Conclusion and Final Thoughts

We’ve gone into extreme detail about the Time Capsule and Airport Extreme updates. I originally intended to have this posted with a hint of irony on WiFi day (8.02.11) but instead ended up spending that special day doing more testing and running even more instances of Iperf to make sure our numbers were solid. What’s changed between both previous generations is simple—the Time Capsule gets an official 3TB option, and both the Time Capsule and Airport Extreme now have a much more powerful, modern, and better-performing BCM4331 based WiFi stack.

The result of the move from Marvell to Broadcom is twofold. First, performance and range is definitely better thanks to more transmit power and the improved sensitivity afforded by newer generation chipsets. Second, the combination of lots of Broadcom in Apple’s hardware lineup (from the iPhone, iPad, and MacBooks, to iMac and Mac Mini) with Broadcom in the access point likely allows for the use of frame bursting or some other packet aggregation technique that speeds things up in some scenarios. It’s another example of how having that complete hardware control can in fact result in some benefit—in this case, faster WiFi.

Before this update, there were so many rumors about both iOS based Airport products, that the Time Capsule would cache software updates locally, and that the whole thing would somehow tie into Apple's iCloud solution. None of that exists right now, and it's looking like (for now) the rumor mill has some egg on its face. I waited patiently for Lion to launch and half expected things to turn on and render half of the review null; instead that day came and went without much change at all. As of this writing, the core functionality of the Airport line remains the same as it was before—sans any iCloud/iOS magic/local update caching.

There’s a stigma that Apple gear is more expensive, and for the 3TB Time Capsule that may be the case, but the Airport Extreme is actually right near where it should be. Take for comparison the Linksys E4200, which is a 2x3:2 device on 2.4GHz, and 3x3:3 on 5GHz, and also Broadcom based. That device runs for $179.99 and features similar functionality including a USB 2.0 port for sharing devices. At $179.00, the Airport Extreme offers full 3x3:3 on both 2.4 and 5GHz, albeit the E4200 does have considerably more Tx power, which we'll investigate in a forthcoming article.

I guess the reason that I personally use an Airport Extreme (in conjunction with another device for NAT) is that it's really one of a small number of 802.11n dual-band APs I've tried that actually works without locking up, becoming unstable periodically, dropping the session from overheating when being pushed to 100% for hours, or requiring a daily reboot. There are just so many other consumer level 802.11n APs that either fall short or are incredibly frustrating and unreliable. Thus far, I've been using an Airport Extreme Gen 5 and Time Capsule Gen 4 as my primary AP with over 12 devices attached to each one for the greater part of a month without a single instability. It's that kind of stability that really sells it for me, even with 3x3:3 out of the picture.

That kind of sums up WiFi in general—ideally, it should work and be something transparent to the user instead of a constant consideration. I wager the vast majority of Airport Extreme and Time Capsule owners have no idea what 3x3:3 is or how to even check their physical link rate, and for the most part that's a testament to how stable these devices are. Maybe that's the reason why Apple doesn't make a super huge note about changes like markedly improving their WLAN connectivity. One thing is for certain, Apple's wireless division is either playing it incredibly cool, or honestly not getting the credit it deserves.

Airport Utility and Networking Functions
POST A COMMENT

103 Comments

View All Comments

  • battguide - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - link

    ONLINE STORE :
    ===( www laptopinc COM AU )======
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1) More laptop batteries available on our website --
    3) Perfect quality, small order accepted .
    4) High quality +Low price+perfect service+100% guarantee+1 year warranty+30 days money back+fast shipping.
    5) Save up to 40% on all laptop batteries at www.laptopinc.com.au
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Reply
  • battguide - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - link

    BOSCH 2 610 995 883 Replacement Power Tool Battery ,http://www.laptopinc.com.au/laptop-battery-p.php/6... Reply
  • tekenaar - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    . . . is: "At this point it isn’t really looking like there’s much different, but exterior appearances can be deceptive."

    . . . S/B: "At this point it isn’t really looking like there’s much difference, but exterior appearances can be deceptive." ?!
    Reply
  • silvalli - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Can't find discussion of this anywhere. Reply
  • battguide - Thursday, October 27, 2011 - link

    Your satisfaction is our eternal pursuit!

    █田█田█.∴★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.
    █田█田█∴★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.—- [[ w w w -( laptopinc )- c o m ](AU)]
    █田█田█.★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.
    █████.*******************
    === {{w w w }} {{ laptopinc }} {{ com }} {{AU}}====
    Reply
  • batguide - Sunday, November 13, 2011 - link

    I just got a $110 apple laptop battery for only $ 78.64 .they save up to 40% !!
    I use laptopinc。COM 。au,They offer high quality brand new replacement laptop battery pack for DELL.APPLE.ACER.ASUS.HP,LG,IBM,SONY,TOSHIBA,LENVOV,COMPAQ,FUJITSU,laptop battery.there also have AC adaptors and laptop keyboard.I believe you will love it !
    Reply
  • batguide - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link


    █田█田█.∴★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.
    █田█田█∴★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.—- [[ w w w -( laptopinc )- c o m ](AU)]
    █田█田█.★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆.
    █████.*******************
    === {{w w w }} {{ laptopinc }} {{ com }} {{AU}}====
    Reply
  • bguidee - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    ONLINE STORE :
    ===( laptopinc [[COM]] AU )======
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1) More laptop batteries available on our website --
    3) Perfect quality, small order accepted .
    4) High quality +Low price+perfect service+100% guarantee+1 year warranty+30 days money back+fast shipping.
    5) Save up to 40% on all laptop batteries at laptopinc。[[COM ]]。au
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Reply
  • bguidee - Sunday, November 27, 2011 - link

    Thanks for these tips! I love the tip about checking where the model is in the store. I just finished reading another article that has some more research based tips about making sure you get the best big ticket items for you, which I also found useful. laptopinc...COm...au
    Thanks again and happy shopping!
    Reply
  • bguidee - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    超激安ノートPCバッテリー >> 新品互換ノートPCバッテリー、安心1年保障。PCバッテリー、デジタルカメラ バッテリー、 過放電及び過充電防止回路付、 送料無料 Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now