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New MacBook Pros, recent iMacs grappling with flaky wireless

post #1 of 93
Thread Starter 
An erratic yet ongoing problem has seen recent iMacs, and now Apple's late 2008 MacBook Pros, affected by frequent Wi-Fi dropouts with no clear solution.

Some owners of Apple's new unibody, 15-inch MacBook Pro are reporting in Apple's support forums (1, 2) that their connections to wireless access points often lose signal strength or drop their links altogether.

The problem echoes a similar one witnessed by owners of aluminum iMac owners since mid-year that has created similar difficulties.

What conditions are exactly necessary to trigger the problem are unknown. Connections to some access points work properly, while others create severe connection problems. Network and security settings don't appear to matter, nor do devices attached to the systems.

A collection of the MacBook Pro owners have partly diagnosed the problem and have discovered that the latency between their Macs and their Wi-Fi hotspots can fluctuate wildly, shifting from normal response times of under 10ms to as high as 39,290ms -- or more than 39 seconds between signals. These extreme variances result in the data packet loss that ultimately interrupts the signal.

Those who've been dealing with the problem since before the MacBook Pro release share a common trait, however, of having installed one of Apple's more recent updates. Some report the problems having began after installing Mac OS X 10.5.3 or 10.5.4 updates; others actually report problems with Apple's recent AirPort Extreme patches, which themselves were paradoxically meant to resolve connection woes.

This includes AirPort Extreme update 2008-004, which was released late last month. It replaced AirPort Extreme update 2008-003, which was released just days earlier but abruptly pulled by Apple for undisclosed reasons.

Of those who've spoken to Apple technicians to address the matter, at least some report recognition of a more widespread problem, though none have said how soon Apple may fix the intermittent wireless behavior. Users are regardless told they may have to wait awhile for more thorough software updates: the most recent AirPort Extreme patches update the firmware for the Wi-Fi chipset itself and so prevent an easy rollback if it's the patch itself that sets the glitch in motion.
post #2 of 93
I'm sure glad you posted this. I have a new iMac and have been pulling my hair out about how to fix it. I'm a Mac technician and it's completely stumped me.

I suppose I'll keep it wired until there is some progress with Apple. Just glad to know I'm not alone on it.
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post #3 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by stukdog View Post

I'm sure glad you posted this. I have a new iMac and have been pulling my hair out about how to fix it. I'm a Mac technician and it's completely stumped me.

I suppose I'll keep it wired until there is some progress with Apple. Just glad to know I'm not alone on it.

Hurray at last someone will talk about this. I have my suspicions this is due to the stupid aluminium cases these things come in. I have 2 previous model white iMacs which have none of the problems in identical locations relative to the Airport Extreme.

I have had this since June and have spent countless hours talking to AppleCare about it and being constantly told to wipe my hard drive and reinstall.

And that as we all know is the road to HELL!!!!
post #4 of 93
I thought it was basically known as a leopard issue?

my wireless reliability has definitely gone down over the time I've had my Macbook Pro (core 1 Duo, 6.12Ghz) and I always attributed it to 10.5.x because that's when it got real dodgy . . .
post #5 of 93
I was experiencing this with my brand new late '08 Macbook too.

I fixed the drop outs by changing my WiFi encryption from WPA2 using AES to WPA2 using TKIP. Seems the Macbook has an issue with AES as the encryption. Works perfectly with TKIP.

(Router is a Linksys WRT-54GL running Tomato 1.21)

UPDATE:
Just to clarify, I'm a Sys admin and have several wireless computers at home. The Macbook is the first and ONLY one that drops out like this on my network. It definitely has a problem with using AES, which is a shame as AES has less overhead than TKIP.

Apple, please fix!
post #6 of 93
and I thought i was the only one with this problem.

It is good news that this is not just me and hopefully there will be a solution. It has hit both my iMac and MBP (now RIP overheated)
post #7 of 93
I have a new MacBook Pro and this has happen to me several times including last evening.
post #8 of 93
Flaky wireless is nothing new - been a problem on my 2007 MacBook w/Tiger and as far as I know never fixed.
post #9 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by gastroboy View Post

Hurray at last someone will talk about this. I have my suspicions this is due to the stupid aluminium cases these things come in. I have 2 previous model white iMacs which have none of the problems in identical locations relative to the Airport Extreme.

I have had this since June and have spent countless hours talking to AppleCare about it and being constantly told to wipe my hard drive and reinstall.

And that as we all know is the road to HELL!!!!

Long live the white iMac! by far the best iMac ever produced.
I hate the racoon glossy iMac with its white mouse.
post #10 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by magnusver View Post

Flaky wireless is nothing new - been a problem on my 2007 MacBook w/Tiger and as far as I know never fixed.

Interesting was waiting for my turn at the local Apple Genius Bar and chatting to others there.

So much for "It just works"! I was not alone in having a string of problems on separate Macs and having issues like this go unresolved for protracted periods.

We put up with a lot on Macs based on the belief in the Good Mac myth.

If this had been Dell they would have been on site long ago and confirmed that it wasn't just my setup. Apple refuses to offer support commensurate with its claim of better quality and greater reliability.

I don't know what paying for Applecare has done for me. Apple wants you to always prove the problem before they will act, and always leave you under the threat of incurring charges for supposed software issues. Which this may be and of Apple's own creation.
post #11 of 93
I was having these very same problems with the mid 2007 macbook pro (15")

The problem arrived with 10.5.3 and went away with 10.5.5
post #12 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Long live the white iMac! by far the best iMac ever produced.
I hate the racoon glossy iMac with its white mouse.

We are as one on this. Does your mouse tracker ball screw up all the time like mine?

Mine will only scroll in one direction, not the other, then stops scrolling altogether.

After a while it scrolls again. Unreliable as hell.

btw Even worse than the glossy iMacs are the new Macbooks. I saw them in the stores, the color is washed out and the glare on the screens is awful. What a piece of shite, AND they put the prices up here.
post #13 of 93
I have the original iPhone, and WiFi is always coming and going when I try to access my AirPort base station in our home.
post #14 of 93
I've noticed this very issue only just recently on my Mac Mini. I've also got an Intel iMac, but it is hard wired, so no issue there. I haven't seen anybody else mention having issues on the Mini. Anybody?
post #15 of 93
My original Intel iMac has the same issue since updating to 10.5.4 and to the latest Airport extreme firmware.

I hope this gets fixed soon. Its not too much of a bother because I don't have mission critical but I can imagine it would frustrate a lot of people
post #16 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by KKemp33 View Post

I've noticed this very issue only just recently on my Mac Mini. I've also got an Intel iMac, but it is hard wired, so no issue there. I haven't seen anybody else mention having issues on the Mini. Anybody?

Yep. I just bought a Mac Mini & a Macbook Pro... (right before the recent update)... they both are completely whacked on wifi, which of course is the way I want to use them!

One possible fix (so far it's worked.. knock on wood) is to a) install the recent patches, b) turn airport off c) delete the plist in library/preferences/systemconfig/blahblahairportblahblah.plist d) turn airport back on & reconfigure. So far I've been able to connect to Hulu.com & stream things without losing connection.

Crossing fingers. This should really be an embarassment to Apple.

[UPDATE] and... IT DID NOT WORK. Sheesh! Replacing the plist helps but doesn't fix it. So I'll have to run ethernet through strange walls.
post #17 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by gastroboy View Post

We are as one on this. Does your mouse tracker ball screw up all the time like mine?

Mine will only scroll in one direction, not the other, then stops scrolling altogether.

After a while it scrolls again. Unreliable as hell.

btw Even worse than the glossy iMacs are the new Macbooks. I saw them in the stores, the color is washed out and the glare on the screens is awful. What a piece of shite, AND they put the prices up here.

I had the problem with my mouse too. When I asked in the Apple discussions, 20 people condescendingly replied "Clean it with a wet napkin or towel" as if I was supposed to figure that one out on my own. Anyways, just wet a napkin or towel then flip your mouse over and run the trackball all over the wet napkin to remove dirt from the sensors (remember how dirt built up on the sensors in the old-style trackball mice?). Anyways, I still think it was stupid on Apple's behalf to make the ball inaccessible so you're stuck having to clean it every other week. Hope that helps you.
post #18 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicDrum View Post

Yep. I just bought a Mac Mini & a Macbook Pro... (right before the recent update)... they both are completely whacked on wifi, which of course is the way I want to use them!

One possible fix (so far it's worked.. knock on wood) is to a) install the recent patches, b) turn airport off c) delete the plist in library/preferences/systemconfig/blahblahairportblahblah.plist d) turn airport back on & reconfigure. So far I've been able to connect to Hulu.com & stream things without losing connection.

Crossing fingers. This should really be an embarassment to Apple.

Did you verify that your router's wireless channel isn't conflicting with another wireless router in the area?

Did you make sure your router has the latest firmware update?
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post #19 of 93
Have any of you actually tried disabling AES?!

Unfortunately Apple's routers do not have TKIP which is laughable and so a lot of you will be unable to do so. Apple's Airports are AES ONLY when using WPA/WPA2.

If you want to fix this problem I'd recommend a DECENT router such as the Linksys WRT-54GL and install DD-WRT or Tomato firmware on it.
$59.99, but once you install the firmware it is better than routers costing hundreds more.
Set it up to use WPA2 with TKIP and problem fixed.
Alternatively, wait for Apple to fix AES... could be a while...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833124190
post #20 of 93
......that Apple really hasn't really had good wi-fi reception in just about all of their portables?

You would have thought a company like Apple would be leading the way with Wi-Fi. After all these years they still haven't nailed it. Very disappointing.
post #21 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by gastroboy View Post

We are as one on this. Does your mouse tracker ball screw up all the time like mine?

Mine will only scroll in one direction, not the other, then stops scrolling altogether.

After a while it scrolls again. Unreliable as hell.

I can't tell you how many times I've felt like smashing that friggin mouse up against a wall. It scrolls for sh*t. I've returned 2 and then gave up. I'm told the mouse that's white on the sides instead of gray doesn't have this problem- but who knows. It's totally unreliable.
post #22 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by AHeneen View Post

I had the problem with my mouse too. When I asked in the Apple discussions, 20 people condescendingly replied "Clean it with a wet napkin or towel" as if I was supposed to figure that one out on my own. Anyways, just wet a napkin or towel then flip your mouse over and run the trackball all over the wet napkin to remove dirt from the sensors (remember how dirt built up on the sensors in the old-style trackball mice?). Anyways, I still think it was stupid on Apple's behalf to make the ball inaccessible so you're stuck having to clean it every other week. Hope that helps you.

Thanks I found that out too when I went into the Apple Store and they had exactly the same problem with some of their mice.

Seems stupid to have to do it, rubbish Apple design!

My $5 HP scroll mouse never misses a beat.

tekstud

Mine is the white sided mouse, so don't hold out any hope there.
post #23 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Some owners of Apple's new unibody, 15-inch MacBook Pro are reporting in Apple's support forums (1, 2) that their connections to wireless access points often lose signal strength or drop their links altogether.

I have a MacBook Pro from Nov. 2006 with the same problem.
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post #24 of 93
One step forwards, two steps back.

It never ceases to amaze me how manufacturers take a technology that worked perfectly in previous generations, and then manage to break it in the next. How the hell is that possible?

It would be like Ford announcing a new car, where inexplicably the wheels turned out to be square.
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post #25 of 93
This has been a problem ever since I moved to a DrayTek router. A D-Link and a Speedport (AVM) router both have worked (and continue to work) without problems, but my Vigor, which is actually a pretty decent router, has driven me nuts with randomly dropped signals and just inexcusable latency. DrayTek acknowledges the problem but says it's definitely an Apple issue, but when I called AppleCare about the matter the reps said they'd never heard anything about it at all.

So right now I have my D-Link wireless router hooked up to my DrayTek wireless router, all just to get and maintain a decent signal.

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post #26 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Messiah View Post

One step forwards, two steps back.

It never ceases to amaze me how manufacturers take a technology that worked perfectly in previous generations, and then manage to break it in the next. How the hell is that possible?

It would be like Ford announcing a new car, where inexplicably the wheels turned out to be square.

According to Steve Jobs that would be an "Amazing Apple wheel, with 4 x the sides of the competitors!"
post #27 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by gastroboy View Post

Hurray at last someone will talk about this. I have my suspicions this is due to the stupid aluminium cases these things come in. I have 2 previous model white iMacs which have none of the problems in identical locations relative to the Airport Extreme.

I have had this since June and have spent countless hours talking to AppleCare about it and being constantly told to wipe my hard drive and reinstall.

And that as we all know is the road to HELL!!!!

I too have this issue and like many of you it happened with some update in System Software but not sure where.

Here is why it isn't the aluminum case and has to be a software issue. When I run Parallels on my 24" iMac the wireless connection works great. So it has to be something on the Mac side.

I have tried many of the things already that others on this thread have suggested and, quite frankly, none of the suggestions did much. Your mileage may vary of course. But I did do a couple of things this weekend based on some ideas I pulled from Apple's message boards that made a HUGE improvement. I broke one of the golden rules of troubleshooting by trying a few things at once so I don't know if one or a combination of things made a difference. But both are very easy to do and it is amazing how much faster and more reliable my wireless connection on my IMac is now.
  1. Changed the MTU from 1500 (default) to 1492
  2. Added an additional (open) DNS server. Can't recall the one I used but I think it was 208.67.220.220. As I recall there were a bunch to choose from.

SCR
post #28 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by scr021 View Post

I have tried many of the things already that others on this thread have suggested and, quite frankly, none of the suggestions did much. Your mileage may vary of course. But I did do a couple of things this weekend based on some ideas I pulled from Apple's message boards that made a HUGE improvement. I broke one of the golden rules of troubleshooting by trying a few things at once so I don't know if one or a combination of things made a difference. But both are very easy to do and it is amazing how much faster and more reliable my wireless connection on my IMac is now.
  1. Changed the MTU from 1500 (default) to 1492
  2. Added an additional (open) DNS server. Can't recall the one I used but I think it was 208.67.220.220. As I recall there were a bunch to choose from.

SCR

Try my suggestion above man.

"I was experiencing this with my brand new late '08 Macbook too. I fixed the drop outs by changing my WiFi encryption from WPA2 using AES to WPA2 using TKIP. Seems the Macbook has an issue with AES as the encryption. Works perfectly with TKIP.
Unfortunately Apple's routers do not have TKIP which is laughable and so a lot of you will be unable to do so. Apple's Airports are AES ONLY when using WPA/WPA2.
If you want to fix this problem I'd recommend a DECENT router such as the Linksys WRT-54GL and install DD-WRT or Tomato firmware on it."
post #29 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenstee View Post

......that Apple really hasn't really had good wi-fi reception in just about all of their portables?

You would have thought a company like Apple would be leading the way with Wi-Fi. After all these years they still haven't nailed it. Very disappointing.

I have never had a problem with WiFi in Macs. I think Apple has their fair share of HW and SW issues, like every CE company, but I think that most of the issues stem from the greater complexity with wireless networks coupled with the the average user's inability to setup a proper WiFi network.
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post #30 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I have never had a problem with WiFi in Macs. I think Apple has their fair share of HW and SW issues, like every CE company, but I think that most of the issues stem from the greater complexity with wireless networks coupled with the the average user's inability to setup a proper WiFi network.

Compared to all the trouble and time wasted setting up my multiple Macs with WiFi, my cheapie PC laptop running Vista got it in one go, instantly.

Heck it is an Apple Extreme! Can't Apple get its lousy 2 model routers working happily with its small range of computers?
post #31 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squuiid View Post

Try my suggestion above man.

"I was experiencing this with my brand new late '08 Macbook too. I fixed the drop outs by changing my WiFi encryption from WPA2 using AES to WPA2 using TKIP. Seems the Macbook has an issue with AES as the encryption. Works perfectly with TKIP.
Unfortunately Apple's routers do not have TKIP which is laughable and so a lot of you will be unable to do so. Apple's Airports are AES ONLY when using WPA/WPA2.
If you want to fix this problem I'd recommend a DECENT router such as the Linksys WRT-54GL and install DD-WRT or Tomato firmware on it."

I am using a Netgear router.

I was having this problem even using WEP. Not sure my current router supports TKIP but I'll check.

SCR
post #32 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by scr021 View Post

I am using a Netgear router.

I was having this problem even using WEP. Not sure my current router supports TKIP but I'll check.

SCR

WOW, didn't know anyone still used WEP, but I guess WPA is no longer secure either!

http://www.engadget.com/2008/11/06/w...-routers-free/
post #33 of 93
I was having a lot of problems with my 1st Gen MacBook Pro 17". At first, I only saw it at my brother's house after he got Verizon FiOS. They use their own wireless base station. Then I got Verizon FiOS, and I was seeing it at my house too.

Now I have a new MBP 15" and I'm really not seeing the issue much. At my office where I have an AirPort Extreme, I've never had problems.

Which is not to say these people aren't having problems with their network cards. I hope it's something about the network itself for them, like it appears to have been for me.
post #34 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by gastroboy View Post

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post #35 of 93
I joined this forum today because someone provided a link to this thread on the Apple Discussion forums under the iMac.

I received my new 24" iMac in late July, 2008 and for 2 days it worked perfectly as I set it up and learned how to use it. I was then advised via the "Software Update" that an update was available. I allowed the update to install and almost immediately noticed that my ability to stay connected to my Time Capsule was intermittent with numerous drops in signal strength especially if the machine was idle for a short period or just woken up from sleep. I had to click on the signal strength icon and would get "Airport Scanning" with the wheel spinning until it saw the Time Capsule. I also noted that web pages would start to load and then pause numerous times or stop altogether.

I was on the phone several times with AppleCare techs who had me try several things which have been discussed at length on the Apple discussion forums. My case was elevated and I was given a direct number to call vs. having to go through the normal litany to speak to a tech. Over the course of several days I tried everything they suggested to no avail. An interesting side note is that most of the techs I spoke with said they hadn't heard of this problem before I called. I advised them that this was a very lively discussion on their Apple Discussion Forums and they said they don't read them! I did convince a couple of them to go read some of the info on the forums. I have been advising all people with this problem to call Apple and inform them so this issue gets elevated to a higher level. Reading forums is good but since Apple doesn't, they need to hear from us in numbers. I urge you to call and call often until this problem is solved.

I have the latest version of Leopard 10.5.5 and the latest Airport firmware update installed. Since the first of August I have been using an ethernet cable to my Time Capsule since my wi-fi performance has been intermittent and at times unusable. Luckily for me my new iMac is within 10 feet of my Time Capsule.

I have done side-by-side comparisons of download speeds on a notebook using Windows Vista vs. my iMac. I get a steady average download speed of approx. 500 Kbs on any of my PC based computers in the home and my iMac will start out at 97 Kbs and slowly build to around 300 Kbs over the course of the download if it's big enough (1-4 MB download file). On occasion I have seen the iMac come up to almost 500 Kbs but it is rare on the iMac and routine on all the PC based computers.

I have switched to the Open DNS servers as suggested on the Apple discussion forums and this may have helped page generation a little but not the connectiviity issues with the Time Capsule. I also think that many who are reporting poor internet performance on the forums are actually experiencing dropped connections between their iMac and their wireless access point/router. This manifests itself as poor internet performance.

I also have Microsoft Windows Vista loaded on my iMac using Boot Camp and when I'm using Vista the wi-fi connection is steady at full-strength with NO connectivitiy issues. This tells me it is not a hardware problem.

I also have 3 PC notebooks, 1 PC Desktop, IPOD Touch, 2 3G iPhones and a Nintendo Wii using my home network at various times and there are NO connectivity issues with any of them whatsoever. Only my new iMac is having this problem. I have installed a wi-fi scanning program to check for neighbors wi-fi channel usage and have deconflicted with them. There are only 2 neighbors wi-fi signals that I am detecting and they are only 1-2 bars in strength.

I hope this helps. I have decided to stay connected with an ethernet cable until Apple comes up with a fix for this problem. In the meantime I check the forums every now and then hoping that Apple has come out with a fix. I honestly don't think we will get one until Apple provides it.

There are several people on the Apple Discussion Forums who have responded saying they changed wi-fi channels, deleted the network files on their iMacs, erased all network settings and started over, switched to Open DNS, bought new routers and other various attempts to fix this problem. Some report that it solved their problem. Many come back and re-post within a few days saying they were too quick in their initial post and the problem has reappeared or actually never went away. Some people actually do have issues such as channel interference and they are able to improve their wi-fi connection by changing channels but their problem was probably not the same in the first place, other than similar symptoms.
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post #36 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by machz990 View Post

I joined this forum today because someone provided a link to this thread on the Apple Discussion forums under the iMac.

My story was similar to yours, right down to the "They'd never heard of it before".
post #37 of 93
As the title says I just recently started having issues with my MBP. This immediately after the last WiFI update. The MBP in question is a late spring 2008 model so is on the newer side.

One "feature" if you will is that you can see signal strength drift in and out in a location that should not have issues at all. Funny thing is right now I'm in a location that was giving me very poor reception a couple of days ago and now I have full signal strength. This interesting thing here is that I have large file transfers taking place in stead of sporadic net usage. Not sure if that is an indication of what might be causing the problem or not.

Whatever the cause it is frustrating. It is especially so when I had been getting excellent performance since the day I purchased the machine.
post #38 of 93
Hi There,

We've seen this problem for months and the fix to date has been to change the Airport to N @ 5Ghz, or N @ 2.4Ghz. It's sorted the issue in 90% of cases and the other 10% were much, much more reliable.

Seems to be some kind of interference, most likely caused by cordless phones or powerlines. In many cases, the Airport was only a few metre's away, yet no MAC could see it. As soon as we changed it to 5Ghz, everything worked.

Note that older MAC's can't see N Networks, and early MACBOOK's and MACBOOK PRO's don't necessarily have airport cards that support N networks either - you'll need to check in Network Utility > Info - check the Ethernet network adapter for N support. The purchasable N activator won't work unless the adapter has N support.

Hope this helps!
post #39 of 93
[QUOTE=ALPICH;1336767]My original Intel iMac has the same issue since updating to 10.5.4 and to the latest Airport extreme firmware.

I hope this gets fixed soon. Its not too much of a bother because I don't have mission critical but I can imagine it would frustrate a lot of people[/QUOTE
ooops.... sorry wrong post.
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post #40 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarneyBuoy View Post

Hi There,

We've seen this problem for months and the fix to date has been to change the Airport to N @ 5Ghz, or N @ 2.4Ghz. It's sorted the issue in 90% of cases and the other 10% were much, much more reliable.

Seems to be some kind of interference, most likely caused by cordless phones or powerlines. In many cases, the Airport was only a few metre's away, yet no MAC could see it. As soon as we changed it to 5Ghz, everything worked.

Note that older MAC's can't see N Networks, and early MACBOOK's and MACBOOK PRO's don't necessarily have airport cards that support N networks either - you'll need to check in Network Utility > Info - check the Ethernet network adapter for N support. The purchasable N activator won't work unless the adapter has N support.

Hope this helps!

That may work but then what about all the G components in people's homes? I for one have only my iMac that is N-capable. My brand new 3G iPhones would be useless. Also I have no power lines within sight of my home and my phones are the latest DECT 6.0 technology. I have also installed a program that scans for noise in the wi-fi spectrum and I have a very low noise level. Not to mention that when using Vista on my iMac and the signal strength is pegged and stays there with no issues.

If noise, location, power lines or anything else was causing interference wouldn't it stand to reason that I would see degradation in at least one more of my other computers or devices on my home network? I can put a laptop right next to my iMac and it works flawlessly.
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