Wifi options for Apple/Mac users

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 514 times.

Jonathan

Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« on: 21 Jan 2018, 05:19 pm »
Thanks in advance for chiming in on this, guys. I wondered if any of you have made the move to a "mesh" network for wifi and if you have one that you really like.

The house is around 2600 square feet. My wifi set up for years has been an Airport Extreme connected to a cable modem in my upstairs office. There's also an Airport Express plugged in on the main floor (more or less in the middle of the house). We are an all Mac family, with an Imac desktop upstairs, an Apple TV on the main floor, and two Macbook Airs, two iPads, and two iPhones (all "roaming"). My hi fi setup is in the basement; I use Audirvana Plus on an old Mac Mini for ripped files, and I stream Tidal via wifi.

For the most part, the network seems to run well, but lately our wifi has been very spotty and frequently dropping. When I run my Mac network diagnostics, nothing shows up as problematic. I have rebooted the modem and the Airport more than once; it helps for a while, but then goes back to not working. It is driving my wife and me nuts.

I have been considering upgrading the home wifi system, and I think I have narrowed it down to a couple of less than $300 options: Google Wifi or Netgear Orbi (probably the one that covers 5000 square feet). Any thoughts/ opinions?

Thanks!

Jon

avta

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 538
Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #1 on: 21 Jan 2018, 05:39 pm »
This isn’t a mesh solution but I’ve had good results using Apple Airport Express units as extenders.

Doublej

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1960
Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #2 on: 21 Jan 2018, 05:47 pm »
If it's been working fine in the past but not anymore I would first try to determine the root cause. Is the Airport Extreme going bad? (possible but typically not). Did someone move or reorient the unit? Is your provider experiencing problems? Has someone added a new wifi router nearby which is now causing interference?

When I have experienced problems in situations where things historically have been fine, most often it's turned out to be temporary issues with the ISP.  In one case I had a single device become become problematic. It was caused by an update to the wifi device driver on the unit. In the latter case I waited for a future update but one could have chosen to roll back to an earlier driver version.
 
Can't speak to mesh devices other than to say that if you are using wireless mesh the throughput can be reduced if units are not connected with wires. Practically it may not matter unless you are a gamer.

jpm

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 299
Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #3 on: 21 Jan 2018, 08:47 pm »
If you're comfortable with (very affordable) commercial grade solutions, check out Ubiquiti UniFi access points.

Johnny2Bad

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #4 on: 21 Jan 2018, 08:56 pm »
You need to determine the root cause when a perfectly good system abruptly becomes problematic.

What has changed?

Eg did you buy a different microwave oven, is the neighbour who shares your power line (everything after the last transformer on the pole is shared) using some radio frequency device that wasn't installed before? Any new wireless security systems activated in your close neighbourhood? Was there a power outage that might have defaulted some setting on your WiFi system? Did you buy a Google or Amazon device? Has there been an increase or change in the WiFi devices one of your Macs can see in the Network List? Did someone move a router, even a short distance?

And so on.

Eliminate all those (and similar) possibilities. Then start on the solutions. Remember Mr Holmes ... "once you eliminate all possible causes, the one that remains, regardless of how improbable, is the correct cause" (paraphrased).

You could try downloading a copy of NetSpot (or some similar app) and do a survey, which will give you a graphical representation of your WiFi signal, as well as give some useful (to the layman) information about your routers.

jpm

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 299
Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #5 on: 21 Jan 2018, 10:08 pm »
FWIW, the only aspect of WiFi that would be Apple specific are updates to MacOS or IOS.

Personally, I like Ubiquiti UniFi Access Points - great management software, Power Over Ethernet means only a single cable needs to go to them easing placement considerably, they work independently of a router and pricing is excellent.

Doublej

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1960
Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #6 on: 21 Jan 2018, 11:10 pm »
FWIW, the only aspect of WiFi that would be Apple specific are updates to MacOS or IOS.

Personally, I like Ubiquiti UniFi Access Points - great management software, Power Over Ethernet means only a single cable needs to go to them easing placement considerably, they work independently of a router and pricing is excellent.

So Apple never updates the firmware on their Airport Extreme?

Jonathan

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #7 on: 23 Jan 2018, 05:30 pm »
My thanks to all who responded.  My Airport Extreme and Express both have the most recent firmware. We have not added any new appliances in the home. As for the neighbors, well, I live on a long street with a great many neighbors, all of whom have wifi connections, so I am not sure I can ascertain anything about what is going on with their networks (nor do I really want to). I believe there was a brief power outage not long ago (all my clocks were flashing 12:00), so that may be a part of the issue. I recently re-booted the modem and router, so it should be back to whatever the default settings were.

Oh well, for now it seems to be working more often than not; I guess I'm not going to worry about it until my wife starts to complain again.

Jon

skunark

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1353
Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #8 on: 13 Feb 2018, 05:27 am »
Supposedly if you configure the airport extreme to the same SSID that will enable WDS, but the last few updates i started to see issues with devices losing wifi.    I switched to google wifi with the mesh, it has great coverage for three stories, one in the ground and two on the main level all wired and those cover the upstairs without issue.   It resolved the random drops, and every location i've tested can match the bandwidth with the level of service of my ISP.   

Jim

JohnR

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #9 on: 13 Feb 2018, 05:46 am »
I'm wondering if you are still on 802.11n (i.e. if you have the previous generation of Airport Extreme)? Have you tried using the 5Ghz band (for devices that support it).

I tried the new (current) Airport Extreme but ended up with a Synology router. (No thoughts on mesh)

Jonathan

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #10 on: 13 Feb 2018, 05:33 pm »
I'm wondering if you are still on 802.11n (i.e. if you have the previous generation of Airport Extreme)? Have you tried using the 5Ghz band (for devices that support it).

Yes, I have the older flat square version of the Airport Extreme. Not sure how to switch to the 5Ghz band.

The really odd thing is that whenever the wifi connection stalls (which is constantly), I go to the diagnostics page, select my home network, and do a quick diagnostic scan. Invariably, it tells me the network is working fine. Then I go back to the browser and it works. Pretty much every time. I have no idea what is actually happening during the diagnostic check, but it seems to jump start the connection. Weird.

Jonathan

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #11 on: 13 Feb 2018, 05:36 pm »
I switched to google wifi with the mesh, it has great coverage for three stories, one in the ground and two on the main level all wired and those cover the upstairs without issue.  It resolved the random drops, and every location i've tested can match the bandwidth with the level of service of my ISP.

Thanks, Jim--that's good to know. That seems to be (more or less) the consensus. I may have to give it a try.

jpm

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 299
Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #12 on: 13 Feb 2018, 06:28 pm »
So Apple never updates the firmware on their Airport Extreme?

I would expect so, but I gave up on Apple routers a very long time ago as being overpriced (no surprise!!), under featured, infrequently updated and unable to keep up with the intense competition in an area where it's difficult to differentiate a product without being on the cutting edge.

Do you suspect that a firmware update could be the cause of the OP's current problems? If so, might someone with experience of current apple routers be able to advise whether a firmware downgrade is possible?

jtwrace

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #13 on: 13 Feb 2018, 06:46 pm »
I’m an early adopter of the Eero routers which are a mesh network. Best money I’ve ever spent on my network.  In my old house I had 25+ devices on it all going and streaming DSD and there was no slown or any dead zones.  Flawless all the time.  Even in this small house it works great. 







jpm

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 299
Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #14 on: 13 Feb 2018, 06:51 pm »
I’m an early adopter of the Eero routers which are a mesh network. Best money I’ve ever spent on my network. 



How does this compare to commercial access points designed to perform overlapping coverage in large areas? Do they function without the requirement for a wired connection?

jtwrace

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #15 on: 13 Feb 2018, 07:03 pm »
How does this compare to commercial access points designed to perform overlapping coverage in large areas? Do they function without the requirement for a wired connection?
From what I've read these are as good to the more expensive commercial units in terms of coverage.

JohnR

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #16 on: 13 Feb 2018, 11:16 pm »
Not sure how to switch to the 5Ghz band.

In Airport Utility, you enable a second network at 5 GHz. Recent Macs should have no problem connecting to the 5GHz network. It may have less interference - at any rate, it's free to try and see :)

Channel selection should probably be set to automatic.



(From https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/11/best-of-both-worlds-setting-up-wi-fi-for-ios-on-2-4-and-5ghz/)

Jonathan

Re: Wifi options for Apple/Mac users
« Reply #17 on: 14 Feb 2018, 03:59 am »
In Airport Utility, you enable a second network at 5 GHz. Recent Macs should have no problem connecting to the 5GHz network. It may have less interference - at any rate, it's free to try and see :)

Thanks for the suggestion. I gave it a shot--let's see how it goes.

Jon