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Speedy networking makes Apple's new AirPort Time Capsule a good buy

Michael Brown | July 16, 2013
The new Time Capsule is nice and fast. It'd be even faster if Apple fixed a problem in OS X that's hindering the router's file-transfer performance.

On the back of the Time Capsule, you'll find a gigbit WAN port (for connecting to the Internet) and three gigabit LAN ports (for hardwired clients). There's also a single USB 2.0 port, to support either a shared printer or additional storage. You'll need to plug in a USB hub if you want both at the same time. The power supply is built into the enclosure, which is much better than having an outlet-hogging wall wart, but an inline power brick would have been a better alternative. Between the 802.11ac chipset, the hard drive, and the power supply, the Time Capsule needs to shed a lot of heat. Apple put a fan inside there to keep things cool, and you can definitely hear it spinning in a quiet room.

Bottom line
The solution to the file-transfer shortcomings I've covered here will most likely arrive in a future OS X update, I really don't think there's anything wrong with the 802.11ac Time Capsule's design. My WiFiPerf benchmarks indicate that this router is at least as fast as the best non-Apple 802.11ac routers I've tested.

If you've purchased a new MacBook Air, you'll get significantly better performance with the 802.11ac Time Capsule than you will with Apple's 802.11n Time Capsule. In my test environment, the new MacBook Air was unable to maintain a wireless connection to the router's 5GHz network at longer range. This was less of an issue on the 2.4GHz band, but that spectrum is so congested in more typical environments that you probably won't want to use it (I happen to live on a 10-acre parcel in a rural area relatively free from other wireless networks).

If you're using an older Mac client with an 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter, my benchmarks indicate the new Time Capsule will also deliver much higher performance—provided Apple fixes the file-sharing issue, that is. So if you've never purchased a Wi-Fi router, and you like the idea of automated local backups, the 802.11ac router is definitely a good buy.

 

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