Apple Time Capsule review: Apple Time Capsule

You should also not consider the Time Capsule as a one-stop shop for your iTunes library across various systems, nor should you expect it to work with an Apple TV. In other words, a completely centralized Apple home media network is still out of reach. We were able to get an Apple TV onto the Time Capsule's wireless signal, but it would not find any of the iTunes libraries. Further, between the various account management pitfalls and the fact that you're already presumably backing your iTunes library up to the Time Capsule, its media file-management capabilities are also problematic. To be fair, Apple does not advertise Time Capsule as a media server, although we hold out hope that it might improve the possibilities of Time Capsule with a firmware or software update.

One thing we feared about the Time Capsule when we first heard of it is that because it's essentially a closed box, if the hard drive or the router fails, you end up losing both. It's been shown that you can peel off the Time Capsule's rubbery bottom and remove the hard drive yourself, but Apple confirmed for us that even if you were to do that, you couldn't treat the Time Capsule as a standalone router, as the hard drive hosts vital data on it for the networking functionality as well. That's another shortcoming, although Apple assured us that the Time Capsule's "server grade" Hitachi Deskstar hard drive would last a lot longer than the typical desktop or laptop drive.

Performance

Storage write test (via Gigabit Ethernet, in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Storage read test (via Gigabit Ethernet, in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

As for its performance, we're happy enough with the Time Capsule's capability as a storage device. Results will vary depending on what kind of connection you use (see the wireless performance below, for example) but when you connect a system to the Time Capsule via a Gigabit Ethernet cable, you should feel comfortable knowing that its data transfer speeds lie within the range of what we expect from other network attached hard drives.

Ixia IxChariot maximum throughput tests (at 15 feet, in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput max  
Apple Time Capsule
65.05 
Asus WL-500W 802.11n
62.9 

Ixia IxChariot maximum throughput tests with mixed 802.11b/g and draft N clients (at 15 feet, in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Mixed throughput  
Asus WL-500W 802.11n
55.1 
Apple Time Capsule
51.51 

Ixia IxChariot long-range tests (Throughput measured indoors at 200 feet, in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput 200 feet  
Asus WL-500W 802.11n
29.7 
Apple Time Capsule
21.36 

Although we're satisfied with its storage performance, as a wide-bandwidth 802.11n wireless router, the Time Capsule is decidedly mediocre. On the 2.4GHz performance indicated in our charts, the Time Capsule fell behind by a full 20 Mbps on our max throughput test compared with a NetGear RangeMax router. It's also on the lower end of the spectrum when compared on our long range and mixed throughput tests. We don't show 5.0GHz frequency scores for brevity, but our results on those tests scaled in a similar fashion. Anecdotally, backing up and moving data back and forth between the drive and various systems felt reasonably fast, but if you need your network to be especially speedy, our charts show that you have several faster options out there.

Service and support
Apple's service and support support are also unimpressive, but this isn't exactly news. The one-year parts and labor warranty is standard across the industry, but Apple's 90 days of phone support is the shortest coverage plan around. You can get in-person help at an Apple store if you live near one, and online you'll find the standard array of assistance. If you can't find the support you need from Apple's FAQs or troubleshooting document, the Apple user forum is a reliable alternative.

Find out more about how we test wireless routers.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Apple Time Capsule (1TB)

Part Number: MB277LL/A

    MSRP: $499.00

    This product has been updated. Please click here to view the newer version.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Connector Type USB|RJ-45
    • Data Link Protocol IEEE 802.11a
    • Type standard
    • Compatibility Mac
    • Total Storage Capacity 1 TB