Wireless Connection to Airport Extreme Dual-band 802.11ac Router

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 2' started by saklotz, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. saklotz

    saklotz New Member

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    I discovered something very weird last night. I was trying to switch my home network over to an Apple Airport Extreme, latest dual-band model with 802.11ac capabilities. However, the wireless speed of the connection between my Surface Pro 2 and the Airport Extreme was being limited. I could connect the Surface to the Airport Extreme wired and would get almost 100Mbps download, but through the wireless 802.11n 5GHz connection only 30Mbps download. I reinstalled my NETGEAR WNDR3700 dual-band wireless router and the Surface was happily getting over 90Mbps download on the wireless 802.11n 5GHz connection. The Surface uses a Marvel AVASTAR 350N chip for its wireless radio, not Intel. But I could not figure out the problem with the wireless connection to the Airport Extreme router, even after an extensive google search. All of my firmware, updates and drivers on the Surface are up to date and so is the Airport Extreme firmware.

    Anyone else notice this issue? If so, do you have a solution to settings on the Surface Pro 2 or on the Airport Extreme that will improve the wireless connection speed between the Surface Pro 2 and the Airport Extreme? Otherwise, I will have to go back to my older NETGEAR WNDR3700 router and sell the Airport Extreme.
     
  2. leeshor

    leeshor Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum

    Love the WNDR3700. Not long ago replaced a v1 with a v4, same router. Hope someone can help.
     
  3. GreyFox7

    GreyFox7 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hmm, I've never had much luck with an Airport and anything not Apple. :(
     
  4. saklotz

    saklotz New Member

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    I agree that I am walking on shaky ground, but my HP Elitebook 8560w connects with no problem and gets nearly 100Mbps download with the Airport Extreme on the wireless connection. I realize this is a Windows 7 ultimate OS and there is a big difference in drivers and hardware from the Windows 8.1 on the Surface.
     
  5. saklotz

    saklotz New Member

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    I checked the wireless signal strength using a nice app QNETMAN2 written for my Nokia N9 some years back. The NETGEAR WNDR3700 dual-band wireless router, measured within the same room as the router is located, is transmitting 2.4GHz on channel 4 at -45dBm and 5.2GHz on channel 44 at -52dBm. The Airport Extreme is transmitting 2.4GHz on channel 11 at -45dBm and 5.6GHz on channel 132 at -47dBm. The Airport Extreme is actually putting out a stronger signal on the 5GHZ bands than the NETGEAR. I don't believe that signal strength is the contributing factor to the Airport Extreme achieving roughly 1/3 slower download speed than the NETGEAR with the Surface Pro 2's wireless radio. My suspicion is that the Marvel Wi-Fi chip's driver does not play well with the Airport Extreme.

    I would certainly like to hear from anyone who has noticed this unacceptable connection speed between the Surface Pro 2 and the Airport Extreme dual-band 802.11ac wireless router, specifically on the 5GHz bands. Surely there is someone out there with excellent wireless radio experience, an Apple engineer perhaps?
     
  6. AndyN

    AndyN New Member

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    Actually, no your 5.0ghz Apple is significantly less signal. With -dBm numbers the larger the number the lower the signal. If your software has signal graphs this is easily seen. Download the free Acrylic Wi-Fi and you will see this.

    Andy
     
  7. saklotz

    saklotz New Member

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    The maximum received power for wireless networks meeting IEEE 802.11 standards can be -10dBm or 100 µW. This varies slightly depending on the frequency. However, normal networks in real applications will be lower, i.e. the results I gave for the testing of the NETGEAR WNDR3700 dual-band wireless router were 2.4GHz on channel 4 at -45dBm and 5.2GHz on channel 44 at -52dBm and the Airport Extreme dual-band router were 2.4GHz on channel 11 at -45dBm (the same as the NETGEAR) and 5.6GHz on channel 132 at -47dBm (higher than the NETGEAR). At 5GHz the -47dBm value is less than 100 nW and the -52dBm is less than 10 nW. I really do not see how the Airport is lower than the NETGEAR. Keep in mind that dBm is an absolute power measurement and not dB, a dimensionless unit which is used to quantify the ratio between two values. Reference Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DBm. Besides, this misunderstanding of dBm is not the reason for the difference in the download speeds I originally described as the problem with the connection between the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and the latest model of the Airport Extreme dual-band wireless router. I am looking for someone to identify the true reason for this slow connection speed described in the original posting.
    Thanks to anyone who comes up with the answer. I am sure both Microsoft and Apple will thank you too! :)
     
  8. GreyFox7

    GreyFox7 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Need to check signal strength on the SP2, if I read this correctly you checked with a different device... its important as you have different antenna and circuitry. Try WifiInfoView, sorry it doesn't make pretty graphs just tabular data.

    When you checked signal strength was it stable and constant... does it show other signals competing?

    Also look at the reported Connection Speed on the Adapter Status dialog box.
    Control Panel, view network status and tasks, change adapter settings, press and hold or right click the adapter and select Status.

    Id also try to configure it to use only 2.4 and test then 5 and test to see if one band is crapping out or maybe getting interference. Note also connection speeds and signal strengths during tests.


    I have tested a few micro/nano USB adapters and found they typically got aprox 80% of their stated speed. None of them used the Marvel chipset... Broadcom, Realtek, etc.

    If you recently picked up the Airport you may try swapping it out. I had two at one point and their characteristics were different. Apple store nearby?
     
  9. saklotz

    saklotz New Member

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    I have checked the two wireless routers for signal strength using a Wi-Fi signal testing software called inSSIDer, cost me $20. I have attached the screen-shot of the most recent test. Clearly, the Airport Extreme with SSID KLIMAGES2, has a stronger signal strength than the NETGEAR. I would appreciate the responders to limit their potential solution to things other than the radio channel, frequency or signal strength, since it is quite apparent that on the basis of signal strength the Airport Extreme is suffering no problems. I repeat my suspicions that there is something missing in the driver for the Marvel radio in the Surface Pro 2 that is not playing well with the Airport Extreme. The Surface Pro 2 was located in the same room as the routers, which were only a few feet away.

    Thanks in advance for any help the Forum can provide.

    Screenshot (1).png
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  10. GreyFox7

    GreyFox7 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well that's one way to look at it. However it works fine with the Netgear Router so its the Airport Extreme that doesn't play well with the Surface. Which one costs less to replace?

    Not sure what your hoping for with this approach. Good luck.
     
  11. leeshor

    leeshor Well-Known Member

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    The signal strength alone may not indicate real-time performance. Just ask the people I deal with on another forum who insist that because they have a great signal that they should also be able to get on the Internet. NOT!
     
  12. saklotz

    saklotz New Member

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    In response to GreyFox7, I would like to say that I want to convert my home network to the latest 802.11ac speeds. The Airport Extreme can do this, but the NETGEAR WNDR3700 cannot. So yes, if the Airport Extreme cannot match my NETGEAR on the 5GHz 802.11n network, then it is not the device I want to set up as my main router for the home network. I am better off staying with the NETGEAR. However, I would not have the 802.11ac speeds for newer devices. Many tablets and phones and wireless storage units will come with 802.11ac capabilities from now on and as I update devices I will make sure to buy those that do. I hope this answers your question.

    Since I already own the Airport Extreme, if it would just play nice with all of my devices, I would not have to shell out another $200 to upgrade my router. Hopefully, Microsoft or Marvel will address the problem with a driver or firmware update. I agree with leeshor that the problem is not likely due to signal strength.
     

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