Customer Reviews: AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation)
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on July 26, 2011
Although setup is quick, it is the high performance 802.11n dual RF bands and the creation of my own cloud storage (HD on USB port) that makes the AirPort Extreme a best-in-class choice!

After reading the other reviews, I knew this was going to be quick and easy. I started a pot of coffee thinking I could enjoy a cup while plugging in the AirPort Extreme Base Station (AEBS) and configuring it. Here are the steps:

1. Attached an ethernet cable from the AEBS to my ISP connection. Plugged in the AC adapter and power cord. AEBS powered up. Status light flashed green for a second, glowed amber for several seconds, then flashed amber until the AEBS was configured from a computer.

2. From my MacBook Pro (wireless access works fine for this step), the airport utility app had already launched and was waiting for me (otherwise, go to Applications\Utilities\AirPort Followed instructions that included typing in a router name and two passwords. The default AEBS configuration selects channels and RF bands automatically to optimize speed.

3. Plugged a spare hard drive (in my case: Mac OS Extended (Journaled) formatted 1 TB HD) into AC outlet and the USB port. As soon as the HD had started, it showed up as a MBP network drive device on 'Finder'. I then created a folder, transferred a file, and read it back.

At this point, the coffee machine beeped to let me know my coffee was ready. I was done before the coffee was even ready - about three minutes from opening the box to being operational! Gotta luv it.

Basic Performance Testing:
Not about to let the coffee go to waste, I proceeded with some performance testing. I conducted some very basic data throughput tests by transferring files from the MBP through the AEBS to the HD. This test arrangement kept my ISP download and upload data rates out of the equation. For the wired tests, the MBP was connected to one of the three AEBS Gigabit ports.

Test 1 (a control test configuration between MBP and HD via USB on MBP):
Write to HD: 33.8 MBytes/sec
Read from HD: 34.3 MBytes/sec

Test 2 (wired data transfer)
From MBP to AEBS via Gigabit port, then from AEBS to HD via USB): 13.6 MBytes/sec
From HD to AEBS via USB, then from AEBS to MBP via Gigabit port): 18.3 MBytes/sec

Test 3 (wireless data transfer - 5 GHz RF band)
From MBP to AEBS, then from AEBS to HD via USB): 7.8 MBytes/sec
From HD to AEBS via USB, then from AEBS to MBP): 12.6 MBytes/sec

Test 4 (range test, 5 GHz RF band between MBP and AEBS with a max capacity of 300 Mbits/sec):
3 ft, devices in close proximity: 300 Mbits/sec
50 ft, indoors, no ext walls in path: 243 Mbits/sec
70 ft, outdoors, one ext wall in path: 144 Mbits/sec
80 ft, outdoors, one ext wall in path: 104 Mbits/sec

Default settings seem to provide high bit-rate connections. Using 'manual setup' in Airport, I tested several variations on the configuration without improving the rate/range for the 802.11n wireless provided by the default setting of the APBS. Reading data from the HD back through the AEBS to the MBP was always faster than writing data to the HD. Including ethernet into the data transfer path (Test 2 compared to Test 1) reduced data rates in half. Including WiFi into the data transfer path (Test 3 compared to Test 2) reduced data rates to 2/3. Range test performance was very good for distances within 50 feet.

My own storage cloud:
Originally, I envisioned just using the HD (USB port on AEBS) as a network drive for a SVN (i.e., software version control) repository in support of software development on my MBP. But, I realized that this drive is a common storage location for all my devices (MBP, iPad, iPhone, iTouch) that is accessible wirelessly on my local WiFi. And with a VPN connection, from anywhere with WiFi access to the internet. Simply stated, I have my very own cloud! We aren't talking about a skimpy few GB either, but a full TB of dedicated exclusive mine-only cloud. Now, that's cool.

Why buy the 5th generation AEBS:
- High performance 802.11n wireless performance
- Easy and quick setup
- USB port for attaching a hard drive or printer
- Capability to create my very own AEBS WiFi storage cloud for all my devices
- Guest access to ISP without access to other devices or attached USB device
- Sleek clean stylish look

I am so completely pleased with this purchase.
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on July 6, 2011
Just to be clear on this, I did try the Cisco E4200, which, according with people who knows about wireless networking, is the best wireless router out there but the range was not as good as the Airport Extreme. I have a town house and the router needs to be in the basement, the E4200 signal did reach the second floor, but with more than two devices connected to the router, the signal dropped so much that was unusable. With the Airport Extreme, no problems at all, the signal is fast enough with two or more devices connected. An additional perk is that with the E4200 you can use the USB port just for storage but not for a printer, but with the Airport Extreme, you can connect an USB Hub and have a printer an a external Hard Drive connected at the same time. This router is a keeper.

My setup: 2 iPads, 2 iPhones, 1 PC, 3 Macs.
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on November 16, 2011
I live in an apartment building with many routers and my own apt. is narrow, but almost 100 feet long with many thick walls etc. I was using the new dual band Asus and was pleased, but needed more responsiveness from 75ft on. A Netgear range explander provided some signal improvement but the whole system slowed.

So, not being an Apple fan at all, I closed my eyes and bought the new Airport Extreme N because I'd read and heard many times about its speed and range and how outstanding they were. I deliberately purchased it so that I could return it without penalty. But I'm not taking it back to the store!

The Asus Black Diamond is a good router - but the Airport Extreme provided a much snappier connection at a notably greater distance. Once settling into position and speed, it is quite stable and impressively solidly built.

Four stars are because of the lack of clarity on the Apple site in finding the installation utility for Windows (7) and the fact that even their tech support wasn't very knowledgeable about Windows installation. The software could be better designed for Windows. Tech support should be more knowledgeable - they wouldn't discuss my Droid finding the router connection - they'd only talk about an iphone!

For Windows - two important hints: As of November, 2011, you are looking for the installation file called Airport Utility 5.5.3 for Windows; google was the fastest way to locate it. There also seems to be difficulty getting the setup utility to recognize the router when on 5g. Just move your connection to 2.4 and I've had no problem having the software recognize the router instantly in case you want to make channel changes etc.

So it's 5 stars for the Airport Extreme and I took back one star because of difficulties in dealing with Apple personnel and their site when it came to setting up for windows and/or any phone other than an iphone.

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on August 10, 2012
Been using one of those famous blue & black Linksys G router forever and it's been very reliable but 54.0 Mbps ain't gonna cut it these days. There were 3 other routers I had in mind:

ASUS Black Diamond RT-N56U. This first caught attention because it has a so-called 'Printer Server'. For years I've been on the market for a print server to revive my old USB HP 990cse Professional printer but didn't want to spend the outrageous money for it. Here I am trying to upgrade my router and this included the added feature; so I'm actually killing two birds with one stone! Read the reviews, has good specs, good performance but I didn't like how it crapped out on people for no reasons after a few months.

ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band N900. Discovered this better one with a better processor. Read all about it, same thing -- router seems to go out for no reason. Though ASUS seems to reply on all the negative comments here on Amazon and offer to help, but according to the reviews it seemed like a merry-go-round process and never ending problems. This is definitely the last thing I needed when it comes to customer support -- especially for a near $200 router. For this, ASUS is definitely out of the game.

Linksys EA4500 App-Enabled Dual-Band N900. Up to about now, I realized that most routers have at least one USB port on the back to host either an external Hard Drive or Printer. As I was reading about the EA4500, the Apple Airport Extreme popped up as a recommendation, so actually there's 4 routers to consider instead of 3. After reading and comparing; as a PC guy and a Linksys user for many years the EA4500 seemed to be the best bet, and it was. I bought the unit and it performed as ran unbelievably in 150F hot, and burns to the touch! I also didn't like how the speed fluctuates from 62.0 - 144 Mbps (avg. at 75.0 Mbps). Overall, it did good and a little bit of tweaking would of brought out the best in the EA4500. But the heat just killed it, and the idea of further owning the Linksys has quickly banished, so I became a 'traitor' to the PC community and took a peek at the Apple device...

Now, for the Airport Extreme:
I bought the Airport Extreme while I was still using the Linksys EA4500. I wasn't sure about the Airport but just in case. When it arrived, my first impression when holding it in my hands: Quality built! The device is solid, heavy, pretty, and not a bit of flimsiness. It came very well packaged in Apple's trademark slide-out box with clear wraps for all the accessories; in this case it would be the AC Cord and corresponding mini Adapter brick, and some printed documentation. Yup, that's all you get, no extra ethernet cord, no installation disc. I downloaded Airport Utility for W7 setup, hooked the thing up and everything ran smoothly at a stable speed of 144 Mbps, with virtually zero speed fluctuations. The lowest I saw was 72.0 Mbps but it quickly went back up to 144. I then hooked my printer to its USB port, installed Bonjour to all of my PCs and now I'm able to print from any computer (wirelessly) within my network! This is something I haven't seen and been able to do since 2004!

This is the latest and greatest from Apple, but many features are lacking comparing to the models I mentioned above and in my case, to the Linksys EA4500.
Many complained that QoS is absent, this is essential for VOIP users or for people that does heavy networking/streaming simultaneously. There is also the lack of proper Parental Control (I'm sure you can work something out under Access Control from the Airport utility), number amount of GB Ethernet port (3 instead of 4), and speeds limited to only 300 Mbps instead of 450Mbps. The Linksys has more user controls, better speeds (450+450), can track guest users and port activities, etc.. Now if any of these features are essential then maybe you're better off considering either the Linksys, ASUS or something similar. This is the ultimate trade-off that I'm willing to accept over all the absented features. The Apple Airport Extreme has been able to connect all 4 of my PCs (XP and W7), a Wifi Epson Artisan All-In-One, and the old HP 'USB' printer (I prefer it over the Epson because of its superior print quality) all of which worked properly and flawlessly altogether. So far, I haven't experience a single dropout or delay in speed. I've also upgraded the old WiFi card from one of my laptop to dual-band to take advantage of the 5 Ghz stream and now I'm surfing at speeds of 270-300Mbps (best $8 out of ebay!).

As for strange noises like how some of the reviewers had mentioned regarding buzzing and ticking, I haven't heard anything. The router sits on my pc desk in the bedroom and I can't hear a thing. Besides the lack of features and poor instructions, for example: it didn't mention anywhere about downloading Bonjour to every computer for printer setup. Overall, I am very happy with this purchase -- for the reason that it also operates much much cooler than the EA4500. It's a keeper!

The EA4500 has gone back to Amazon in its original condition and Amazon has since refunded me everything (Five Stars to!
Will I continue to be a PC? Most definitely!
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on July 2, 2011
I switched to this router from my old modem/wireless router in one and am very pleased. Installation of this router was simple and painless, with the Mac doing all the work, literally. Plugged it in and OS X recognized it and setup went without a hitch. I've also paired this with an external hard drive, and now I can use Time Machine to wirelessly create backups, which is perfect for any MacBook/MacBook Pro/MacBook Air owners who don't want to continuously plug in a hard drive to allow backups; just set it up and Time Machine takes care of the rest! Very happy customer.
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on January 23, 2012
This morning, UPS picked up for return a finicky Cisco/Linksys E3000 - the last in a frustrating line of devices purchased to replace a dead WRT-54G that had provided reliable home wireless access for 7 years. The replacement experience has been daunting and has included trying devices that have overheated, dropped connections, been stubborn about establishing and then lost joined devices, had great coverage one day and poor coverage the next, and refused to provide more than half of their rated throughput regardless of radio settings, security settings or client proximity.

Here, in a few lines, is a description of today's experience with the new Airport Extreme Base Station:

1. Visit the Apple Store - pleasant, knowledgeable, non-pressure salesman. $179 + tax for the AEBS - very expensive but cost pales in comparison to misery of previous attempts and potential value of a relatively hassle-free setup.
2. Take it out of the box, connect it to the cable modem, restart the cable modem, head over to the iMac, create the network(s). Everything works intuitively and everything including guest network and primary network - so far - works.
3. (UPDATE for this section is shown below!) Open the ThinkPad, immediate connectivity at 144 Mbps under control of Windows Wireless Service. Create a new network profile in the Intel network card app. for the AEBS, and presto! 300Mbps. Go (with ThinkPad) 60' into the back of the house, 300Mbps. Go into the loft, 300Mbps. Go into the garage, 300Mbps. Go into farthest corner of the basement, 300Mbps. Head out of the basement walkout into the backyard, still 300Mbps. Range Nirvana!
4. Head up to the back bedroom, turn on the IPTV, pull up the network configuration menu - instant recognition, accepts password, connected! No annoying message telling me that the TV could work better with a 5GHz connection - it was connected at 5GHz. Smooth streaming of SD and HD content from VuDu and Amazon.
5. Move on to the family room. Older plasma connected to wireless Blu Ray. Same experience as bedroom.
6. Pushing luck now - connect Synology NAS - enable Synology Media Server and reconnect (map) previously established shares. Perfect operation, no hitches, no hassles.
7. Asking for trouble, but what the heck?! Per instructions in booklet that came with router, download Airport Utility for PC (deliberately trying to find a weak link now ...) add the HP Wireless-Enabled D110A printer/scanner as a client, enter appropriate password, and ... Connected! Print, scan, all works.

In terms of installation and setup, the AEBS is a "consumer" product in the best sense. It just works. No surprises, no frustrating detours, no phone calls to technical support personnel, no wondering. Just a rare opportunity to be confident and enjoy success. I'll certainly update this review should things head south, but given the fantastic initial experience I am hoping that things will continue to go well.


By turning the laptop radio off and then reestablishing connectivity in each of the above mentioned areas of the house, I got a more realistic view of throughput. The signal strength remained above 90% in all areas, and throughput measured as follows:
Back of house, 60 feet away, same floor, 144 Mbps
Loft, 60 feet away, one (open) floor up, 144 Mbps
Garage, 60 feet away, one floor down, through a fireproof wall and floor, 87 Mbps
Basement, 75 feet away, one floor down, through insulated floor and 2 walls, 87 Mbps
Backyard, 100 feet away, one floor down, through insulated frame/brick wall, 65 - 87 Mbps

So, even in the worst situation, the AEBS exceeds the performance of my old G router; in common cases, it provides three times the old device's capacity; and, in optimal situations (at desk, 15 feet from router) it operates at 300 Mbps - or 5 to 6 times the capacity of the old device. So far, everything is stable.
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on August 6, 2011
I have been experimenting with a variety of wireless N routers over the last year. Each of those routers had their own issues from time to time. Some of my biggest frustrations with other Cisco/Linksys and Netgear routers were periodic hangs or reboots that would interrupt connectivity. I do not like trying to explain to my family over the phone how to reset a hung router while I'm away from home.

I do not own a Mac in my house. I was only looking at the Airport Extreme on the merit of its reviews for reliability. I really felt that this Apple wireless router was a bit too high-priced, since you can find competing routers with the same feature sets for less than half the price. Nevertheless, I was desperate to find a router with reliable hardware/firmware performance. On the recommendation from a friend, I purchased the router. I have been very pleased with the range and reliability of this router, and I can recommend it to anyone who is willing to pay the Apple premium for a highly reliable product.

I do miss some of the custom tweaks I could make to the open source routers from Netgear, but at the end of the day I'll happily trade that flexibility for the reliability I'm getting from the Airport Extreme.
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on July 12, 2012
It started with my iphone, then the ipad, then the apple tv 3, and now my entire network is all apple with two extremes and 3 expresses (for airplay). I'm very proficient when it comes to networking and pc set up and was so tired of all the messing around with my netgear router that I just replaced it with the apple airport extreme - took about 10 seconds to set up, including port forwarding for my iomega ix2-200d NAS. I wish PC related components were so simple to hook up. Honestly, I can't believe I am raving about apple products but, well, I am. Who knew?
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on December 29, 2011
Ok . I was in search for a new router because my old D-Link Dir-655 couldn't handle all the devices I had connected to it. The router was good to me for all these years. It required some updates here and there but it was pretty much a good router so if you are looking for something cheap that might be a good option. I needed a Dual Band Router so I tried the Netgear N600 and Netgear N750 and the experience was horrible, worst than my old D-link. I tried the Ciscon E4200 and that thing was a joke. I ended up returning it after spending almost a whole day trying to make it to work. I gave one more chance and tried the Asus Dual Band router which according to Cnet was a great choice. I don't know what they were talking about but that router was horrible. Check out how many people are saying the router stops working properly or working at all after using it for 60 days . I went ahead and returned it and was about to just keep my Dlink router but then I saw this Apple router so I went for it . This thing is amazing , It can handle my xbox 360 , 2 ps3 , 2 Iphones , 1 Laptop , Apple Tv and my desktop pc all at the same time without any connection problems. If you want to be reseting your router or having to downgrade to previous firmwares all the time cause the latest firmware released was just a beta and it was worst than the old firmware the router came with, then go ahead and buy your so called fast router but if you want a router that delivers great speeds it has easy setups , it can handle all your apple products and can setup pretty much by itself then you need to get this router.
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on January 19, 2012
I've read a few reviews on here that have been less than ideal, so I was a bit hesitant to get this unit. I mean, there are others out there that are cheaper, no doubt about it. But, we are slowly becoming an Apple household, and since it was a birthdy present, I thought 'why not?'

So, my title: I read the booklet that comes with the router. I am somewhat versed on routers as I've worked in IT, and also have set up a few private networks for family and friends. I even set one up for a good friend's business. That being said, I had read reviews here and knew that it was going to be a bit different...and it was!

First, if you're using a windows PC (which I currently am) you HAVE to download the Airport Utility BEFORE you start. I plugged my PC directly into my modem and downloaded the file, then unplugged it and followed the on screen instructions. The booklet tells you to connect all of the cables BEFORE you connect the power to the router, which I did.

Now, I will say set up was a breeze. I answered the questions on the screen, set up all of the passwords and guest password, and had no issues...that is, until the router tried to assign an IP address. It could not get one and I couldn't understand why. I read and re-read the screen, looked at the book and was totally confused as to what was happening. Finally I found an answer in the booklet: The modem I was using wasn't assigning the IP address to the router. Simple fix was to unplug the modem, wait a few seconds, and plug it back in.

Once I did this the router immediately got an IP address and I was off and running. I am extremely happy with the results, too! The speed is simply awesome with all of my Apple products: (2) iPhones, iPad 2 and Apple TV; but also my HP laptop and TiVo! The range is definitely farther than my old Lynksis was. I am using both N and G components, and there is definitely an improvement in speed for both!

Yes, Apple products are really expensive. But so far I have not been disappointed in anything that I have purchased of theirs. Now, I will say that I got this through their refurb program on their website. It saved my fiancee $30 overall, and I have used their refurb program before and love it. Same warranty as a brand new unit! But, it is non-returnable so if you go that route, be sure you're getting what you want!!

Next on my list of Apple products to purchase: iMac!
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