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I am thinking of purchasing an older Airport Extreme (A1143 model) as they are considerably cheaper than buying a new one.

  • Are there any serious issues with an older model as far as performance is concerned? I am not looking for anything cutting edge, mostly just internet browsing and video (netflix) streaming. I notice that the A1142 model is "Single 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz" rather than the newer models which are "Simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GH".... what sort of difference does this make.

  • Are there any features available in the newer model which are not available for older models? I have an Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, 2 Macs, use AirPlay. Will any of these have limited functionality on an older model?

  • Are the older models still supported as far as firmware updates go? Do they continue to be supported by the latest versions of OSx?

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I had an older "flying saucer" Airport extreme that got left behind by a newer version of what is now called Airport Utility. My guess is slightly newer (but not newest) Airport routers are probably fine although I don't know this for sure. That said, I upgrade my AirPort Extreme base station every 4 years or so and the newest one is considerably faster than the generation just before it. This may not be meaningful to you but I have a similar set up (Macs, AppleTV, multiple iOS devices and a micro cell connected to mine and the speed increase on the new one is noticeable. –  Richard Sep 26 '12 at 18:52
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Even an old router is probably faster than your home internet connection. The biggest difference in daily use is likely coverage: the newer models have more and better antennas, and that usually means more distance, and better speed further out. –  Ken Sep 28 '12 at 1:10
    
Since radio amplifiers have lifetimes - you might explicitly say you are buying a new product or a used product. Part of the problem with older models is that once they are withdrawn from sale - the ability to get a new device becomes problematic. –  bmike Mar 25 '13 at 12:51
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4 Answers 4

Always go for the newest routers.

Older routers should also work fine but new ones provide much more functionality like dual bands at the same time or dual networks at the same time and etc.

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The A1143 does have dual band 5Ghz & 2.4Ghz and can manage up to 60Mbps which should be more than most broadband connections.

One issue to consider with an older router is that the internal parts will be ageing and could fail.

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I have an AirPort Extreme and an Express from a few years ago, and I bought a new unit of each last December, planning to use them to extend my existing network. The old ones aren't recognized correctly, so I essentially need to replace them. So if you buy older hardware now, you may regret it later if you buy additional hardware to connect to them. This only seems to affect extending a network; other features work fine.

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I bought a second hand Airport Extreme (A1354) about a year ago for less than 50% of the price of a new one so my suggestion would be to do some good shopping around as they come up from time to time.

When I was looking for one, the minimum I was considering was the 3rd Generation (A1301) as it supported Dual Band. I would not personally buy anything older than this.

The model you are looking at supports Single 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz which means you can run either in 2.4 or 5 GHz mode, not both together. 2.4 GHz is the most commonly used wifi protocol (b/g/n) and means that the 13 channels available are very busy. 5 GHz (also n) is newer and less busy but not all devices support it. You don't mention which models of the iPhone, iPad, Macs etc you have but be aware that only the more recent devices support 5 GHz (iPhone 5 does). The newer devices support running both at once and communication is seamless between the devices.

The 4th generation (my model) also support the final version of N so I connect at up to 450 mbps which is great for transferring files. My Apple TV (3rd Gen) works great in a wireless configuration - mainly streaming data from my iMac (2011 - wireless) or Mac Pro (2008 - wired).

Apple has also spent a lot of time improving the antenna strength in the later models which really helps if you have a house with thick walls.

You can see a nice breakdown of what features are support by which model on Wikipedia. If you look further up the article there is a summary of what the improvements were in each model.

I received an update for my model within the last month, not bad for a product first produced in 2009 (I can't comment on older models as I don't have any).

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