WiFi N recommendations?
June 21, 2011 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Which wireless N router?

I have mostly Apple devices and computers. I strongly value "it just works". Currently using a WRT w/custom sw, though, so if there's something particularly smoking about this or that router, I'm interested.

I'm asking this today because Apple has released a new router. It may have advantages the previous one did not. But too pricey to just assume I should buy it.
posted by five fresh fish to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My opinion, probably worth nothing... I'm a mac guy... I'll die a mac guy... only because it works when I want it to work.

I'm not sure as to what the changes are in the new airport, but, I'll be the first to say that, after years of using the original airport, and all the iterations since, they.just.work!

Yep, you'll spend a bit more, but, 5 years from now, you'll understand why...
posted by tomswift at 9:13 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

i just did a lot of research on this before we got our router and a lot of the reviews started with "If you use a mac, just get the airport. it's by far the best on the market." i would have to scroll past that to find the pc advice. i saw that same theme repeated so many times that if i had a mac i would have absolutely gotten the airport. we ended up with a netgear WNDR3700.
posted by nadawi at 9:19 PM on June 21, 2011

In a similar situation (mac laptops, a mac mini, a NAS, an Xbox and a PVR) I went with a TP-link WR1043ND, because it did 802.11n, gig-E, openWRT and was cheap. I haven't bothered re-flashing the firmware, because I think I'm getting too old for that shit.

So far, it just works, excepting port-forwarding. One day, I reckon I'll re-flash, so that I can forward ports - but only because my workplace limits the ports I can connect home on.
posted by pompomtom at 9:26 PM on June 21, 2011

I have an airport. As I've said before yeah it's great but the RF performance is mediocre. The Asus RT-N56U is the yang to the Airport's yin - it's black and apparently has great RF performance. It's also $129 vs $179 for the Airport.
posted by GuyZero at 9:41 PM on June 21, 2011

I have used a lot of wireless routers and they have all been surprisingly shitty*. The ASUS one I had was decent at least. Eventually though I needed 5GHz and N (busy neighborhood) and gave the Airport Extreme a shot. It works great, no problems at all. My only complaint is administration is through Apple's goofy custom app instead of with a browser, but otherwise "it just works."

*I had one that actually corrupted TCP packets as they came in, created valid TCP checksums for the now trashed packets, and merrily passed the data on. It took me weeks to figure out why my podcasts were getting screwed up.
posted by chairface at 9:50 PM on June 21, 2011

The only router I've been happy with is my relatively new one: Netgear WNDR3700. I have a mixed (Windows / Linux / Mac) environment and it plays nicely with all of the devices. There is a USB port on the box and if you plug in a drive, it becomes a NAS accessible to all the machines.

If I understand correctly, the v2 is less desirable than the first version. There is a firmware upgrade available:, which has been faultless.
posted by jet_silver at 10:06 PM on June 21, 2011

Response by poster: Huh. This is much more one-sided than I expected.

Does the Extreme do anything most others don't? Other than,apparently, just working.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 PM on June 21, 2011

Response by poster: Apple does time-based filtering. That'll help me quit the web at an appropriate time. Asus offers extra USB and Ethernet ports. Seems even-Steven. Need to hunt down the user manuals... and also for the Netgear.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 PM on June 21, 2011

Refurb airport. I use them for work constantly...plug and play ease...just no HTML interface...
posted by aloiv2 at 10:47 PM on June 21, 2011

For some reason, I expected to be the only one in here recommending an Airport Extreme. Oh well.

I picked up a refurbished one. Fwiw, it's been on since I got it home maybe a year and a half ago, and so far no problems.
posted by TangoCharlie at 11:27 PM on June 21, 2011

The only reason we replaced our Apple Airport Extreme was to get the AE with the dual antenna support. The old AE went to the parents to replace their dead Netgear. They report no problems. Apple's stuff just works.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:32 PM on June 21, 2011

I have an Airport Extreme (~2009?) and a Linksys WRT54G (~2004?). Right now I go cable modem -> Linksys WRT -> Airport (plus Time Machine drive). Best of both worlds.

With the Airport I get faster wireless performance plus a bunch of fancy Apple-specific features like connecting a USB drive for Time Machine, Bonjour proxy to wake a sleeping machine for file sharing, etc.

With the Linksys I get the networking flexibility that the Airport won't give me. I've installed Tomato firmware (I've also used OpenWRT and DD-WRT in the past) for fine-grained QoS and port forwarding control, UNIXy scripting, shell access, and more.

I really want features of both... so I use both. The Airport was a refurb and I got the Linksys for $15 on craigslist so in the end I wasn't out too much money for this setup.
posted by bigtex at 1:03 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

We're a mac only household, but I use a Buffalo Airstation High Power. It ships with DD-WRT and is incredibly able as far as customization and performance.
posted by advicepig at 10:49 AM on June 22, 2011

I'm a Mac user, but for years avoided Airports in favor of more configurable gear. I do 'net based work from home, and was always pushing the limits of consumer routers (which usually don't deal well with vast numbers of connections open over long periods of time). When the Dual-N Airport Extreme came out, I was impressed with its wifi range, and added it inside my network, strictly as a wifi access point.

About a year later, my main router managed to overheat and die late at night during some deadline work. I did a hurried re-configuration and moved the Airport Extreme into place as a stopgap measure -- and was seriously surprised to find that it's faster and far more stable than anything I've used in a very long time.

Since then, I've left it in place and the thing just works. If it wasn't for adding / changing port forwards and the occasional firmware upgrade, it would never get reset at all. About my only minor gripe is that without an HTML interface I can't reconfigure it with an iphone or ipad, and apparently direct configuration support is coming in IOS5, so I won't care about that anymore either.

If for some reason this thing died (and I suspect I'd have to shoot it to kill it), I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one.
posted by nonliteral at 5:41 PM on June 22, 2011

Response by poster: Ok, I'm sold.

I expect non-Apple users would also find this a superior choice? Wifi is just wifi, Apple hasn't done anything stupid and proprietary?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:47 PM on June 22, 2011

Yes, there is a Windows configuration tool which comes with the device on an installation disc. You can also download the software online from Apple's support site.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:20 PM on June 23, 2011

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