Wireless routers for macs

Here are some of the most popular wireless routers for Apple mac computers. Unsurprisingly the most popular are Apple specific but towards the bottom of the page we list a number of other options for you to think about.

Apple AirPort Express

Price – about £80

The AirPort Express is Apple’s most basic router. It is small and plugs straight into the mains socket – a great design but the downside is it can create a tangle of cables and has a terrible location for providing wireless networking. Features include:

•    The Airport Express allows you to connect up to 10 devices at once – easily enough capacity for the majority of homes and enough connectivity even for small offices.
•    You can also choose whether to transmit your wireless signal at 2.4 GHz or at 5GHz – this option allows you to avoid WiFi competition in congested urban environments.
•    Another feature is the ability to plug in a printer via a USB socket – this allows you to share the printer across the network.
•    The AirPort Express can be used to stream music from your Mac to a hi-fi system elsewhere in the house – you plug the router into a plug near your stereo and attach it with an audio socket. The Express will then connect wirelessly to your router (whether that is another express or any other model of wireless router) and pass through whatever is playing on your Mac’s iTunes program to the hi-fi and connected speakers.

Where to buy the Apple Airport Express? Try the following …

  • The official UK Apple store
  • The official US Apple store
  • Dabs website
  • The Mac Wharehouse website
  • John Lewis website
  • Comet website
  • PC World website

Apple Airport Extreme

Price – about £140

The Apple AirPort Extreme is more powerful than the AirPort Express. It is also a little more practical, being designed to fit on a desk or shelf. Like the Express it has a number of features, some of which are an improvement over the Express – hopefully the upgrades go some way to explain the £60 increase in price.

  • It lets you connect an external hard disk as well as a shared printer (though, if you plan to attach both you will need to buy an external USB hub to free up enough ports on the device).
  • You can run two wireless networks simultaneously (one on each frequency band) although I am not too sure why you would need to do this in a home network.
  • The router allows up to 50 users at once and can even offer internet access to your guests without giving them access to your network – a very good idea if you have a small business network or provide free wireless internet in situations where you may also have a private network (cafes, hotels etc.).
  • The Extreme comes with four ports that support Gigabit Ethernet connection speeds – great if you want really fast network speeds on one or two computers wired to the network.
  • This wireless router does not have an audio connection but will stream your tunes to as many Airport Express devices as you want.
  • It also lacks advanced features such as port triggering and dynamic DNS.

Where to buy the Apple Airport Express? Try the following …

  • The official UK Apple store
  • The official US Apple store
  • Dabs website
  • The Mac Wharehouse website
  • John Lewis website
  • Comet website
  • PC World website

Apple Time Capsule

Price – about £230 (for the 500GB hard-drive) and £380 (for the 1TB hard-drive)

Apple’s Time Capsule combines the same router / wireless router abilities of the Apple AirPort Extreme with a built-in hard drive. The Extreme already offers the ability for you to add a networked hard drive so the £100 price-hike needs to work hard to prove its value. The main reason to consider purchasing the Time Capsule is that it manages both networking and backup requirements in one single device.

The Time Capsule integrates with the Mac OS X Leopard system and will keep all the computers on your network backed up, assuming they are all running Leopard or higher. If the number of computers on your network adds up, or you just have a lot of data to back-up, then you may want to consider the 1TB model or adding an additional hard drive as an external plug-in drive. You can buy 1TB external drives for around the £70 mark.

Where to buy the Apple Airport Express? Try the following …

  • The official UK Apple store
  • The official US Apple store
  • Dabs website
  • The Mac Wharehouse website
  • John Lewis website
  • Comet website
  • PC World website

Third party routers

A number of companies manufacture routers and wireless routers (many of which are compatible with Apple mac computers) – see the list of links to the manufacturers’ websites. Your broadband ISP may well have provided a modem router when you took on your broadband contract. If the ISP provided a wireless router then check that it is an 802.11n model; the 802.11g standard is a little slow when compared to modern wireless devices.

All new Apple devices are capable of using the ‘Draft N’ specification so if you are in the market for a wireless router then splash out on a higher grade one. The 802.11n (draft N specification) could give you speeds of up to 300Mbits per second but you can normally expect to get between 15 and 75 Mbits per second for up to 30 meters from the base station – those with large gardens might feel the loss in wireless speed as the connection becomes weaker.

Reader's Comments

So far we have One comment about the product “Wireless routers for macs”

  1. A. Meron on July 24th, 2011 3:39 pm

    We have two apple laptops & desk tops but are having a lot of trouble with our router/wi.Fi. can you recommend someone in the NW6 area London, to set it up for us & not rip us off. I am a disabled pensioner.

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