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SHOOTOUT

March 22nd, 2007
by Rob-ART, mad scientist

D-Link Xtreme N Router versus Apple AirPort Extreme 'N' base station

My main disappointment with the new Apple AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Station is that it does NOT support Gigabit Ethernet. That's a key omission since there are many "pro" Macs that don't have 802.11n support. You see, in order to take advantage of the 802.11n "five times faster" transfer speed (compared to 802.11g), those Macs must access the base station via Gigabit Ethernet ports. D-Link obviously understood that concept bcause they are shipping the Xtreme N (802.11n) Wireless Router with four Gigabit Ethernet ports (plus one WAN port)!

As you can see from the graph above, by connecting our Quad-Core G5 Power Mac to the D-Link Xtreme N Router via the Gigabit Ethernet port (CAT 6 cable) and connecting our Mac Pro to the Xtreme N Router via 802.11n wireless, we were able to transfer our 1 gigabyte file from the Mac Pro to the Power Mac 54% faster than it took to transfer the same file between the Mac Pro and the MacBook Pro using Apple's AirPort Extreme Base Station (802.11n version). Furthermore, it beats Apple's claim of "five times faster" as it is over 6 times faster than 802.11g.

Also indicated on the graph, if you use a Gigabit hard wired CAT-6 connection to the Xtreme N for BOTH the Mac Pro and Quad-Core G5, the file transfer only takes 17 seconds.

One anomally we are still trying to figure out. When we transfer our test file wirelessly between the Mac Pro and the MacBook Pro using the Xtreme N -- with no Gigabit ports/cables involved -- the transfer takes longer than with the AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Station.

Officially, the Xtreme N is not advertised as Mac OS X compatible. The installer CD works only under Windows. But we had no trouble accessing and configuring it via Safari with the help of the provided documentation.

CONCLUSION
If you have multiple "pro" Macs, some of which do not support 802.11n, then the D-Link Xtreme N Router gives you a means to harness the speed offered by the new wireless protocol -- assuming all your "pro" Macs have Gigabit Ethernet support.

Hopefully Apple will "see the light" and offer a "pro" version of the Airport Extreme with Gigabit Ethernet support. And if and when they do, it will be a pricing challenge since the D-Link Xtreme N WITH Gigabit support sells for $55 less than the Apple AirPort Extreme base station WITHOUT Gigabit support.

Apple Online Store

WHERE TO BUY THE D-LINK XTREME N
Amazon.com is selling the D-Link Xtreme N Router for $125 with FREE shipping.

If you want to upgrade your Mac mini, iMac, or MacBook with 802.11n capability, contact QuickerTEK.

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