AirPort Extreme

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This article is about the Airport Extreme router. For the AirPort family as a whole, see AirPort.
AirPort Extreme 802.11ac

The AirPort Extreme is a residential gateway product from Apple Inc. combining the functionality of a router, network switch, wireless access point and NAS as well as varied other functions. The latest model, the 6th generation, supports 802.11ac networking in addition to older standards. Versions of the same system with a built-in network accessible hard drive are known as the AirPort Time Capsule.

The name "AirPort Extreme" originally referred to any one of Apple's AirPort products that implemented the (then) newly introduced 802.11g Wi-Fi standard, differentiating it from earlier devices that ran the slower 802.11a and b standards. At that time the gateway part of this lineup was known as the AirPort Extreme Base Station. With the addition of the even faster Draft-N standards in early 2009 this naming was dropped, and from then on only the gateway has been known as the AirPort Extreme. Several minor upgrades followed, mostly to change antenna and power in the Wi-Fi. In 2013, a major upgrade added 802.11ac support and more internal antennas.

The AirPort Extreme has gone through three distinct physical forms. The earliest models were packaged similar to the original AirPort Base Station, in a round housing known as the "flying saucer". From 2007 to 2013 the Extreme was packaged in a rounded-rectangle white plastic housing, similar in layout and size to the Mac mini or earlier Apple TVs. The 2013 802.11ac model was re-packaged in to a more vertical case, taller than it is square.

Features[edit]

Overview[edit]

AirPort Disk[edit]

The AirPort Disk feature allows users to plug a USB hard drive into the AirPort Extreme for use as a network-attached storage (NAS) device for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows clients.[2] Users may also connect a USB hub and printer. The performance of USB hard drives attached to an AirPort Extreme is slower than if the drive were connected directly to a computer. This is due to the processor speed on the AirPort Extreme. Depending on the setup and types of reads and writes, performance ranges from 0.5 to 17.5 MB/s for writing and 1.9 to 25.6 MB/s for reading.[3] Performance for the same disk connected directly to a computer would be 6.6 to 31.6 MB/s for writing and 7.1 to 37.2 MB/s for reading. NTFS formatted drives are not supported.

AirPort Extreme models by generation[edit]

Original generation[edit]

The round models were later replaced with updated, square-shaped cases.

First generation[edit]

On January 9, 2007 the AirPort Extreme began shipping.

Second generation[edit]

On March 19, 2008, Apple released a firmware update for both models of the AirPort Extreme that according to third party reports allows AirPort Disks to be used in conjunction with Time Machine, similar to the functionality provided by AirPort Time Capsule.[4]

This behaviour is not officially supported.[5][6]

Third generation[edit]

On March 3, 2009, Apple unveiled a new AirPort Extreme with simultaneous dual-band 802.11 Draft-N radios. This allows full 802.11 Draft-N 2x2 communication in both 802.11 Draft-N bands at the same time.

Fourth generation[edit]

On October 20, 2009, Apple unveiled an updated AirPort Extreme with antenna improvements.

Fifth generation[edit]

On June 21, 2011, Apple unveiled an updated AirPort Extreme, referred to as AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation).

The detailed table of output power comparison between the 4th generation model MC340LL/A and the 5th generation model MD031LL/A can be seen below:[7] [8]

Frequency range (MHz) Mode AirPort Extreme model Output power (dBm) Output power (mW) Comparison (percents) Difference (percents)
2412–2462 802.11b Previous 24.57 286.42 100 -10.3
Current 24.10 257.04 89.7
802.11g Previous 21.56 143.22 100 +114.8
Current 24.88 307.61 214.8
802.11n HT20 Previous 21.17 130.92 100 +96.8
Current 24.11 257.63 196.8
5745–5825 802.11a Previous 23.07 202.77 100 +61.1
Current 25.14 326.59 161.1
5745–5805 802.11n HT20 Previous 22.17 164.82 100 +104.6
Current 25.28 337.29 204.6
5755–5795 802.11n HT40 Previous 21.44 139.32 100 +181.8
Current 25.94 392.64 281.8

Sixth generation[edit]

On June 10, 2013, Apple unveiled an updated AirPort Extreme, referred to as AirPort Extreme 802.11ac (6th Generation). The 6th generation AirPort Extreme (and 5th generation AirPort Time Capsule) feature a three-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology with a maximum data rate of 1.3Gbit/s, nearly three times faster than 802.11n.

Comparison chart[edit]

Approx. release date Consumer nickname AirPort Extreme Model Wireless standard Gigabit Ethernet Guest network[9] Radio type MIMO IPv6 router mode***
January 7, 2003 Original/round M8799LL/A A1034 802.11b/g No No Single band

2.4 GHz

No No
January 9, 2007 1st generation MA073LL/A A1143 802.11a/b/g/n* No No Dual band

2.4 GHz or 5 GHz

3×3:2 No
August 7, 2007 2nd generation MB053LL/A A1143 802.11a/b/g/n* Yes No Dual band

2.4 GHz or 5 GHz

3×3:2 No
March 3, 2009 3rd generation MB763LL/A A1301 802.11a/b/g/n* Yes Yes Dual band (simultaneous)

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

2×2:2 (in each band) No
October 20, 2009 4th generation MC340LL/A A1354
802.11a/b/g/n Yes Yes Dual band (simultaneous)

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

3×3:3 (in each band) Yes, but not over PPPoE
June 21, 2011 5th generation MD031LL/A A1408 802.11a/b/g/n Yes Yes Dual band (simultaneous)

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

3×3:3 (in each band) Yes, but not over PPPoE
June 10, 2013 6th generation ME918LL/A A1521 802.11a/b/g/n/ac** Yes Yes Dual band (simultaneous)

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

Yes

*802.11n draft-specification support in 1st to 3rd generation models.
**802.11ac draft-specification support in 6th generation model.
***All models support IPv6 tunnel mode.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Mac OS X v10.6: About Wake on Demand (Apple Article HT3774)" (in several languages). Apple. August 27, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009. "Setting up Wake on Demand", "Setting up a Bonjour Sleep Proxy" 
  2. ^ Apple.com – AirPort Extreme – Sharing, Retrieved on January 17, 2007.
  3. ^ "Airport Extreme (5th Gen) and Time Capsule (4th Gen) Review – Faster WiFi". Airport Extreme (5th Gen) and Time Capsule (4th Gen) Review. AnandTech. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Time Machine now works with AirPort Extreme's AirDisk feature". Engadget.com. March 19, 2008. Archived from the original on March 20, 2008. Retrieved March 19, 2008. 
  5. ^ "OS X Mountain Lion: Disks you can use with Time Machine". Apple. July 31, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Time Machine doesn't back up to AirPort Extreme AirPort Disks". Apple. April 25, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  7. ^ Test Report – Previous version Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  8. ^ Test Report – Current version Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  9. ^ About the guest network feature of AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule