2021 Home Wi-Fi with my Apple products

Hello All. I am returning with my question from several years ago. I need some help deciding which WiFi system to use. I am using Time Capsule and Airport Express. I am backing up to a cloud service, not my Time Capsule. Do I need to replace Time Capsule or use it as the base (as it is used now) connected to my Exfinity modem? Or by-pass the Time Capsule, i.e. eliminate it?

I have read 2021 reviews and TP-Link Deco WiFi 6 Mesh WiFi System(Deco X20) comes up with the highest review. That’s fine, but what system seems to work the best with Apple Products and xfinity? Or, doesn’t it matter as long as the system plugs into the xfinity modem?

Thanks for any and all comments and suggestions.

If you have devices with faster modes of wifi than your Time Capsule…I would upgrade. I’m recommending Archer TC Link routers these days…and if you have more than a couple of devices I would get whatever you buy in the middle of the price range. The $70 routers just rent as featured or as speed as the $150 ones.

I’m on Xfinity and when we bought our house I bought a Motorola modem as suggested in their compatible models page. The hooked it up and I plugged in the Archer router and configured it. Just remember to go into the settings and change the password, disable management from the outside, and all the other make it more secure stuff including a good, long wifi password.

If you want to keep using your Apple networking gear, feel free to do so.

If your XFinity cable modem is a just a dumb modem, then connect its Ethernet port to your router (Time Capsule) WAN port. If it is a router/modem combo, set it into bridge mode (disabling its router features) and connect one of its LAN ports to your router’s WAN port

If you’d rather use a more modern router (to take advantage of faster Wi-Fi technologies), that’s fine too. In which case, set your Time Capsule into bridge mode (making it just a network storage device instead of a router+storage device).

If you do this, then you will need a router. You can use the XFinity modem if it is a modem/router combo device. If it’s just a dumb modem, then you’ll need to get your own router to go between the modem and the rest of your LAN.

I wouldn’t worry about what’s compatible with XFinity. Once the modem is connected and working, you have a fairly generic TCP/IP connection to the Internet. Similarly, all but the worst routers will do just fine connecting your LAN to the modem. Just make sure you get something fast enough to keep up with the service you’re paying for.

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is pretty new, so you’re going to pay a premium for it today, but you might want to do so in anticipation of future devices that can take advantage. I wouldn’t have any problem recommending a Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 ac) today either. I would not consider a router that only supports older standards (802.11 a/b/g/n without also supporting ac or ax). Those older protocols can’t keep up with the bandwidth requirements of modern devices.

I’m not going to recommend specific models because it’s been a while since I went shopping for routers. Just make sure you get a reliable brand that supports their products (especially firmware updates to fix bugs and security problems). Some of the cheap brands provide minimal support and may not have any updates at all after a year or two. I’m partial to Linksys (having used many of their products over the years), but also like Netgear and D-Link. These are all well-established brands with a long history of making consumer and small office networking gear.

BTW, if you’re leasing your modem from Comcast/XFinity, consider purchasing one. You will save quite a bit of money in the long run, even though you may end up paying a few hundred dollars up front. You can log in to your XFinity account and pull up a page showing modems that they support and promise to be compatible with your service tier. If you like, you can even buy the same model (but probably not the same physical device) you’re using right now.

Thanks, Neil.

Thanks, David. Lots of info to consider. I appreciate the details.

The most frustrating part of this for me is what seems to be the weak signal coming from the Apple Airports. So I am hoping these newer systems will give my home stronger signals. And then from time to time I have to go around the house and reset (unplug and replug) each airport to get the system up and running. There must be a better system! Thanks, again, to Neil and David.

Like you a few years ago I noticed that my Airport wifi was deteriorating. It happened around the time that my house was connected to the (Australian) National Broadband Network so I simply agreed to pay for a new router from Telstra - my ISP. I relegated the Time Capsule to becoming a network server using ethernet and disabled its wifi operation. This has been a reasonable and reliable setup.
Before this I had tried an Orbi Mesh wifi system but had numerous issues and took it back for a refund.
BTW - I recommend that you keep a local Time Machine backup and not rely on a cloud backup. Time Machine can keep backups on several drives and automatically swaps between them when they are connected to the Mac or network. I use 3 drives for my main Mac, with one of these held off-site.

Thanks, Michael. I have 2 external drives I use for daily backup and the cloud (Backblaze) runs continuously. Kind of a belt and suspenders approach but I feel better knowing I have multiple backups. I do not use Time Capsule for back up.

We’ve written about Eero and Velop. I replaced my increasingly irritating AirPorts with an Eero mesh system and I’ve liked it a lot. Much more stable, better reporting, etc.

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Thanks, Adam. I will review the articles.

I used to recommend UniFi, but I’ve been burned by them one too many times recently. However, TP-link Omada is pretty much a clone of that system (without the eleventy thousand models). Reasonable enough, but also easy to set up without a full blown controller using the phone app.
I also have a TPlink Deco set I need to get online for my father (it’s the older model, but his needs are light-he just needs the range).

But I’ve been leaning more towards Aruba InstantOn: Aruba makes good enterprise wifi gear, and it seems like this line might be pulling from that pedigree (at least I hope so). But I’d rather have Aruba/HP providing support rather than Amazon-well my eero system is generally good, the SSID count limitation is too frustrating (I like to segregate computers from IoT from guests-can’t do that with Eero).