is a later version of airport extreme better for wifi coverage or speed?

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  • Yes, the latest "tower" version of the AirPort Extreme has made a big difference in my network. I replaced the previous generation AirPort Extreme with the current one, and even though I don't have any devices with the new 802.11 a/c spec, I have experienced a noticeable difference. I used a couple of simple tools from the App store (Speedy Net and NetSpot Free edition) to verify before and after, and both showed demonstrable improvement. In the real world, web pages snap faster, my Harmony WiFi Remote isn't as sluggish, AppleTV is more responsive, etc, etc.

    In reading reviews on the new AirPort prior to purchase, I routinely encountered two sets of comments:

    One, that users who bought the AE noticed an improvement on their networks, even without new equipment. This rang true for me too as my equipment ranges from 1 to 4 years old. However, I was quite surprised to discover that my one generation back AirPort Express access points improved performance as well. I figured the physical redesign of the tower would improve it's performance due to more efficient placement of the antennas on top, new chip sets, etc. But there must also be improvements in software and/or the wired network as well to give a boost to my extended wifi network.

    The second set of comments came from PC or network reviewers who basically complained that there weren't enough granular controls to do tricky things on complex networks. That might or might not be true, I can't say. But for a home network I found all the control I needed to customize my AE to optimize my AT&T Uverse setup, which wasn't easy due to the way AT&T's default wants to control the network. There are some great articles on Apple's site as well as AT&T's site that show how to separate TV traffic from Internet traffic, which will enhance performance significantly even without the new AirPort extreme. Adding the new AirPort extreme turned out to be delicious frosty icing on a warm, moist cake.

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