How can I create a really powerful WiFi home network starting with a cable modem? I live in NYC and have Time Warner Cable. I have Apple's Time Capsule base unit extended with 2 Airport Express modules. The signal strength is not very good in any room away from the base unit. Is there a better WiFi system available than Airport (I have all Mac computers)?
Answer by Headwards · Jun 23, 2010 at 07:26 AM
Otherwise, you could try a tomato firmware upgrade for your router, You can use this to increase the power going to your aerials thus boosting your signal strength. I haven't tried is as i live in a relatively small flat and wifi signal is not an issue but I'd give it a go if i were you.
Answer by Razor512 · Jun 23, 2010 at 08:20 AM
The apple airport express units are crap when it comes to wifi range.The problem is due to a very low transmit power (probably around 5-10mw while normal/cheaper AP's may have a factory default of 28mw and if compatible and you install tomato firmware, you can safely use 90-110 mw)
Another problem is the crappy antenna which is simply a small (few mm in size) design printed on the PCB. The signal is only really effect on one side of the unit because on the other side facing the camera, there is a huge metal shield that covers the PCB to separate it from the higher voltage built in power brick.
The best way to increase wireless performance and range is to get a router that is compatible with a open source firmware such as tomato. The problem is many routers today have crappy internal antennas which always perform poorly compared to external antennas.
If your wireless devices don't need a ton of bandwidth, you can go with a older router such as a linksys WRT54GL (I currently use one in conjunction with a netgear rangemax 802.11n router which was modded to add external antennas). The 802.11n is only used by 1 device for streaming 1080P content from my media server, for everything else, I use my wrt54gl and even though both routers are using 2dbi antennas, the wrt54gl has more than twice the range so in the edges of the house and other difficult areas, the I get better performance from the 802.11g router as compared to 802.11n.
(both routers are then connected to a gigabit switch (the netgear has a built in gigabit ethernet so there is no performance drop with it's 802.11n and the server)
If you just need the wifi for web surfing and a few LAN based things line small file transfers in order to perform backups, you should consider getting a WRT54gl (it is a old router but it is still popular and still being purchased by many because it is hard to find new 802.11n routers that can match it's range and receiver sensitivity which when pared with a boosted transmit power allows the client devices to receive a strong signal while being able to handle really weak signals from the clients with low transmit powers.
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