Router to replace Apple Airport Extreme Gen 5

Yep…finally happened. My Airport Extreme Gen 5 has failed. It gives me a steady amber light and factory reset has had no effect. This occurred while doing a soft reset using Airport Utility. It never restarted.

In the very short term, I’ve ordered a used Airport Extreme from eBay. But I really need a modern router. I vaguely remember a discussion here but a search came up empty.

It needs to support wired ethernet with at least 3 ports–preferably more. We use wired connections for our computers; wireless for iDevices.


I have 5 Netgear R6700 routers purchased originally in 2019. They are very annoying to set up (I use what Netgear calls “Access Point” settings, which means that the modem/gateway distributes IPs, which is not the default for the routers). In the last 4 years, 2 have failed, and others have lost their settings in brown-outs. I would not buy them again. They are fast when they work, though.

I installed this one a few months ago, after my old Asus router began to show its age.

Asus AX3000

4x 10/100/1000 Mb/s Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
1x 10/100/1000 Mb/s Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) (Uplink)
1x 5 Gb/s USB-A

Wirecutter presently has the TP-Link AX3000 / Archer AX55 as their no.1 pick. It’s butt ugly but probably still what I’d get if my awesome 802.11ac AirPort Extreme died today. It comes with 4x Gigabit LAN ports plus 1 Gigabit WAN port and USB-A. $108.

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Thanks, @Simon.

I cannot tell from the specs and reviews if this is configured via a browser or a phone app…or both.

Every home router I’ve encountered in recent years tries to push using phone apps for configuration and management, but if you go to the router’s support site and download the manual, every one that I’ve looked at so far supports web setup, including the Archer AX3000 that others have suggested.

I always take a look at the manuals before purchasing a router, since sometimes there can be surprises.

One thing in particular to be aware of when migrating away from Airport Extreme devices is that most recent home routers may have USB ports, but they only support connecting storage devices. Unlike the USB port on an Airport Extreme, the USB ports on most routers (including the AX3000) do not support connecting USB printers.

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Of course, most modern printers have a WiFi option and may have an Ethernet port for connection to the local network.

I have one. Never had a problem, two years.

I imagine there’s lots to choose from but FWIW I have a Synology RT 2600ac. As we also have Synology NASes the interface was quite familiar and once you get accustomed it is fairly easy to use. I find it much better than cheaper, home routers which tend to have horrible interfaces and very limited customisation.

We run several servers behind ours using port forwarding and it has a decent firewall with many safety/protection features built in.


Same here, worked a treat for many years, and I have recently added a Synology 6600ax to it create a mesh system.

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I was wondering if you have any security cameras connected to your router? I have some Wyze Cam 3’s and a Reolink which work OK with my old router but looking for something faster as speeds drop occasionally.

Have used Synology for a number of years starting with their first foray into the router market with the RT1900ac (still in use after the company replaced the unit almost 2 years after purchase). Also have an RT2600ac. They provide a lot of tools and features with add-on apps for things like VPN and expanded security monitoring.

The greatest reason for me to use Synology is their extended support:

  1. The RT1900ac still gets security patches (released in 2016 and now discontinued).
  2. Their product support is often fairly responsive. I recently had separate issues with the RT1900ac (even though discontinued) and later the RT2600ac. A couple times one of their techs called my phone, though you could not really request or schedule it.

I do not mean to make Synology sound like they have a 24/7 router support… they do not. But if you persist through the response time delays they do try to help resolve things, which is more than I can say for just about any other consumer router manufacturer. Not to mention the long tail security updates.

My recent RT2600ac issue had to do with a false warning message that presented as a malware alert. After Synology remotely signed in (you have to do a few steps to enable this and it auto expires after a time period) they determined it was actually an issue with available space for database updates that was throwing a misleading error message. It was clear they were tracking this from a number of customers and will probably push a fix in a future release. They also did an eMMC memory check which may be related to some reports of these chips dying in some cases (happens on other brands too).

While the techs working with me gave some info, I did have to request more detail, but that may be because I am more of a tech user that wants to know what is going on behind the scenes and don’t just want to hear “it is fixed”. :nerd_face:

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No. I was discouraged by the cost of adding additional cameras. We do have an 8 camera setup at the office and use Security Spy on a Mac Mini - great software and relatively cheap - also has a slick iPhone app.

The top review mentions both.

My Airport Extreme died some years ago; I had it set up with an Airport Express as an additional AP.

After a brief dalliance with a couple of Netgear mesh routers (one of which had Amazon Alexa built in along with a Harmon Kardon speaker system), and finding they were quite fiddly and a little info-greedy…plus they would occasionally crash…but other than that they were okay…

I bought a pair of ASUS AX6600 “Zen” routers to set up a tri-band mesh network. They have worked flawlessly, and are totally configurable. They actually do for me what I had always hoped the Airport would eventually do: make my network transparent and visible to myself. I never really like the Airport interface in the Network settings. ASUS lays out its parameters grouped into “basic” and “advanced” settings, and includes possibilities like setting up your own VPN and hanging NAS off the router. Like Airport.

The plug-in experience is very simple, and you can set up mesh networking with an over-the-air backhaul, or directly via Ethernet which frees up WiFi bandwidth.

I was crushed when we were having fiber internet installed last year, and the installer said “you’re only getting half the speed of our connection and we can replace your router to fix that.” It turned out he was testing it over the air on his phone. The ASUS embeds the Speedtest app, so I fired it up and showed him that in fact we were getting GBit speeds. He called his supervisor, who told him that he’d been moving a lot of routers because he’d been testing every one of them incorrectly!

And I got to keep my Zen.


“1) The RT1900ac still gets security patches (released in 2016 and now discontinued).”

This is great to see. A year or two ago, there was a long and useful comment thread at Ars Technica in one of their router lack of security articles, and it was pretty clear that the consumer routers, including t-link, don’t get security updates past a year, maybe two. Some of them can run open source router software, but then you have to keep on top of keeping that updated which isn’t always trivial.

If my aged time capsule dies, now I finally have a good choice for a replacement. (I didn’t realize that synology made routers, and never though to look.)

Wirecutter’s no. 2 pick is actually the Synology WRX560. It’s not cheap at $220 but it gets a lot of praise for its configurability.

All of that sounds good to me. I know on campus and around the labs we use a lot of their equipment and the network people seem to like it. My question as a regular Joe using one of these at home would be: is it still usable for the non-network pro? Is the setup done such that you don’t get overwhelmed by all the fancy options if you don’t need them? Is this basically a router for geeky tinkerers or would it also work for simple home use by somebody who’s been spoiled by years of AirPort Extreme and doesn’t need parental controls or multiple VLANs?

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The Synology is Wirecutter’s upgrade pick, meaning it’s better than their top pick but is more expensive.

A notable feature of the Synology (at least for those with >1Gbps ISP service) is that it not only has a 2.5Gbps WAN port, but one of its LAN ports is also 2.5Gbps. The Wirecutter review noted that you can use multiple Synology devices to set up a mesh service.

If this had been available when I set up my Asus XT8 mesh system a few years ago, I might have gone for it.

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With all of these I assume you lose the NAS capability of the Airport Extreme. IMHO that was the brilliant feature of Apple’s Airport devices - seamlessly adding network hard drives so any Mac on the network could access them. I still have a Time Capsule on my network for extra backup but disabled the wifi a few years ago when it started misbehaving.

Both the AX3000 and the WRX560 come with a USB-A port. The manuals advertise using it to attach storage for network sharing and even remote file access. No idea though if that works well or is convenient to use.