10 Replies Latest reply: Dec 13, 2010 9:25 PM by Seann
mcentia Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I have a 2 story house currently and am using a B router. I just got a MacBook Pro and am wanting to update the router. Comparing the two online, it looks like the Express and Extreme are the same speed, is that correct? What router is the best for me?

Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.5)
  • 1. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    William Boyd, Jr. Level 6 Level 6 (10,490 points)
    mcentia wrote:
    it looks like the Express and Extreme are the same speed, is that correct? What router is the best for me?


    The Extreme has several features that make it a better choice for some people:

    - It has LAN ports so that you could connect to it via Ethernet. (The Express only has one Ethernet port that presumably would be connected to your broadband modem.)
    - It has dual band capability and can support separate networks on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
    - It supports a guest network.

    On the other hand the Express has audio output. You'll have to decide whether the features of the Extreme are worth its extra cost.
  • 2. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    David Feldman1 Level 2 Level 2 (160 points)
    How do the Extreme and the Express compare in terms of overall WiFi performance, e.g. things like range, speed, and signal strength? In other words, if I only have 10 clients to connect are they equally good access points?

    Also: am I correct that the Express can only serve as an extension of a preexisting WiFi network if that network is an AirPort one?
  • 3. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    tony.d. Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    You can use the AEX has its own base station. Some people use them in hotels where there is only an ethernet connect and no wifi.
    I use an extreme as my base station and an AEX to stream AirPlay to my stereo. I have noticed that when I use on my stereo in my garage it extends my Wifi out there too. My iPhone usually doesn't see my network out there but when the AEX is in there I can use the Wifi.

    Message was edited by: tony.d.
  • 4. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    Seann Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I am just starting to make this transition. Because DSL was not an option where we live (boonies), I would only use my Express to connect to the stereo from my laptop (iTunes). I would toggle back and forth in the Airport to either play music or connect to the internet (Sprint card), but not both.

    Now with DSL I want to get my internet radio on the Macbook Pro (I am connected to a new Extreme that is plugged into the router given to us by the provider) and simultaneously broadcast to the Express to play on my stereo system. Clearly I don't have it configured properly to do both, and I can't seem to figure out how to get the Airport (laptop) to recognize both (receive internet and play on the stereo). Easy steps to follow?

    Sorry if my lingo/terms/etc are a little off...
  • 5. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (78,615 points)
    You just need to configure the AirPort Express to "join" your wireless network that is being provided by the AirPort Extreme.

    You'll need to enter some of the same settings that you have on your AirPort Extreme into the AirPort Express, so first open AirPort Utility and click Manual Setup for the AirPort Extreme.

    Click the Wireless tab below the row of icons
    Jot down the name of your wireless network and the exact type of security you are using.

    Then log on to your AirPort Express and make the following changes using AirPort Utility - Manual Setup

    Wireless tab (below icons)
    Wireless Mode = Join a wireless network. Hold down the option key on your Mac if you do not see this choice appear
    Wireless Network Name = Name of your AirPort Extreme wireless network
    Wireless Security = Exact same setting as your AirPort Extreme that you wrote down
    Wireless Password = Same password as your AirPort Extreme network
    Confirm Password

    Update to save settings. The Express will restart and if your settings are correct, you'll have a green light in about 40-45 seconds. Now your AirPort Express is on the same network and will no longer need to change networks to use AirTunes.
  • 6. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    Seann Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    This was very helpful....and worked for about 1 minute, but it stopped and I am stuck. Here's what happened...

    Extreme setup was fine. Configured as suggested. Express finally got configured (you know, the light has never been green until yesterday, in use for three years, but has always worked with my iTunes and playing music from the laptop - must have been minor problem).

    I pulled the internet radio to the laptop, played on my stereo connected to the express. It was buffering a lot, so I moved around a bit, seeing if it would affect the quality and signal strength. It stopped playing or I stopped it (can't remember). And eventually the play options at the bottom of iTunes (Computer....Stereo) went away.

    I rebooted the express, both express and extreme lights go back to green, and I tried to play. The iTunes on the laptop said it was connecting, but it wouldn't connect. After a few tries I got an jumbled error message, with most of the text was in Chinese characters. Obviously something was going on. Light now flashing amber on the express. I would reboot to try to connect again and would get the same error message, or it would say someone else is connected to that speaker.

    Further, in Airport Utility, unless I reboot the express, only the extreme shows up. I assume the express is part of the extreme network and not recognized as a stand alone unit.

    What does this error mean and how might I trouble shoot this? My internet source comes to the house in one location only, and to a Siemens wireless router BTW. I ethernet connect the extreme to this unit. Ideally I would find some way to extend or repeat the signal to get me closer to the stereo...are there any options for this? I can just use the Siemens router, but was thinking the extreme might help boost the system. I feel like I have to stand in the middle, between the extreme and the express, to receive the internet signal and send the signal to the stereo. I have another express...can it be used in anyway to extend the signal in, and/or out?

    Thoughts?
  • 7. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (78,615 points)
    It sounds like the AirPort Express is just too far away, or there are too many walls/ceilings and other obstructions in the signal path to allow a good stable wireless connection.

    The "best" solution is always to connect devices using an ethernet cable. If that is not possible, you might consider using a pair of ethernet powerline adapters to accomplish the same task by using the AC wiring in your home to transmit the ethernet signal.

    If you elect the ethernet option, you'll configure the Express to "connect to a network using ethernet", not "join" which is a wireless only option.

    Trying to add a "relay" at the mid point between the main router and AirPort Express is technically possible, but very difficult to configure. The entire network would drop down to "g" wireless, so you would lose any advantage of having a faster "n" router on the network. In addition, the bandwidth on the wireless would drop by 75%, so that's another factor to consider in an installation where bandwidth is critical to success.

    To give you an idea of what would be involved here, (most users find this very difficult to configure, so I do not recommend this), take a look at the process in this link:

    http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2422028&tstart=0

    Message was edited by: Bob Timmons
  • 8. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    Seann Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Eeeks. Clearly complicated. Learning a lot here, thanks for the time.

    To me the bottom line, and back to our original challenge, my internet signage comes to the house slow. Our service provider only put in the DSL because we demanded it, basically. So if DSL is 1 mb per second, we are 1/3 that speed. Minimum DSL speed from what I am told (300k+). But if I am understanding it correctly, and if we have configured the extreme properly, the it should still get me connected at that speed, and not slow me down further. Right?

    Before we throw our hands in the air and change directions completely, let me ask you this...

    -distance from source (extreme plugged into providers wireless unit) to express is 100-110 feet, with a few walls in between obviously. The signal to mid-point is weak...according to my calculation, and based on the rates you reference in another thread, I am getting virtually no signal (3-10). So can I reconfigure the extreme to boost the signal?

    -what I am not totally getting is that if I get the signal from the extreme to the laptop (okay signal, not great), and I get the signal to/from the express okay (from that midway point where I have the laptop) why would the distance between the extreme and the express matter?

    -I assume the Siemens router is not in conflict with the plugged in extreme and that my poor speed has nothing to do with this setup? Is this configuration (extreme connected to Siemens router...that is connected to my hardwired phone line) in anyway slowing me down or affecting any signals?

    -is there anything else I should look at that will affect signal (cordless phones/bases, etc.)?
  • 9. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    Bob Timmons Level 9 Level 9 (78,615 points)
    Bottom line here is that if you want to provide more wireless signal to a remote location, you're going to have to use an ethernet connection, not wireless.

    With line-of-sight between my router and a laptop, I can get maybe 35-40 feet away and have a good, usable signal. After that, it starts dropping off quite rapidly. This is normal. If you have a wall or two in the signal path, the signal is going to drop off quicker.

    When you "extend" a wireless network with an AirPort Express or similar device, the system is designed to work like the hub and spokes of a wheel. The main wireless router is the "hub" and the extending devices reside at the ends of the "spokes". The extending devices communicate directly to the hub, not to another device at the end of another spoke.

    Unfortunately, most homes do not have the main router in a central location of the home, so the method to extend a wireless network using wireless only is somewhat limited.

    Given the distances you are talking about, I think you are going to need to look at a way to get an ethernet signal to the remote device. A few dollars spent with an experienced pro would be wise. He will know what it will take to get the signal strength that you need to the location that you want.
  • 10. Re: Which is better?  Airport Express or Airport Extreme?
    Seann Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks Bob. I have repositioned the extreme with some success. Your info on setup was most helpful and your insight valuable.