9 Replies Latest reply: Oct 4, 2013 11:08 AM by CRMDVM
socaljazzdude Level 1 (0 points)

Hi all,


I have a few questions regarding both the Airport Extreme AC and the Airport Express. 


I am a PC user who is currently looking at replacing my Cisco Linksys EA4500(primary router) and my Linksys E2500(bridge router) due to the lack of regular firmware updates that Linksys fails to provide for their routers  and the fact that I simply find Linksys products to be buggy..  Based on my research,  Apple's Airport Extreme N and the AC versions have received excellent reviews on Amazon and I am considering purchasing both the Airport Extreme AC(to replace my Linksys EA4500) and the Airport Express(to replace my Linksys E2500).


Before I get to my questions, let me be frank in saying that I do not have a Mac(but intend to after my desktop dies) at this time but in my house we have two iPhone 4s's and one iPad 2 as far as Apple products are concerned.  My computer network consists of my HP Windows 7 based desktop and HP Windows 7 laptop and I have a home ethernet in every room in the house . In addition, my den's ethernet connection is connected as Ethernet wall jack in which the connections include---->Ethernet switch------>Tivo---->Playstation 3/Xbox 360/Nintendo Wii/----->Samsung Smart TV---->Linksys E2500.


My questions are as follows:


1. Initial/Out of the box set up: Based on what I have read here, it is possible for a PC user to setup the Airport Extreme by downloading the Airport Extreme utility software from Apple. However I have been confused based on what I have read on Amazon in that some users report that the initial setup can only be done using a Mac.  Would someone from this forum kindly clairify this for me? Can I set up the Airport Extreme with my network assuming that I have previously downloaded an installed Apple's Airport Extreme Utility for the PC?


2. Using the Airport Express as a wireless bridge: Currently my Linksys E2500 serves as my secondary router in my den in bridge mode.  Can I set up an Airport Express as a wireless bridge assuming I was sucessfully in setting up my Airport Extreme? On Linksys products this is done by setting the router in bridge mode and assigning it a specific IP address within the bridge router's settings.  So for example, my Linksys E2500 has a IP address, can I do this with the Airport Extreme?  Note the the intention here for the extra router in my den to provide additional wireless coverage due to the size of my home.  I do not need it to provide me with the same wireless network name as my primary router, I only want to provide the back of my house with additional wireless coverage that a primary router will not provide.


3. Router Security and reliability:  I would like the router that I purchase to include regular firmware updates beyond that of one year.  Especially now that most modern routers have some sort of cloud set up,  I wouldn't want to purchase a router today, only to find out that I wouldn't be able to update its firmware one year from now.   With respect to Apple's routers,  how often does Apple release firmware and typically speaking;  how long will Apple support additional firmware releases for its products?


Thanks to anyone who reads and responds to my long post! 

Airport Extreme and Airport Express, Windows 7, I also have an iPhone 4s &iPad 2
  • John Galt Level 8 (45,958 points)
    1. You can use your iPhone or iPad to configure a new AirPort Extreme. At present, there is no version of AirPort Utility for Windows that can be used to configure an 802.11ac AirPort Base Station.
    2. You can use any AirPort Base Station including the Express as either a wired or wireless bridge. You can choose 10.0.x.x or 172.16.x.x or 192.168.x.x IPv4 DHCP addressing schemes. If your primary router is not an Apple AirPort, then it will need to be connected to your primary router with an Ethernet cable, and will bridge its wired LAN to a wireless network it creates.
    3. Apple's products have always conformed to the latest industry-accepted wireless encryption and security standards, and generally, draft releases of them as well. Apple will release firmware updates to comply with future revisions to the extent limited by hardware. In some cases Apple will not implement certain protocols deemed to be flawed, or will include only partial implementations of them (WPS for example). Eventually it becomes necessary to upgrade hardware as we have seen with AirPort products that are approaching obsolescence, such as the original 802.11b/g - only AirPort Extreme and Express models. Product obsolescence is a function of evolving industry standards, but historically it has been on the order of five or more years for Apple products.


    Though you did not ask, I have found Apple AirPort Base Stations more tolerant of mixed (Apple / Windows PC) networks than Linksys products. Linksys's consumer product support also suffered greatly following Cisco's acquisition of them.


    All AirPort Base Stations are simultaneous dual band (2.4 / 5 GHz) units and each network can be uniquely named. They can also create a "Guest network", separate from your main network, with its own security settings. The Guest network can also be "wirelessly extended".

  • John Galt Level 8 (45,958 points)

    Edit to add: Though there were a rash of power supply-related failures some years ago - the result of inferior electrolytic capacitors that affected a number of manufacturers - I have never had a single Apple AirPort product fail. They go for months, even years on end without a need to reset or reconfigure them. Read the reviews and judge for yourself.

  • LaPastenague Level 8 (48,829 points)

    The one problem is Apple using their own automatic port opening system.. NAT-PMP which is fine for apple clients but will not work with almost anything else made which depends on UPNP ..


    There are lots of hassles with PS3 and XBox live and anything that depends on standard automatic port opening for interactive internet connection.


    Manually opening ports is possible but a pain.



    AirPort Extreme and xbox 360





    I do agree with John Galt that the Apple products are well made and generally great.. they did have a bad capacitor failure issue in the Gen1 and Gen2 TC which he may have forgotten about.. I have repaired about 200 of the bludgers. And there was a dedicated site to pressure apple to fix them.. with 2500 recorded dead TC.


    See http://timecapsuledead.org/



    https://sites.google.com/site/lapastenague/a-deconstruction-of-routers-and-modem s/apple-time-capsule-repair


    And some ongoing issues.. even post getting that fixed up.

    https://sites.google.com/site/lapastenague/a-deconstruction-of-routers-and-modem s/apple-time-capsule-repair/new-issue-with-a1355-gen-3-tc


    But the AEBS had external power supply so didn't add to the heat of built in HDD and power supply in a case too small without cooling. New ones seem to have learnt the lessons of the past in that the power supply is internal but they use a fan system to keep it cool.


    See http://www.ifixit.com/Device/Apple_Time_Capsule for internal construction.. TC and AEBS are now identical except for the hard disk.


    An option worth considering is using a router with third party source firmware.


    You are then never cut off from great updated firmware.. and you can do amazingly more with the fuller setup that includes Telnet cli and extensive interface on the GUI.

    Eg Gargoyle on a Netgear WNDR3800 or even cheaper TP-Link WDR3600 or WDR4300.


    These offer full QoS, not in Apple products.

    Full throttling controls, not in Apple products.

    Quota, not in any other products in domestic market at all.

    NAT-PMP and UPNP, not in Apple products.

    VPN, not in Apple products.

    Multiple VLAN, Multiple IP addressing, not in Apple producs.

    SMTP, which Apple removed from all their new products.. no reason why.

    Log access, which Apple removed from the new airport utility.. no reason why.




    If for some reason that firmware doesn't suit.. you can flash over to DD-WRT, or OPENWRT.. etc. in other words you are never again beholden to the manufacturer who after the product is EOL is also end of support.

  • John Galt Level 8 (45,958 points)

    LaPastenague wrote:


    ... they did have a bad capacitor failure issue in the Gen1 and Gen2 TC which he may have forgotten about..



    John Galt wrote:


    ... there were a rash of power supply-related failures some years ago - the result of inferior electrolytic capacitors that affected a number of manufacturers -

  • LaPastenague Level 8 (48,829 points)

    Actually they were not inferior capacitors.. the problem was excellent capacitors put in an oven bag in a hot box with no cooling.. so I thought you missed the point.. it was entirely Apple's bad engineering.. not the poor capacitor manufacturer who have a table of Temperature vs Lifespan.. and it was exactly as expected.. failure occured at just the moment they said it would when you overheat them that much.

  • CRMDVM Level 4 (1,365 points)

    Hi John - I set up an new Extreme A/C yesterday as a primary router with the Windows 7 version of the Airport Utility - I had it connected directly to my laptop and did a manual installation with no problem - I haven't had a chance to try any other  installation modes - the Extreme runs a network with three 5th gen Extremes and one 2nd gen Express.



  • John Galt Level 8 (45,958 points)

    Thanks Charlie, good to know.

  • socaljazzdude Level 1 (0 points)



    Thank you all for taking the time to respond so quickly to my post! I think that at this point my biggest concern so far with respect to the Airport Extreme AC is dealing with any potential hassles that I may encounter when attempting to use my PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  I'd rather not have to take extra ordinary measures in manually opening up ports just so that I play an online game on one of my consoles.  While I am technically savvy, I would prefer to "plug in play" instead of plug in pray! 


    I do also like the idea of getting a router that would support 3rd party firmware such as DD WRT.  I've used DD WRT on old routers and I agree that is a great way to go.


    So at this point I am wondering if I would be better off going with a non-Apple router due to Apple's lack of support for UPNP?


    I have been looking at various D-Link, Netgear, and Trendnet routers.  Unfortunately finding the "perfect" router is almost impossible as it seems every router I look at has an infinite number of complaints with respect to  freezing, overheating, having to reset the unit, etc..  In addition I find that I am really having difficulty with finding a router that is pleasing to the eye so that it would have a high spousal acceptance factor (meaning a router without visible antennas).    


    If any of you have router recommendations, please feel free to post them.  Note that since my EA4500 is still technically working, that my next router will become my primary router and I plan to use my EA4500 as my secondary (in bridge mode).  I also wish for my next router to work well with a Mac as I intend to retire all my windows devices within the next few years.

  • CRMDVM Level 4 (1,365 points)

    My IT go to guy likes the ASUS A/C router - it can be completely customized including full QOS, UPNP etc. - my own experience with the Apple A/C is very limited as I have only had one for 3 days - I must say however that I had no problem setting it up manually on a T1 line using the Win 7 Airport Utility.