I replaced my reliable Linksys 54G router with a new ASUS model available from T-Mobile, a “Personal Cellspot” router available to customers. It’s a rebranded ASUS AC1900 wifi router, which, for $25 deposit, is a no-brainer.
I live in a row of townhouses with a lot of wifi networks. Every house seems to have one or more networks. Lots of conflicts. The wifi apps that can help recommend a channel to use to have better reception didn’t find any available channels on the 2.4 GHz networks.
I have a 2009 Mac Pro upstairs, at the farthest point away from the only cable connection in the house. To get network connectivity to the Mac Pro, I could use wifi, pull an ethernet cable, or use a powerline adapter. I tried the wifi option first, with mixed results. Hackintosh sites reported good luck using the 300Mbps Wireless N PCI Express adapter from TP-Link (model TL-WN881ND). It’s a relatively inexpensive card, too. I installed the card and the kexts and got Mountain Lion to recognize the card. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a stable wifi connection. The same thing happened with the Edimax AC 1200 dual-band USB adapter. It seemed to work okay, but then would drop connection every few minutes. Neither the PCI card nor the USB adapter was usable.
I ended up purchasing Netgear powerline adapters. They have worked surprisingly well. I have one plugged in behind the router downstairs and another adapter plugged in next to the Mac Pro. The speed tests show that about 12 Mbps down and 5-6 Mbps up (sometimes faster, depending upon who knows what).
After I installed the Personal Cellspot router tonight, I decided to revisit the wifi adapters and see if anything had improved. Edimax hasn’t released the El Capitan drivers for the AC1200 EW-7822UA yet. (Drivers for other OS X versions are available here; you can register to be notified when the El Cap ones are available.)
I found instructions on how to extract the OS X 10.10 drivers from the Edimax OS X 10.10 DMG and get them working on OS X 10.11 for the Edimax AC1200 wireless dual-band USB 2/3 adapter. The Mac Pro can handle simultaneous network connections (has dual ethernet ports, for example). I got the wifi adapter working and set the priority network to be wifi. The adapter is currently connected to the 5Ghz 802.11 AC network.
And then ran some tests using speedof.me, a speed test that runs HTML 5 (not Flash). This site has been my baseline test for the powerline converters and wifi connection speeds.
The ethernet connection I’m using is via a powerline adapter. It connects at about 12-15 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up (6 Mbps up on a really good day).
With the wifi adapter plugged into the USB 2 slot on the front of the machine, I am getting 35 Mbps down and 12 Mbps up.
When I move the wifi adapter to the USB3 PCI card in the back of the machine, the signal strength is slightly diminished. However, the speed is rock solid. I’m getting 61.2 Mbps down (with a max speed of 117.5!) and an upload of 12.22 Mbps, which is basically the same.
Damn! That’s an improvement! The only problem is the wifi adapter sometimes causes the system to randomly reboot. That’s not good. I’ll have to see how frequently that happens.
Update Feb 19, 2016: The wifi adapter driver causes the system to not awaken from hibernation or sleep. When the system goes into hibernation or sleep mode with the wifi adapter active, the system does not respond to keyboard or mouse movements. The only way to reactivate the system is by a hard reboot. However, if I unplug the adapter and quit the wifi enabler software prior to leaving the system, then hibernation and sleep function as expected. The system becomes active again after moving the mouse or typing on the keyboard.
Update Mar 21, 2016: Edimax released drivers for the USB adapter today that support OS X 10.11. I’m going to try these tonight and see how they work. Hopefully the hibernation issue is fixed.
Update Mar 26, 2016: The new drivers appear to work fine. Instead of having to use a Wireless Utility app to control the adapter, the new driver now integrates with the Network control panel and provides a control menu.