Internet Connection for Mac Pro
January 25, 2012 7:49 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to get an internet connection on my first generation Mac Pro?

I have an AirPort Extreme-based wireless network. I just moved my Mac Pro and I need an internet connection. (It was plugged in to the AirPort Extreme base station before, but running a wire isn't an option.)

It looks like my options are either getting an AirPort Extreme Card for my Mac Pro, or getting an AirPort Express Base Station and plugging the Mac into that. Is one option better than the other?

I found some instructions for installing an AirPort Extreme Card card online, and it seems pretty tricky. I've installed RAM and hard drives, but my hands might be too big to install the card. Could I have that done at an Apple Store?
posted by kirkaracha to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
I'd bet you can have the apple store geniuses do it, but you might pay a fee.

If you can install RAM, you can probably install an airport card, assuming you have a compatible slot. A possuble alternative would be to buy a non-apple wi-fi card and plug it into a spare PCI slot. This might be easier and cheaper.
posted by gauche at 8:10 AM on January 25, 2012

I should add that a non-apple wi-fi card might be easier to physically install, but tougher to get OS X to talk to. That was a spitball, not an actual recommendation.
posted by gauche at 8:13 AM on January 25, 2012

Here's a guide for finding compatible non-Apple wireless adapters that will work with MacOS X. If you don't feel like installing/having installed an Airport Extreme card, you could always get a compatible USB-based adapter.

You could also get a "universal" wifi adaptor that is essentially a single-port wireless bridge. This would connect to your laptop just as your laptop was previously connected to the Airport Extreme base station, but it would probably cost much less.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2012

You can get a cheap wireless router and set it up as a "wireless bridge." This will change the "wired" connection of your Mac into a "wireless" connection. I was just looking at this router for myself.

I was going to suggest that you needed to install DD-WRT to get this to work, but it looks like the already-installed firmware allows you to use it in "bridge" mode. I'd still probably install DD-WRT, but that's just me.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:18 AM on January 25, 2012

Sorry; that DD-WRT link should be this.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:23 AM on January 25, 2012

Ergh. Please avoid non-apple wifi adaptors. I've got a USB wifi widget and it works fine but requires use of the OEM's software which is very clunky. I also imagine it means it won't get updated and thus won't work as OS X advances. They are cheap though so experimenting with them isn't risking a lot of cash.

RonButNotStupid's suggest of getting a cheapy wifi router and just putting it in bridge mode makes the most sense to me.
posted by chairface at 9:46 AM on January 25, 2012

If your reason for not having a wire doesn't exclude it, you could try HomePlug. This allows you to run an Ethernet wire to a mains adaptor, which comes out at another mains adaptor, which you plug into your Airport Extreme base. They're actually pretty good; better than wireless if you go for the higher speed ones.
posted by danteGideon at 10:05 AM on January 25, 2012

RonButNotStupid's suggest of getting a cheapy wifi router and just putting it in bridge mode makes the most sense to me.

I agree with chairface. A wireless router / adaptor in bridge mode makes sense because it requires no additional hardware or software to be installed on the MacBook.

A word to the wise: Not all cheapy wifi routers support bridging. If you can find one, that's great. If you can't, there are dedicated wireless bridges out there specifically made for connecting devices that only have a wired ethernet port to a wireless network.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:22 AM on January 25, 2012

Best answer: I have a 1st generation Mac Pro, and I took it to an Apple store and had them install a wifi adapter in it. Took about an hour, cost probably $70. Works like it had wifi in it all along.
posted by santaliqueur at 11:45 AM on January 25, 2012

If you go the bridge route, check's refurbished section. I picked up an Airport Express for $70 there.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:14 PM on January 25, 2012

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