Fast speeds; AFP networking
Limited advanced features
The monolithic AirPort Extreme is an 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi router. It’s designed to complement the new 802.11ac-compatible Macs, yet is backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n devices. The AirPort Extreme can run 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks simultaneously, plus it also features three Gigabit Ethernet ports.
There’s no built-in DSL modem, so you’ll need to connect it to your existing broadband modem via the Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, which is fast enough to handle the NBN (national broadband network) when it comes down your street.
On the back you’ll also find a USB 2.0 port for hooking up external storage or a printer. You can access the attached storage via Samba or AFP, but there’s no DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) or iTunes server support for streaming content around your home. You can also access the storage remotely over the internet. If you’re after in-built storage, look to Apple’s latest Time Capsule, which also offers 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
While other wireless routers are configured via a web browser, this one relies on Apple’s AirPort Utility – which is preinstalled on Macs and also available for iOS and Windows. While there are no parental controls or content filtering features, the AirPort Extreme does let you control when individual devices can access the network. There are no VPN (virtual private network), Quality of Service or static routes options, but you can set up port forwarding, Dynamic DNS and a guest Wi-Fi network.
When it comes to performance, the AirPort Extreme features a beamforming antenna array, which lets it target your devices. Up close, it’s the fastest of this bunch, hitting 358 Mbps (megabits per second). In our long-range test, moving upstairs, the speed dropped by 71 percent, which saw it outperformed by the D-Link.
Apple’s new-look AirPort Extreme is the fastest of the bunch, but falls short on advanced features.