The Airport Extreme

After 3 years of using a D-Link wired router and Apple Airport Express to provide wireless network access in my house, I decided to upgrade to an Apple Airport Extreme with Gigabit. I thought that it was time to move into the future with a router that provides Wireless Draft N speed, along with compatibility for Wireless a, b and g.

Wireless Draft N is the new upcoming wireless standard. While not officially standardized, it is generally compatible with products from the same vendor. It has the ability to transfer data at a speed of 300 MB/s versus B’s 11 MB/s and G’s 54 MB/s. In the real world, though, transfer rates are typically less.

Receiving data from 10/100 Ethernet

Sending data to Gigabit Ethernet

The images on the left show iStat Nano’s display of network transfer speed. On the top is my MacBook receiving data from a Windows computer connected via 100 Mbps Ethernet. My MacBook is 4 feet from the Airport Extreme base station. On the bottom is my computer transferring to an iMac wired with Gigabit Ethernet from the same location. Big difference (remember that these are Mbps, so the actual megabyte speed is Mbps * 8 = 56 MB/s and 96 Mb/s, respectively).

The Airport Extreme also brings another advantage in that it can communicate using the 5 GHz band, as opposed to the 2.4 GHz used by everything from microwave ovens to cordless phones. This allows the router to have farther range and greater throughput, though your hardware will need to support it. All Core 2 Duo Macs have N capabilities, but you will need to upgrade to Leopard or purchase the $2 enabler.

Setting up this system is surprisingly simple, compared to the other routers I have set up in the past. The Airport Utility provides all the necessary data in an organized way, as opposed to many web based setup utilities.

Overall, this router offers a solid choice for future-proofing your wireless network. Through successive firmware updates, it will support the final N standard used by many other manufacturers.
[tags]Mac OS X, MacBook, Airport, Airport Extreme, gigabit, network[/tags]