I didn't have any problem installing Apple's AirPort Uility (version 5.5.3) on my Win XP SP3 system (yeah, gotta upgrade someday). The little bugger also installed an AirPort Base Station Agent in the System Tray, which keeps an eye out for a USB drive shared via the AirPort's drive sharing feature and automatically creates a Windows mapped drive for it.
Figure 4 shows the Summary screen, which doesn't look much different than the screenshot I took in the previous review (Figure 5).
The main difference is a wider window due to the AirPort image in the left side pane, which you can't make go away.
Figure 5: Gen 4 AirPort Utility Summary screen
I didn't notice any new features, but I confess I didn't look that hard. Here's a quick rundown:
- Static and Dynamic IP, PPPoE WAN connections (no MTU adjust)
- IPv6 modes: Link-local only, Host, Tunnel, Router modes
- NAT, One-to-one NAT, Bridge modes
- USB printer and drive sharing (HFS, FAT32 formats only)
- DHCP server with IP reservation
- Syslog support
- MobileMe "Back To My Mac" remote access
- Log, wireless client and DHCP client viewing via AirPort Utility
- Single port and port range forwarding w/ separate public / private ports
- DMZ host
- WDS bridging and repeating
- WEP and Personal / Enterprise WPA / WPA2 wireless security
- Wireless Modes: Automatic, A/N and B/G, A and B/G
- Scheduled wireless MAC address control
- Wireless guest access: 2.4 GHz only, no WEP
- Tranmit power control (100, 50, 25, 10%) - one setting for both radios
- Web-based administration
- RIP v1, v2, v2 multicast and static routing
- Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
- Traffic statistics
- Firewall feature scheduling
- Triggered port forwarding
- WAN ping blocking
- Inbound / outbound service control w/ scheduling
- URL / domain web filtering
- Wireless client-to-client isolation
- Tranmit power control (100, 90, 75, 50, 25, 10%)
- Transmit data rate
The Missing list is a bit long and some items bear some further explanation or repeating. Since the main reason many of you are considering the AirPort Extreme is for better wireless performance, you should know what you're trading off. The quick take is that the AirPort Extreme isn't the router you're looking for if you need flexible firewall features or like both your bands to be equally controllable.
First, Apple is the lone holdout in blocking acces to 40 MHz bandwidth mode in the 2.4 GHz band. While paternalistic, you're not really losing that much, however."Wide" channels take up almost the whole 2.4 GHz band and provide significant bandwidth improvement only under strong signal conditions. But in cases where there are no nearby networks or channel use can be coordinated, their use can be beneficial.
Note that this means that if you have a three-stream N capable client, you're only going to see a maximum link rate of 217 Mbps vs. the 450 Mbps you'll be able to see in 5 GHz.
Next, note that the Guest Network runs on the 2.4 GHz band only. And while it has its own wireless security settings, WEP isn't among them. Note also that you can hide the radio SSIDs ("Create a closed network") and adjust transmit power, the same settings apply to both radios.
When you first fire up the router, your client won't even see separate 2.4 and 5 GHz SSIDs. That's because Apple sets the same SSID on both radios, just to make things interesting.
You also still have to press the Control key before clicking the Wireless Security dropdown selector to expose the WEP option, which is still marked as a "Transitional Security Network"
I had the same result as for the Gen 4 model when I tried to measure the performance of the USB drive sharing feature. I was able to get the FAT-formatted disk to be recognized and mapped to the Win 7 NAS testbed system. But when I ran the robocopy routine, which copies a folder of files from a ripped DVD, the connection still went missing when robocopy got to a 1 GB VOB file. For non-Macers this feature is of limited use anyway, because it supports only FAT32 and HFS formatted drives only.
On the routing side, if you're looking for any sort of web filtering or inbound / outbound service control, forget it. All you get is static port forwarding for single ports or ranges as well as DMZ. At least for the port forwarding, advanced users can set separate public and private port numbers.
IPv6 is supported. But the settings are unlike any I've seen on other IPv6-enabled products. And good luck to you finding useful IPv6 support information in either the rather brief AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation) - Setup Guide or Apple's support site.
I've included some screenshots of the more interesting utility pages in the gallery.
All testing was done with the latest 7.5.2 firmware loaded and the 5.5.3 AirPort Utility. If you want to compare the 5th and 4th gen AirPorts, you'll need to click the Archived Products Switch To Show link to see the 4th gen numbers. To make it easy, though, I've pulled both sets of numbers into Table 1 below.
Table 1 shows that the new Extreme's routing speed is about the same for downlink and improved by 100 Mbps for uplink. There's also a big improvement in simultaneous session handling with the 5th gen AirPortX able to open 29,413 sessions before pooping out, vs. the Gen 4's 128.
|Test Description||5th Gen||4th Gen|
|WAN - LAN Throughput (Mbps)||430.4||419.5|
|LAN - WAN Throughput (Mbps)||434.6||330.7|
|Total Simultaneous Throughput (Mbps)||496.5||414.7|
|Max. Simultaneous Connections||29,413||128|
Table 1: Routing throughput
Figure 6 shows the IxChariot aggregate plots for WAN to LAN, LAN to WAN and simultaneous routing throughput tests, which look generally steady.
Figure 6: Apple AirPort Extreme 5th Gen routing throughput
Average user rating from: 5 user(s)
NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.
|User Rating [Back to Top]||Overall:||4.5||Features :||4.0||Performance :||4.4||Reliability :||5.0|
My Escape From Endless Router-Induced Heartache
April 13, 2013
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I used to be a router snob. I used to scoff at the Airport Extreme and I was a purist who used DD-WRT and Linksys and nothing else. I'd grown up thinking that no matter how much you tweak things, routers were just faulty and had to be reset from time to time. This was the norm for me. And they'd rarely last more than two years. I have used the E4200 (x3, every single one succumbed to the same issues), the E3000 (again, issues), a $70 D-link (cannot remember the model name, it was a gift), over four different models of Netgear including the revered N750.
This is the only router that I have been able to use without hassle. It's true, I did sacrifice some features, but in truth I don't miss them at all because I'm too busy having a router that works with many devices in a three story townhome. It's on the top floor and signal on the bottom floor is fantastic. I had signal issues to the lower floor on my E4200 to the point where I was forced to use ethernet on any devices downstairs. Not to mention constant speed problems, dropping to as low as 1mbps.
I've had the Airport Extreme since late 2011. I have not once had to restart it for any reason. I have not once had speed problems like I had on the Linksys, D-link, and Netgear routers. The only other options at this point on this website are more expensive or the same price as my Airport Extreme and I don't consider them worth the hassle. If I ever do need a new router I may consider ASUS.
The most important thing about this router is that it has worked. It has worked very well, and very efficiently. For the first time in over two years I've actually been getting the speeds I pay for with my router (I was lucky to hit 50% of it before). I do quite a bit of online gaming, video streaming, hosting a server from my house, downloading large files, and I have been able to organize and give priority to what needs priority. Nothing of value has been sacrificed except maybe a few extra dollars.
Honestly, the only con about my purchase is that I wish I could go back in time and slap myself for stubbornly spending hundreds of dollars on routers that were just inconsistent at best. I could have saved myself the time and money and bought the extreme after the E4200 died.
Non-Apple user finds Airport Extreme to be excellent!
January 16, 2013
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Desperate to have a stable, fast wifi network in my two-story home, I believe I've tried all of the high-end routers available as of Dec. 2012. I've used this site as an info source for my search. Of these routers, only the Apple Airport Extreme 5th Gen. router has been able to do the job flawlessly.
I marked it 4 instead of 5 only in the Features category, as I don't believe the router has some of the fine-grained controls that the other pro-sumer models have. But I can easily live without those if I have a fast wifi network that doesn't disconnect.
My situation may be made more complicated by the fact that my house has aluminum siding and that the wifi signal has to pass through at least two, and sometimes more, layers of the siding to get to the entire house. The Western Digital MyNet N900 was doing a good job until the holidays came and the number of online devices went up (more kids around meant more cell phones and notebooks, plus video streaming time -- Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Skype -- went up). The the WD router started choking, maybe because of an overheating problem. But the Apple, despite having come on the market in mid-2011, has been a workhorse. And I won't even go into how easy the thing is to set up. As an longtime computer and home network user, I don't necessarily appreciate the hand-holding and even find it off-putting, but Apple does do a nice job with this aspect.
The Apple was the very last of these routers that I tried, since I'm from a Linux and Windows background entirely. I've been pleased with my daughter's MacBook that has gotten her through college without needing any intervention, so I knew that Apple was capable of producing decent equipment. But I have been very, very impressed.
If you're having trouble finding a wifi router that does the job, give this one a try.
Airport Extreme Works Good
November 14, 2011
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The Airport Extreme is a nicely put together device. I have setup MANY routers through the years, but the Airport Extreme is one of the easiest routers I have ever setup. It does not have a web interface, but that is part of what makes it so simple. You don't have to type in a IP address in your web browser, you just run the Airport Utility.
There are some features missing, as mentioned in this review, but if you want a fast and reliable router then the Airport Extreme will work for you. Another benefit is Apple's support.
Note: Most of the features not included in the Airport Extreme are NOT deal breakers for home environments, which is what the router is geared towards.
Good performance, easy to use, very reliable
October 29, 2011
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OK, it is considered overpriced by many and purely looking at features and performance (as with other Apple products) it probably is.
But performance and features are more than adequate, it is very easy to configure, and very reliable: it just works - always. No nagging software bugs that (e.g.) interrupt audio streams or require you to reboot the thing because it freezes up.
September 12, 2011
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I purchased this router as an upgrade to 3 stream from my 2 stream original edition WNDR3700. I was initially inclined toward this router because of the review over at anandtech. I used my WNDR3700 and this router both as simply access points. The performance increase on both my 13" early 2011 MBP and my Dell Latitude E6400 with an Intel 6300 wireless card was significant.
I see real-world wireless throughput over 200Mbps with the 5th Gen Airport Extreme on both of these laptops. With the WNDR3700, I never saw over about 130Mbps.
It all, I am very happy with the upgrade, and would highly recommend this router. I the airport extreme over the WNDR4000, because I decided with this router upgrade to start using WPA2 Enterprise, which the WNDR4000 does not support (according to the review of it on this site).
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