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Tests detail improved performance in Apple's new Airport Extreme, Time Capsule

post #1 of 17
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Detailed testing has revealed dramatic improvements in the performance of Apple's latest Airport Extreme and Time Capsule wireless base stations.

An in-depth review and teardown by Brian Klug of Anandtech has revealed that modifications quietly made by Apple to the two devices result, in some cases, in a significant boost to signal strength and range.

In addition to increased power output, Apple appears to have switched from Marvell WLAN cards to the Broadcom BCM4331, which is the same single chip solution found in the Early 2011 MacBook Pro. Another difference between the fifth-generation Airport Extreme and the previous generation is the inclusion of "finger-stock EMI gaskets" around the metal tray inside the device.

Klug's extensive wireless performance tests on the new Airport Extreme showed modest improvement in received signal strength, with the difference being more visible on the 2.4GHz range than 5 GHz. A Modulation Coding Scheme test, which "shows how fast the card is connecting to the 802.11n network," revealed "massive increases" in performance for locations farther away from the base station.

File transfer tests showed substantial improvements to downstream speeds in more remote locations, and dramatic gains to upstream performance across the board. Upstream throughput "is almost always over double, thanks probably in part to the better front end and receive sensitivity of the Airport Extremes new wireless stack," Klug noted.

Source: Anandtech

Running the Iperf test showed a significant increase for the 2011 MacBook Pro, which features a BCM4331 wireless card with support for 3x3:3, and boosts to challenging RF scenarios for the 2010 MacBook Pro, which has the BCM4322 and 2x2:2.

"At the end of the day, the new Airport Extreme dramatically improves throughput in the best case and in a few regions where signal was previously unusable. In the worst case [the Kitchen], performance improves from being essentially unusable to totally fine, and in the case of the [2010 MacBook Pro] goes from not being able to connect at all to pushing 23 Mbps," Klug concluded.

For the fourth-generation Time Capsule, the publication ran just a few tests to compare performance against the fifth-generation Airport Extreme. According to the report, the two devices should have similar performance, as any differences detected in the tests were "minuscule."

The FCC provided an early look at the refreshed AirPort Extreme ahead of its release. The filings with the agency indicated that Apple had increased the power output of the device by as much as 2.8 times.



Apple quietly updated its Airport Extreme and Time Capsule products in late June, providing no mention of any changes to the hardware other than a capacity bump to 3TB for the Time Capsule.
post #2 of 17
While I only have 2 iphone's and 1 ipod touch, but no Macs, I might have to look into the new Airport Extreme, because those are some damn fine performance numbers. I have tried so many different wireless access points and have yet to find a truly stable one....
post #3 of 17
I wonder if the latest Airport Extreme signal travels better through walls in an old building, compared to 09/2003 AirPort Extreme Base Station like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Airportextreme.jpg

It's my understanding that there is metal mesh in such old buildings walls... So maybe no Airport can fight that metal in the walls?

I'll probably buy this latest Airport Extreme for my New MBP and iPhone, and the Old one will stay paired to my PB G7, 10.4.11... Then, if I need to Copy Files wirelessly I'll Log my PB G4 into the Newest one's Network.

My thinking is to keep MBP and PB G4 on 2 Separate Networks, so that PB G4 doesn't slow down the News Airport & MBP/Lion + Next iPhone!

Meanwhile, best wishes to all True AAPL Investors! We Shall Overcome!

 

Go  Apple, AAPL!!!

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Go  Apple, AAPL!!!

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post #4 of 17
My walls are concrete with steel beams. I had to use a repeater just reach the front rooms. Even cell phones get zero bars in my place
post #5 of 17
I would say that you'll only start to see the Time Capsule become a non issue, i.e. the thing it is supposed to be, when WiGig gets rolled out - which you should start to see late this year beginning next in 2012. That will give 6Gbps within about 10m range, so backing up won't be an issue.

And while the TC is about storage, thus the predictable increases in TB (up to 3TB now) the use of SSD will dramatically cut the main issues people have with the TC; which is heat! It gets too hot and that is dangerous for a backup solution. So, SSD will not only sort that but the speed of which multiple users can backup to, blasting past the 6Gb controller hampering HDDs now (just as with Thunderbolt).

Finally, spintronics. Well, not just yet, but this will allow for devices to operate without heating up at all, that will benefit everybody and so I cannot wait for that! - it deserves a mention!
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by macologist View Post

I wonder if the latest Airport Extreme signal travels better through walls in an old building, compared to 09/2003 AirPort Extreme Base Station like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Airportextreme.jpg

It will. It has much better RF hardware and power. Also, your new MBP and iPhone both have 802.11n which has an approximate indoor range of about twice that of the b/g network in that old extreme. The extreme is also simultaneous dual-band capable so I think that running the powerbook on the 2.4Ghz b/g link shouldn't interfere with the n side of things, though I'm not 100% sure of that. You can try it and see if it's causing trouble and if it is take the 2 network approach that you're thinking of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by macologist View Post

It's my understanding that there is metal mesh in such old buildings walls... So maybe no Airport can fight that metal in the walls?

I'll probably buy this latest Airport Extreme for my New MBP and iPhone, and the Old one will stay paired to my PB G7, 10.4.11... Then, if I need to Copy Files wirelessly I'll Log my PB G4 into the Newest one's Network.

My thinking is to keep MBP and PB G4 on 2 Separate Networks, so that PB G4 doesn't slow down the News Airport & MBP/Lion + Next iPhone!

Meanwhile, best wishes to all True AAPL Investors! We Shall Overcome!
post #7 of 17
But does it allow incoming VPN connections to Mac OS 10 Server. Incoming VPN connections to host (e.g. Mac OS X Server) don't work through earlier Airport Extremes (even when opening ports).
post #8 of 17
I have already installed 9 Airport Extreme base stations in our organization replacing cheaper routers that used to "collapse" on heavy load.
They are extending a Gbit-Ethernet network as hotspots providing additional Gbit connections as switch in some offices and some of them made it possible to keep some USB-printers which are not network-compatible. (pegged into Active Directory via Bonjour)

I use a dual band configuration giving every device the best possible bandwidth.
Using an Gbit-ethernet backbone also extents the reach and the performance of the network because the base stations don't have to provide resources for the handshake and broadcasting between them necessary for enhancing a Wifi network like WDS.

Roaming for Windows, OS X and iOS devices works like a charm and this configuration allowed a significant reduction of the amount of routers because I have great signal where I need it (offices) and weak spots in some corridors and elevators don't matter.

For setup I daisy chained the routers in my office. It took less than half an hour to set them up with the Airport Utility. Than I just gave them to a coworker who plugged them in.

The Airport routers are IMHO a "hidden" gem in Apple's product lineup and the new ones are even better.
They go way beyond what's considered to be a consumer product.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DominoXML View Post

I have already installed 9 Airport Extreme base stations in our organization replacing cheaper routers that used to "collapse" on heavy load.
They are extending a Gbit-Ethernet network as hotspots providing additional Gbit connections as switch in some offices and some of them made it possible to keep some USB-printers which are not network-compatible. (pegged into Active Directory via Bonjour)

I use a dual band configuration giving every device the best possible bandwidth.
Using an Gbit-ethernet backbone also extents the reach and the performance of the network because the base stations don't have to provide resources for the handshake and broadcasting between them necessary for enhancing a Wifi network like WDS.

Roaming for Windows, OS X and iOS devices works like a charm and this configuration allowed a significant reduction of the amount of routers because I have great signal where I need it (offices) and weak spots in some corridors and elevators don't matter.

For setup I daisy chained the routers in my office. It took less than half an hour to set them up with the Airport Utility. Than I just gave them to a coworker who plugged them in.

The Airport routers are IMHO a "hidden" gem in Apple's product lineup and the new ones are even better.
They go way beyond what's considered to be a consumer product.

I agree. I've purchased dozens of routers from various vendors and the Airport routers almost always outperform the competition. In addition, they have far better reliability and last forever.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #10 of 17
Do the 5th generation Airport Extreme and Time Capsule support 802.1Q VLANs? Without this support, this equipment is for home use only and only for those who do not want to have an advanced network at home. The Guest access network on the Airport Extreme and/or Time Capsule is tunneled directly to the WAN port. If I want to put another router or firewall in front of the Airport Extreme or Time Capsule and use the Airport Extreme or Time Capsule as an Access Point, I cannot utilize the Guest access feature. If this equipment supported 802.1Q, it would integrate with other vendors' equipment to separate networks from each other based on the SSID-to-VLAN mapping. Without this feature, it's purely a home solution. It's sad that Apple does not want to interoperate with other vendors based on the networking standards and uses its propitiatory way to provide guest access, whereas they really don't need to reinvent the wheel. They could achieve the same goal by doing it the standards way.
post #11 of 17
I can't speak to an improvement over the last version of the Airport Extreme because the current one is the first I have owned.

What I can say is that I have been very pleased with my purchase, compared to my old wireless router.

My house has plaster walls (with wire mesh in them) plus I have an old metal carport out back. My old router provided ok coverage in the house and out back, but the Airport Extreme Basestation added 1 or 2 more bars to my WIFI strength.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I agree.

Me too. Our company had so many problems with the performance and reliability of other access points (requiring multiple field visits) that we finally ripped them all out and replaced them with Apple's Airport Extremes. We've had zero problems ever since.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by TokyoJimu View Post

Me too. Our company had so many problems with the performance and reliability of other access points (requiring multiple field visits) that we finally ripped them all out and replaced them with Apple's Airport Extremes. We've had zero problems ever since.

Ditto. It's a well kept secret. Airport Extreme just works. I can't say that about the countless Linksys, NetGear base stations that have failed or needed to be reset so frequently that the manufacturer put a hardware reset switch on the back.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #14 of 17
I bought an Airport Extreme about three weeks ago, in Canada from my school's computer store. How would I know whether I have bought the new generation or the prior one?
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landnsea View Post

I bought an Airport Extreme about three weeks ago, in Canada from my school's computer store. How would I know whether I have bought the new generation or the prior one?

The model number. From Anand's review, "the only way to tell which version is which by looking at the box is by the model numbersMD031LL/A for the 5th generation Airport Extreme, and MD032LL/A for the 2TB 4th generation Time Capsule."
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by macologist View Post

I wonder if the latest Airport Extreme signal travels better through walls in an old building, compared to 09/2003 AirPort Extreme Base Station like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Airportextreme.jpg

It's my understanding that there is metal mesh in such old buildings walls... So maybe no Airport can fight that metal in the walls?

I'll probably buy this latest Airport Extreme for my New MBP and iPhone, and the Old one will stay paired to my PB G7, 10.4.11... Then, if I need to Copy Files wirelessly I'll Log my PB G4 into the Newest one's Network.

My thinking is to keep MBP and PB G4 on 2 Separate Networks, so that PB G4 doesn't slow down the News Airport & MBP/Lion + Next iPhone!

Meanwhile, best wishes to all True AAPL Investors! We Shall Overcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post

It will. It has much better RF hardware and power. Also, your new MBP and iPhone both have 802.11n which has an approximate indoor range of about twice that of the b/g network in that old extreme. The extreme is also simultaneous dual-band capable so I think that running the powerbook on the 2.4Ghz b/g link shouldn't interfere with the n side of things, though I'm not 100% sure of that. You can try it and see if it's causing trouble and if it is take the 2 network approach that you're thinking of.

Thanks a lot, jukes!

I hope you are correct in that the newest Extreme can run in such Dual Mode, so that the Older Slower PB G4 doesn't slow down my New MBP, cause if it does, then it defeats the purpose of owning that Newest Extreme! Hopefully Apple Gurus give me the correct advise, so that I don't have to Buy and Return my Newest Extreme!

The Unknown still remains, since your link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11#Protocols doesn't mention word "metal" even once, so I won't know if 802.11-N will overcome such barriers!!! I can't always be in the Direct Line of Vision as far as the signal... Looks like Buy and Try will have to be the only way to find out, unless someone has a Link to prove otherwise!!! I just don't like Buy & Return things...

 

Go  Apple, AAPL!!!

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Go  Apple, AAPL!!!

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post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirozha View Post

Do the 5th generation Airport Extreme and Time Capsule support 802.1Q VLANs? Without this support, this equipment is for home use only and only for those who do not want to have an advanced network at home. The Guest access network on the Airport Extreme and/or Time Capsule is tunneled directly to the WAN port. If I want to put another router or firewall in front of the Airport Extreme or Time Capsule and use the Airport Extreme or Time Capsule as an Access Point, I cannot utilize the Guest access feature. If this equipment supported 802.1Q, it would integrate with other vendors' equipment to separate networks from each other based on the SSID-to-VLAN mapping. Without this feature, it's purely a home solution. It's sad that Apple does not want to interoperate with other vendors based on the networking standards and uses its propitiatory way to provide guest access, whereas they really don't need to reinvent the wheel. They could achieve the same goal by doing it the standards way.

No, it doesn't support 802.1Q VLANs.
I have Ciscos in the core backbone and a have separated network segments mainly because some Software on the servers needs an amount of open ports and sometimes direct access to directories that forced me to "encapsulate" it rather than having a too complex firewall and general security configuration. So guests have currently to deal with a cable until those systems are updated.

Nevertheless I don't think that the APE is purely a home solution because it provides the best throughput and reliability of all routers I've tested so far. It's scoring some big points here. The current lineup is great for a couple of use cases and especially for small and midsize businesses.
To be honest, I think I would ditch the Cisco Hardware if Apple would provide direct support for deployable, service dependent automatic VPN dialing, VPN Gateways (WAN connections) , 802.1Q VLANs and RAID-Arrays with removable hard disks.

Not sure if Apple sees enough demand for an APE Pro or an TC Pro based on the very promising foundation.
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