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#12168 - 10/03/10 02:25 AM Better performance with 802.11n?
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
To make an agonizing saga short and sweet, I just bought a new AirPort Express Base Station that I don't really need, but I'm wondering whether I'll derive an unexpected benefit from its 802.11n technology.

The specs say 2x the range which I don't really need, because my airport card is never more than three feet from my Base Station, but they also say 5x the performance.

From what I've read, that seems to apply only to data transfer and not to AirTunes (which I can't imagine any way to enhance). Is that correct, i.e. that I'll actually derive zero benefit from moving up to 802.11n?

(PS: I bought the new one from the Apple Refurb Store...$69 + tax...far and away the best price, and Apple gives you a one year warrantee which, if I'm not mistaken, is the same as a new product warrantee.)
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#12190 - 10/03/10 07:04 PM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
How much benefit you will see, if any, depends almost entirely on your overall network configuration and whether or not the other devices on your network are capable of operating on 802.11n. If the other devices on your network are 802.11n capable then you may well see some improvements by setting your network to 802.11n ONLY. If not and you have to use 802.11n with b/g compatibility mode then only the 802.11n devices will benefit.

One of the biggest lifts my network has realized by going to 802.11n ONLY resulted from shifting from the 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz band. There is a lot less interference from neighbors networks and normal household devices in the 5GHz band than in the 2.4 GHz band, which results in noticeably better network throughput and network stability.

As for AirTunes, if it was working well on 802.11b/g then it is highly doubtful you will notice any improvement by going to 802.11n.
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#12201 - 10/04/10 07:48 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: joemikeb]
RHV Offline


Registered: 09/19/09
Loc: Winnipeg, Kenora, Palm Springs...
I'm a newbie to wireless -- but this winter will be using wireless with a new iMac.

Where/how does one set the network to 802.11n only? And where/how does one set the band to 5GHz?

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#12211 - 10/04/10 09:11 PM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
How much benefit you will see, if any, depends almost entirely on your overall network configuration and whether or not the other devices on your network are capable of operating on 802.11n. If the other devices on your network are 802.11n capable then you may well see some improvements by setting your network to 802.11n ONLY. If not and you have to use 802.11n with b/g compatibility mode then only the 802.11n devices will benefit.

One of the biggest lifts my network has realized by going to 802.11n ONLY resulted from shifting from the 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz band. There is a lot less interference from neighbors networks and normal household devices in the 5GHz band than in the 2.4 GHz band, which results in noticeably better network throughput and network stability.

As for AirTunes, if it was working well on 802.11b/g then it is highly doubtful you will notice any improvement by going to 802.11n.

Thanks for your insightful, as always, input, joemike.

I didn't make it clear that my entire network consists of my deuced Mac(hina) and my stereo...no networked computers or devices and not even a printer...another saga.

Since my configuration allows it, I'll go 802.11n ONLY and see whether it alleviates my dropouts.

Thanks again.
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#12226 - 10/05/10 06:33 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: RHV]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: RHV
Where/how does one set the network to 802.11n only? And where/how does one set the band to 5GHz?

The selections you're asking about are made with Airport Utility, which will walk you through the options during setup. According to the AirPort Utility Help article Setting up your AirPort network:


Wireless options include:

• Setting the wireless mode to create a new wireless network or extend a wireless network.

• Giving your network a name. This is the name that appears in the AirPort status menu in the menu bar on computers using Mac OS X, and above the wireless network icon in the status tray on a Windows computer.

• Setting the radio mode. Choose the frequency for your wireless network that is the most compatible with the computers joining your network.
- If you expect computers that use 802.11b or 802.11g to join your network, choose “802.11n (802.11b/g compatible)” from the Radio Mode pop-up menu.
- If you expect computers that use 802.11a to join your network, choose “802.11n (802.11a compatible).”
- If you expect only computers using 802.11n to join your network, choose either “802.11n only (2.4GHz)” or “802.11n only (5 GHZ)” from the Radio Mode pop-up menu.

• Choosing a channel for your network. In most cases, using the Automatic setting is the most efficient, though there may be instances when you want to choose a specific channel for your network. If you’re using 802.11n only, in the 5 gigahertz (GHz) range, you cannot set your channels manually.

• Password-protecting your network. Choose WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WPA2 Personal, WPA or WPA2 Enterprise, or choose WEP (Transitional Security Network) depending on the base station you’re setting up, and the capabilities of wireless client computers that will join your network.

• Setting additional wireless options. Click Wireless Network Options to set the multicast rate, transmit power, or region, create a closed network, and turn on interference robustness. If your base station supports it, and you’re using the 802.11n only (5 GHz) radio mode, you can also select to use wide channels, which provide higher data throughput in your network.
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#12227 - 10/05/10 06:44 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: alternaut]
RHV Offline


Registered: 09/19/09
Loc: Winnipeg, Kenora, Palm Springs...
Thanks for that.

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#12247 - 10/07/10 01:07 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Well... I was hoping my new AirPort Express would offer me the same setting I've been using on my old one, b/g only (2.4GHz), so I could get a handle on whether the old one was failing (despite the assurance I've gotten from an Apple wireless specialist that they fail precipitously rather than gradually), but since it doesn't, I've opted for n only (5GHz).

I'll report in a month or so whether I'm still experiencing dropouts, but if I'm not, I'll still be at a loss as to whether it was the new Base Station or new setting that's responsible for the improvement.

Edit: On second thought, n only (2.4GHz) will be telling.


Edited by artie505 (10/07/10 05:06 AM)
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#12254 - 10/07/10 10:05 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: artie505
On second thought, n only (2.4GHz) will be telling.
Not necessarily. The differences between 802.11b/g and 802.11n are deeper than mere speed and frequency. They are different protocols with different features as well as the additional frequency band. So while it might appear you are comparing Apples to Apples it is more like Granny Smith Apples to Red Delicious Apples.
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#12262 - 10/07/10 10:58 PM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Thanks for pointing that out.

I've wound up with my setting at n (b/g compatible), "the lowest common denominator" ( tongue ), and while I still won't be comparing apples to apples I'll learn something if I continue to have issues and they eventually disappear as I progress to n only (2.4GHz), n (a compatible), and, finally, n only (5GHz). (Am I misinterpreting AirPort Utility in assuming that n (b/g compatible) is 2.4GHz and n (a compatible) is 5GHz?)

On the other hand, though, I may have no issues with my starting point setting and I'll learn nothing.
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#12263 - 10/08/10 06:37 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: artie505
Am I misinterpreting AirPort Utility in assuming that n (b/g compatible) is 2.4GHz and n (a compatible) is 5GHz?
I would not say you are misunderstanding, rather your understanding is incomplete.
  • the 802.11n standard specifies operation in either the 2.4 or 5GHz bands
  • the 802.11b/g standard specifies operation only in the 2.4GHz band
  • therefore, If you are operating in 802.11n with b/g compatibility you must run in the 2.4GHz band
  • if you are operating in 802.11n only you can configure your airport express to operate in either the 2.4 or 5GHz band (assuming the AE is originating the wireless network and not just extending or joining it)
  • if you had a dual band base station such as Apple's Airport Extreme Base station or Time Capsule and you are running 802.11n or 802.11n with b/g compatibiity you can have the equivalent of two separate networks operating simultaneously in both bands and sharing data freely between the two networks.
    • in this case both bands are 802.11n but the 5GHz band is 802.11n only while the 2.4GHz band has b/g compatibility
    • just as an aside, this is how my local network is configured with the computers on 5GHz and relatively low speed devices such as printers, eyeTV, iPhones and iPads run on the 2.4GHz band. FWIW empirical evidence indicates this arrangement has noticeably improved the throughput of the entire network
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#12264 - 10/08/10 08:07 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: joemikeb]
Ira L Online


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Thanks for the very clear explanation of this type of duality.

Your last major bullet point (above) raises a new question for me: "dual band base station". It would seem that "n with b/g compatibility" could be labeled by some non-Apple vendors as "dual band", but as you point out, it could be at 2.4 GHz only. Is there are clear way to know if the router can operate simultaneously in both bands (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz) before purchase?
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#12265 - 10/08/10 02:17 PM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: Ira L]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
I have no way to verify this, but from what I have observed the term "dual band" is generally interpreted to mean the ability to operate on more than one frequency band. Whether that means the ability to operate simultaneously on more than one frequency band as the dual band Apple Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule do would require careful reading of the device specifications.
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#12267 - 10/08/10 10:53 PM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Thanks for your input (and patience); I've bookmarked this thread both as a valuable source of information (It ought to be moved, in its entirety, to the Frequently Asked Mac Questions Forum.) and for a down-the-road report after I've had time to see whatever there may be to see, the first possibility being that I continue to experience the same dropouts in the n (b/g compatible) band that I originally experienced in the b/g band.
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#12332 - 10/10/10 03:20 PM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: joemikeb]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
I have no way to verify this, but from what I have observed the term "dual band" is generally interpreted to mean the ability to operate on more than one frequency band.


That's correct. But it doesn't specifically imply that only one band may be used at a time. I don't know for sure if the radio in the airport can manage both at the same time. Several of my HT's are dual band, and they can receive simultaneously on both bands, but only transmit on one at a time, and don't receive while transmitting. Repeaters OTOH can receive on one band while transmitting on the other band, and that takes some fine tuned hardware. But an airport is transmitting and receiving continuously, so it would have the same requirements as a repeater. (which would be asking a lot of it)
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#12336 - 10/10/10 04:38 PM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: Virtual1]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: Virtual1
I don't know for sure if the radio in the airport can manage both at the same time.
As far as I can tell on my network here the dual band Time Capsule can simultaneously send and receive on both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands simultaneously. Of course, it could be switching between transmit and receive so fast as to be undetectable in normal service.
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#12394 - 10/14/10 01:28 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: artie505]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
First update... iTunes connects to this new Base Station much more quickly than it connected to the old one...no more "progress bar."
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#12433 - 10/15/10 04:27 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: artie505]
Pendragon Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Georgetown, Texas, USA
Perhaps of interest: If you have printer problems with AirPort Base Stations and Time Capsule, and have not already done so, these steps may help:


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27" i7 iMac (10.13.6), iPhone Xs Max (12.1)

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#12434 - 10/15/10 04:45 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: Pendragon]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
I do have (a potpourri of) printer problems; thanks for the link, Harv. (I think I remember seeing somewhere that my printer is not wireless-capable, but I'm willing to grasp at straws.)
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#12576 - 10/28/10 02:21 AM Re: Better performance with 802.11n? [Re: Pendragon]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Well... I finally booted into Leopard (My printer doesn't run at all in Snow Leopard.) to see if your linked doc could help me with my printer issues, but nooo gooo!

The printer's just plain too old, I guess... The drivers do not accomodate wireless (The printer documentation talks about OS X 10.1.5.), and are apparently not going to be updated for Snow Leopard.

Oh, well... I'll be OK as long as I've got a Mac that'll boot into Leopard.
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