new router reviews at Smallnetbuilder, there is a lot going on with new router technologies, but client devices with those same features are definitely lagging.
     
  11. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    USA (Virginia)
    #11
    Thanks, Weaselboy. That's a good article; it reminded me of the few things I sort-of knew and then gave me a much better understanding of what's available and what's going on (although the article is over a year old, so I'm sure there's more). I started reading more about MU-MIMO too, but got pulled away by my kids so I didn't absorb all of that, heh heh! But obviously I haven't kept up with WiFi technology and I had an overly-simplistic view (i.e.., 802.11a/b-->g-->n-->ac-->next best?).

    Still, it's hard to understand which features would provide actual real-world improvements for a significant chunk of (paying) customers. I suppose Apple will release the new stuff when they think it will make a profit, which means I now understand why these sorts of questions are popping up!
     
  12. roland.g macrumors 603

    roland.g

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    One mile up and soaring
    #12
    what's the process of swapping the drive like in a TC tower?
     
  13. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    USA (Virginia)
    #13
    I have only a little experience working on electronics. I proceeded very slowly and carefully with instructions handy, and had no trouble at all. There are thin wires and some delicate connectors that you could break if you pull them the wrong way, so there is some risk. But after thoroughly reading the resources (below), I had no problems. I even did it while mine was still under warranty (AppleCare).

    The most "difficult" part was enlarging the spaces in the two rubber "corner bumpers" so that any 3.5" SATA drive would fit into them. I used a sharp X-Acto knife (hobby knife) to cut out some of the rubber material. It worked well and the drive fit nicely.

    Apparently some or all Seagate drives would fit without cutting the bumpers. Also, if you have a drive that fits without modifying the rubber bumpers, I think you can skip part of the disassembly because you can just slide the new drive in once the "bay" is exposed. But I'm not even sure if Seagate makes a drive > 3 TB that fits, or not....

    These links have all the info needed. Unfortunately you need to use both of the iFixit guides (one for Airport Extreme and the other for the TC):

    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/AirPort+Extreme+A1521+Teardown/15044#s49085
    https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/AirPort+Time+Capsule+A1470+(Mini!)+Teardown/15067
    https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/132942/Detailed+Removal+2TB+HD+Plus+Install+4TB+HD+++Formating

    If you are fairly handy with tools, I say go for it! It's also fun just to see how these things are put together -- pretty neat!
     
  14. NYMinute macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    #14

    Thank you for the suggestion. I ordered mine and it should arrive tomorrow. In addition to the Airport Extreme I was going to buy an external hard drive to move a bunch of individual files from my iMac but now I can use the Time Capsule for time machine and use my current time machine hard drive for file storage.
     
  15. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #15
    You're welcome. Keep in mind that if you have AC on any of your Macs past the 1-year date of your TC (or AE) purchase you can use that AC to warranty any issues (fingers crossed that you don't!) with the TC. Cheers!
     
  16. Donfor39 macrumors 6502a

    Donfor39

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Location:
    Lanarkshire Scotland
    #16
    My 3rd get Airport Extreme is still proving to be best mac addition I added approx 3yrs ago.

    Best range for 5ghz in 'difficult to reach' kitchen via iPhone.

    Love watching Sky t.v. via iphone6 in kitchen by choosing my aes 'home network' 5ghz.

    Often though about purchasing time capsule though I honestly don't need 1 or 2 tb of hdd space.

    a wee 500mb hdd via aes suffices for time machine wifi backups, though not great if I need to restore t.b.h.)

    yes is honestly solid performance, no re boots required.
     
  17. joscejrod macrumors 6502

    joscejrod

    Joined:
    May 16, 2015
    #17
    The AirPort Extreme is a killer device. I love its performance...
    One thing, do you expect a new model this year? And what new additions would you want?
     
  18. Donfor39 macrumors 6502a

    Donfor39

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Location:
    Lanarkshire Scotland
    #18
    AC extreme with2 usb ports.

    Simple wants, though prob go 6th gen and wireless printer.
     
  19. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    USA (Virginia)
    #19
    You probably know this, but...
    if you don't mind a little clutter, you can use a powered USB hub to connect several drives/printers to your Airport Extreme's single USB port.
     
  20. Donfor39 macrumors 6502a

    Donfor39

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Location:
    Lanarkshire Scotland
    #20
    Haven't had much luck with usb hubs.

    1 powered 1 non powered, hdd and old school epson printer +guitenprint refuse to work combo style.

    Done a little Apple re furb search, only 10 pounds difference with 6th gen extreme or 2tb time capsule.

    And wifi printers are exceptionally reasonably costed in these modern times.
     
  21. joscejrod macrumors 6502

    joscejrod

    Joined:
    May 16, 2015
    #21
    The only improvements that I can imagine are an usb 3.0 port, more signal power and design tweaks.
     
  22. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    USA (Virginia)
    #22
    I had pretty good luck with a powered USB 2.0 hub, with one USB printer and (at one point) two USB drives. That was on a 1st-gen Time Capsule. It probably does depend a lot on the particular hub and printer.

    If Apple puts a USB 3.0 port into the Airport Extreme and Time Capsule, I think they'd need to improve the performance of the processor in the units, because (I believe) that's what's limiting the read/write speed to any attached HDD, even over wired gigabit Ethernet. If the processor can't send the data to the plugged-in HDD any faster, a USB 3.0 port would just be a waste (and very misleading). It would be nice to have faster performance, though!
     
  23. Donfor39 macrumors 6502a

    Donfor39

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Location:
    Lanarkshire Scotland
    #23

    Thanks think I pushed Epson sx100 to the limit when I found guitenprint app for 'wifi printing' from non wifi printer.

    Even had it working for a short time via iPhone-can't mind which app I used at that time.

    Maybe I was asking too much when trying usb printer+usb hdd via powered hub to 3rd gen extreme.

    Or maybe it was hdd being used as time machine backups+printer via aes home network.

    Honestly think maybe a reasonably costed upgrade consideration, I only purchased the printer 2009-entry level 30 u.k. pounds effort which was a life saver when i moved to a different area for required statements, docs/insurance etc.

    And I changed job twice!-thankfully I'm since past p45's etc with my current employer since 2011.
     
  24. Donfor39 macrumors 6502a

    Donfor39

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Location:
    Lanarkshire Scotland
    #24
    Just to add it's only 4 pounds difference with aes 6th gen or 2 TB time capsule refurb free delivery from u.k. Apple store.

    Wonder if there is a aes or time capsule refresh this year?

    Cost wise the 2tb Airport TC is a no brainer..not ordered just yet though maybe in a few weeks time.

    Then I'll choose a basic wifi printer online and pick up from local retailer, think I'll stick with Epson though as the ink is affordable for a home printer.
     
  25. Donfor39 macrumors 6502a

    Donfor39

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Location:
    Lanarkshire Scotland
    #25
    Got to what happened a few yrs ago (approx 3 yrs)

    Epson printer +guitenprint driver -to powered usb usb hub-wdd hdd to usb hub -usb hub to aes extreme.

    Printer working excellent including print utility ink levels etc.

    Now my hdd is not being picked up via time machine backups via macbook.

    airport utility keeps asking for aes password which I found and re entered from keychain.

    It's like 1 step from what I wanted to acheive 3yrs ago :)
     

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