Mac user reports on 802.11n adapters, Bases/Routers
(including 802.11n OS X compatible adapter upgrades)
Last updated: 10/7/2013 (802.11N adapters link)
[Update/FYI: For page on Mac/OS X compatible 802.11ac adapters, see this page.]
This page has mac user feedback/tips on various 802.11n adapters and bases/routers (including Apple's 802.11N Airport Extreme as well as Linksys, D-Link and other models). Also included are notes on the 802.11n chipsets used in later (intel-based) Macs and 3rd party adapters with the same chipset and other 3rd party 802.11N adapters that have Mac OS X drivers (such as RALink).
Early MacBook Pro (core duo) Guide on swapping in Mac Pro 802.11n Wireless card William Rivas sent a writeup with photos of upgrading his Core Duo MacBook Pro with a ($49) Airport Extreme (802.11n compatible) card for the Mac Pro.
Several readers with Core Duo Macs (w/mini-PCIe wireless card slots) swapped in a Dell 1500 notebook wireless card instead of the Mac Pro kit card. The Dell 1500 worked (same broadcom chipset as the Mac Pro kit card, See Feb. 22nd 2007 news page, and Feb. 27th 2007 news page)
Apple OEM 802.11n Mini-PCIe Cards for Mac Pros, some Mac Notebooks: Stock can vary but as of summer 2013 sponsor OWC's wireless page had several Apple OEM (original mac equipment) 802.11n/a/b/g cards. Check link for current stock status and pricing.
Non-Apple 802.11n Wireless Adapters: There's some low cost 802.11n PCMCIA, PCI, and USB adapters with mac drivers for OS X 10.3.9 -10.6 based on RAlink's chipset/drivers at their USA Mac drivers page.
Mac user reports on the 802.11n Cards/Bases/Routers:
If you're using a Mac with 802.11n upgrade, let me know your experience (include Mac model, network details, base/router model, if it's a pure 802.11n network or mixed b/g/n, etc. - send to news at this site.)
D-Link DWA-160 dual-band USB adapter report:
"Hi Mike, We have a couple of older G4 PowerBooks and Core Duo Mini for which I was seeking faster-than-802.11g wireless networking. One of the PowerBooks and the Mini have 802.11g built in while the Titanium PowerBook uses a Motorola PCMCIA card for equivalent functionality. (FYI - there's also a previous report on a (Broadcom N chip based w/native support) Linksys 802.11N Dual-Band PCMCIA card in OS X - he actually used it with a PCI card adapter in a G5 Tower.)
I first tried an Edimax EW-7706 PCMCIA card for the PowerBooks (both running 10.4.11). It worked, with speeds a bit faster than the original 802.11g, but it was slow to connect and even slower to re-connect after a sleep - if it would re-connect at all. A re-start after sleep was quicker.
I found a D-Link DWA-160 dual-band USB adapter at a good price locally and thought I would try it. I had read lots of bad things about it but figured it was worth a try. There's absolutely nothing on the box, in the instructions or on the D-Link products site concerning use with Macs, but there is a Mac driver on the D-Link Support site. One should be aware that there are at least three versions of the DWA-160: A1, A2 and B. Mine is the A2 variety and it works fine with the Mac driver from the D-Link site; it may or may not work with the other versions - I simply can't say. I did read on the D-Link users forum that some surgery using Terminal is required when using 10.6.7 - a permissions issue.
Initially I could not make it respond at all and thought it might be DOA, but after de-installing the Edimax and D-Link software and then re-installing the D-Link utility, it all worked just fine. We have two networks: a b/g/n one at 2.4 GHz and an n-only network on 5 GHz. (Two AirPort Extremes of different vintages). The DWA-160 works well with either one. It will not, however, work with older WEP encryption. (You should avoid using WEP if at all possible - WPA2 is a better choice if all your wireless devices support it.)
The DWA-160 also worked without a hitch on the Mini running 10.5.8.
File transfer speeds were not as good with the PowerBook G4/1.25 GHz, as with a 2 GHz MacBook with built-in 802.11n, but still double what is achievable with 802.11g. On the Mini, transfer speeds were about the same as the MacBook: 11 MB/sec. With the Titanium G4, speeds were limited by the USB 1.1 port speed, and so slower than the 802.11g speeds available via the Motorola card. Connections were also dropped frequently when using the Titanium PB with the DWA-160. To be fair D-Link specifies USB-2 as a requirement. I mention this mainly because one of the most-frequent criticisms I had read about the DWA-160 was that it drops connections more often than it should. Perhaps all these folks were using USB 1?
I did find that connections did not always survive sleep, but when it did not, all that was necessary was to unplug and re-plug the DWA-160's USB connection.
The DWA-160 is a little larger than many competitors, but it comes with a USB extension cord and stand. Using the extension cord makes the arrangement less vulnerable to accidental knocks and eases crowding at USB ports, but does leave one with a "tail" to deal with. I did not find placement or orientation of the DWA-160 to be an issue. It worked fine when just left hanging, or lying on its side on a table.
The D-Link support site suggests that for maximum speed one should use no encryption but rather enable MAC-address filtering. I tried it both ways with no difference in observed transfer speeds. Our networks will remain encrypted.
Signal strength was less of an issue than using the Titanium PB's original internal AirPort card used to be, nor is it as critical as is our current iPad using the n-only network. The DWA-160 does not, however, report as many neighborhood networks as the Edimax does. Maybe that's a good thing.
Broadcom N chip PCI Card in G5 Tower: (1/25/2010) Late posting a page on this but see Netgear WN311B-110ISS Rangemax (802.11n) PCI card in G5 Tower for details/pix/screenshots. (From Jan 7th, 2010 mail.)
802.11N card swaps in Early (Core Duo) MacBook Pros revisited:
Hello Mike, I've just installed a SparkLAN WPEA-110N card (802.11a/b/g/n Dual-Band Mini PCI Express Module, Atheros AR9280) in my (early/core duo) MacBook Pro, it's based on the Atheros 9280 chipset used in the new iMacs.
(Although most N cards in Macs are Broadcom based, some earlier model 802.11N capable Macs (notebooks typically) had Atheros AR5008 based cards (noted some years ago on the Mac 802.11n page here). And back in spring 2007 when the Core Duo MacBook Pro N card upgrade guide here was posted, some readers used Dell 1500 cards bought on ebay - I think they were atheros based also back then. Here's a post from the Feb 13th, 2007 news page on that, noting it was an AR5008 based card. Of course like any mfr, they could have changed chipsets used at any time.-Mike)
It supports both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz modes and is MIMO capable on the original 2 aerials. It is recognised as Apple supplied by Network Utility. Unfortunately my router is 2.4Ghz only at the moment so I cannot test the 5Ghz mode.
Unlike the Broadcom card it is single sided so it doesn't take up any extra space and fits perfectly. Strangely my card is held in place by with a clip from the fan housing not as shown in the guide. Mine came from Oxford Tech here in the UK for a very reasonable £35.97 including postage. Performance seems fine considering my mixed network (Wii and Brother 750 printer on G, iMac and this MacBook on N) and range is excellent, I have a new Sitecom WL-348 300 capable router driving the network.
(He sent a screenshot from Network Utility that showed one transmit and a few recv errors, so asked if that was typical.)
I only get those errors with my Bluetooth mouse and between my Mac and the router so I guess they're related to that. I've always had them.
I had tried a second hand Broadcom card but my 'Book didn't seem to be able to drive it, the throughput was 2mbs at best! I do not know if the card was broken (it was recognised fine) or if there was a quirk with my 'Book which came with an (802.11g) Atheros AR5BXB6 card originally.
Some other upgraded (core duo) MacBook Pro owners in the past also noted poor 2.4GHz performance, although 5GHz was fine. (See earlier posts below from Dec/Nov 2008.)
Ralink 802.11N OS X Driver Updates: (Late posting this - got lost in the overloaded inbox)
"I've been using a Newer Technology MAXPower 802.11n/g/b Wireless PCI Adapter ($45) for a couple of years in my Power Mac G5 2.3GHz DP (PCI-X) with generally good results. I just noticed that Ralink Technology Corporation posted updated drivers for their USB and PCI products in December (08) and January (09). http://www.ralinktech.com/support.php?s=3.
Great site and a wonderful service to the Apple community. All the best.
Thanks George. I missed the January update to the PCI/CB (cardbus) drivers (not using one of those models) but did update to the Dec. 4th, 2008 USB drivers. I hoped the update may have eliminated the need to edit the driver plist for the Linksys Dual-Band N USB adapter but it didn't. (I still had to edit the driver plist for the ID of the Linksys adapter). I used that USB adapter with my 10.3.9 PB G4 17in as it works in 5GHz band also, not just 2.4GHz as most do. (I like to run my AE N base in 5GHz mode for max performance, but that means all my 802.11G/B devices/clients can't access the network. With the new AE bases you can run both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands simultaneously though.) I wanted to post already edited files/installer but never got a reply/OK from RAlink... (I'm hoping Linksys doesn't change the chipset used on that USB dual-band adapter, they are infamous for that sort of thing IMHO in the past...)
More Feedback on Core Duo MacBook Pro upgraded w/Mac Pro N card: (3 reports of poor 802.11G/mixed mode performance. (5GHz N only mode OK.) I asked if the card clip was reused, connections tight, if different channels tried, etc.)
"After reading your page (Feb 2007 article on MacBook Pro (core duo) Guide on swapping in 802.11n Wireless card), I decided to give the upgrade a try. The installation was simple as I have upgraded the hard drive before. I have a 1st Gen MacBook Pro 2.16Ghz, OS X Leopard 10.5.6, 2GB RAM, Windows is supported through VMWare
Wireless Card Type: AirPort Extreme (0x14E4, 0x87)
Wireless Card Firmware Version: Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (188.8.131.52)
I don't know if I have the BCM4321 or the BCM4328 chipset because I didn't think about looking at the card until I had a few problems (he later wrote it's BCM4321MC). I am getting the signal fluctuation described by another person on your site. (earlier report below) I have to run a b/g/n mixed mode environment due to iPhone, Wii, and older PC's that I don't feel like spending the money on to upgrade.
(Some users that saw this problem used a 802.11G/B Router in bridge mode, allowing the N macs to run in fastest 5GHz N only mode and B/G clients to use the G router, but that's an extra cost unless you have a spare base already. And that's just an in-home workaround.-Mike)
Additionally, I travel with my MacBook Pro and I need consistent performance across the 802.11 standards.
As a test, I did switch to a 802.11n (5GHz) only mode, and the wireless worked flawlessly with the upgraded Airport Extreme card. Again, this is impractical since I travel quite a bit.
After running into problems, I reinstalled the 10.5.6 Combo update with little effect. So far the signal fluctuations are the only problem I have. It does cause connectivity issues and a decrease in overall WiFi range.
I have attached screenshots from the mixed mode environment. (Network Utility Info tab screenshot showing no Send/Recv errors or collisions, w/link rate of 130Mbits/sec. And Airport Utility info SS showing Airport base firmware 7.3.2, channel 11 (automatic), WPA/WPA2 personal security.) I'll keep an eye on your site for updates.
(he later wrote)
I actually reseated the Airport extreme to ensure both the antenna connections and grounding clip were positively seated. The Airport extreme card is the BCM4321MC chipset also. My cordless phones are 5.8Ghz and I see no impact because of the Microwave oven. This is definitely a weird problem. I even messed around with "Interference robustness" settings to see if that helped.
My wife's new unibody MacBook is working like a champ using 802.11n compatibility on the network (attached screenshot). (Not really useful as it just showed the same 130Mbit/sec link speed, no send/recv errors as the MBP) She gets great coverage throughout the house and I never see any fluctuation with her Mac. (It likely has better antennas than the older MBP. And some Mac N notebooks use an Atheros chip based N card. Some with 3 antennas IIRC.)
I have gone back to my original 802.11b/g wireless card. I'm a network guy by trade but I can get around in computers. I wish I had the cycles to debug the wireless driver (if I even knew how).
Earlier reports follow with similar complaints on G/mixed mode performance:
"I thought I would add something to the 802.11n adapter report because so far I've only read of one other person who's had the issue I've been having lately and his was a review of the Mac Pro 802.11n upgrade card they were selling on Amazon.com, he gave it one star due to PEAP and 802.11G performance issues: Apple MA688Z/B Airport Extreme card kit (same card as used in our original MacBook Pro (core duo) Guide on swapping in 802.11n Wireless card)
Here are my specs:
1st Generation Macbook Pro Core Duo 2.0GHz
2GB factory RAM
Leopard 10.5.5 (w/Oct. 29th AirPort Extreme Update 2008-004 I assume.)
Boot Camp - Windows XP Pro SP3 (I assume you installed BootCamp 2.1 update (originally leopard shipped w/BC 2.0) as apple said that BC2.1 update reqd for SP3.)
This is what I installed:MacBook 802.11n AE Card from ifixit ($89.95 - $40 over typical price)
Seagate Momentus 7200.3 320GB hard drive
The original 100 GB hard drive was starting to get too full and I figured it was time to upgrade so I went ahead and bought a Seagate 7200.3 320 GB (ST9320421AS) bought a fresh copy of Leopard and of course the 802.11n Mac Core Duo upgrade card from ifixit.com (over priced at $89.95 as I've learned).
The HDD and the 802.11n card went in easily and upon restoration with Time Machine my 802.11n card was recognized immediately. The Time Capsule had no problems talking over 802.11n. I installed Boot Camp and XP Pro SP3 and here is what I've noticed. It's important to note that the wireless chipset that Apple now sells (with this kit) is the Broadcom BCM4328 and not the older, perhaps more compatible BCM4321.
Under Leopard System Profiler my Wireless card info is listed as this:
Wireless Card Type: AirPort Extreme (0x14E4, 0x87)
Wireless Card Locale: USA
Wireless Card Firmware Version: Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (184.108.40.206)
(Reader FYI: firmware updates are not flashed in the card, but are a loaded file that has been updated at times as part of Airport Extreme updates for intel-based Macs. His vers. info is the same as my 2007 AL iMac (10.5.5 w/all updates) except my iMac's card type is ... 0x88 vs 0x87.-Mike)
Wireless Channel: 36
Here's a summary of the issues:
802.11g performance has been abysmal probably 40%-50% less signal strength than before under both OS X and Windows. (no change in base location or other factors that could affect this? (like 2.4GHz clutter/interference). Changing channels/relocating base doesn't help?
BTW - Another recent report (below) from a MBP owner that upgraded on disappointing G mode performace follows - his solution was to add a G base for those clients and have his 802.11N base (running 5GHz N only) set to bridge mode.-Mike)
802.11n performance (5 GHz N only) under Leopard is excellent 270 Mbit/s all throughout the apartment
802.11n under Windows XP Pro SP3 will not connect above 72 Mbit/s and usually degrades below 54 Mbit/s using that same N connection, weak signal strength
When the battery drops below 15% power life the Airport Card shuts down and will not re-connect until a hard reboot of the machine under Leopard
I've been unable to find updated BCM4328 compatible drivers for XP the links to BCM43xx packages I've downloaded have failed to work with the 4328 chipset.
I hope this can be helpful to someone else as I wrote a post about it on my blog too. Thanks for the great resource that is xlr8yourmac.com
5GHz N only mode performance is much better in my experence also. No MacBook pro here, but an Al iMac and AppleTVs show much higher xfer rates in 5GHz mode, although sometimes I have to revert to 2.4GHz for G and B clients. Definitely takes a performance hit in 2.4GHz/mixed mode. (If non-N clients are on the network with mixed mode it basically behaves like a G (or B) network, sacrificing performance for backward compatibility.) Also 2.4GHz mode is more cluttered.
My router is an Apple (gigE) 802.11N AE base (w/latest firmware), using WPA2 mode (no MAC address filtering).
I don't run bootcamp/windows however but have had a friend's Vista PC w/USB Dual-Band Linksys N adapter (running 5GHz mode) share the network at times. (Shared DSL modem for internet access - low-cost DSL service isn't very fast.)
I use a FW800 connected Ministack for Time Machine backups (as I don't want TM backups to eat into wireless bandwidth) - although I still have TM off and use the "backup now" option every day. (TM by default backs up every hour.)
Another recent report from a MacBook Pro owner that upgraded the wireless card that noted disappointing 2.4GHz/mixed mode performance:
"Thanks for the DIY on how to upgrade the wireless N on the 2006 MacBook pro, which I have. Unfortunately I am not getting the speed and reception boost I was expecting.
I currently have a new airport extreme base station running N mixed mode at 2.4ghz as I still have a lot of other devices with G. I also have a Santa rosa macbook and it is extremely fast. However I can't say the same for my pro after upgrading. It is actually worst than the original wireless card.
The reception bars would fluctuate a great deal and it is very inconsistent. I am currently running with leopard on a core duo MacBook pro and even tried using the enabler software but with no luck. (Leopard doesn't need the original Apple 802.11n enabler (as mentioned on the DIY page here it was for OS X Tiger only).-Mike)
(Can you test to see if 5GHz N only mode improves things? (just as a temporary test.) Before the card upgrade were you also using the Airport N base? (or was that added recently as well as the N card upgrade. And Airport base firmware up to date?) I asked if there were any issues with the antenna connections. (Tried changing channels, relocating base, etc. to see if that helps with 2.4GHz mode?) Are you running 10.5.5 with all updates (there was an Airport extreme 2008-004 update in late oct. 2008 also.)
I see a big (major) difference in N only/5GHz mode with an Al iMac and AppleTV vs 2.4GHz mixed mode - much better speeds and less interference (2.4GHz is really cluttered in comparison) and with non-N clients on the network performance really suffers in comparison to N only mode.-Mike)
Thanks for the reply!
I solved this issue by reviving my old linksys router and have my airport extreme N router as a bridge in 5ghz N only mode. So far so good. Good speeds even through walls.
SMC Barricade N Combo Bundle
"I was reading your page on compatable Draft N hardware and I can confirm that the Barricade N from SMC (part no. SMCWBR14S-N2) router + (SMCWUSBS-N2) USB N network stick works. Although exclusively marketed at PC users I tried the USB network stick from the pack with the 10.4 / 10.5 Ralink drivers from the link on your page and it works well!
Range is impressive too in our all brick house here in England. We were using just standard G before with poor results, with this it has an 100% improvement.
Although just a two antenna version (most have three I have noticed) this unit will blitz any standard G setup in the speed and range department. I paid only £39.00 for both the router and USB stick in a combo pack, online order pickup from a large PC equipment retailer, so considering that many G setups go for this price it really is a steal!
Speed wise (with bricks and all the RF unfriendly stuff in the way!) I am getting around 100Mbs, not bad considering the unit can do 300Mbs!
I have been using this for two weeks with no problems, altough the Ralink driver has frozen once or twice, which has not been a major issue considering the amount of time it has been switched on.
Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station (802.11n) Firmware 7.3.2 (June 30th, 2008) The Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station (802.11n) Firmware 7.3.2 doc simply mentions "bug fixes". Use Airport Utility 5.3.1 or later (v5.3.2 released earlier this month - downloads included on the linked page also) to get/apply the firmware update. (I updated my Airport N/gigabit base to firmware 7.3.2 with Airport Utility v5.3.2.)
Newer Tech 802.11 Adapters: OWC originally sold the Edimax 802.11n PCI, PCMCIA and USB 2.0 adapters on the Xlr8yourmac Site Specials page for $59 each but in Early Feb. 2008 the replaced them with their own line of NewerTech branded models at even lower prices:
Have replaced the Edimax 802.11n products with our NewerTech product line and now with prices for XLR8YourMac readers for under $50 each (PCI, PCMCIA and USB 2.0 models). Our NewerTech line comes with the Mac driver + a real Mac manual right in the box and full Mac support from NewerTech of course... And no one getting better pricing than your readers on this line.
The NewerTech USB 802.11n/g/b adapter is also rather unique in that it includes an extension cradle so you can better position for reception if so desired. It works straight to the USB port too, but the extender cradle is a nice bonus for those that need that extra positioning. (The PCI card model includes a triple antenna pod that can also be relocated.)
Also on the list too is our 802.11n/g/b performance router too. At $65 it's one of the most cost competitive 802.11n routers on the market while also being among the most feature laden too.
Lawrence R. O'Connor
Other World Computing"
Edimax 802.11N PCI Card Reports Updated: - see this page.
NOTE: reports below were from mid-Oct 2007 and earlier, before OS X 10.5/Leopard was released
(FYI - OS X 10.5 does not need the $1.99 802.11n enabler.) Also, initial feedback (from the xlr8yourmac.com news page, and Edimax reports page) noted the RALink 802.11n PCI/PCMCIA/USB adapters still worked in OS X 10.5 even with the Aug. 2007 drivers which noted OS X 10.3/10.4.x support - although they have updated the drivers since then, which now lists OS X 10.5/Leopard support. (There's a page here with general OS X 10.5.x Feedback/Info/Tips/Docs.)
Airport 802.11N base w/GigaBit Ethernet: (NAS user upgrade)
"You published an earlier report of my Synology DS-107e NAS on 8/31/2007 (on Mac NAS reports page). Since then I've been totally happy with this unit. After purchasing a new MacBook Pro with wireless "n" capability I decided to upgrade this system by changing my old D-Link router (DI-624 AirPlus Xtreme G, now discontinued) out for a new Apple Airport 802.11n Base w/Gigabit Ethernet LAN/WAN ports. The improvement was immediately noticeable, I've not run any Benchmarks, but when observing the throughput of a SuperDuper "Disk image Clone" operation, the copy speeds average 4-5 faster then with my older PowerBook and D-Link router. To say I'm pleased with this improvement would be an understatement.
(I asked if he'd applied the Airport 802.11N base 7.2.1 firmware update.-Mike)
Yes I updated the firmware to 7.2.1 as prompted during the installation. I've not witnessed any problems, then again I'm not using the "AirDisk" feature.
Airlink AWLC6080 300N Wireless-N Cardbus Adapter
"Hi Mike! So I needed a new Wi-Fi card for my PowerBook Ti 667 DVI, and I saw this on Frys.com: Airlink AWLC6080 300N Wireless-N & G PC-Card Cardbus Adapter
It turns out it has the Ralink chip on it, so I bought it. Only $44.99! I don't have an N based network, but it works pretty good on my G based one.
My only problems are wake from sleep/boot issues. The card won't connect after a wake from sleep, and it halts the boot process. The fix is to just not put it in the slot until after it's awake or booted. It doesn't cause any major problems, and the minor ones can be solved just by taking the card out.
I don't recall anyone that used the Edimax 802.11n (also ralink based) PCcard saying they had boot/sleep problems (although not sure they tested for sleep, I'm sure they would have mentioned a boot problem). One note on the page of feedback on the Edimax 802.11n PCI card was to add the utility as a startup item.
D-Link DIR-655 Base/Router: (there's some earlier reports on this base also here)
Non-Apple wireless routers for 802.11n networking
Just acquired a D-Link DIR-655 (D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router) to use with my MacBook Pro 17" 2.33GHz.
To start with, performance with 802.11n enabled on the router was diabolical -- speed could be measured in kb/sec! Set router to 802.11b/g and performance was OK.
Updating the router's firmware to 1.03 (I am in UK -- 1.05 is released in US with mixed reports), which implements 802.11n v2.0, makes 802.11n work -- getting reported connection of 150+ and file transfers are very fast, but only if I use WPA encryption. WEP slows it right down (50-60). I have an old Powerbook that doesn't support WPA, so until that dies, seems I'll be in the slow lane.
I asked for more info on the older powerbook/OS used. (Some previous apple airport updates added WPA support years ago even to the original airport 802.11b cards, but not sure what OS he's using.)
iBook G4 and G5 Tower owner reports on $59 USB 802.11N Adapter (posts in Oct. 12th, 2007 news page)
Edimax 802.11N PCI card Feedback: I've posted a separate page with Mac user reports on the Edimax 802.11n PCI card.
Airport 802.11N base 7.2.1 firmware Info, Tips and Feedback (7.2.1 firmware is draft 2.0 release with security fixes.)
Low-cost 802.11N Cardbus adapter compatible with Ralink OS X drivers (from 8/21 news page)
"Hi Mike, Have gained much info and help from your site over years now, so
delighted to be able to give something back.
I have a 15" 1GHz TiBook which I've used wirelessly since I got it, first with an inbuilt Airport 802.11b card, then with a Buffalo WLI-CB-G54A 802.11g cardbus card, and now successfully with a new Edimax EW-7708PN 802.11n draft 2.0 cardbus card. I can confirm that this uses the Ralink RT2860 chipset.
Installation and configuration of the card was very simple using the Ralink OSX drivers and utility from http://www.ralinktech.com/support.php?s=3 and of course it was from xlr8yourmac that I learned of their existence.
The EW-7708PN connects flawlessly to my aged Belkin 802.11g base station. This is Broadcom based and is doing WDS with an 802.11g Airport Extreme, to which the EW-7708PN also connects fine. The network is rejoined on wake from sleep, but not as rapidly as with a native Airport card.
The Ralink utility shows that signal strength is apparently better than it was with the Buffalo card, with a significant signal associated with each antenna. Certainly performance in g mode is very good. I'm waiting for an Apple pre-N base station to make further tests, but so far I'm delighted.
(Update: I asked the Neville if the Edimax 802.11N PCMCIA card had Multiple antennas/MiMo support. He sent a screenshot from the RAlink utility showing the 3 antennas' signal strength.-Mike)
UK readers might be interested to know that I got the EW-7708PN from www.eupac.co.uk for £29.16 including VAT which equates to about $58, or less than $50 without the VAT. (FYI -there are OS X (10.3.9-OS X 10.5 compatible) 802.11n adapters (PCMCIA, PCI and USB) now on the Xlr8yourmac Site Specials page for under $60 each.-Mike)
I also bought the Edimax EW-7728In PCI version for use in a Quicksilver G4 to replace an old airport-compatible 802.11g Belkin card. This appears to be in every way identical to the Quickertek nQuicky card and cost me $56 (plus VAT) from Eupac.
I'm afraid I haven't tried this yet, but I've every expectation that it will work. Thanks again for the invaluable resource that is xlr8yourmac.
(Thank -you-, and thanks to all the readers that share tips/tricks/mods/guides, etc.-Mike)
Best regards, Neville W."
The EW-7728 was one of the RAlink 802.11N chip based PCI cards mentioned earlier this month (see below) after the public release of the drivers - it looks just like the GW-DS300N (first spotted back in Feb) - which appears literally identical to the nQuicky card (less decal).
FYI - Like all the PCI, USB and Cardbus 802.11n adapters I have seen to date (including some without mac drivers available), these operate in the 2.4GHz band. Some 802.11n bases (including Apple's) support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n modes.
Belkin N1 Expresscard not working w/RAlink drivers: See post in Aug. 20th news page. (He later wrote RAlink sent him updated drivers, but still no luck.)
AirPort Base Station Update 2007-002 (8/13/2007) There's an AirPort Base Station Update 2007-002 for Mac (and Windows) that says "AirPort Base Station Update 2007-002 includes general fixes, compatibility updates, and security improvements for AirPort Utility, AirPort Disk Utility and AirPort Base Station Agent" Requirements: OS X 10.4.8 or later, AirPort Utility 5.0 or later, AirPort Extreme Base Station with 802.11n"
If you find this update improves (or breaks) anything, let me know the details. (-Some- AE 802.11n base owners previously reported problems mounting some drives (like WD mybooks), although not all did.) I've posted a separate page with Feedback on Airport Base Station Update 2007-002.
RAlink 802.11N chip based PCI cards and USB 2.0 Adapters (8/7/2007)
In repy to a request in the post on downloads of OS X 10.3/10.4 802.11N drivers from RAlink (below), a reader sent info on two PCI cards based
on RAlink chips. One is the Asus WL-130N Wireless-N PCI Adapter (under $90) that has a cabled antenna "pod" that lets you locate the 3 antennas in a better location than when attached to the card.
Another is the Edimax nMax EW-7728In that looks a lot like the GW-DS300N (and Quickertek $149.95) card (see earlier post below). The product page does not mention RAlink but I downloaded the User Manual PDF for it which mentions using the Ralink conf. Utility (for windows).
Edimax also lists a USB model EW-7718Un that per the PDF manual also mentions Ralink.
These may work fine with the RAlink drivers but if you could find one of them at a local (brick and mortar) store, that may give you a easy return option just in case. (I'm going to check local stores here to see if they carry them.)
If any reader tries one of these (or another RAlink based adapter) with the OS X driver downloads, let me know. Thanks.
Airport Extreme 802.11N Base gets Gigabit Ethernet Ports: (8/7/2007)
Another Apple product improvement today (in addition to upgraded iMacs and Minis) - the Airport Extreme 802.11n base has been revised to now include Gigabit Ethernet on the three LAN and single WAN ports. (I got a heads-up on this earlier today and kept watching the specs page for an update.)
First Feedback on nQuicky 802.11n PCI Card:
(from a reader mail on Aug. 6th, first feedback on the quickertek products announced back in mid-June.)
"I just want to report that I stuck the new nQuicky (802.11n) PCI card from QuickerTek
into my PowerMac G4 Sawtooth (w/Sonnet 800mhz upgrade) and installed the
driver, and it worked perfectly. (running OS X 10.3.x or 10.4.x I assume-Mike) 10.4.10.
It connected fine with a Dlink 650 router. (DIR-635 - RangeBooster N 650 Router??) My mistake. It's the DIR-655 with the gigabit ethernet. (D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router)
And even though I have the antennae nearly on the floor, screwed into the card itself, I am getting much better signal strength reported by the dlink (30-40 ft away), and much better reliability and latency, than I have gotten with other N or G clients (I don't have an Apple N base, so cannot comment on that.)
Back in April I posted info on an Ralink card that I think Quickertek is rebranding - the GW-DS300N (but no -USA- stocking dealers found - however see above for other models) - here's a photo of it:
The Quickertek nQuicky PCI card lists for $149.95 currently. As mentioned below, Ralink has now (finally) publicly posted Mac OS 10.3.x/10.4.x drivers for
their USB and PCI/miniPCI/Cardbus 802.11n chip (28xx series) adapters. (Quickertek also announced USB and cardbus adapters earlier this year and I'm guessing they're also RAlink chip based.)
RAlink 2800 series (802.11n) Drivers for OS X 10.3/10.4 Posted: The Ralink Drivers page finally has downloads of OS X 10.3/10.4 drivers for their USB (RT2870) and PCI/miniPCI/CardBus (RT2860) models. The drivers have been sent earlier this year to readers that requested them but glad to see the public downloads (originally promised in March).
If anyone finds a USA source for RAlink based 802.11n adapters (USB, PCI, Cardbus, etc.) let me know. (There's a DS300N card but to date no USA dealers with stock have been found.)
MiniStack v3 w/Airport N Base USB Port:
"System: MacBook Pro
Drive: NewerTech ministack v3, from OWC!
I had just purchased an Airport Extreme and was shopping for an
external drive that I could use with (USB) AirDisk. The new rev of the
MiniStack came out just in time. It's perfect for me. I wanted USB
and Firewire 800, so I could use the drive for video editing and
storage. It also has plenty of USB ports and it's a powered hub, so I
can share my printer (canon pixma 4300) and other hard drives.
It's quiet and fast. The only minor thing I noticed is you can't have
the USB plugged into the Airport and use the FW800. You need to
unplug the USB first. (Is the Ministack's FW/USB Hub totally separate from the drive's FW/USB connections? If not, Drive Access/connections on 2 interfaces simul. isn't allowed.-Mike.)
Also, I had a situation where the FW800 cable was plugged in and the fan running full throttle. Unplugging the
cable spun down the fan. Weird.
Thanks for the site!, Greg"
I'm not sure why, but owners of -some- USB drives have reported problems mounting them with the AE N base.
Mac Mini (Intel) 802.11n card upgrade w/2nd Antenna install
Several readers with Intel-based Mac Minis upgraded their airport card with an 802.11n model (either Mac Pro card, Dell 1500, etc.) but the Mini only has a single antenna. (No MiMo with only 1 antenna, although even single antenna users seemed happy with the upgrade.) Some had mentioned adding a 2nd antenna but didn't elaborate on location, etc. but here's an article on Intel Mini 802.11N upgrade w/2nd antenna that (in later pages) covers where the additional antenna was mounted.
$99 Buffalo N-finiti (WZR2-G300N) Base/Router
Bought the latest Buffalo N-finiti (WZR2-G300N, $99 at Circuit City), not the dual band one, but the N-version. Web site says it supports Draft N version 2.
I have a mixed network (802.11N and 802.11G clients) with a N-enabled macbook pro and 3 windows notebooks. (Performance (and range) is reduced if any device on the network isn't 802.11N mode-Mike)
I don't have a good test suite but I did go to speakeasy.net and ran their tests (I have comcast cable). After I installed the router I had a really slow connection with my Macbook Pro 802.11n with WPA/TKIP encryption. Speakeasy showed only 650kbps upload and download. I also have an 802.11a access point. When I connected to it I had download of 15-18Mbps and upload of 1.5Mbps.
I switched the encryption on the buffalo tech router to mixed WPA/WPA2 TKIP/AES. This time the speakeasy test using 802.11n matched the 802.11a results of 15-18Mbps download, 1.5Mbps upload.
2 story house with a basement. Router centrally located in the basement, tests from upstairs bedroom and 1st floor kitchen with consistent results in both locations.
At least I'm matching the 802.11a results.
QuickerTek PCI, USB and CardBus 802.11n Adapters: See June 22nd news page for details. (NOTE: See above for a MUCH cheaper source of the same adapters. (under $60)
FYI on 802.11n Mini PCI cards, Mini PCI/PCI slot adapter: See the June 15th, 2007 news page post. (And for those that
didn't already get a Mac Pro N card kit or Dell 1500 card for their Intel-based Macs, see the June 8th news item on $69.95 802.11n card for Intel-based Macs.)
WD MyBook Esssential (USB only) Mounting Problems: Reply to some earlier reports here
on -some- (not all) Western Digital "MyBook" owners reporting the drive would not mount on the USB HD sharing port of the Airport N base. An owner of a MyBook FW/USB model ("Premium" model IIRC) had previously said his worked OK.
"Same here My Book essential 500 GB with mac os extended, its recognised but
not mounted, another drive with mac os extended journaled is mounting.
Another WD MyBook "Essential" owner mail that I'd missed recently reported the same thing:
(from May 20th mail)
"I have a WD My Book essential, that cannot mount on the desktop either. I
initialized with no luck. Have any news concerning getting it to work.
Assuming there were no basic File Sharing problems (Jens said another drive mounted OK), I'm beginning to wonder if there's something in the "Essential" version's bridgeboard that is a factor.
If anyone using a WD MyBook "Essential" (USB only) drive -does not- have any problems using it on the USB port of the Airport Extreme N base, send a note with details. Thanks.
Update - Two MyBook USB only (Essential) owners replied to this post:
I have been using the WD MyBook (USB only) 250 GB with Apple
formatting since the new Airport has been released. Every few weeks
it dismounts so that I have to run thought the setup on the Airport.
Please note I don't change anything just go through till it says
restart Airport and it fires right up.
I asked Charles if he could check Apple System Profiler for any "revision" or bridge info on the drive, in case WD has changed firmware or bridge boards over time. (He later sent some ASP info but it had no drive/bridge details - a direct connect may show more info.) Another WD "Essential" owner wrote that his drive mounts but also has the occasional unmounting problem:
I have a AirPort Extreme and my 250 GB WD Essentials (green light on the
front) works just fine. I have a Japan APE which is supposedly a little
different on the 802.11n specs, but since my MacBook Pro doesn't have n
capabilities, not that big of a worry. I had it mounted on the APE easily
the first time I tried it, the only problem with it was that it seems to
disconnect randomly everyonce in a while. Incredibly bothersome to me cause
all my torrents are downloaded directly to my WD HD, a disconnect means that
they stop downloading. Then I have to manually restart the download
everytime the connection drops.
I asked Kris if the drive unmounted after a long idle period or not (i.e. could the drive be going to sleep?) - but if a download is writing to the drive (not just system cache) then it shouldn't be a power saving/sleep issue. Some people in the past have had network dropout problems also. Kris later replied that his unmounting issues may be due to that, and also that he'd not reformatted the drive from the (as-shipped) FAT32:
"yeah, I use it hard connected all the time, I hope to one day solve the
issues with it and keep it connected wirelessly through my APE, but since it
drops out in the middle of downloads sometimes, and since I have no other
computers connected to the network it doesn't make much use to me to not
keep it hardwired atm.
I'm fairly positive it's just a momentary network dropout issue, but it's long enough to interrupt the download and knock it off permanently. I do have it connected hardwired now, but I'm not sure how to go about checking for a firmware update, (I was just asking for the info listed in Apple System profiler, which can have info on the bridge board/revision, etc. in case there are various versions out there-Mike) the drive is actually a MS-DOS FAT 32 formated drive, I don't even know if I CAN format it into the OSX format or the upcoming ZFS for Leopard. (Yes you can, just use OS X Disk Utility.-Mike) As long as it works FAT32 style,
(In about two months, I'm moving back to the states (living in Japan now)
and I'll have it set up to transmit wirelessly due to the multiple computer
setup I'll have, and it'll be a multi-OS setup, so I think it's probably
best to leave it in FAT32 anyway)
Looking for Ralink 2800 chip based 802.11n PCI card to test with OS X drivers (4/26/2007)
I've not had time to do a lot of searching for one, but if any reader knows of a PCI 802.11n card that uses the Ralink 2800 chipset, send a note.
Earlier this month a reader (Perry) was sent an OS X driver (cardbus/PCI/PCI-e) for Ralink 2800's but
he's unable to find a PCI card based on that chip so far. (Update - as of early August, the Ralink Mac drivers page has 28xx series 802.11n drivers for OS X 10.3/10.4.) Perry said he wrote Ralink support to ask what card uses their N chip and said they referrred him to http://planex.co.jp/product/wireless/gw-ds300n/ (japan) which has a pix of the card (with 3 antennas).
I searched for that card's model number and found another site that had an english page with the same card listed, but it's not a US dealer either. And clicking on the "GW-DS300N" card link there goes to a page that says:
"GW-DS300N : PCI Bus 11n
Sorry, data uploading soonest!
Any assist needed,
please contact 02-2479898 EXT 18"
Searches for 'ralink 2800' didn't find any useful results currently but if anyone else finds this card for sale in the USA (or any other Ralink 2800 series card), send a note. (Trying to find a US source, but a reader offered buy one in Akihabara (7560 yen) plus costs to ship to the US. Another reader found this card for sale on japan's amazon.com.jp.)
AirPort Extreme Base Station 802.11n Firmware 7.1 On April 9th, 2007 Apple released this update
with "compatibility fixes and security improvements. See the Airport Extreme N Firmware 7.1/User Reports/Tips page here for details and user feedback on it, including notes/tips on Double NAT errors and more, including notes from MiniStack (drive w/builtin USB/FW hub) notes on printer sharing with the drive's USB hub. (Another user of a Micronet Minimate (ministack-like drive) said just connecting the drive brought down the base however.
"I picked up an Airport Extreme (802.11n) base over the weekend and wanted to share
my experience setting it up. I bought it so I set up file- and printer-sharing for three Macs running 10.4.9 and a Dell laptop
running XP. I'm using a 250 GB Western Digital Media Center external hard drive with a built-in USB hub, so I connected the drive to the
base station and then plugged the printer into the drive.
Everything worked straight out of the box on my MacBook Pro. The
iBook G4 saw the drive, but required a new version of the printer driver for my old Lexmark laser printer before it would print. My
old Dual 450 G4 tower has a Buffalo PCI card (802.11g) for wireless and would not see the base station until I enabled interference
robustness. After that everything works great. The Dell prints just fine, but I did not set up file sharing on it since I don't want to
take the chance of it getting a virus and hosing the backup drive. I also have a Wii and it has no trouble connecting to the internet.
My 1st-gen MacBook Pro does not have 802.11n capability, but I still get ~3 MB/second read/write to the networked hard drive. (Reader FYI -
see previous MacBook Pro (core duo) Guide to swapping in a ($49) Mac Pro 802.11n Wireless card.-Mike) Pretty good for wireless.
I'm very happy with the purchase. My goal was to have file- and printer-sharing without having to leave my power-hungry G4 on all the
time. It's noisy and uses 150 watts just sitting there doing nothing...
Let me know if you have any questions.
(he later wrote)
The MacBook Pro is from work, so no unofficial upgrades (like the "N" card) for it...
(In reply to the report below on restart problems with a USB shared drive mounted)
No problems restarting or rebooting, but the MacBook Pro does get a little
confused when I wake it up at work if I forget to unmount it at home
(~10 seconds of spinning beachball of death, then a message that the
connection was unexpectedly lost). After that it's fine. It's
exactly the same behavior I get if I forget to unmount the Xserve at
work before I go home.
The drive I have is a previous generation, 250GB Western Digital
Media Center with built-in card reader and USB hub. I can confirm
that the card reader does not work with the base station, even though
the activity LED next to the memory card slot lights up when I insert
a SD card.
Included in the listing below of Apple AE 802.11n support docs is one titled USB storage devices that use removable media are not supported and another on USB storage device supported formats and protocols.
"Ever since I've networked my MyBook HD (Is it an "Essential" (USB only) model or the FW/USB model?-Mike) into my AE N base when I shut
down my computer (MacBook Pro) all my icons disappeared as they do at
shutdown the dock falls away and my desktop picture is the only thing
exposed but instead of the normal power down nothing else happens.
Sort of locks up, well pauses in that state and I have to power down
manually by holding the power button. I was considering trashing my
auto run files but I'm not sure...
I asked if he tried unmounting the shared MyBook volume first. (Anyone else see this?)
(3/29/2007) Apple has released AirPort Base Station Update 2007-001 for Mac (and Windows) - only installs if your Mac already has Airport Utility 5.0 on it (included w/new Airport Extreme N bases). They also have a new kbase doc on Keeping your AirPort firmware up-to-date with AirPort Utility 5.1 or later.
More (intel) Mini owner reports on Mac Pro N card use w/only 1 Antenna:
The latest comments from intel-cpu Mini owners on using a Mac Pro 802.11n card upgrade, using only the single Mini antenna. (802.11n cards including the Mac Pro typically have 2 antenna connections.The 2nd antenna is for MIMO (Multiple In/Multiple Out) - here's an old link I had to an article on that based on an early Intel white paper on 802.11n, including diagrams on mutiliple streams.)
"Just wanted to let you know that both of my Mac Mini's are working
fine with a Mac Pro "n" card. In fact I routinely transfer files from
the Mini that records all my TV shows w/EyeTV to the iMac in my
office via a USB drive. Well I have this shiny new "n" network so I
gave it a try and copied about 5GB without any problems. My wife's
Mini has been trouble free since the "n" upgrade too.
(I asked for more info, including if he'd noticed any performance degredation from using only a single antenna, and about range, distance to the base (and type of base).)
No degradation and by a purely seat of the pants benchmark, it is much faster than when it had its original "g" card. I have one Airport Extreme Base Station "N" on the second floor (about 45' walking distance or 25' linear away), almost as far away as I can get in my home and the signal strength is better than my previous "g" Extreme, in the same location.
I use VNC a lot, especially for the EyeTV Mini and before the "n" upgrade it was barely usable, very slow to refresh and respond. Since the "n" install the responsiveness is greatly improved and overall much more usable. I can even see the buttons pulse :-)
Oh and I am using the 5GHz "n" only band since I've been able to upgrade the wife's CD MacBook, which also works great. My newer C2D MacBook and my iMac, so we're just one happy "n" family.
Network Utility reports the following speeds (connect rates):
Both Mac Mini's (one 1.83GHz CD and one 1.83HGz C2D) 270Mbs
20" iMac (2.16GHz C2D) 270Mbs
MacBook 1.83GHz CD 270Mbs
MacBook 2.0Ghz C2D 300Mbs
Another reply regarding benefits of 802.11n dual antennas:
I was actually informed by someone knowledgable on antenna subject that the second antenna does not boo(s)t range but is used for bi directional transmissions. (again see MiMo notes in this article) The performance will be less with only one antenna because of this being taken away. I'm sure when using only one antenna a lot more would have to do with routers used and their settings. I had previously reported poor performance after updating my original macbookpro to a mac pro card. I recently changed access points and all performance issues disappeared.
Another note about reported speeds. Apple (network utility) only shows link rate. But not actual rate. (Note: The little-used Airport Client Monitor shows/graphs transmit rates (in kbps) as well as Signal/Noise-Mike) Windows xp shows actual rate and often shows lower because of this. A utility such as ipnetmonitor for os x will show real rate.
N and windows XP drivers.
Boot camp drivers (as of BootCamp v1.1 at least) are outdated. They won't enable n speeds. Newer ones can be found on web. (Yesterday's news had another reminder to a past post here on Win XP Drivers for Broadcom chip 802.11n cards-Mike)
Settings in xp driver
Go into device manager. Choose broadcom multiband adapter with a right click then go to properties. Then go into advanced settings about half way down. The driver is usually in default b or g only mode on "xxxx mode" setting change it to a b g n auto so all bands are enabled or all you will get in xp is b and g mode
Earlier reports with some notes on problems (lost network connection) that may be due to a suspect card.
"Mike, While my mac mini was having its DVD drive replaced, I had my Apple authorized service center add the Mac Pro 802.11n card. The card works at 802.11n speeds, but after a few minutes of full bandwidth (ie Apple TV Syncing, multiple file downloads) it loses it's connection, and cannot find any wireless base stations. The only way to get a wireless signal again, is to do a full system restart. With the addition of my Apple TV I can replicate the problem very easily.
I have done a reinstall of OS X, and still the problem remains. My
next step is to try swapping in another card. Maybe its a bad card. (check internal connections also) Will
let you know if I have any luck.
Note: The service center did not add a second antenna. With the
original card I had poor reception is OS X, and great reception in XP
under Boot Camp. With the 802.11n card the opposite occurs. OS X reports full strength, and XP gets mediocre reception.
(FYI for Bootcamp/XP users with N card upgrades, the Mar. 7th news page had info/links on Bootcamp/Win XP Drivers for Broadcom chip 802.11n cards)
I have both an Airport Express base station, and an Apple 802.11n base station. It loses its connection to both. Plus it cannot see any of the 6+ other base stations in the neighborhood. My 802.11n Base Station is in n only mode, no security.
(I mentioned some Apple TV users had mentioned losing connections in some Apple forum posts)
The Apple TV issue they speak of is separate, I have witnessed it disappear even over wired Ethernet. Internet is still active though.
I am using 10.4.9 with all updates, and even have done a clean install.
(Does turning off Airport (from Mini's menu) and turning back on reconnect?)
No, it still does not see any networks. It is like the card is unresponsive to OS X.
I asked if he could check the logs to see if they had any related entries. Although I haven't heard from him since, a Mini owner back on Mar. 2nd (before Apple TV released) reported on using the Mac Pro N card (with only the 1 stock antenna) and tested with an AirPort Extreme 802.11n base.
Maybe you have a suspect card (or connections not tight), but if anyone else with an upgraded Mini has seen this send a note.
Quickertek yesterday announced their 802.11n card + (ext.) Antenna kit for Intel-based Minis but it's $179, quite a bit more than the Mac Pro card kit. (Not sure what the best price around is on an ext. Antenna.)
Update: another Mini owner said one of the two Mini's he upgraded had similar problems:
(3/27/2007 - updated 4/2/2007)
After reviewing a few articles, I decided to delete all the network
prefs for my Minitel which has had problem with its Mac Pro (802.11n
capable) wireless card. Specifically the /Library/Preferences/
Then I rebooted. The only glitch I experienced was that the built in
ethernet didn't get an IP address from the DHCP server. Rearranging
the order of network interfaces in the Network panel (System
Preferences), fixed that.
Things seem much more stable now and I haven't experience that glitch
where the card turned off and couldn't be turned back on again except
However, on a possibly semi-related note, I have noted several times
where my wireless routers' (Airport Express and N Airport Extreme)
WDS network was no longer selected in my Minis. I've seen this
behavior in the past as well. This may be an issue with the Airports
themselves. I have seen an Aiport Express, reboot for no discernible
(his earlier mail follows)
"I've upgraded two Mac Mini Intels to the Mac Pro wireless card. One
behaves as your other reader described, the other has no problems
with lost connections at all.
In Fact, when I first put a Mac Pro wireless card into my Mac Pro, I
experienced a similar problem, though it got worse as eventually the
system failed to see the card at all (it was replaced at the Apple
Store as a defective card.) I'm suspecting that these cards may be
extremely sensitive to static discharge.
On a different note, The Panasonic UJ-215 is finally shipping (at
$1000!) slim height slot loading Blu-Ray super drive. Contemplating
adding one of these to one of my Minis...
A reader that reported on the Netgear RangeMax base (see 3/13 report below) wrote he's now gotten an 802.11n
airport extreme base:
"Mike, My curiosity won out and I decided to try the Airport Extreme Base
Station. In my last message, I gave some pros and cons for the
Netgear RangeMax Next router.
I connected the Airport Extreme Base Station to augment my current
wired Gigabit Ethernet network with wireless capabilities. Throughput
from a Mac Pro (with the N enabler) to Gig-E is approximately 92 Mbps
as measured with Iperf. Performance from the mac Pro (802.11n) to a
MacBook Pro (802.11a/b/g) was not good, but I have read that 'n' to
'n' performance also experiences a hit. 802.11a mode is nice, because
previous Airport Extreme cards in Intel-based systems will generally
support 802.11a/b/g. My iMac 17" and MacBook Pro 15" (both Core Duo)
machines both support 802.11a/b/g.
Dual band wireless -- 2.4 GHz (b/g compatible, or n only), 5 GHz (a compatible, or n only)
USB for printer/disk sharing
Integration with Bonjour
WPA / WPA2 support (prefer WPA2 for AES encryption)
MAC address control
NAT / DHCP support -- can use both, just DHCP, or neither (bridge mode)
Logging isn't bad (not as good as the Linksys BEFSX41 wired router/
firewall/vpn, but better than the Netgear RangeMax Next router)
Supports multiple configuration profiles
Very easy setup
No Gigabit Ethernet support
Would prefer a Stateful Packet Inspection Firewall (not a show-
stopper, since decent software firewall solutions are available)
Overall, I would say that the support of 802.11n, Macintosh
integration, and the dual band capabilities are the significant
features that distinguish this router from others. The extra expense
is worth it, especially when you consider that you are getting a dual
band router while some companies charge about the same cost for
single band routers.
On the security front, I would like to note that the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a
publication on wireless security, with recommendations for wireless
networks. SP 800-97 is subtitled "A Guide to IEEE 802.11i." It can be
downloaded from the NIST Special Publications page of the Computer
Security Resource Center: http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/.
More feedback on Netgear RangeMax Draft N base: (reply to an earlier report on the Feedback on Airport Extreme 2007-002 update page.)
"I can confirm the performance issue with the RangeMax Next router
from Netgear. (in reply to report yesterday) Performance dropped when I installed the Wireless N Enabler from Apple. There are a couple of things to consider. The obvious is to uninstall the enabler. The other option is to reduce
the basic wireless settings from 300 Mb to 54 Mb. Even with that, performance is not good. Using Iperf, performance to a 802.11g device
is around 13 Mb/s. Performance using the N Enabler (and no B/G devices) and routing the signal to an Ethernet device was in the 28Mb/s range. Better, but not great. (the earlier report also mentioned using only a 802.11n enabled mac and Ethernet connections)
For comparison, Iperf numbers just using the Gig-E switch are around 940 Mb/s. That is just a memory-
based connection speed and not disk-based number like you would get with Helios LAN Test. Iperf essentially uses a "server" that listens
on a specific port on one machine and a client that makes a connection to a user-specified machine to connect to the server version and check the connection throughput. I don't put much faith in the Network Utility connection number since that is just a link rate and not an actual performance number.
Here are my thoughts about the Netgear RangeMax Next Router (with a
Gig-E switch -- WNR854T):
- Gigabit Ethernet switch -- Airport Extreme sadly missing this feature
- Stateful Packet Inspection firewall -- Airport Extreme sadly missing
- MAC address filtering
- Shows the addresses of connected devices
- WPA / WPA2 support with AES encryption
- Can disable the wireless portion of the device to use as a wired router
- Doesn't look like something out of a bad '70s science fiction movie
- Netgear has been posting regular firmware updates (6 since May 2006)
- Set-up was pretty easy -- includes an Ethernet cable to connect and
set up the wireless portion
- Quite a few configuration settings, with descriptive text
- Marvell Top Dog performance for non-Marvell chipset is not good
((802.11n) Macs generally use Atheros or Broadcom)
- Security logging is weak -- I have a Linksys BEFSX41 that does
system, access, and firewall logging; Netgear only logs items that
you have specified in the blocking address/site configuration page.
The biggest issue is performance right now. I have read that one of
the previous firmware updates was to address Broadcom and Atheros
compatibility. More work is still needed. I think that a previous
version of the WNR834 (RangeMax Next w/o the Gig-E switch) used a
different chip-set, which may or may not have the performance
problems. I have read that the router companies are "leaning" on the
chip making companies to address the compatibility and performance
issues. This is one of the biggest problems for 802.11n devices right
To save readers another click/page load, here's a copy of the previous RangeMax user's comments
from the Airport Extreme 2007-002 update reports page:
"First, i am using a MacBook Pro Core2 Duo (Atheros chip card) against a Netgear Rangemax Next (the
Gigabit one) with newest Firmware.
I installed the Updates and n-enabler in several different
combinations. But all ends in up in terrible slow airport connections
with an enabled N-network. While i get a very constant 3.5MB in the
11g configuration, without the n-enabler istalled, i end up in an
earthquake-like graph with an n-network. (seen w/activity monitor.) It is marked as 144MBit
connection but it is slower than a 14.4MBit.
I don't have too much numbers but a very impressive one is copying a
folder with some cd-images (about 3Gigs) to my old BW G3 on the other
side of the net. I never run it till the end, only a few seconds
until the calculation for transfer time ended and a few seconds more
to see if they change significantly. So this numbers are realy amazing
- estimated 20 minutes for 11g
- estimated 2 hours for 11n
and the feeling is the same. As i said the rates on 11g are very
constant the 11n rates are jumping up and down. Sometimes the
progress bar seems to be frozen for 2 or 3 seconds, then it jumps 3Mb
Conclusion: i cannot say the update changes anything in this. It is
no way better or worth than without it. It ends simply in "do not use
the n-enabler while you are using a netgear Rangemax Next". At least
at the moment.
Are there any other experiences in this combination?
(I asked if there were any other non-802.11n adapters/systems on the network
(which prevents running pure-N mode). Was the connection
to the B&W G3 via ethernet - or a 802.11g or b wireless adapter? Did you do other
tests (with only N devices on the network, not just tests to the old B&W G3). Try
different channels? What security mode was used? (WPA? WEP?). -Mike)
There are only two devices on the wlan, the Router and the MacBook
Pro. Of course the (B&W) G3 and a linux box are connected with normal
Yes (tried different channels, etc.) but nothing helps. There is no other network in the area but i
tried different channels and at least no encryption. Normal is wpa2.
And to add some opinion, maybe this is not really a problem of the
rangemax. I bought it because c't magazine (you should know) found it fastest with about 90M real transfer rate in N-mode, even at a 10m distance. I hope there will be some solution in the (near) future.
(NOTE: Reports below were from -before- the Airport Extreme 2007-002 update, which some readers said
improved performance with their setups. See page here with Feedback on Airport Extreme 2007-002 update.)
Mac Mini owner on Mac Pro 802.11n card swap, Tests w/Airport N base - see report in Mar. 2nd news.
More Reports on Core Duo Macs with Dell 1500 Notebook N card: See Feb. 22nd news page, and Feb. 27th news page.
802.11N upgraded Core Duo MacBook Pro vs Core2Duo MacBook Pro
"I got the MA688ZM/A at Gravis Mannheim, Germany. 49,95(euro). They had it
in stock to my amazement. Installation was ok, a little difficult to fiddle with the antenna
connectors (macbook pro 2.0 Core Duo)
immediately after the install the card was recognized and the 802.11
a/b/g/n capabilities were displayed. I had the enabler installed before i installed the card and at first I saw a cap on downloads @ 4mbit. i reinstalled from the 21.5MB dmg with all
the APX apps and the enabler, after that the speeds were ok.
In my APX(old white station) in 802.11g are around 3.6MB/sec (all
wifi WPA2 Personal). I have 16mbit(2MB/sec) DSL so i have no way of
getting to the limit of 802.11g. I maxed that connection out with the
old/new wifi card.
I had a friend over with his MacBook Pro C2D and we did
wifi to wifi and ethernet to wifi tests, throughput on wifi to wifi was
3.6MB, ethernet to wifi was 3.6MB to. Oddly enough was that the C2D
MBP had slower upload speeds in the LAN than me, I uploaded to him at
100% 802.11g speed, but he could only upload to me at 75%. This test
was done vice versa, ethernet and wifi combinations. It seems that
there's a bug with the s/w/firmware on the Atheros hardware, the
broadcom in my MBP Core Duo seems to work faster than his. very odd...
MacBook Core Duo notes on Mac Pro N card swap, new Airport N base: (from the Feb. 22nd news page - he got his Mac Pro N card kit before they sold out at Provantage)
"I swapped the stock card in my (core duo) Black Macbook (with a Mac Pro N card) and it works perfectly. In fact, I did not have to update the driver because I have had the N-Extreme Basestation (and software) for a week or so.
Booted up and Net Utility read it as a/b/g/n with a Link speed of 270 mbps. From start to finish the process took 25 minutes (and I was being extra careful).
(I asked if he had used Pacifist to install the 802.11n enabler, but he said it apparently was installed with the new Airport base software he'd previously installed on the Macbook-Mike)
The card showed a/b/g/n as soon as I booted up following the Mac Pro Airport swap. (see apple doc on How to tell if 802.11n-enabling software is installed-Mike) I was getting ready to install the "n" enabler when I noticed it
looked to be already installed. I was able to connect to my Extreme-N
station on the 5Ghz N-only band and Net Utility showed a 270 mbps link. I still have not used the pacifist method to install the enabler. My only guess is that the enabler is automatically installed with the Basestation Software that provides the new Airport Utility whether there is a compatible N Airport card or not.
What I did notice was that none of my Macs (Macbook with n-tweak, Powerbook G4 15", and Intel mini) would connect to my 802.11g router (D-Link 4100 gamer router with gigabit). I was running WEP with a 10-character hex password and had to switch to WPA in order to get the machines back online on the G-band. I noticed the issue with the Macbook first ("Problem Connecting" error pop-up) and disabled the WEP to test. All 3 machines worked fine with the security off. I then re-enabled the same WEP password
and changed the SSID name and NONE of the machines would connect. Very odd.
That may be related to the previously reported problem with WEP being broken on some routers after the Airport Extreme 2007-001 update. (The N enabler requires the Airport Extreme 2007 be installed and I think it's installed along with it.) However there's been other WEP problems reported with Draft-N routers (performance problems, etc.) and some readers (but not all) mentioned performance problems in general after the Enabler install.
Update: Apple has a support doc titled Boot Camp Beta 1.2: Windows XP (SP2) unable to connect to 802.11n wireless router or AirPort Extreme (802.11n) Base Station that includes a link to a Microsoft Hotfix for the issue. However a reader (Chris) said his MacBook still can't connect to his Airport Extreme N base on the XP side, although he had installed Broadcom adapter N compatible drivers and followed an earlier reader tip on configuring XP:
"Settings in xp driver
Go into device manager. Choose broadcom multiband adapter with a right click then go to properties. Then go into advanced settings about half way down. The driver is usually in default b or g only mode on "xxxx mode" setting change it to a b g n auto so all bands are enabled or all you will get in xp is b and g mode
D-Link 655 (802.11n base/router) user notes on WEP performance problems (from Feb. 20th, 2007 news page)
I recently purchased a D-link 655 predraft n router. When I hooked it
up with my Macbook 2 Core duo (enabler installed), wireless transfer
speed between two computers was unbearably slow. Internet speed was same as before from my SMC G router.
My main objective was to speed up transfer of files from my Macbook to my windows server via wireless transfer.
After fiddling around with controls, I realized pre draft n does not
support WEP very well. In the Dlink router, it even warns you
performance degrades when using WEP.
So changed to WPA-2 Individual and now I'm getting amazing transfer
speeds. Transferred 377 MB in 6 minutes.
I am happy now.
That's still not very fast (just over 1MB/sec), unless the above numbers have a typo? Some readers in the past mentioned performance dropped after installing the 802.11n enabler (some previous reports below here). As a reminder, the Apple 802.11n enabler requires the Airport Extreme 2007-001 update, which reportedly broke WEP on 2wire.com routers/modems which are often provided by many cable and DSL providers. I've had some N users say they saw no performance difference with WPA enabled or not, yet a couple others said there were performance problems with WPA and their N setups. A few weeks ago a N user said switching from WPA to WEP increased performance in his setup. (Go figure... hopefully all this will be hashed out when the N spec is finalized and updates are released.)
I don't have any Macs with 802.11n wireless currently (and no intel-based Macs) but when the N spec gets finalized I'll probably get an N base. Hopefully by then there will be some 802.11n PCI/PCcards, etc. (A couple weeks ago a reader said an RALink support person claimed they'd have OS X drivers for their 802.11n chips by the end of Feb.)
MacBook Pro (core duo) Guide on swapping in Mac Pro 802.11n Wireless card William Rivas sent a writeup with photos of upgrading his Core Duo MacBook Pro with a ($49) Airport Extreme (802.11n compatible) card for the Mac Pro. As other readers mentioned, the $1.99 802.11n enabler (NOT needed for OS X 10.5) was installed using Pacifist as the installer expects a Core2 Duo model or Mac Pro. (FYI: The MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, (intel cpu) Mac Mini and (intel cpu) iMac all use a mini pci-e wireless card.)
Another Belkin N1 base/router user report:
"Well I have a Belkin N1 ver. 2000 wireless router and n-enabled
Macbook and iMac.
What's peculiar is the data transfer from macbook to imac and vice
versa is faster when you set the Belkin router to be 802.11g only
instead of 802.11n.
I got 1.5Mbps when transfer files between computer using the 802.11g
mode and roughly 600Kpbs when transfering the same file between
computers using 802.11n mode. I have tested out all modes and
802.11g is the fastest with a Belkin N1 and 802.11n enabled macbook
Please let me know if you have or know anyone who has the same results.
There's some earlier reports here below on performance problems with non-Apple N routers/bases. (Belkin N1 and D-Link and Linksys N router users.) I'm hoping once the 802.11n spec is finalized (and updates released to bases/routers, drivers, etc.) that performance and interoperability issues some have seen will be solved.
(BTW - I had a couple mails today from readers that said draft-N had performance issues with WPA2 and WEP (two separate mails) - although the 802.11n reports page here has notes from several readers in the past that security modes didn't have any real effect on performance in their tests.)
Swapping in 802.11n Mini-PCIe Card in MacBook/MacBook Pro Core Duos: The Feb. 14th news page
had report on Swapping in Core2 Duo MacBook Pro Wireless card in Core Duo MacBook Pro and the Feb. 13th news page had a Macbook (core duo) user's comments on swapping in a Dell notebook 802.11n adapter card. (But I'd prefer using the Apple shipped card.)
Hardware RAID USB drives with Airport Extreme (802.11n) base
A reader last week (below) reported he could not use this Disk Utility setup RAID'd USB drives on the USB port of his new Airport Extreme so I asked if anyone had tried an external drive (w/USB port) that had hardware RAID support. Here's a couple reader reports on that working, including benchmarks comparing AE USB port vs Ethernet vs onboard USB 2.0/FW400/FW800 ports.
(added 2/12/2007 - updated w/benchmarks)
"I had good performance with hardware based mirroring on a OWC mercury elite pro case. (He later wrote he was mistaken, it was RAID 0 mode, not mirror.)... Cheers, Francois"
(He later sent results of Xbench 1.3 disk tests of Wireless (I asked if N-only mode) vs Ethernet with the drive)
I ran xbench, over ethernet and wifi, from a macbook pro.
(I asked if the MBPro had the 802.11n enabler installed and if the network was running in N-only mode-Mike)
Thanks for asking for details, too many things going on here, MacBook
Pro, N enabler, and that was the only device on the network at the
time, so, presumably it was running in N mode only.
I was wrong about mirroring, that cabinet can only do striping, spanning and independent drives, so I ran the test with striped drives. Results are attached. (he later wrote)
For completeness, here is the xbench benchmark for the same drive, but now attached via USB to the same MacBook Pro.
I would not use the drive for heavy duty work, but for backups and access to shared video and music files it would be ok.
(I asked if he tested video playback from the drive when connected to the base and if so to report back on performance and what resolution video was used. QT Pro player has a FPS reporting option during playback.-Mike)
No problem, I played apple-getamac-security_848x496.mov, apple-
getamac-surgery_848x496.mov and apple-ipod_shuffle_848x496.mov that I
pulled from the apple site and got the full frame rate, 24/second.
The shuffle ad bit rate is just about twice that of the getamac ads,
and they played fine over airport and ethernet.
One final thought, what I cant test is how many clients can
simultaneously stream from the Airport Drive before drop outs happen,
but it would be very interesting to find out. My conservative guess
would be about 3, that would depends very much on the video of course.
(I combined all the xbench results he sent for easier comparison. I think the onboard FW port would be much faster than the onboard USB results. I've seen nearly 2x higher performance with FW400 vs USB 2.0 on my PPC Macs with a single drive.
He later sent results with onboard FW400 and FW800 Ports (case and MBP have both) that confirmed that.-Mike)
Xbench Version 1.3
System Version 10.4.8 (8N1051)
Physical RAM 2048 MB
(BTW - I asked how full the USB drive was, as performance drops as drive fills, becomes fragmented, etc. He said it was clean/empty.-Mike)
(overall) Disk Test score: Wi-Fi 4.10 / Ethernet 4.92 / MBPro USB: 16.19, FW400: 40.78, FW800: 45.51
Sequential: Wi-Fi 2.72 / Ethernet 3.19 / MBPro USB: 12.11, FW400: 48.20, FW800: 64.51
Uncached Write Wi-Fi: 1.32 - 0.81 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write Ethernet: 1.26 - 0.78 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro USB: 20.93- 12.85 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro FW400: 31.67 - 19.44 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro FW800: 39.09 - 24.00 MB/sec(4K blocks)
Uncached Write Wi-Fi: 2.97 - 1.68 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Write Ethernet: 4.07 - 2.30 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro USB: 31.09- 17.59 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro FW400: 63.40 - 35.87 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro FW800: 98.02 - 55.46 MB/sec(256K blocks)
Uncached Read Wi-Fi: 4.58 - 1.34 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read Ethernet: 7.40 - 2.17 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro USB: 4.42- 1.29 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro FW400: 44.32 - 12.97 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro FW800: 51.54 - 15.08 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read Wi-Fi: 6.40 - 3.21 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read Ethernet: 11.99 - 6.02 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro USB: 41.30 - 20.76 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro FW400: 76.51- 38.45 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro FW800: 146.58- 73.67 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Random: Wi-Fi: 8.29 / Ethernet: 10.80 / MBPro USB: 24.43, FW400: 35.34, FW800: 35.16
Uncached Write Wi-Fi: 4.41 - 0.47 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write Ethernet: 5.49 - 0.58 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro USB: 9.12 - 0.96 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro FW400: 13.38 - 1.42 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro FW800: 12.97 - 1.37 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Write Wi-Fi: 5.71- 1.83 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Write Ethernet: 7.58 - 2.43 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro USB: 37.63 - 12.05 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro FW400: 58.36 - 18.68 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Write MBPro FW800: 59.01 - 18.89 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read Wi-Fi: 69.14 - 0.49 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read Ethernet: 77.42 - 0.55 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro USB: 79.39 - 0.56 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro FW400: 103.87 - 0.74 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro FW800: 106.38 - 0.75 MB/sec (4K blocks)
Uncached Read Wi-Fi: 15.07 - 2.80 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read Ethernet: 23.15 - 4.30 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro USB: 67.20 - 12.47 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro FW400: 85.64 - 15.89 MB/sec (256K blocks)
Uncached Read MBPro FW400: 96.67 - 17.94MB/sec (256K blocks)
Just as I suspected with the onboard interfaces (even FW400 a much better choice than USB 2.0). I'd use the onboard FW ports every time for hard drives on Macs here - I have an old FW400/USB 2.0 case w/Maxtor 200GB HD inside - it scores about 2x higher on the FW400 ports as the onboard USB 2.0 ports with my PPC Macs.
These posts reminded me of a Benchmark for networked drives I used many years ago (back long before OS X was released) called Helios LanTest. I found the web page for it and they now have an HELIOS LanTest Universal Binary with support for Mac OS X Intel and 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
Just connected my nitroAV raid 5 to the airport...connects perfectly.
It reads nice and fast from it, but write times are sloooooooooow....will call apple to find out more.
(he later wrote)
Ran some tests with xbench. The read speeds I get from the airdisk are between 2 and 4MB/sec, which is fine with me, for backup and general storage of files i rarely use, it is plenty. The write speeds are a joke - i am still in contact with apple about this. I also have a ReadyNAS which shows the same problem since I ran the N (Enabler) upgrade....hmmmm.. (Some other readers earlier noted performance drops (sometimes large) after installing the 802.11n Enabler. Most had 3rd party bases.-Mike) I am waiting for a simple USB HD and will plug that in once i have it. All in all very easy to set up and this is a great way to have shared storage. There is simply something wrong with my set-up...
I suspected performance would be well below what even a single drive was capable of (on a faster interface). Good to know it worked
however. (For someone that wanted to run mirroring for instance.) The Feb 21st news has several Airport Extreme 802.11n use w/Western Digital MyBook Drives (RAID and non-RAID), with one reader having problems and 2 others not.
Airport Extreme connected USB Hard Drive Benchmarks:
"I just did some extensive testing on a USB drive connecting to the N
Base Station. (Although the base/interface is the bottleneck
with most any drive, I asked for more details on his USB HD just for the record.-Mike) The drive is a Maxtor OneTouch Mini 60GB. USB powered 2.5in drive. I'm not sure of the model of drive in it. (WPA2 personal encryption was on at all times. I ran a few tests with no encryption, but measured no difference at all.) Benchmarked with the base station running:
N only, 2.4Ghz 130Mbps
N only, 5Ghz 300Mbps
I thought that the speed seemed slow, as I have a NAS that I can read/
write at 9.5MB/s, so I tested the same file on the drive directly
connected to my computer via USB, but I could write to it at 23MB/s,
so it does not seem to be the drive that is slowing it down. It's
really strange to me that the drive is faster in 130 mode than in 300
Anyone else have this same issue?
I made sure to unplug all of my wireless phones, I used the same file
for all tests, and sat in the same position.
I don't have an AE 802.11n base but welcome other reader comments from those that do and have a USB hard drive to test with it.
802.11n Enabled MacBook C2D w/Belkin N1 Base/Router:
"I was just reading your reader reports on the Airport 802.11N
Enabler. I just downloaded and installed the $1.99 enabler on my
Macbook Pro CD2 hoping to get better performance out of my new Belkin
N1 wireless router that I picked up at Macworld. However, after the
update, my connection speed via wireless to the internet has dropped
from an average of 6 Mb/s to 0.6 Mb/s. Additionally, my network
connection in Windows XP within Parallels (Build 1970) has been
broken. I am trying to find a way to work through these problems or
uninstall the N-updater as I need a fast connection within Windows on
my Mac for work...
Problems with RAID Volumes (Disk Utility setup) on USB Port: A reader mentioned problems using a RAID'd drive (Disk Utility setup) on the USB port. (Note - I asked him if his case supported basic hardware RAID 0 or 1 for tests w/RAID not setup using Disk Utility.) If anyone tries a case w/hardware RAID support with their Airport Extreme 802.11n USB port send a note. (**Update** See later reports above from readers w/hardware RAID ext. cases - it worked, but as expected, performance isn't going to match even a single drive on a faster interface.)
(added 2/9/2007 - updated 2PM)
Got the new Airport base station, pulled out the old one, factory
defaulted the three other Airport Express base stations, joined them
as WDS extenders. All is good. Won't be testing throughput yet all I am still all PPC.
Bought the new base station for the USB disk sharing as I have
computers all over the home and this was going to be great!
Before it arrived, I purchased a new USB eBOX-U Eight (8) drive
enclosure from Firewire Depot (as reviewed by AMUG).
Very nice box for $265. Loaded six new 400GB and a couple of old misc. drives. Formated top two as raid 0, next
two as raid 0 and then mirrored the two together. (I just went through
the worst hard disk crash I've ever had with a stripped 0 volume, I
never want to go through this again - 100% data loss.) Anyways, last 2 400GB drives as mirrored raid.
Fire the puppy up and for an overnight backup device, it's perfect.
I couldn't use it for encoding video but for going to bed and letting
my computer backup cheaply and safely, I am delighted!
So now I'm ready for the new Airport base station, I can share these
massive, safe drives over the wireless network and get all of my
computers backed-up. Nope.
The base station refuses to recognize the Macintosh-formated arrays,
it only sees one drive and that unusable.
I will be logging a Applecare support question and will post any
responses. Thanks for the best Mac coverage on the planet.
(Here's a link I posted awhile back to an apple kbase doc on AirPort Extreme (802.11n): USB storage device supported formats and protocols, although it doesn't mention RAID volumes specifically.
If anyone tries a case w/hardware RAID support with their Airport Extreme 802.11n USB port send a note. Granted the interface is going to limit performance even on a single drive, but some may want to run a Mirrored drive.-Mike)
Just got off the phone, 90 minutes on hold
No Raid Support, Request was noted, they said it was at the driver
level and they don't know if they can get such a sophisticated driver
on this box.
No throughput advantage/disadvantage of using the 2.4Ghz freq vs.
5Ghz freq. Even in N only mode, no difference in throughput for 5Ghz vs.
2.4Ghz. I asked because I've made the investment long ago into
Uniden 5Ghz wireless phones to avoid interference with my Airport.
Only advantage would be reduced interference from nearby networks.
No support for external antenna.
No way to configure the "automatic" firewall "at this time". Support
will be provided in a future software update.
Regarding WDS, current gen. Airport Express and throughput. Should be
no additional penalty when the new Airport Express (802.11n) base station comes out
and you extend your network using 11n while continuing to support the
11g WDS repeaters. No more than any mixed mode use. (But performance drops with any sub-N device on the network) True, they said it would run slower than all N mode but the new N mode Airport Express WDS would be faster than the G WDS links.
BTW - Apple today revised their previous kbase doc on
Using the AirPort Admin Utility to create a WDS network with multiple base
stations. One of the notes on the bottom of the page mentions:
"When you use WDS, some of each base station's capacity is used as overhead for maintaining the network. This means that if you were to measure the maximum throughput speed of your network, it would be less than when
using one base station by itself."
Notes on WDS use w/Airport Express (802.11g):
"Airport Extreme 802.11n WDS
I just wanted to shoot you a message with some info on the N Base
Station. When connecting the base station to a WDS network, the
highest data connection it will connect at is 54Mbps. I tried to set
the Base Station to N only, but it would not connect to the other
Base Station as it is not N compatible. I was really sad to find this
out. The Base Station does power a USB powered hard drive (2.5in)
with no problem though.
(Note - There's a note on the Apple N performance/range claims that performance is reduced if any sub-N device is on the network. Their "up to five times the performance and up to twice the range of networks created with the earlier 802.11g standard..." has a "1" footnote reference - referring to the footnote at the bottom of the Airport Extreme page and 802.11n page-Mike)
"1) Based on a comparison with Apple's 802.11g products. Comparison assumes AirPort Extreme network with 802.11n-enabled computer. Speed and range will
be less if an 802.11a/b/g product joins the network."
It's just sad that I cant use its raw speed until they have 802.11n Airport Expresses.
(he later wrote)
After rearranging the network, and making the N station the main one,
I am able to get 130Mbps to my core2 macbook, and 54Mbps to a 12in powerbook. I am able to transfer to and from the usb hard drive at 4MB/s. I was surprised that I could actually get that kind of speed
when it was configured as b/g/n.
Anyone else seen KP's with Airport Admin? Although I don't remember anyone else reporting any kernel panics with the new Airport Admin, this reader mentioned he has seen a couple:
Airport 802.11n KERNEL PANICS
I love my new Airport 802.11n base station. It's cute. But in less
than 24 hours of running it I've received 2 kernel panics. Both times
I was quitting the new Airport Utility. Wow. Haven't seen those in a
Using Mac OS X 10.4.8 on an Intel Core Duo iMac 20" 2GHz. It's not a Core 2 Duo N enable model. I love the interface of
the app. This N base station replaces two Airport Express units I was
using to extend throughout the house. Now this one is all I need.
Cool. The shared USB hard disk feature is awesome. :)
Airport Extreme 802.11n use with Gaming Consoles (XBox 360. PS3 and Wii) Yahoo has a story on Xbox 360 Customers Can't Connect To Apple AirPort Extreme, unless wireless security was disabled, although the article says PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii worked fine.
More Airport Extreme 802.11n Base Performance Tests:
"I received the new AirPort Extreme some days ago, and already did
some tests. I get speeds between 2-3 and 12MB/s (megabytes! Around
100Mbit) depending on where I am in my appartment (85m^2). When I am
in the same room as the AirPort Extreme, or one of the rooms close up
to where the AirPort is located, I get a stable 10-12MB/s. Right now,
its located in the livingroom and it's really kicking ass. Finally
goodbye to cables to my laptop!
(I asked how he did the performance measurements)
I just checked traffic statistics on my Linux server (it was idle
except for when I tested), but I'm sure the transfer rates are correct.
By the way, I set my AP to use the 5GHz frequency and 802.11n enabled
only. I think this improves speeds instead of being back-compatible
with the earlier networks, but I did not test this.
I suspect 802.11n might even go higher than 12MB/s when, but since the
ports on the AirPort is limited to 10/100Mbit, I'll never find out.
The server I'm downloading from, is limited to 100Mbit and its
connected to the AP with a cable.
The initial experiences with the AirPort Disk and an external USB
disk is very good, speeds seems decent (I was not able to reach 12MB/
s from an external thou), its very easy and fast to setup and just
works out of the box. Plug in the harddrive, and it pretty much just
It shows up on your desktop just like if you plugged in an external
drive. I had a backup of my laptops harddrive on that external
harddrive, and tried deleting all the files by selecting them all and
then deleting them. It finally gave up after hours of "preparing to
delete", so I guess I'll just plug it directly to my laptop and wipe
I have a Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro btw.
Venlig hilsen / Kind regards,
Nortel VPN Troubles with new 802.11N AirPort Extreme: (Updated w/workaround)
Just wanted to pass on some issues that I and others have been trying to solve with the new Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station 802.11N. It appears that the unit is not allowing us to connect via VPN using the Nortel client on Win XP machines.
It's worked in the past with minimal configuration on the old 802.11b/g AirPort Extreme. If anyone has managed to get VPN working, please post your solution.
Here's a thread in the Apple forums of the folks having this issue:
A workaround mentioned in an Apple forums thread on the problem:
A workaround, according to another post (and verified by me), is setting
the default host to the ip address given to your mac. After trying this, I
was able to connect to my work's VPN using the Nortel VPN client.
Obviously, this means that only one machine on the network can connect to
the VPN but that's good enough for me :-)
Apple still needs to fix this properly but this workaround made the
difference between me using my new AEBS and it just being a paperweight for
a while :-)
Airport Utility, double-click on the AEBS. In the popup window, click on
Internet. Then click on NAT. Check "Enable default host" and set the IP
address to what the AEBS has given to your mac.
The Nortel VPN client then works (at least for me anyway - It didn't work
before I tried this).
According to the help for the Airport Utility, "A default host is a computer
on your network that is exposed to the Internet and receives all inbound
traffic." This obviously doesn't sound like a permanent solution but it is
definitely a workaround of sorts."
Notes on 802.11n 2nd Draft: (2/7/2007) As a FYI - PCworld has an article on the 2nd draft of the 802.11n spec titled Superfast Wi-Fi Standard Solidifies. Most original draft-802.11n products should be firmware upgradable to the second draft, expected to be formally approved this week. The article includes notes on what's new in Draft 2.
Notes on Cable Modem Swap: (2/7/2007 update from a reader who recently got his 802.11n Airport Extreme)
"Hi Mike, Have info to add to my N experience. As you know I was doing speed test on my broadband. I went from 2350 on my Linksys 54G router to 4870 on my Apple Airport Extreme N. This reply is from my hard wired Mac Pro.
So I had my friend in a nearby city do a speed test, hard wired. He has a windows computer and he got 6200 (although internet bandwidth tests can vary from run to run, site used, location, etc.). So I started to wonder why mine was not that high. We are both on Comcast cable network.
I exchanged my old Motorola SB 3100 for a new Comcast RCA router thinking that Comcast speed burst probably has some new firmware in that modem. Sure enough it does and my broadband speed went to 10150. I used www.speedtest.net repeatedly.
Take care, Don"
This reminded me of a comment last year on some brands of cable modems having lower performance on the Mac. (I couldn't remember the link to the thread on that in the past - there was one on the Apple forums, but Bruce sent a link to the thread in a reply below.)
Also as a FYI, I had someone last week say that the Airport Extreme 2007-001 update (required to install before the 802.11n enabler) broke compatibilty with WEP on 2wire.com routers (2wire.com products are often OEM equipment for some cable and DSL providers.)
Bruce sent a link to a previous Apple forum thread on Macs and Cable Modems:
The Apple Discussions link you mentioned on the Cable Modems is
It's amazing how many people refuse to believe that the Chipset is the problem, yet everyone that got rid of their...
"All Linksys Cable Modems
All Motorola Cable Modems except for the SB5120
All Scientific Atlanta Cable Modem"
Fixed their problem as far as I can tell.
Airport Extreme 802.11n Take-Apart Photos: Ed sent a link to his photo gallery with take-apart/internal pix at:
Apple Airport Extreme 802.11n Base user: Friday's news had comments from a reader in Australia that received his new Airport
Extreme but didn't have any 802.11n capable Macs yet. Another reader that got his sent notes on initial tests with his Mac Pro/MacBook Pro:
"Just set up my Apple Extreme N router (using WPA2). The CD installer does
install Airport Extreme 2007-001 over top of the 2007-001 install I previously did days before.
(He then installed the included 802.11n Enabler-Mike)
Airport Utility is easy to use and I did not use the hard disk
utility but did set up my HP 2300 USB (printer), works fine.
My hard wired Mac Pro off the bandwidth speed test at cnet went from the
usual 2350 kbps to 4513 kbps.
My MacBook Pro did not improve (initially). It usually attains 2350 kbps with my Linksys
54G router and got the same speed with the Apple Extreme N using the cnet test. Then I tried www.speakeasy.net because I felt that cnet.com was not
reliable tonight. I'm happy to report that my MacBook Pro attained 4816 kbps. (those internet speed
tests can vary, as internet traffic, hops along the way, server load, etc. can change and
results can vary.)
I have not tested the range yet.
BTW I got mine by being the first and only person to reserve one at
the Apple Store in Troy, Mi.
That store was flooded by people wanting the router. But supply was
I asked if he had ran any Mac-Mac file copy performance tests. Curious if the Apple router would have better performance with 802.11n enabled Macs than some readers mentioned (below) with non-apple 802.11n routers.
Linksys WAP4400N (802.11n Base/Router):
"I am using the Linksys WAP4400N in order to get a gigabit port. The only
problems are that I can only get a 144MB connection on my MacBook and MacBook Pro, so
that was a waste of effort on my part. (I assume he installed the 802.11n enabler on the MB/MBP)
I should have just gotten the Apple Base Station... Also, when in N mode, the file transfers are 12x slower
than G (ie: 2 minutes to transfer 30MB instead of 10 seconds).
(He later wrote)
Sorry, the Internet tests were half speed due to the dropouts in the LAN. I will test with encryption off (and MAC filtering on, of course for security) tonight. I posted on Linksys and Apple's forums re this problem as I am hoping their engineers figure out a fix for me and people that have my same set up.
I tested on both my MB and MBP with the update (802.11n enabler) installed.
The Apple Store in my area ran out of base stations for me to buy/test. I
will check another store Monday or just order it on-line.
D-Link DIR-655 (802.11n Base/Router): Another user of a non-Apple 802.11n (draft) Base/Router mentions performance problems
after installing the Apple 802.11n Enabler:
(added Jan. 31st, 2007)
"I recently updated my own MacPro and MacBook C2D using the 802.11n
enabler, and decided to try out the D-Link DIR-655 (802.11n base/router). /Horrible/ performance when connected using 11n. (Any D-Link firmware updates for the base?-Mike) Downstream to my computer was fine, but every upstream test (speedtest.net) or the like got 20-50 Kbps on a link that was 368 Kbps (even for wired clients!). After replacing the router with my old Linksys and turning off the D-Link, it went away.
The strangest thing is that this particular problem also appeared on my local network (wireless <-> wired bridging). While my Mac Pro wired to the router would get 10MB/sec to my NAS or better on write, my MacBook on wireless would get about 5B/sec (yes, bytes).
(A Linksys 802.11n router user yesterday also noted horrible MacBook performance with the Enabler installed.-Mike)
There are 2 other networks in my apartment complex's reach, and there is no way to configure the D-Link for n-only. You can only configure for g & n, or b/g/n. I have had to revert back to my Linksys WRT54G
which improved performance for my wireless client, and for my internet connection.
So far the most postive report was the first one (from a Linksys WRT54G (802.11g) user). I hope these problems aren't common with the Apple's 802.11n base (shipping in Feb.). For now I'd be leery of installing it if I were using a non-Apple 802.11n base, but hopefully these problems are related to the 'draft' N implimentations and improved in later updates (firmware or drivers) in the future.
LinkSys WRT300N (802.11n) Base/Router: A reader with a Linksys WRT300N 802.11N router that reported performance problems after installing the enabler yesterday sent an update with more tests:
(added Jan 31st, 2007)
"Hi Mike, here are the results of excessive channel hopping and parameter
First: no difference between unencrypted and psk2-aes.
Second: No difference between mixed 802.11n & 802.11g and pure
802.11n (but I'm not sure if other wireless networks are
interfering. 5 networks are present here, but on different channels)
Third: Although the router (LinkSys WRT300N) is supporting 40Mhz wide
channels I cannot connect faster than 130MBit with the MacPro.
However, the internet connecton app shows full reception.
To test the speed I connected one computer via ethernet to the router
and a PowerBook G4 12" (802.11g) versus a MacPro 2.66Ghz (802.11n) via Airport.
Distance to the router approx. 7 meters.
I started copying a file via apple file sharing from the mac connected directly to the router and monitored the speed with
Best result for 802.11g (PowerBook 12") was 2.33MB/s peak (on channel
Best result fpr 802.11n (MacPro) was 3.99MB/s peak (on wide channel 8)
Thats more than 60% faster for the N card. Not the advertised "5x faster", but at least some improvement.
(I asked if the N tests were done with only "N" devices active on the network. i.e. Mfr's note any G or B devices active/connected would typically lower performance vs pure N mode.-Mike)
I tried with N only and mixed with G. Same results. The very slow speed (mentioned yesterday) was
only present with MacPro and MacBook C2D, both upgraded to N.
With the PowerBook very close to the router I got 3.31MB/s peak. Unfortunately I cannot move the router nor the mac pro, so the
results may be better if they're very close together - but does it make sense to put a wirless router besides a computer? I would
consider using a cable instead of the wireless connection then ;)
There were no send- / rcv-errors or collisions during the tests.
Next time someone drops a new MacBook at my place, I'll investigate the very slow speed mentioned before.
(His initial comments from Jan 30th, 2007)"
Hi Mike, 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 (Apple now has a kbase doc noting this) 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.
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. (See above for his later comments/tests.)
Linksys WRT54G (802.11g) Base/Router:
Jonas, a reader that reported low performance with his C2D iMac (20in) previously (Airport Extreme 2007-001 update didn't help) wrote the 802.11n Enabler solved it. He's using a Linksys 54G base/router.
(Jan 30th, 2007)
Mike, 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 from another user that WPA performance was poor and switched to WEP)
the linksys is running in mixed mode, but I only have g clients connected. I also installed the enabler on my MacBook C2D (which didn't have any speed issues prior to update) and it didn't change the performance.
greetings from germany,
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). Thanks. (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.)
Apple 802.11n Enabler Info: (from when it was first released) FYI: OS X 10.5/Leopard users DO NOT need the enabler)
The Apple 802.11n Airport Extreme Base includes the enabler on disc and the enabler is also available from the Apple store for $1.99. (Search for "802.11n enabler"). 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 Mac builds already have it? - But Apple may not update the disk images used
for new macs until there's an OS X update like 10.4.9 or Leopard)
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
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. (This will heat up after AppleTV and the new 802.11n compatible base ships in Feb. 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). See below for later notes/posts on this subject.
802.11n Chipsets used in Mac Pro, MacBook/MacBook Pro Core2 Duo:
The MacPro has a Broadcom chip (BCM4321 or 4328?), while the MacBook (CD2) has an Atheros AR5008 (which is why I grabbed the D-Link DIR-655 802.11n base).
(BTW - an original MacBook Pro C2D also uses the Atheros AR5008 a reader said and so does the original Apple Airport Extreme (N) base. A 2007 AL iMac check showed the same N card ID as the Mac Pros. (Apple notes the 17in iMac 1.83GHz C2D can't use Enabler though so it may have a different chipset.)-Mike)
Seems that Apple has one driver for both though, which is interesting. Since N is draft, it could very well be that Apple's driver is different enough to cause issues, even between the same chipsets.
I also wondered if the current 'draft' nature of 802.11n could be a factor in the problems/poor performance with early version N base/routers some readers have reported on, but hopefully once the spec is final, updates (driver and/or base firmware) can address any changes/problems.
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