AirPort replacement and more

Comcast recently told me they upped my speed from 300 to 400mbps. I finally ran a speedtest last week only to discover I was pulling down 92mbps to my hardwired laptop.

My setup is Modem → Airport Express (2016 refurb) → TP Link gigabit switch

I ran a Cat 6e cable from the switch to a dock in the fall to hardwire my 2015 MBPr

This morning I plugged my 2011 iMac into the modem and got well over 400mbps, so that’s good. I decide to eliminate the AE and plug the modem into the switch, and suddenly the dock is giving me a self-assigned IP error that I can’t get rid of. I switched ports on the switch and changed cables.

I also can’t get the AE back online, it’s blinking amber and none of the resets I’ve tried will allow it to reset or access the internet, although I can still see it. I’m not sure that’s a big deal as I’m thinking the AE was my speed issue.

In addition to any ideas about the self-assigned IP issue, can anyone recommend a reasonable replacement for the AE? My house is ~ 1250sq ft and I do sit in the backyard with the laptop/ipad at times. I think we have 7 wifi devices but I’d probably still want a device that allows for 10+


An Airport Express only has a 100 mbps Ethernet link, so the 92 mbps reading is on track.

The Wirecutter just published a survey of their wireless router picks at various price and capacity levels.

Hi Diane,
In my experience, a switch does not provide ip (internet protocol) addresses to the attached devices. That is the job of the router.

Until you get a new router, I would try hooking it up with your current router attached to the modem and the switch attached to the router. The switch provides addional ethernet connections.


Ok that is interesting. For some reason I thought it was gigabit and I really thought I was pulling down about 250mbps when Comcast replaced my outside wiring a few years ago. (my memory is definitely not what it used to be)

So I am essentially bottlenecking my entire network by having that next in line after the modem.

I saw that article - TP Link got good scores from them. But Amazon reviews are all over the place, and some say they get insanely hot. So I hoped I’d find additional info here :slight_smile: I also realized after I sent this, that I forgot to count our cameras and the occasional smart bulb so I have more wireless devices than I thought.


Hi Doug - I think in my setup, the AE is the router, correct? My modem is not (Netgear CM600) and the switch is only a switch. In that case I would have it set up correctly? But if I want more speed I need something faster to replace the AE.

(I realize I sound like a networking newbie here, but I researched all this when I set it up years back and it’s since fallen out of my head apparently!)



Yes, your Airport Express is your router. Some modems are also routers but I checked and your Netgear CM600 modem does not include a router.


Doug Hogg

You have what was the last version of the AirPort Express but even so all AirPort Express models only had 100Mbps Ethernet connections.

You could look at an AirPort Extreme several generations of which did have 1Gbps Ethernet ports. The following was the last model released and hence the fastest ever released.

The benefit of the above would be that it would still be an Apple device and hence manageable by the AirPort Utility you have been using. However even the above model is now very dated hardware.

(On a related topic I use an Ethernet only modem & router and use wireless access points in bridging mode connected via Ethernet links to the router.)

These days people are looking at much more modern WiFi access points which offer both ‘mesh’ networking which is a more sophisticated way of linking multiple access points to provide greater coverage and also hardware which supports the new and even faster WiFi 6 standard which is supported by some Apple products.

Whilst not necessarily regarded as the best performing hardware a lot of people regard the Eero Pro 6 WiFi products as being most equivalent to Apple AirPort in philosophy. There are now numerous other Mesh and WiFi 6 capable products including Google, NetGear and Ubiquiti.

(It may not be applicable to you but the Eero supports Apple’s HomeKit Secure Networking standard.)

If you need the AirPlay2 capability of an AirPort Express you could configure one purely for that purpose and use an AirPort Extreme for your Macs etc. However Belkin now have a dedicated AirPlay2 device as below.

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I have just replaced a Time Capsule as an ethernet switch (hub) with a D-Link gigabit hub. I have 3 hubs in total and was wondering if there is a macOS app that would give me a look at my home network like the old Airport app did for wifi. A network topography map would be great.

I found this product, which apparently works for macOS but is extremely expensive:

I also found some open source software but it doesn’t seem to want to run under Mojave (maybe something to do with X11?)

I have also tried the unix arp command, which give a list of all devices on the network - useful but not what I want

Any suggestions?

The Nmap site says that it includes a macOS app.

The GUI does require X11. You can download and install XQuartz for that. I’ve been using the latest version (2.8.1) on Catalina, so it should also work for you on Mojave.

That’s not what the arp command does.

ARP is a protocol used to look up a device’s MAC address (required for communication over Ethernet, Wi-Fi and similar networks) from its IP address.

When your application tries to send a packet to an IP address, the lower layers of the network stack need to determine the destination’s MAC address. Either for the device (if it’s connected to your local LAN segment) or for the next-hop router (if it’s not a local device). The network stack sends an ARP packet to the Ethernet broadcast address (ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff) containing the destination’s (or router’s) IP address. All devices on the network receive the ARP packet. Any device configured for the requested address will reply with an ARP packet containing a mapping from the IP address to the corresponding MAC address.

Your computer’s network stack maintains a cache of ARP responses so it doesn’t have to make this request for every packet.

When you type arp -a, you are viewing the contents of this ARP cache. This will be the IP-to-MAC address mapping for every device your computer recently accessed. Depending on what devices your computer was recently in communication with, it may or may not contain mappings for every device on your LAN segment.

One cheap way to use arp to (sort of) get a listing of devices on your LAN is to try to communicate with everything first. For instance, you can type ping to send a “ping” packet to your network segment’s broadcast address (assuming your LAN’s address block is 192.168.1.*). Many (but not necessarily all) of the devices on your network will reply. Afterward, you can type arp -a to view the ARP cache to see the address mapping for every device that responded to the ping.

But even this isn’t a guarantee. Embedded devices may not be configured to respond to pings and many computers are configured (often as a part of firewall rules) to ignore them.


Great advice - thank you
I have successfully run Zenmap after installing Xquartz but haven’t worked out how produce a topology map of my LAN.
It is a bit of a concern that I have to force quit Zenmap - maybe because it is working in the background.

Last year I bought two refurb Alien Routers. They are not cheap ($380 each new. I paid $220 on eBay for the refurbs) but they are the closest thing to an upgraded Airport Extreme that I’ve come across. Plus you can easily build a VPN network with it and manage the network while you’re not home. I think a single one of these will do the job for 1200 sq ft. The OLED display provides really handy information (you can carry out some of the features using the display) or you can use an app. The best part has been automatically scheduling specific devices (like the iPads) to automatically turn off for family time.

Hah! I checked that and the switch too, so we are doubly sure now :slight_smile: