Best replacement for airport extreme

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The best replacements for Apple’s defunct AirPort accessories

On Thursday, Apple made the disappointing announcement that it is discontinuing its AirPort line of network accessories. The company told 9to5Mac that it will continue to sell remaining inventory, but has no plans for future hardware.

With the AirPort devices on the way out, what are the best alternatives?

As we noted this week, Apple published a new support document shortly after its announcement, outlining what customers should look for when shopping for a router. Apple explained that users can choose between a single router or mesh systems, which help bring Wi-Fi to larger areas.

Read on for the best of both worlds, including single routers and mesh systems

The best alternatives to Apple’s AirPort routers

Linksys Velop

You can’t talk about Wi-Fi hardware without leading with the Linksys Velop hardware. This is the mesh Wi-Fi system Apple recommends to users and it’s available in 1-pack, 2-pack, and 3-pack configurations.

In terms of design, the Velop units are similar to the AirPort Extreme in that they are tall and narrow. Each one is able to offer 2,000 square feet of coverage, though that can vary depending on the layout and structure of your home. You get 802.11ac, MU-MIMO, and tri-band support.

  • Ideal for 6,000 sq.ft., 5+ bedrooms, large multi-story home & patio.
  • Ideal for any ISP plan, ISP modem / modem-router.
  • Powerful Futureproof Mesh WiFi System replaces your router.
  • Intelligent mesh technology ™ finds the fastest path to the internet.
  • Clean compact design blends in with your home environment.
  • Linksys App guides quick setup process under 5 minutes per node. Set parental controls, guest networks, auto-fix a node using your mobile device plus much more.

You can get a 1-pack of Linksys Velop for $199.96, a 2-pack for $337.93, or a 3-pack for $449.97 on Amazon. Rated 4.5/5 stars.

Netgear Orbi

Another popular option for a mesh Wi-Fi system is the Netgear Orbi. You get slightly more bang for your buck here as you get 5,000 square-feet of coverage with the 2-pack at $329. The Netgear Orbi is the Wirecutter-recommended mesh Wi-Fi system, as well.

As for design, the Netgear Orbi is an oval-shaped tower that certainly isn’t anything you’d feel the need to hide in a cabinet. You get 802.11ac, top data transfer speeds of 3,000Mb per second, MU-MIMO, and tri-band support.

  • Fast whole home Wi-Fi system – Covers up to 5000 square feet with high performance WiFi, kit includes WiFi router and Satellites
  • Tri-Band technology  -Orbi routers maintain data flow for your connected devices using a dedicated backhaul connection
  • Single Wi-Fi network name – Provides seamless room-to-room roaming throughout your home.
  • Quick & Easy Setup – Use the Ethernet ports on the router and the Satellite to connect your Smart TV, game console, streaming player and more. Use the NETGEAR Orbi app, now with a new dashboard, to install & personalize your Orbi Home WiFi System
  • Guest Network – Easily set up a separate and secure WiFi network for visitors and guests to use

The Netgear Orbi system is available for $239. Rated 4.5/5 stars. Read our full review here.

Eero Home Wi-Fi System

One of the more versatile options is the Eero Home Wi-Fi System. It’s available in several different configurations depending on how big your home or apartment is.

Included with the Eero package is one Eero and 2 beacons, the former of which features are larger overall footprint than the latter. Simply connect the Eero to your modem and place the subsequent Beacons throughout your house. The Eero system supports 802.11ac, MU-MIMO, and tri-band.

  • Eero second generation : With the most intelligent WiFi technology and powerful hardware, the eero 2nd generation WiFi system is 2x as fast as the original eero. Backwards compatible with 1st generation eeros.
  • Wireless acess point: The eero Beacon is a full-fledged access point that simply plugs in to standard outlets and easily expands your WiFi connectivity to every device, without the need of a WiFi adapter.
  • Mesh technology: Powered by proprietary TrueMesh technology, the eero WiFi system leverages multiple access points to provide your home with incredibly dependable internet, all on a single home network.
  • Quick and easy setup: Replacing your old WiFi router has never been easier than with the eero Home WiFi System. Set up takes minutes and the companion mobile app makes managing your home internet simple and intuitive.

The Eero system with 1 Eero and 2 Beacons is available for $399. Rated 4.5/5 stars.

Google Wi-Fi

My personal pick in terms of mesh Wi-Fi systems is Google Wi-Fi. Surprisingly enough, Apple may have abandoned its networking technology, but Google’s is ever-improving. The Google Wi-Fi system is available in 1-pack and 3-pack configurations.

A single Google Wi-Fi covers 1,500 square-feet, so you get around 4,500 square-feet of coverage with the 3-pack. Set up is incredibly simple and requires the Google Wi-Fi application. All three of the included units are identical, and it doesn’t matter which one you put where. The Google Wi-Fi system supports 802.11ac, SU-MIMO, and tri-band.

  • A new type of connected system for seamless Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home, helping eliminate dead zones and buffering
  • Replaces your current router, and works your modem and internet service. It’s compatible with major internet service providers including Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon Fios
  • A single Wifi point covers up to 1,500 sq. ft, a set of three covers homes up to 4,500 sq. ft. Wifi points work together so you can add more if you need additional coverage
  • Network Assist technology keeps your connection fast by always selecting the clearest channel and fastest band for your devices
  • A simple app gets you set up quickly and allows you to see what’s connected, prioritize devices, and pause the Wi-Fi on kids’ devices.Family controls allow you to pause the WiFi on kids’ devices, like during

You can pick up a single Google Wi-Fi for $114.67 and a 3-pack for $258.71. Read our full review here.

AmpliFi Home Wi-Fi System 

Rounding out our top picks for mesh systems is the AmpliFi Home Wi-Fi System. Part of what sets this system apart is its design. The primary router has a touch display allowing you easily see performance and status, while the two mesh points plug directly into a power outlet.

The AmpliFi Home Wi-Fi System supports 802.11ac, 3×3 MIMO, and tri-band. While the unit does feature a USB port, it unfortunately does not support external peripherals.

  • Wi-Fi Mesh Technology for Complete Home Coverage
  • Plug and Play High-Density Mesh Points to Eliminate Dead Spots
  • Dual-Band 802.11ac Wi-Fi System Delivers Up to 5.25 Gbps Aggregate Speed
  • Convenient Smart-Touch Display for Real-Time Status
  • Easy Setup and Powerful Wi-Fi Management using the AmpliFi App

The AmpliFi HD Home Wi-Fi system is available for $329.99. Rated 4.5/5 stars.

Other mesh systems to consider

While those are the top mesh Wi-Fi systems on the market, there are several others out there to consider, especially depending on your price point. Here they are:

Traditional Routers

One important thing to take into consideration is whether or not you really need a mesh network system. Mesh systems offer the highest value when placed in large homes or apartments, or ones with thick walls or awkward layouts. In most instances, if you live in 1-2 bedroom house or apartment, a mesh system is probably overkill.

Here are some of the top routers available on the market:

Wrap up

While it’s certainly disappointing that Apple has discontinued its AirPort accessories, there are numerous systems on the market today that shine nowadays. It’s no secret that the AirPort devices had become a bit stagnant, and at this point it’s even harder to recommend one, even if Apple wants to keep selling them while supplies last.

What do you currently use for your in-home networking? Let us know down in the comments!

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Apple left the home networking market a few years ago. I’ve been looking at a replacement for my aging AirPort Extreme router ever since. After much research, contemplation, I finally made my choice. Here is my experience replacing an AirPort Extreme with the Ubiquiti’s Unifi Dream Machine.

Apple AirPort Extreme

Apple exited the home network market in 2018. I was in shock as a long time user of their AirPort products. Instead of making the greatest routers on the market, Apple-designed and released the HomePod. I don’t expect Apple to come back anytime soon. While the HomePod name implies something more than just a smart speaker, the reality is the HomePod is a smart-dump speaker with great sound. The HomePod could have been the start of a new line that integrates a speaker, a router and a HomeKit hub, all in the same package. I wrote about Apple’s absence of the home networking market many times (Apple’s Biggest Mistake: No Home Networking Product, Amazon, Goole, Apple and Home Networks). Another more recent take on the subject can be found here: Why is Apple missing the Boat with Home Wifi?.

With all the concerns about privacy and the exploitation of user data, this is an area where Apple could have taken a stance. They could have built their AirPort devices into a mesh wi-fi system, perhaps adding that capability to the HomePod as well, which could give more value to that device. Perhaps Apple has some plans for this in the future, but for now, Amazon has a huge advantage in the smart home market.

Kirk McElhearn
What the HomePod could have been

I’ve been searching for a potential replacement for more than a year. As an avid Apple consumer, the design of my next router had to be paramount. On the other side, as an IT professional for more than twenty-five years, I was looking for something with a rich management interface. If a product could provide both, it would be my dream machine. I’m happy to report that I found one. Here is my story of replacing my Apple AirPort Extreme with a Ubiquiti’s Unifi Dream Machine. I think there are a lot of people in the same situation as me, my hope is they find this article so it can help them make a better decision.

Selecting a replacement for AirPort Extreme

One of the goal for looking for an AirPort Extreme replacement was to fix a few dead zones in my house where I could hardly get a wifi signal. The other goal is that I wanted to get more information from my internet usage1. On the list of potential replacement products were Google Wifi, Amazon Eero, Orbi and Ubiquiti Amplifi2.

Google Wifi App Store page

Google’s product was quickly eliminated. First, I didn’t want to put a mass surveillance device in my home. Secondly, Google’s applications are drab in general, uninspired and don’t adhere to Apple’s UI visual language prescription. Just by looking at Google Wifi application on the App Store, we can see a lot of unhappy users.

Eero home Wifi App Store page

Amazon’s Eero was also quickly eliminated. Amazon bought the Eero last year. Amazon’s goals are well known: data gathering. There is nowhere I would put a beacon in my house to feed the Amazon machine. Again, looking at the App Store, people don’t really like the Eero management application.

Next on the list was NetGear’s Orbi product line. According to Orbi’s App Store page, users do like the application which is a good indication. Orbi’s product includes a speaker and a microphone for Alexa support. I’m not into Amazon’s ecosystem so it wasn’t attractive to me.

Ubiquiti Amplifi Wifi router

Finally, Ubiquiti was the next contender. At first, I was looking at Ubiquiti’s Amplifi product line because of it’s simplicity, the general design, the size and the integrated display showing current bandwidth consumption, something other manufacturers didn’t have. I thought it was cool. But, while exploring Ubiquiti’s website, I stumbled upon the Unifi products line and became intrigued with the Dream Machine. The Dream Machine is a semi-professional router that fits perfectly my home networking needs, but could also be used in business-like environments. It is also a bit more pricey but I was willing to pay more if I get more in return.

Unifi App Store page

Unified Dream Machine was released in November of 2019 and includes a router, a basic management interface and a more sophisticated management application called the Network Controller that is tied to Ubiquiti’s web backend where you can log in and manage the devices from anywhere in the world. Ubiquiti gives a name to the operating system which is UnifiOS. All their products under the Unifi umbrella use the same operating system and management interface and can be managed by a single sign-on account which is a good thing for larger environments.

The Unifi Dream Machine

Setting up Unifi Dream Machine

The setup process initial screen

The setup process took me less than fifteen minutes and went nearly flawlessly. Here is how I physically made the switch from Apple’s AirPort Extreme to the Unifi Dream Machine.

  • Move all cables from the AirPort Extreme to UDM3.
  • Reset the cable modem so it recognizes the new router.
  • Plug the power cable of the UDM, wait for it to start.
  • On the iPad, open the Unifi Network management application and follow the instructions. See the following image gallery for each step .4
  • Once the UDM is configured, add the two Unifi AP BeaconHD to create the mesh network. I had to “adopt” the AP BeaconHD one by one, a process that takes a few minutes each.
  • Upgrade firmware of each BeaconHD.

At this point, my network was up and working with the same SSID as previously made available by the old AirPort Extreme. This was a requirement in order for all known devices to automatically connect to the network without re-entering the network password. Next, I started testing clients access and my HomeKit devices including the HomePod. Everything worked flawlessly. I was relieved.

A few other steps were required like setting up an alias on a few devices with MAC address as their name to better identify them in the management interface. I also made sure to disable automatic firmware update because I prefer to read about them before installing them.

First SpeedTest result on my iMac was disappointing

The first network speed test that I ran gave a lower speed than I was expecting. The internet speed of my ISP is 120 Mbps for download and 30 Mbps for upload. On my iMac, using iStats Menu, this speed used to translate to about 13 MB/s. After my Unifi Dream Machine was up and running, I was getting only 10 MB/s. Upon investigating for a possible cause, I found the solution: disabling the “Smart Queue” feature on the WAN settings fixed the throughput issue. Again, I was relieved. Now, I’m getting a 5% to 10% speed increase compared to what I was getting with my AirPort Extreme.

Another urgent issue to fix was the remote access to my iMac with the popular Screens from Edovia: port forwarding was no longer working. Enabling the UPNP on the UDM quickly fixed the problem by itself on the iMac.

In order to get an idea of the coverage, I took advantage of a mapping feature of the UDM and designed my house main flour plan and placed the devices on the map. The end result is interesting and very close to what I’m experiencing.

Wifi coverage in my house

I also set up a guest network with a landing page with mandatory authentication and bandwidth limitations which is something I couldn’t do with the AirPort Extreme. The login page for the guest network can be customized as shown below. You can change the webpage background with pictures coming from Unsplash, one of my favourite places to find quality pictures! How cool is that!

Designing a webpage for the guest network

Once the UDM was humming and running, I started to dig the rich management interface. For many people, this could be overwhelming; there is a lot of features, options and statistics at your fingertips.

Managing Unifi Dream Machine

The fun part is managing the Dream Machine from the iPad or from the web. Some people would say the best products are the ones who don’t require management at all. Well, maybe in theory, but in practice, networking is a complex subject in IT.

Unifi products are designed by a serious networking products company and it shows. The Unifi Network management software is feature-packed and designed for serious network administrators, even in their home product line like the UDM. Network features, performance analysis and alerting are fully accessible and easily manageable. It is something that I was willing to pay more for.

The Unified Dream Machine comes with a basic webserver to allow for simple management tasks like upgrading the firmware, giving a name to the device and setting its time zone. In order to manage more advanced features, UDM also comes bundled with the Unifi Network Controller that is the management foundation of an Unifi-based Network. On business-oriented equipment, the controller has to be installed on a separate computer on the network. With the UDM, the Network Controller is embedded which provides a fully autonomous solution as shown in the following diagram.

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Question:Q:Time to replace my AirPort Extreme Base Station A1408?

Looks like no one’s replied in a while. To start the conversation again, simply ask a new question.


My AirPort Extreme Base Station A1408 is a bit slow compared to my faster new fiber broad band? Should I replace it? With what?

MacBook Air 13″, macOS 11.1

Posted on Jan 2, 2021 8:31 AM


Thanks for good advice. I also read Dong. Finally I bought the one you have AC88U and now I have to make it work.

Posted on Jan 3, 2021 8:21 AM

View answer in context

Jan 2, 2021 9:14 AM in response to skvatten In response to skvatten

Should you replace it? Yes. It is outdated and Apple has exited the networking hardware business.

What should you replace it with? Two important considerations to make:

  1. Do you plan on continuing to use the modem/gateway that your ISP has provided you?
  2. Does your ISP provide you with a list of supported routers?

On the first item, if your ISP is providing you with a simple modem, and not, a combination modem/router, or gateway device, you will only need another router to replace the AirPort Extreme. On the other hand, if they are already providing you with a gateway device, then no replacement router would be necessary.

On the second item, contact your ISP and see if they have a compatibility list. This should help with narrowing down what devices should work. You can then compare them at the site to see which meet most of your networking goals.

Jan 2, 2021 9:14 AM

View answer in context

Jan 3, 2021 11:18 AM in response to skvatten In response to skvatten

Post back if you have setup issues.. but they are fairly straightforward.

I use Merlin firmware on my Asus routers.. just that bit better without having any issues about warranty. Asus treat it as beta and support the guy doing it.

It does support Time Machine to a USB drive.. but I do recommend using Carbon Copy Cloner as backup software.. it was not as reliable running Time Machine but YMMV.

Jan 3, 2021 11:18 AM

View answer in context

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Jan 2, 2021 9:14 AM in response to skvatten In response to skvatten

Should you replace it? Yes. It is outdated and Apple has exited the networking hardware business.

What should you replace it with? Two important considerations to make:

  1. Do you plan on continuing to use the modem/gateway that your ISP has provided you?
  2. Does your ISP provide you with a list of supported routers?

On the first item, if your ISP is providing you with a simple modem, and not, a combination modem/router, or gateway device, you will only need another router to replace the AirPort Extreme. On the other hand, if they are already providing you with a gateway device, then no replacement router would be necessary.

On the second item, contact your ISP and see if they have a compatibility list. This should help with narrowing down what devices should work. You can then compare them at the site to see which meet most of your networking goals.

Jan 2, 2021 9:14 AM

Jan 2, 2021 1:54 PM in response to skvatten In response to skvatten

You do need to fill us in with what your budget is and actual requirements.

It is relatively easy to find a new AC or AX router.. there are heaps on the market.

We tend to like products from Asus (not the cheapies) or Synology.

But mesh is the new wonderkid on the block. Mesh offers far superior wireless performance.. so it depends on the size of your house and construction. Particularly to get fast wireless to remote corners .. mesh is the way to go..

Apple store sell mesh systems from Linksys (velop) Eero and Netgear. Those might be good choices.. buy wherever price and service is best for you.

Jan 2, 2021 1:54 PM

Jan 2, 2021 5:36 PM in response to LaPastenague In response to LaPastenague

Thanks for your answer. I need a long-range router to cover a 4-floor, 350 m2 wooden house. My router now is on the second floor. I have an extender on the same floor to get better coverage behind a bathroom. I also have an extender via the mains electricity network on the first floor which works fine. I earlier got the internet via coaxial cable but have now installed fiber and noted that the speed on the ethernet-linked computer is at least 3 times faster than the wi-fi even when I am close to the router. So I want to upgrade the router. Problem is that there are so many different brands and generations and..... We are normally only 2 persons in the house and we are no gamers. I want a simple, efficient and reliable router that can just sit and do the job. The AirPort Extreme Base Station A1408 has worked fine for many years and caused no problems at all. I never think of it and it is quiet and cool. Only problem is that the speed drops so dramatically through the wi-fi. The MAC site recommended Linksys MR83000 but is it really the best up-to-date router? Any suggestions? There is also Asus rt-ac88u. Problem is not the lack of routers but the opposite - which one to buy of them all on the market and sometimes it is also difficult to understand if a test has been done recently or 4 years ago. New models seem to come every year.

Jan 2, 2021 5:36 PM

Jan 2, 2021 7:45 PM in response to skvatten In response to skvatten

There is also Asus rt-ac88u.

Just happens to be my current router. Out of production now I would think since the AX88U came along.

Linksys MR83000 but is it really the best up-to-date router?

No but is a reasonable buy depending on what you are after.

I will not buy Linksys now since it is owned by Belkin.. and has no inbuilt setup.

But it is up to you to read the reviews. This one is dated Feb 2020 and I would say well out of date already.

I do use the reviews as Tesserax has mentioned smallnetbuilder although they seem to have fallen behind.. I like the ones from Dong.

If the aim is to buy latest router then wifi6 or AX is well worth the extra. Do check out wifi6 mesh options as well.

For your house with 4 floors it might well be time to figure out a wired setup.

At least one ethernet port on each level and use 3x Access Points which are plugged into the ethernet. They are far superior cf wireless backhaul mesh or using Powerline adapters.

The better grade mesh can also handle ethernet backhaul and you can buy quite cheap ones.. eg TP-Link Deco M5 (or M9) 3 pack.

Or buy better grade products like Ubiquiti UAP or TP-Link EAP245 for example. You will need a controller but pricing is very reasonable.. learning curve is a bit steep but will give you business level wifi.. The wifi 6 versions are still coming so you will need to wait a bit.. but they are in the pipeline.

In my own situation I use ethernet to all the required areas of the house with everything that does not move wired to ethernet via switches or router running as AP. I recently installed the TP-Link EAP225 x 3 with a controller for a friend who runs a boarding house.. which needed something more pro level.. but cost wise is cheaper than many domestic systems.

If all of that is too much just buy wireless mesh.. Netgear Orbi seem to be one of the best and check to make sure it can be configured locally as well as via mobile phone.

Jan 2, 2021 7:45 PM

Jan 3, 2021 8:21 AM in response to LaPastenague In response to LaPastenague

Thanks for good advice. I also read Dong. Finally I bought the one you have AC88U and now I have to make it work.

Jan 3, 2021 8:21 AM

Jan 3, 2021 11:18 AM in response to skvatten In response to skvatten

Post back if you have setup issues.. but they are fairly straightforward.

I use Merlin firmware on my Asus routers.. just that bit better without having any issues about warranty. Asus treat it as beta and support the guy doing it.

It does support Time Machine to a USB drive.. but I do recommend using Carbon Copy Cloner as backup software.. it was not as reliable running Time Machine but YMMV.

Jan 3, 2021 11:18 AM

User profile for user: skvatten skvatten

Question:Q:Time to replace my AirPort Extreme Base Station A1408?

Why Apple is Killing AirPort

The Best Apple AirPort Alternatives

The Google Wi-Fi, the Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System, and the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Router

If you’re looking to buy or upgrade your AirPort router, then you may be surprised to find that Apple’s abandoned the product. Luckily, there are plenty of powerful replacements for the AirPort.

The Apple AirPort is a celebrated, modern router that looks good and functions how it should. Sadly, it’s been discontinued. And with the rise of mesh Wi-Fi systems and superpowered gigabit routers, a slightly outdated (yet surprisingly expensive) AirPort may not be worth your time.

The demise of AirPort is disappointing, but Apple isn’t leaving its fans dead in the water. After announcing the AirPort’s death, Apple published a support page that explains how to find the perfect AirPort alternative. There they outline that the company’s products work best with MIMO or MU-MIMO routers that support IEEE 802.11ac and simultaneous dual band connections. In laymen’s terms, Apple products work well with mildly expensive, modern routers.

Of course, it can be hard to tell the difference between a good router and a bad router, especially if you don’t know anything about router specifications. That’s why we’ve taken the time to find direct alternatives to the AirPort router. All of these routers line up with Apple’s AirPort specifications, and some of them are actually mesh Wi-Fi systems that guarantee easy whole-home coverage.

Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System ($262)

Linksys Velop Home Mesh WiFi System

If you’re looking for a router that looks like the AirPort, then you should check out the Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi system. Apple actually sells the Linksys Velop on its website as a direct alternative to the AirPort router, and for good reason. It has the same Wi-Fi standards as the AirPort, but each beacon has a range of 1,500 feet.

Like the Apple AirPort, the Linksys Velop is super easy to set up. You connect one beacon to your modem, and then you just plug the other two into outlets around the house. Each beacon puts out a highspeed Wi-Fi signal, and you can use the Ethernet port on any beacon around your home (even if it isn’t plugged into your modem).

Buy on Amazon

Google Mesh Wi-Fi System ($260)

Google Mesh Wi-Fi System

The Google Wi-Fi is one of our favorite mesh Wi-Fi systems. It’s easy to set up (and forget about), but it’s also open to a lot of tinkering and customization. And since Google Wi-Fi hub has a range of 1,500 feet, you can expect your home to be fully covered. Google Wi-Fi is also open to the Google Assistant ecosystem, which is nice if you have a lot of smarthome products integrated into your home.

Google Wi-Fi is up to the same standards as the Apple AirPort, so you don’t have to worry about any slow speeds or connectivity issues. And since it’s a mesh Wi-Fi system, you can use it to bring reliable Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity to every room in your home. Aside from being an AirPort alternative, the Google Wi-Fi is a great replacement for your outdated Apple router.

Buy on Amazon

eero Home Mesh Wi-Fi System ($400)

eero Home Mesh Wi-Fi System

If you’re a fan of Amazon smarthome products, then you should consider the eero Home mesh WiFi system as an AirPort alternative. Amazon bought eero earlier this year, and the company’s made an effort to integrate the eero routers into the Alexa ecosystem. This is a great device for anyone that wants to turn on parental controls with simple a voice command.

The eero mesh Wi-Fi system is up to Apple’s Wi-Fi standards, and each eero beacon has a 1,500-foot range. Since it’s a mesh Wi-Fi system, you can expect the eero to bring reliable signals and ethernet connectivity to every room in your home.

Buy on Amazon

NETGEAR N900 Router with 2TB of Built-In Storage ($215)

NETGEAR N900 Router with 2TB of Built-In Storage

If you’re looking for a Airport alternative that can function like an Airport Time Capsule, then you should check out the NETGEAR N900 router. The AirPort Time Capsule was, essentially, an AirPort router with built-in networking storage. It’s a great device for people that work from home, like graphics designers or writers, or for people that want to have remote storage without paying for a cloud service.

The N9000 comes with 2TB of built-in storage, so you can use it as a NAS right out of the box. If 2TB isn’t enough for you, you could always upgrade the external storage or attach an external drive via USB. The NETGEAR N900 lives up to Apple’s AirPort standards, and it’ll work well as a Time Capsule stand-in. That being said, it isn’t a mesh Wi-Fi system (of course, the AirPort isn’t either). If you want a consistent whole-home connection with NAS features, then you could pair a mesh Wi-Fi system like the Google Wi-Fi with a NAS product like the Synology DiscStation.

Buy on Amazon

NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Router ($388)

NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Router

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 is a popular, powerful router. It makes a great AirPort alternative, especially if you’re in need of a fast, gamer-ready router. It isn’t a mesh Wi-Fi router, but its four antennas put out a signal that can cover even the largest homes. Plus, it’s built with dynamic QoS software that can automatically prioritize bandwidth allocation for different devices. In other words, your Kindle update won’t throttle your Fortnite connection.

Because the NETGEAR Nighthawk has a gigabit connection port, it’s an ideal router for gamers and geeks that rely on an ethernet connection. That being said, the Nighthawk is around the same price as some high quality mesh Wi-Fi systems. If you’re more interested in Wi-Fi connectivity than wired connections, then you should consider grabbing a mesh Wi-Fi system.

Buy on Amazon

Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 MU-MIMO Router ($144)

Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 MU-MIMO Router

If you’re in the market for a powerful, easy to use AirPort alternative, then you should check out the Linksys Max-Stream AC2200. Because the AC2200 can prioritize the bandwidth allocation for different devices, it makes for a great gaming router. And although isn’t a mesh Wi-Fi system, it puts out a powerful signal that can easily cover a large home.

Like the NETGEAR Nighthawk, the Linksys AC2200 has a gigabit connection port. This makes it ideal for people who want to make the most of an ethernet connection for gaming or uploading large files.

Buy on Amazon


For best airport extreme replacement

Question: Q: airport extreme replacement

I need a unit that can handle printer sharing.

This is often a big drawback.. Is the printer that valuable you cannot replace it with network one.. even cheap lasers and inkjets now all have wifi if not ethernet.

I just need a replacement so I can run 3 Roku's, one laptop, 2 iPads and that's about it.

Any router these days can handle that sort of load.. the issue is how large an area you are covering and the sort of walls and if the place is double story.


Do you want AX which is the next wifi standard?

There are literally hundreds of routers that fit your needs.

So check out a few review sites.. I like Dong's one

He covers top and bottom end products and having read his reviews for many years find he is pretty fair and reasonable. I doubt you will go wrong accepting his recommendation even if I occasionally disagree.

At cheap end look at the TP-Link.. generally good value for money and work fairly well with solid hardware.. e.g. AX10, AX20, AX50 .. different names in different places.

Asus is my preferred model for serious domestic router.

AC86U, AX86U

I don't like their cheap models which I think the TP-Link are better for.

Synology only has one router now and a mesh unit. The router is RT2600AC.. fairly expensive but a very solid replacement for Extreme and you can find lots of reviews along those lines.

Nowadays mesh is very popular for people in big houses. Since wireless is now more important than ever for all the IoT and gadgets around the house.. Mesh is also what many choose and Apple store stocks a few different brands.. but they are not as good routers as ones list above.

Note the routers will handle USB printers .. mostly.. not necessarily working with Apple though.. but almost none of the mesh have USB ports or working USB anything. You can always use an airport express for a print server or actual usb print server which are fairly cheap second hand since everybody now buys network printers.

Apple Time Capsule Dead Hard Drive Swap (802.11ac Model)

Having helped usher in simple-to-use Wi-Fi networking in 2000 with its futuristic-looking AirPort Base Station, Apple has finally confirmed what has been reported since at least late 2016: Its line of AirPort and Time Capsule Wi-Fi gateways is dead. This comes as no surprise, given that the last updates for the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models internals came in 2013 (to include the 802.11ac Wave 1 standard), while the compact AirPort Express has remained stuck in 2012.

Apple has, however, embedded recent Wi-Fi technology in the radio systems of its computers, mobile devices, and the Apple TV. And the company will continue to sell out its current inventory and, of course, honor its technical support and warranty obligations.

If you’re an Apple household and your home is already full of Apple base stations, you may be concerned about pivoting away and losing features you rely on, or creating a mixed network of Apple and non-Apple routers. You need not be concerned, because you actually have several options, which we describe below. As for losing out on special features, see our section on why Apple’s proprietary base station features are no longer relevant. 

(A tip on extending the life of your AirPort base station: If you purchase an AppleCare warranty for a Mac and have bought an AirPort base station of any vintage within the two years prior to the Mac’s purchase date, Apple extends the warranty to the AirPort gear through the duration of the AppleCare warranty. You can wind up with as much as five years of base station warranty that way.)

Drop-in replacement: A Wi-Fi router

Your router choices can come down to whether you want to sweep everything out of the house and start fresh, or you’re looking to replace or extend an existing network. The best cheap routers have effectively the same features and networking philosophy as the Apple base stations. They’re really a combination of an access point (Wi-Fi management), a router (moving packets around a network and to and from the internet), and an ethernet switch to handle devices that only have wired connections or that work best with a gigabit ethernet connection.

If you’re using or planning to use two or more of this kind of “old-style” gateway, they should be connected via ethernet. (See below why WDS or similar wireless systems aren’t reliable and reduce performance.) 

Mesh networks, described in the next section, work like gateways, but some lack ethernet switches entirely, and they have extremely robust connections among each other.

This is where your budget comes to the fore: It’s easy to drop $300 to $500 on a great, new, multi-router mesh Wi-Fi solution that fills every nook and cranny in a house and never needs to be poked. But you can also spend as little as $100 for a single gateway that could work nearly or completely as well in a more modest single-floor house, apartment, or condo.

For a single or multiple old-style router network, the Netgear R6700 Nighthawk AC1750($100) offers nearly everything you need in a drop-in AirPort Extreme replacement. You can swap out an AirPort base station and swap this in, and you might not notice the difference. It’s also a good choice for multiple units, due to its cost, or you could find Wi-Fi extenders, which connect via ethernet and are used just to fill out coverage.

netgear r6700 nighthawk ac1750Netgear

The R6700 has a USB 3.0 port for hard-drive sharing, a USB 2.0 port for printer sharing, and a four-port gigabit ethernet LAN switch. A drive attached via the router can be used with ReadyDLNA, which allows streaming media from the drive to certain gaming systems and TVs. Unlike Apple’s base station, the Netgear router allows for QoS (Quality of Service) prioritization, letting you elevate audio and video streaming above other data, which improves playback. The R6700 can set up a separate guest-access network. 

The one proviso here is that we haven’t reviewed the R6700 yet, though it’s received excellent marks from customers and was the previous budget pick by the New York Times’ product review site, Wirecutter. Our sister publication PCWorld has, however, reviewed favorably the Nighthawk R7000, which has a similar feature set, potentially faster throughput, and better speed at a distance.. But it costs about $145.

Mesh networks: The new hotness

The alternative to the AirPort-style routers, both cheap and expensive, is a mesh networking system. Mesh networks don’t require configuration on each device to get them to find each other, and they don’t require an ethernet cable. Rather, mesh devices—called nodes—self-configure, making the optimum connection for routing data among themselves. The best systems help you place routers for best performance around your house or office, too. (For more information, read my in-depth explanation.)

Mesh nodes manage this with multiple radios, devoting one radio to communicating among other nodes, and with proprietary networking systems for node communication. On the Wi-Fi side, it’s all standard and all Wi-Fi devices connect as expected. The use of proprietary intra-node communication means that you can’t mix and match nodes from different manufacturers.

Mesh networking systems usually offer help through an app or visual signals (like an LED) about where to place nodes optimally for coverage. If you decide you need more coverage (or, in some cases, better throughput), you can just add more units, and the system reconfigures itself to accommodate them. Some mesh systems rely entirely on a smartphone app, available for iOS and Android, leaving out web-based or desktop app configuration, but others have both smartphone and web app options.

orbi products 100678552 origNetgear

We’ve recently picked our top Wi-Fi systems, all of which are mesh:

  • Netgear Orbi received our top marks. For $300 you can buy two nodes, a Router, and full-sized Satellite, each of which has ethernet LAN ports (3 and 4, respectively). Or, for the same price, get a bundle with the Router model and two smaller satellites, which have an integral AC power plug but no ethernet ports. 
  • Linksys Velop offers better throughput through its radio design. For $340, a two-node package can blanket many houses; a three-node bundle is $450. The units include two gigabit ethernet jacks under their bases, one of which has to be connected to a broadband modem on one of the nodes.
  • TP-Link Deco M5 is our budget pick, with less throughput but only costing $230 for three nodes. 
  • Competition has dropped the prices of some of the leading mesh systems, and it’s likely the price will drop somewhat further, but with our top pick at as little as $100 per node and our budget at about $80 per node, it’s not likely to drop as much as prices have already in the last couple of years.

    What about Apple’s proprietary base station features?

    From Apple’s introduction of the original AirPort until just a few years ago, its base stations were often the best on the market, even if sometimes the most expensive’. However, for Mac users in particular, the gateways had Apple-specific features you couldn’t get elsewhere.

    At one point it included:

    • AirPlay audio passthrough (AirPort Express only)
    • Easy printer networking
    • Network-attached storage (NAS) with AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) and SMB support
    • Base station to base station networking (via Wireless Distribution System or WDS)
    • Internet access to base station configuration and NAS drives via Back to My Mac
    • A network punch-through protocol called NAT-PMP for enabling remote access for applications, like games and servers
    • AirPort Utility’s GUI interface
    • Automated notification of firmware updates
    • Time Machine support built into Time Capsule

    Other features found in Apple’s base stations are easy to find in other routers:

    • DHCP assignment or “reservation,” offering a permanent local network address to a device on the network
    • Separate network names for 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks
    • Guest networking (access to an isolated and protected network for guests)
    • Timed and device-based access control

    Each of Apple’s advantages has slipped away over the years:

    AirPlay audio passthrough. This remained a unique feature of the AirPort Express, which features an S/PDIF-compatible (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format) analog/digital combination 3.5mm port. Plug in a regular analog cable, and you get analog out. Use a Mini TOSlink cable, and it carries digital information over an optical link to an S/PDIF port in a receiver. Apple TV models used to include a similar port, which was removed in the fourth-generation model. (I wrote an article about extracting the audio from the newest Apple TV, and reviewed a high-end HDMI audio splitter/passthrough device, which is still available at Amazon and some other retailers.) Some receivers and other devices include AirPlay, and you can use Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil to create AirPlay and similar destinations. (See “The 10 must-have utilities for macOS Sierra,” for more on Airfoil.)

    airportexpress 2012 backApple

    Printer sharing. Even quite inexpensive printers now include Wi-Fi networking, allowing a completely cable-free connection. And most Wi-Fi routers include USB-based printer support that’s compatible with macOS (although not always with iOS).

    Network-attached storage. Apple’s attached drive support used to be a big deal when OS X was oriented around AFP, and it was difficult to create networked fileservers except Mac OS X Server or personal filesharing in regular OS X. Apple shifted to SMB for network filesharing, which makes it easier to work with Windows-compatible servers. Standalone NAS drives have significantly better features and performance, and are available at all sorts of prices, not just for caviar budgets. Cloud-based storage and sync services reduce the need for network servers. And streaming and on-demand services have replaced some of the purpose for fileservers that mostly held video. If you still need a router-attached hard drive, most AirPort competitors offer USB-shared drives via SMB.

    Base station to base station networking. I used to tout this feature as a great way to work around obstructions like walls and ceilings, and while the WDS that Apple used to make it work was an industry standard, only Apple seemed to have mastered it. But it became less and less reliable over time, even as data rates went up by leaps and bounds. I stopped recommending wireless base station interconnection about four or five years ago, and suggest gigabit ethernet (which can require running cable), powerline networking (which works through unmodified electrical outlets), or a mesh network (explained later) that uses a separate radio for connecting base stations.

    Remote configuration and drive access. Back to My Mac (BtMM) was once a great feature, especially for people with Macs in multiple locations. However, it’s not reliable and not robust, where other remote access tools (like TeamViewer) work with aplomb. It’s rare you’d need to change your base station’s configuration outside of its LAN, and remote-drive access can be accomplished in a lot of other ways, including with many standalone NAS devices. The feature requires an iCloud account to function, and I and many users had our base stations work in a semi-useless mode until we removed the iCloud account from the base station’s configuration. From some users’ accounts, the problem remains.

    Network punchthrough. NAT-PMP stands for Network Address Translation Port Mapping Protocol. While Apple developed it (in 2005), it wasn’t proprietary: it was submitted as a standard. However, it was barely picked up by any other party. Instead, the computer industry as a whole went for UPnP (Universal Plug and Play). Nearly every base station and networked piece of hardware supports UPnP, as well as multi-platform software like VNC and Plex.

    AirPort Utility. Apple has long had a leg up by offering a friendly face for Wi-Fi router configuration, especially compared with the web-based administrative frontends for most other devices. Even as Apple added an iOS version of AirPort Utility, it dropped updates for the Windows flavor, locking users into configuring only from Apple hardware. In recent years, router makers have improved their web apps or added smartphone configuration apps. Some systems have very little a user needs to configure, obviating access to dozens of settings, too.

    Firmware update notification. This remains a big divide between Apple’s base stations and the direct routing competition. Very few routers notify you when firmware updates appear, and I can’t find any that even let you sign up for a mailing list specific to your router. Apple provides alerts in macOS, and it’s a one-click operation to download and install. More expensive multi-device “mesh” systems automatically push new software to routers or keep most of the intelligence in the cloud.

    time capsuleApple

    Time Capsule. When Apple first released the Time Capsule base station, it seemed like a nifty portmanteau, packing two great features into one box at an affordable price. Over time, Apple boosted capacity substantially. But I haven’t recommended the Time Capsule for years, because the integral drive can’t be removed or managed. If Time Machine backup goes awry in a Time Capsule, your only option is to wipe the entire drive. If the Time Capsule dies, you have to crack open a case not intended to be open, extract the drive, and put it in another enclosure. While I don’t recommend Time Machine by itself, either, using a drive attached to a Mac for networked backups gives you much better alternatives. Or you might already be using a cloud-based backup service.

    If you still rely on some of the above features, notably printer and drive sharing, you don’t have to give them up, though you might have to reconfigure a device or sort out the best way to make changes. For instance, when I started having trouble with an older HP printer connected via USB to an AirPort Extreme, I went through a settings wizard on the printer that had failed to work for me before, and finally got it to join the Wi-Fi network directly.

    And unless you plan to dump all your working Apple base stations, you can always keep one or more running in a network for AirPlay audio streaming or printer/drive support if you still need it.

    Bottom line

    Even with Apple long out of the picture, you’re not missing much. The AirPort base stations unique features have mostly migrated to other devices, and macOS and iOS require less proprietary support than ever before. Mesh is the future, and its cost has dropped into a reasonable range for many households. But old-school routers like the AirPort Extreme continue to be available at affordable prices.


    Similar news:

    Are you still using an Apple AirPort wireless router to create your home’s Wi-Fi network? If so, you are overdue for a replacement. Apple last’s major upgrade to their AirPort products was around 2012 when they introduced products that supported the fourth generation Wi-Fi protocols. Apple discontinued all AirPort products in April 2018. Not surprisingly, lots of improvements have occurred in Wi-Fi technologies since 2012, so you’d be much better served by replacing your aging AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule. I suppose it could be a testament to the quality of Apple’s products that so many AirPort devices are still functioning and that they continue to receive the occasional firmware update from Apple.

    In many circumstances, I tend to recommend replacing your AirPort Express or Extreme devices with Eero Pro devices, very often an Eero Pro 3-pack. Check out these other Tech Tips if you’re replacing an Airport Time Capsule or replacing an Airport Express.

    Eero, the company, makes a family of Eero Wi-Fi products. I tend to recommend the Eero Pro devices since they are the only Eero tri-band product. Briefly, one of the three communication channels (bands) is dedicated to inter-router communication. The other two channels (bands) are exclusively used by the Eero Pro to communicate with your Macs, iPhones, iPads, AppleTVs and other Wi-Fi devices. This improves the speed of your Wi-Fi network.

    Thus, if you need more than one Wi-Fi router to provide coverage throughout your home and you have a lot of Wi-Fi devices, then you’d be well served by the mesh Wi-Fi network created when one sets up several Eero devices. I tend to eschew the use of Wi-Fi extenders for a number of reasons that are outside the scope of this article, but stated briefly, mesh Wi-Fi devices, especially the Eero Pro are easier to setup and are a much more effective way to provide Wi-Fi coverage throughout a large home.

    Eero’s Wi-Fi devices are often considered the natural successor to Apple’s AirPort products since they are stylish-looking devices and are very easy to set up and manage. Setup and management are done using an app on your iPhone (or Android-based phone). Eero devices are often not the fastest Wi-Fi router on the market, but they are well regarded. The New York Times’ gear and gadget reviewers at Wirecutter, picked the Eero Pro as the best mesh Wi-Fi kit in 2019. Later on, in 2020, Wirecutter changed their recommendation to the Asus ZenWiFi AC, indicating that it surpassed the Eero in price and performance, including the Eero Pro 6 which was released in the fall of 2020. I have not used the Asus ZenWifi AC router, but in my experience, the Eero Wi-Fi products are the easiest to set up and manage which has huge appeal for many homeowners. Another appealing feature is the free phone support for the lifetime of the functioning product. I’ve contacted Eero support via email a couple of times and was very pleased with the quality and efficiency of the support I received.

    Eero was started in 2015 and was bought by Amazon in early 2019. This purchase concerned some people since Amazon has a fondness for data collection. Eero’s CEO provided reassurances at the time and I’ve not read any articles indicating that Amazon is collecting or monitoring customer’s Wi-Fi data. If you’d like even more protection you could setup a personal VPN service such as the one provided by Eero in their Eero Plus service.

    This article only gives you an overview of the options available to you. Setting up any wireless router can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the process. Nobody likes to have interruptions to their Wi-Fi network, so please consider hiring a quality, local Apple consultant, as needed.

    DIY Tip – If you chose to buy an Eero 3-pack and configure them yourselves, please set them up one at a time. In other words. take the first Eero out of the box and set it up, using the Eero app on your iPhone. Then label the underside of the Eero with a Sharpie marker. Then take out the second Eero, configure it and then label its underside. Finally, take out the third Eero and follow the same pattern with it.

    Eero Pro devices are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are a few examples of circumstances that are not ideal for Eero Pro devices and some alternative products to consider.

    If your home Wi-Fi network includes a lot of Internet of Things (IoT) or smart home devices then the Synology RT2600ac and MR2200ac or Asus ZenWifi AC might be better options. I’ve read reports about some older Wi-Fi devices, especially older IoT devices that have problems connecting to Eero Wi-Fi routers since these older devices get confused when the network name (SSID) on both the 2.4 Ghz channel (band) and the 5.0 Ghz channel are the same. Both the Synology and the Asus routers let you assign separate network names on each band. Eero does have a feature that let’s you temporarily turn off the 5Ghz network. This would then give your IoT devices time to startup and connect to the network using only the 2.4 Ghz channel.

    Another appealing feature of the Synology RT2600ac is its network monitoring and data consumption tracking features. These features are not commonly needed in homes, but can be very desirable in an office network. Synology devices have a fairly user-friendly setup procedure, too, but it’s not as elegant as the Eero iPhone app.

    Eero does not currently offer any Eero Wi-Fi devices that are rated for outdoor use. If you want to install a Wi-Fi device outside to provide coverage on your lawn or to extend coverage to an out-building, Eero may not be the best fit. A colleague told me that he has had some of his clients with this need buy an Eero Beacon and place it inside a waterproof enclosure.

    It’s not always practical to get Wi-Fi to every location. For example, one might have an out-building that is far enough from your home that you cannot affordably or easily extend your Wi-Fi network to it. Instead, you could use a pair of powerline network adapters, providing that the electrical outlets in your home and out-building are connected to the same circuit breaker box. Wirecutter offers powerline network adapter recommendations.

    It’s important to mention that if you have speakers plugged into your AirPort, none of the Eero products can have speakers plugged into them. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, Apple is the only company that ever included an audio connector on their Wi-Fi router. If you’re willing to replace your speakers this is not a problem. All you need to do is buy some speakers that support AirPlay such as Apple’s own HomePod, HomePod mini or a Sonos One SL or one of the other Sonos Wi-Fi speakers. If your speakers can’t be replaced easily since they are connected to an amp or AV receiver then you could look for an add-on that would add AirPlay support to your current receiver. Or, consider buying an AV receiver that supports AirPlay.

    There are many factors to consider when buying a wireless router or set of routers to provide Wi-Fi coverage throughout a larger home. Eero Pros are a great option in many circumstances. If they don’t fit your needs perhaps one of the other options I mention will fit the bill.

    Read more about Airport, Eero, Eero Pro, wi-fi, wifi. Sours:

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