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Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station review: Speedy and elegant home Wi-Fi router

Asus RT-AC66U

15.236.8

Belkin AC 1200 DB

9.633.5

CNET Labs 5GHz Wireless-N performance score (in Mbps)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Range

Throughput

D-Link DIR-857
172.4214.6

Asus RT-AC66U

166.6208.2

Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station

132.1202.3

Trendnet TEW-812DRU

160195.3

WD My Net N900 HD

74195

Linksys EA4500

176.8186.8

Apple AirPort Time Capsule

117.7182.2

Asus RT-N66U

155.3181.8

Netgear R6300

144.8178.8

D-Link DIR-868L

161.5178

AirStation WZR-D1800H

120172

D-Link DIR-865L

121.6147.6

Cisco Linksys EA6500

105.7124.6

The new AirPort Extreme offered about the same range as both the previous model and the Time Capsule, roughly 270 feet in my trial. The effective range, however, is generally shorter than that, about 150 feet. Farther than that, the data speed slows and is suitable only for light Internet surfing. Like the Time Capsule, the AirPort Extreme passed the 24-hour stress test without disconnecting once.

When coupled with an external hard drive, to my surprise, the AirPort Extreme offered the slowest performance among all AirPort Base Stations since 2011. Via a Gigabit Ethernet connection, it registered 14MBps and 23MBps for writing and reading, respectively. Note that these were still very fast speeds, significantly faster than most USB-enabled routers on the market. This performance is good enough for most of a home network's data-sharing needs.

CNET Labs NAS performance scores via wired Gigabit Ethernet connection (in MBps)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Read

Write

Apple Time Capsule (summer 2011)
28.926.4

Apple Time Capsule (summer 2013)

28.6725.8

Apple AirPort Extreme (summer 2011)

2421.6

Apple AirPort Extreme (summer 2013)

22.5914.3

Belkin N900 DB

17.69.1

D-Link DIR-827

15.88.5

Asus RT-56U

1311.9

D-Link DIR-868L

12.8112.5

Asus RT-N66U

1116.5

Asus RT-AC66U

9.616.7

Netgear WNDR4500

8.27.9

Netgear WNDR4000

7.26.5

Belkin N750 DB

6.92.7

Cisco Linksys E3200

4.54

Belkin Play N600 HD Router

31.4

Conclusion
Unlike the Mac-centric Time Capsule, the AirPort Extreme Base Station, having no support for Time Machine backup, is more of a general router for anyone who needs a fast and reliable home Wi-Fi network. The router's ease of use and lack of customization options, however, mean it's better-suited for novice users than those seeking to get the most out of their home network. Performance and functions aside, the new router is arguably the best-looking on the market, which to some is worth its high premium.

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