Apple Time Capsule (Summer 2011) review: Apple Time Capsule (Summer 2011)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
MSRP: $299.00

The Good Apple's new 2TB Time Capsule offers more storage for the dollar than previous models and significantly improved wireless networking performance.

The Bad Experts will wish the Time Capsule offered more networking configurability, and users that copy large files frequently between systems will want a traditional NAS drive and its faster data read speeds.

The Bottom Line The new 2TB Time Capsule brings improved price competitiveness and faster networking performance to Apple's Wi-Fi router/NAS drive combo device, which will satisfy consumers in need of a multipurpose networking device.

Visit for details.

7.8 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 6

Apple's updated 2TB Time Capsule router/network attached storage drive offers faster network performance, as well as faster storage, and more of it for the dollar than the previous $299 model. Those improvements are welcome, not least because they return the Time Capsule to competitiveness next to ad hoc router/NAS combinations, and a true Time Capsule-competitor device from LaCie. If you demand advanced networking features from your router you will wish Apple allowed more granular control of the Time Capsule, but for casual Windows and OS X users, the latter in particular, the 2TB model at least is a fair deal for such a versatile network device.

If you're familiar with Apple's Time Capsule line, you will find few surprises in this updated version. Where before Apple offered dual-band networking and 1TB of network storage in the $299 Time Capsule, Apple now offers 2TB for the same price, with a 3TB model going for a harder-to-understand $499.

Aside from the hard-drive capacity upgrade, it might seem as if Apple hasn't changed much with the new Time Capsule. It has the same array of ports: a WAN input, three Ethernet jacks, and a USB input, as well as the same minimalist design as the previous model. Setting up and managing the Time Capsule are also the same as before. Apple's AirPort Utility controls the wireless network for both OS X and Windows, the hard drive appears as a standard networked storage device, and on OS X, you use Apple's Time Machine software to manage software backups.

In addition to those updates, we found that Apple has taken some very noticeable steps to improve the Time Capsule's wireless networking performance. Compared with several leading standard routers, the old Time Capsule, as well as LaCie's competing router/back up device the Wireless Space, the Time Capsule posts respectable performance at both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz wireless bands.

5.0GHz tests (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
100 feet  
15 feet  

2.4GHz tests (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Mixed-mode, 15 feet  
100 feet  
15 feet  
Cisco Linksys E4200 (January 2011)
Asus RT-N56U (March 2011)
Apple Time Capsule (2TB, summer 2011)

The new Time Capsule doesn't win across the board, but it posts the best 5.0GHz performance on the market at 100 feet, and is third at 15 feet to only Apple's new AirPort Extreme Wireless Base Station, and the Editors' Choice-winning Asus RT-N56U router from earlier this year. Its 2.4GHz results are almost the exact opposite, where it leads all routers at 15 feet, but comes in only in the middle of the pack at 100 feet and in mixed 802.11n and G wireless modes.

We can only speculate as to the reasons behind the improved performance. It's possible that Apple added one of the new 450Mbps wireless chips to the Time Capsule. It could also be because of other factors, such as an overall power boost similar to the one that Apple seems to have applied to the new AirPort Extreme. Regardless, the Time Capsule boasts competitive performance among other wireless routers, and also completely outperforms its one true functional competitor in the LaCie Wireless Space.

Although the LaCie Wireless Space offers similar wireless networking and storage features to the Time Capsule, it's easy enough to mimic the basics of that combined functionality by simply connecting an external hard drive to a router via USB. For that reason, we must also consider the Time Capsule's storage performance compared with the Wireless Space, as well as with those more ad hoc arrangements.