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I have 1 Airport Extreme (newer version) and 3 AirPort Express's (1st gen) in my house. I understand that physically connecting all 3 Express's over ethernet and setting to "Create Network" is the best option (according to this article), however they are not all 3 in range of ethernet.

So my question is: What is the difference/impact between the "Create Network" and "Extend Network" options when the AirPort Express is not physically connected?

I would think that "Create Network" in this case would literally create new wireless networks and make the situation much worse. Is that not true?

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Choosing "Extend Network" will greatly reduce the bandwidth (read: download speeds) available to your devices connected via Wifi, since one router has to relay data to the next wirelessly.

Apple has a good support article on extending your network, the various choices and the impact it has. "In the case of a wirelessly extended network, throughput may be reduced to less than 60 percent of that of a single device.": https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202056

Since, as you say, you cannot interconnect your three Airports via Ethernet, the only choice is to extend. You can only "Create a New Network" if your Airport can reach your Internet router/modem via Ethernet.

If you have an ethernet connection to all three Airport routers, then creating a new network, even with the same name will give you better bandwidth, since the three routers should configure itself to be on different bands (or you could manually configure separate bands with the Airport utility as well).

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Creating a new network means that the base station is offering a wireless network for you to connect to. From there the data that you're sending or requesting has to somehow reach the internet. Since the base station isn't connected to anything else, the data has nowhere to go. You'd have established a very small local network with exactly two devices in it: the base station and your laptop (for example).

If you want the base station to offer a wireless network and also itself to connect to the internet wirelessly, you'll have to extend an existing wireless network which is connected to the internet. This will make the base station act as a wireless repeater; it'll take the signal of the existing internet-connected wireless network and boost/repeat its signal to physically reach further (broadly speaking). Note that the further you stretch this, the slower your data throughput will become. Speaking anecdotally, extending a network by one hop typically works fairly well though.

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What about using Netgear Nighthawk R7000 Wireless Router, connected directly to a modem, and joining two Airport express units connected by 50’ long Ethernet to router plus the Time Capsule on 2’ Ethernet cable and having all three “Create a Network”?

  • How does this answer the question posted by the OP? – fsb May 29 '18 at 20:40

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