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News Archive for: Tuesday January 30th, 2007       Go to Current News Page

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First Feedback on Apple 802.11n Enabler (with 802.11g and 802.11n routers)
(Updated - see below for a later report from a Linksys 802.11n broadband router user on filesharing performance taking a nose-dive after the Enabler install)
Jonas, a reader that reported low performance with his C2D iMac (20in) in yesterday's news Airport Extreme 2007-001 update feedback today wrote the 802.11n Enabler ($1.99 at apple store - see earlier post below) solved it:

" Great news! Installing the airport 802.11n enabler on the iMac 20" C2D solved all speed issues! I now get the full 10MBit DSL speed over airport (was 4Mbit) and I get 3.1 MB/sec speed when copying files over the network (before I only had 0.5 MB/sec). This is all with WPA2. Just for your info: before I installed the update I tried disabling the encryption on my router, and the speed didn't change. (reply to a previous post below from another iMac owner)
greetings from germany,
Jonas "

Interesting, maybe this 'enabler' has improvements/fixes/optimizations for non-n networking. (But this is too small a sample size to draw any real conclusions yet.) For those that missed his comments in yesterday's news, he had said a Macbook C2D (also running 10.4.8) sitting next to the iMac didn't have any performance problems. Both were connected over Airport (WPA2 personal) to a Linksys WRT54G (802.11g) router.
I'm not sure why Jonas had poor performance originally on that iMac C2D only or if the enabler would have similar benefits for anyone else with a Core2 Duo Mac (or Mac Pro) that has seen poor performance. I'd not assume it's a fix/improvement for everyone but if you do try the 802.11n enabler, let me know if you see any benefits (other than 802.11n support).
(Remember that the enabler is included with the new Airport Extreme Base, so if you're buying one of those there's no need to buy the Enabler separately.)
(The enabler from 2007 was not required in the future/with later updates/OS versions/Macs)
Update: Another reader with a Linksys WRT300N 802.11N router noted some performance problems after installing the enabler:

" I just installed the 802.11n enabler on a MacPro 2.66GHz and a MacBook Core 2 duo. It was necessary to make the latest Airport Extreme 2007-001 update, then the Install went fine and I had no problems connecting to a LinkSys WRT300N Router (802.11N model) with 130MBit speed (144MBit with the MacBook). But as I started a filesharing session between the computers I got almost no speed. Only like 1kb/s. I could barely mount the HD of the other computer and copying a 200kb File took 2 Minutes. I tried the same with an 802.11g equipped 12" Powerbook, the MacPro and the LinkSys Router and it works just fine.
Later a friend came by with another MacBook with 802.11n enabler installed and we got the same slow file copying speed. We have lots of wireless networks here (at least 5, sometimes up to 10). Maybe that causes trouble. I'll try different channels tomorrow.
Greetings, Matthias "

I'd reboot the machines and routers/bases also. (He later said he did that.) I'd also check the system logs, network utility, activity monitor for any related info/errors, etc. on the network performance problem.
Update - Matthias later sent an update with more tests with his Linksys N router (including tests of G vs N speeds) that I've added to a separate page on 802.11n Enabler feedback.

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Apple store has 802.11n Enabler (for select Macs) for $1.99
Matthew sent a note the Apple store has the 802.11n Enabler for $1.99. (This post was from 2007 - the enabler is no longer required.) Here's some info from the page (much of it already mentioned previously on apple's 802.11n page) including a note on how to check to see if you already have it installed. (Does that mean some new builds already have it?)

" Many Mac computers with an Intel Core 2 Duo and all Mac Pro computers with AirPort Extreme can be enabled to access 802.11n-based wireless networks. If you purchased one of these Macs, you can use the AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler software to activate this advanced wireless capability.

Important note: The Enabler is included free with the new AirPort Extreme Base Station with 802.11n. If you purchase a new AirPort Extreme Base Station, you do not need to purchase the Enabler separately.

These Macs have the 802.11n hardware built-in:

  • MacBook Pro with Intel Core 2 Duo
  • MacBook with Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Mac Pro with AirPort Extreme option
  • iMac with Intel Core 2 Duo (except the 17-inch, 1.83GHz iMac)

    Do you need the AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler?
    Before purchasing the 802.11n Enabler software, please check to make sure that your Mac does not already have the 802.11n enabler already installed.

  • Open Network Utility (found in the Applications > Utilities folder)
  • Under the Info Tab, choose Network Interface (en1)
  • In the section "Model: Wireless Network Adapter," if it says (802.11a/b/g/n), you already have the 802.11n enabler installed. If it says (802.11a/b/g), you do not have the 802.11n enabler installed. .....

    Note: The software license for the 802.11n Enabler software allows you to install and use it on all computers under your ownership or control."

  • If anyone finds a 3rd-party (non-Apple) 802.11n compatible network adapter (PCI, PCcard, etc.) let me know. The new base is 802.11a/b/g compatible also, but n offers better range/performance. AppleTV is also compatible with older 802.11 specs, although Apple notes streaming requires 802.11g or better.)
    I really wish Apple would offer 802.11n adapters to allow owners of Macs that are not the latest models to take full advantage of the new base and AppleTV. IMHO, I think they would sell quite a few of them - and help sales of the new Base and AppleTV also. Regardless, as happened with Airport "Extreme"/802.11g, I'm hoping compatible adapters will be found (if not natively compatible then via 3rd party drivers).

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    Mac Pro Bluetooth Antenna Wire Mixup (still happening?)
    Last fall there were several reports from Mac Pro owners that the Bluetooth antenna cable was incorrectly marked. Apparently some are still reporting that problem (i.e. If they had the problem, it was usually seen as very poor BT range/poor BT performance.)
    I've updated the Illustrated Guide to installing Bluetooth module in a Mac Pro with info on the mixup/markings.
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    Intel-CPU Mac user notes on Browser Performance/Non-Native Safari Plug-ins
    " From your 1/29/07 News page...
      "I still have very slow WLAN with an iMac 20" C2D (running 10.4.8), even after the update. On a 10Mbit internet DSL connection I only get 4MBit over Airport (over LAN full speed). A Macbook C2D (also 10.4.8) sitting next to the iMac gets full speed over airport. Both are connected over airport (WPA2 personal) to a Linksys WRT54G router.
      Greetings from Germany, Jonas
      (Update - see later news item above. Jonas said the $1.99 802.11n Enabler solved the 802.11g performance issue he saw with the C2D iMac.)"

    I experienced the same thing. I had used Apple's Migration Assistant to move all my apps and User Account from my G4 iMac to my new Intel C2D iMac. My Internet was incredibly slow. In the process of trying to solve this, I took a look at the Console Log and noticed references to a couple of Safari plug-ins. It suddenly hit me that these plug-ins were probably PPC only and were invoking Rosetta every time they were accessed. I removed those plug-ins and my Internet was immediately restored to full speed. My suggestion for Jonas in Germany is to take a look at the Console Log for clues on what may be causing the slow down.

    Particularly if he used the Migration Assistant to move data from his old Mac to his new C2D Mac. His MacBook is OK because he likely started out fresh with a new User Account.
    Richard "

    Good point to note - Apple's doc on Migration Assistant has a note to check for universal updates but things like browser plugins/addons are often forgotten. But I updated Jonas' post late yesterday with his reply on this - he said he had not used Migration Assistant. His tests also noted LAN (file copy) performance. (Internet based performance tests are less consistent in my opinion, as net traffic, server load, etc. varies constantly.) Some have also mentioned poor airport signal strength with some intel-based Macs. (Suspecting loose antenna connections perhaps). BTW - it's interesting to note Jonas said today that the 802.11n enabled boosted 802.11g network performance on that C2D iMac.

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    Mac Wireless Security Modes and Performance Impacts
    (from a reader mail yesterday)

    " I noticed a number of people complaining about the poor wireless performance, speed wise, of intel Macs, especially using WPA security. (some also complained about low signal strength.)
    I had the same problems, and so did a number of people from the Apple discussion forums. Someone recommended changing from WPA security to either WEP security, or removing security all together. (Note - WEP is less secure than WPA. Personally I'd not want to run WEP vs WPA unless some devices on the network didn't support WPA. I also use MAC access control (restricting access to specific NIC addresses of your adapters - an option in the Base's setup) as well as not broadcasting the network name.)
    I changed to WEP, and the performance has gone back to 'normal' levels...certainly consistent with an iBook G4 level of performance.

    WPA security affects all intel based Macs here - an iMac Core Duo 2GHz 20" model, a Macbook Core Duo 2GHz (black) model, and an Macbook Core Duo 2 2GHz (white) model.
    Reverting back to WEP makes all three models perform like the G4/5 models that they replaced.
    Hope this is of help to those people experiencing poor wireless performance; it might be an idea to suggest that they try WEP security, rather than WPA, to see if this rectifies the problem until Apple release a fix. (although this problem has plagued me since purchase of the iMac soon after availability)
    Regards, Rob "

    Jonas wrote today he saw no improvement in his iMac C2D (20in) performance with WPA disabled, but did note that the 802.11n enabler solved the problem with that iMac. (He said a MacBook C2D model didn't have any performance problems on the same network setup.) WEP is not secure so avoid using it.

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    G5 Tower Random Shutdowns page updated
    I've updated the previous page on G5 Tower random shutdowns with 2 more reader reports - one noting setting Energy Saver performance to 'reduced' helped, another saying Apple is going to replace his logic board (he included system log errors).
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