Faster Speeds from the Apple Airport Extreme and other 802.11n routers

by thedj on January 22, 2013

I recently had my Comcast service upgraded to the 30meg Blast! package so I figured it was time to update my aging Apple wireless router. It has been a fantastic router while I’ve had it but with all the devices in my household vying for bandwidth, things can get a bit slow.

After some homework, and since I was so happy with the original base station I decided on the Apple Airport Extreme.

I ran a bunch of tests before/after wired and wireless to track the before & after performance (details below). When I first set everything up, I noticed that the Airport Extreme was faster but not as fast as I had anticipated. So I Googled it!

I came across a few different blog post but they all said basically the same thing so I will sum it up and make it easy for you.


The Basics

  • The Airport Extreme can run at 5GHz for when on 802.11n, which is faster can be faster than the more common 2.4GHz on 802.11b/g (NOTE: See comment by prime mover below)
  • For improved compatibility, the router will choose to run on 2.4GHz if it detects any 802.11b/g devices on the network
  • There is an easy setting, though, to enable a separate network for 5GHz-only operation so you can connect your newer devices to this network and capture the full power!

How to Create the New Network

  1. Open your Airport Utility program
  2. Select your Airport Extreme and hit the “Manual Setup” button
  3. In the Airport Tab, select “Wireless”
  4. Click the “Wireless Network Options…” button
  5. Check the box for 5GHz network and fill in the details! That’s it!

My Network Performance

  • My provider: Comcast BLAST! service from Atlanta
  • Advertised Speeds: (up to) 30Mbps Download / 6Mbps Upload
  • Benchmarking done through www.speedtest.net


The format is:
[Wireless or Wired connection], [The router used], [Server used for test]: [download speed] / [upload speed]

Original Base Station Router (802.11g)
Wireless, OG Base Station, Atlanta: 18.94 Mbps D / 6.50Mbps U

New Apple Router, Standard Network Settings
Wireless, Base Station, Atlanta: 19.59 Mbps D / 6.93 Mbps U

On 5GHz Network
Wireless, Base Station, Atlanta: 36.09 Mbps D / 7.01 Mbps U

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