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Apple's tweaked AirPort Extreme has better Wi-Fi signal with 2.8X power boost

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
The new AirPort Extreme was quietly released by Apple this week with no mention of new features, but it actually has increased power output for increased Wi-Fi signal strength and range.

When broadcasting 802.11n Wi-Fi in 40Mhz wide mode, the new AirPort Extreme has a maximum output power of 392.64mW, which is more than 2.8 times greater than the 139.32mW maximum output of the previous model.

The details come from technical documents filed this week with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. It was the FCC that first revealed the new AirPort Extreme, dubbed model A1408, before the hardware went on sale in Apple's store.

The tweaked AirPort Extreme hardware became available on Tuesday, but Apple made no mention of the hardware upgrade. Its website does not reveal that the AirPort Extreme is a new model, or that it has 2.8 times more power output than its predecessor.

AppleInsider spoke with the repair gurus at iFixit, who compared the two FCC certifications for the old and new AirPort Extreme. While it's impossible to tell exactly what kind of real-world improvements the new A1408 model might offer without testing, owner Luke Soules said the extra power in the new hardware will "definitely increase signal strength and range."



Theoretically, and in a vacuum, a power increase of 2.8 would provide the same signal strength at 1.6 times the distance, he explained. But real-world usage will vary, and any performance boost could be minimal, perhaps explaining why Apple chose not to advertise the modifications.



The new AirPort Extreme was released alongside a refreshed Time Capsule, which now comes in a higher capacity 3TB model for $499. With the new Time Capsule as well, Apple made no mention of any new features, and neither device is advertised online as "New to the Store."

The release of the new AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule put to rest rumors that suggested Apple would switch the wireless devices to its lightweight iOS operating system, also found on the iPhone, iPad and new Apple TV. Apple's existing AirPort and Time Capsule products have for years used embedded ARM processors built by Marvell, but they run a unique embedded operating system, and there is no indication that the operating system has changed.
post #2 of 16
That's awesome!!! One question, though. Does the "new" Time Capsule also have the 2.8 times increased output and will it, as apparently the Airport Extreme, also have greater range and signal strength, at least theoretically? Or does the Time Capsule only have the higher 3TB option and not the AE's wireless enhancements? I would hope that it does have them as well.

(Mid-2012) 15.4" MacBook Pro w/ IPS Retina Display | Quad Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz / 3.6GHz Max. Turbo | 16GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM | 256GB Samsung 830 SSD-based NAND Flash ETA 9/5

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(Mid-2012) 15.4" MacBook Pro w/ IPS Retina Display | Quad Core i7-3720QM 2.6GHz / 3.6GHz Max. Turbo | 16GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM | 256GB Samsung 830 SSD-based NAND Flash ETA 9/5

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post #3 of 16
I would imagine that the new Time Capsule would have the same radio specs as the new Airport Extreme.
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

While it's impossible to tell exactly what kind of real-world improvements the new A1408 model might offer without testing, owner Luke Soules said the extra power in the new hardware will "definitely increase signal strength and range."

So it's "impossible" to tell what difference it will make, if any, but it will "definitely" increase signal strength and range? Interesting.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleStud View Post

So it's "impossible" to tell what difference it will make, if any, but it will "definitely" increase signal strength and range? Interesting.

The increased power should almost certainly improve reception. But it's impossible to say WITHOUT TESTING how that will look in everyone's unique situation...
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crunch View Post

Does the "new" Time Capsule also have the 2.8 times increased output and will it, as apparently the Airport Extreme, also have greater range and signal strength, at least theoretically? Or does the Time Capsule only have the higher 3TB option and not the AE's wireless enhancements?

I'm wondering the same thing. Hopefully some lab will run the new Time Capsule through it's testing protocol when they show up in the pipeline. None today at my local Apple Store.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Felix01 View Post

I'm wondering the same thing. Hopefully some lab will run the new Time Capsule through it's testing protocol when they show up in the pipeline. None today at my local Apple Store.

I'm thinking the same thing. Odd that they would not mention the TC as well. One would think that the signal improvements would have been made to both products.

Also, if this is fact all true, Apple should promote it. A ~ 50% improvement in range is huge

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Windows survivor - after a long, epic and painful struggle. Very long AAPL

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post #8 of 16
Does anyone know what the transmit power of the MacBook 802.11n wireless card is?

The Airport may be able to transmit 2-3 times the range, and you may see the signal, but the wireless card in the laptop may not be able to properly communicate back to the AP. The Airport is 25.94dBm - what's the MacBook Pro rated at?

15" MB Pro Early 2011 (2.0 i7 8GB RAM 240 SSD); ATV 3; iPad 3 (32GB, VZW Black); iPhone 4S (16GB AT&T Black); Airport Extreme (2011)

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15" MB Pro Early 2011 (2.0 i7 8GB RAM 240 SSD); ATV 3; iPad 3 (32GB, VZW Black); iPhone 4S (16GB AT&T Black); Airport Extreme (2011)

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post #9 of 16
Anyone buy an updated version yet? Any performance increases in real life observed?
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by interfx View Post

Anyone buy an updated version yet? Any performance increases in real life observed?

I have the new MD032LL/A Time Capsule and don't see any difference in range/speed compared to the previous generation (4th) AirPort Extreme I had. I am on the fence on whether to just buy the new AirPort Extreme to go along with my 1 TB Seagate drive OR stick with the Time Capsule. I would hate to return the Time Capsule and then learn in the fall with the release of iCloud that I am missing out on some features that the Extreme can't provide.

Thoughts?
post #11 of 16
My new Airport Extreme was delivered today. However, I'm out of town for work until Friday so I won't have any test results until then. I have several wireless clients that currently connect in the 40-50% signal range as they are on the opposite side of the house. I should be able to immediately see if there is any added range with the new model.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by academytim View Post

I would imagine that the new Time Capsule would have the same radio specs as the new Airport Extreme.

I'm not so sure about that. I looked at the FCC submittal for 2009 the last time the Airport Extreme and Time Capsules were updated and there were separate submittals. This time the only submittal that has been released is for the Airport Extreme.
post #13 of 16
1) Can you use the built-in USB port to connect an external HDD (via the proper interface) and then use that as a home-built storage facility for Time Machine? I find my household with another MacBook Pro and I need a back-up facility for it. TimeCapsules are just too expensive IMHO so a home-built version is preferable.

2) Does anybody know if the Extreme version support MAC address filtering? I've looked and I can't find it anywhere.

Thank you!
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoloMK33 View Post

1) Can you use the built-in USB port to connect an external HDD (via the proper interface) and then use that as a home-built storage facility for Time Machine? I find my household with another MacBook Pro and I need a back-up facility for it. TimeCapsules are just too expensive IMHO so a home-built version is preferable.

2) Does anybody know if the Extreme version support MAC address filtering? I've looked and I can't find it anywhere.

Thank you!

On the 2nd question, yes the Airport Extreme supports MAC address filtering (I use this on my network)
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by BoloMK33 View Post

1) Can you use the built-in USB port to connect an external HDD (via the proper interface) and then use that as a home-built storage facility for Time Machine? I find my household with another MacBook Pro and I need a back-up facility for it. TimeCapsules are just too expensive IMHO so a home-built version is preferable.

2) Does anybody know if the Extreme version support MAC address filtering? I've looked and I can't find it anywhere.

Thank you!

1st question - Yes you can use the USB to connect your own hard drive and use that drive as a Time Machine backup drive. There is a trick to getting the backup drive recognized but there is info on the internet on how to do this.
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by interfx View Post

Anyone buy an updated version yet? Any performance increases in real life observed?

It performs better but don't expect radical range increases. I've just found overall signal strength to be better at moderate ranges. At long range it's about the same. Where I used to get two bars, I now get three and I have two where I used to get one but I'm not heading up the street with it. That said for a house like mine, which is a wireless nightmare, it has given me the best wireless signal I've had of my 3 routers.
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