Router to replace Apple Airport Extreme Gen 5

Not sure I understand your question fully, I’m not a networking expert, but the router certainly provides NAT services if that’s what you’re asking.

Not much love here for Wi-Fi Mesh routers. Last year, I replaced my NightHawk AC2300 Router with the ASUS Zen WiFi AX (WireCutter’s upgrade pick in that category ) The 2-box set up really increased my performance, especially in areas of the home that were ‘void’ before. Not for everyone, due to price and may require more recent equipment), but IMHO, worth a look. Good luck.

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The thing I liked about it is that certain configuration choices increase both speed and capacity. If you don’t strictly need the “mesh” backhaul, you can connect the second router through Ethernet and free up that transceiver.

What made me hesitate before I bought it was that you buy two entire routers rather than one router and a number of extenders. But they have operated smoothly for the past couple of years and in hindsight I can appreciate the wisdom of this approach.

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Yes. I doubt there’s (m)any routers which don’t offer NAT as one of their primary functions.

Thanks for everyone’s responses. And thanks to @MacGuyver for posting the links to the Synology docs.

By chance, shortly after reading this post, my third router from my ISP in Australia came down with flaky wifi after several months of use. The problem I had was my landline phone (remember them!) has to go through that router and so I was reluctant to replace it with a more reliable device. Also the router has 4G internet backup if the cable service is disrupted.
I bought a TP-Link router anyway and played around with configuration…
Firstly I disabled the dodgy wifi on the ISP-supplied router
Next I installed the new router and set its wifi SSID and password to that of the ISP router (so I didn’t have to update many of my connected devices)
Then I tried connecting the ISP router WAN port to one of the new router LAN ports with ethernet. However the landline did not work.
So I then reconnected the ISP router directly to the internet and connected the new router WAN port to one of the ISP router LAN outlets. I held my breath and tested all my connected devices (ethernet and wifi). It worked!

Modem — WAN/ISP Router (wifi disabled)/LAN — WAN/TP-Link Router/LANs – ethernet to some devices + wifi (using old SSID & password)

I am also pleased that a “wif-fi extender” that I bought from the ISP also works with the new router when connected by ethernet.

When my last AirPort Extreme made it clear that it couldn’t really deal with my small house with its wifi-blocking chimney in the middle (even with AirPort Express extenders), I bought an Amplifi HD mesh system a few years ago, and was generally very happy with it, especially the LCD display that can be set to show live upload/download speeds. When three of the four gigabit LAN ports dropped down to 100mbps a few weeks back, I decided it was time to investigate a replacement.

After researching a number of current mesh systems, I decided to try a single router to see if something more modern would cope with my particular setup better than the AirPort Extreme several years ago. I was first looking at the Amplifi Alien, since it would be very similar to the Amplifi HD I was used to. However, it’s very pricey ($379) and no longer the most modern router on the market (it’s Wifi 6, which has been superseded by 6E and now 7), so I kept looking, and eventually discovered the Synology WRX560 mentioned earlier here, which seemed like a good option for a lot less money.

Setting up the Synology was very straightforward - you can use either a phone app or a web interface, and while it does have some advanced features, you won’t have to deal with them if you don’t want to. I think someone mentioned that Synology has 2.5gbps ports, but it’s only one LAN port (the WAN port is 1gbps) that can be configured as the WAN port if needed; the router can’t connect at >1gbps to both the internet and a LAN device. In any case, the router worked fairly well - about as well as my Amplifi HD mesh, better in some areas of the house, but now that I had a working replacement for the Amplifi, I was still curious about the Alien. It didn’t look like it was going to go on sale at retailers for Black Friday, so I bought one at normal price.

I basically swapped it into the WRX560’s place and then spent a couple hours setting each router up at a couple different spots to see what worked best in different areas of my house. Though both routers worked well, the Amplifi Alien consistently had a stronger signal at more distant spots, and I pretty much decided that I’d be keeping it instead of the Synology. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the ridiculous touchscreen display on the Alien - you can run a speed test directly via the display, look at all of the devices on your network (you can even give each device a detailed icon via their phone app - different iPhone models even have the correct default wallpaper), monitor the temperature and fan speed of the router, check signal quality to different devices, etc. So, even though the live bandwidth usage isn’t as readable from a distance as on the Amplifi HD, it’s still very useful.

The kicker? The Alien went on sale directly from late last week for $199, or $379 for the router + mesh extender. Since I’ve established that I don’t need the mesh, I’ll be getting another Alien direct and returning my current unit and the WRX560 (Best Buy couldn’t price match the Alien sale, since it’s only direct from the manufacturer).

I can honestly recommend either - both were dead easy to set up, both performed very well in my house, and both look attractive enough that you can place them on a shelf out in the open (unlike the antenna-covered Archers and the like). If you don’t care about the display on the Alien and want something a bit more updated in a few specs, the WRX560 is a decent choice. If you want a bit stronger Wifi signal in a device that feels more substantial (the WRX560 is a bit light and top-heavy) and has a gorgeous screen that gives you a lot of live information about your network, the Alien is a pretty good deal at the current sale price.


I’m curious about this part. Not just for the Synology – lots of routers seem to offer this these days.

What are the pros and cons? Is the phone setup mainly for those folks who no longer have computers or is there stuff you’d need the phone app for that you can’t do with the browser-based config? Safety implications of these phone apps? Do they require you set up an account with the manufacturer first? Can they communicate with the router directly (as the browser-based setup via 196…) or do they go via WAN?

I think it started from knowledge that you can’t count on people having a computer any more, while (almost) everyone has a smartphone. There are sometimes a few settings that can only be seen in the phone app, but it can also go the other way - Synology’s SRM has a number of things that can only be done via the web interface.

I don’t think either requires you to set up an account before setting up the router (I’m certain that Synology doesn’t, not positive about the Alien) - you just connect to the router’s preconfigured wifi network and do the basic setup in a few steps.


The mobile apps for Asus routers connect directly to the router.

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My Linksys router is the same. The initial setup must be done via their mobile app. Out of the box, it pretty much does nothing and can’t be accessed. After the initial setup, there is a web interface which offers some more options beyond what the mobile app supports.

I think (not sure) that the device ships with IP, Wi-Fi and Ethernet completely disabled, using Bluetooth (via the app) to configure and activate those interfaces.

The annoying part is that, although I can configure the main router via a web interface, my remote Velop nodes (that it controls, to form a mesh network) are only configurable via the mobile app. And that configuration is pretty much limited to joining/leaving the mesh.

I haven’t found any way to configure the mesh via the web interface, and I haven’t found any way to individually configure the mesh nodes at all.

I hope my question isn’t out of line for this wide-ranging thread. I’m not too network-savvy, and I appreciate the expertise gathered here! I recently moved to an apartment complex populated by Spectrum, and got a new Spectrum modem and 6e router. So I put my 4th gen AirPort Extreme out to pasture, after about ten years of faithful service. But I have years’ worth of Time Machine backups on its 2TB drive, and I’ve used its USB port to hook up a 1TB drive for my wife’s TM backups. Everything’s been working well, but now I need to change it up. I’m trying to figure out how to connect the Extreme to the new wifi network, and hopefully continue to do TM backups…and keep the USB drive connected to it for my wife’s backups. I’ve searched the web but haven’t been able to find anything that works. Would any of you more savvy folks be able to guide me in? Thanks!

If your new router has LAN ports, perhaps the easiest way to just access your old Extreme and its TM disk is to connect its WAN port to one of the new router’s LAN ports and put it into bridge mode with wifi turned off. Bridge mode ensures that it leaves all network routing to your new router, and turning off wifi is to make sure your new router and the Extreme don’t fight over wireless bandwidth. But I would assume this should still allow you to use the old Extreme in terms of its TM disk(s) as if nothing had changed.

My thoughts as well. I have done this for a retired Time Capsule - connected by ethernet, wifi off, bridge mode. I can plug an external drive into the Time Capsule and it becomes accessible to Macs on the network. But disk access is noticeably slower than with modern network servers.
I did try out a mesh router system a few years ago but it was tedious to set up and I had problems getting various devices to connect to it (partly my ignorance, I guess). Worst of all, it required me to set up an online account in order for the network to work. I regarded this as an unacceptable security risk.
Other mesh systems might not have these issues but it put me off!

Thank you, Simon. I restarted the AirPort, connected the WAN port to a router LAN port, and selected the option to “join an existing network.” It found my Spectrum network and asked for a TC name and password. I typed new ones in and waited. And waited. Got the green light on the Extreme, but the AP Utility then told me that “an unexpected error occurred.” Tried it again, and the same thing happened. The Utility now sees the AirPort but wants me to set it up again. Now what? Am I doing something wrong?

Correction: The AP Utility now tells me it can’t find the AP. But the green light is still on…grrr…

So I unplugged the WAN port, waited a minute, and plugged it back in again. Nothing. So I reset the Extreme, and the Utility now finds it again and wants to set it up again. Oy!

Start again and reset. This time, don’t say that you want to join a network, but create a new one. It doesn’t matter–it’ll be gone soon. Once you’re in, go into bridge mode and turn off the Wi-Fi. You can use any port to connect now, including the LAN ports and the WAN port; it is an Ethernet switch, as well as a NAS.

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I miss Apple’s supreme competence in AirPort dearly, lacking in so many other routers in the consumer space, and I resent Apple’s choice to leave that market. Even so, it’s clear that saying goodbye and moving on (backward?) to Netgear was the right move for me, though I took far too long over it and felt pretty cheated when I first moved to a RAX120 for Wi-Fi 6 support. The speeds and range are ultimately what matter, and you can always put most of them into “Access Point” mode to get them working on a network with a router of your choice if you want all that advanced functionality anyway (and I certainly do). Following upgrade to 3GB FTTP very recently I bought a pair of shiny new RS700s for their 10GB Ethernet ports and to push my iPhone 15 Pro’s 6E (real-world 1.4 GB/s near the router), which have a wonderful resemblance to the Extreme/TC in form factor. I wanted to go with Asus for more functionality, but the form factor was insane for their “Gaming” clientelle, so I skipped it in favour of Netgear again, since I know where I am with them. The RS700 is positioned as a router but it will eventually become a mesh node when Netgear add the firmware support, though I’m all set with a wired topology between the “nodes” already. Speaking of, the firmware is stodgy but serviceable; it balances stability with features sufficient for the tasks of routing and Wi-Fi as well as USB ReadyNAS. There’s an app for the Nighthawk Armour (security from BitDefender), Circle family safety / parental censorship, and remote access to the app’s functionality, but you can skip it entirely if you want if those features aren’t interesting to you. The web UI will let you configure everything else, and there’s an (OpenVPN) VPN server if you want remote access to your network and the router web UI. I could be happier with the software, really I could, but there’s no arguing with the performance. JMO. Right now I’m working with Netgear to debug a problem with their IPv6 support (sigh), but other than that, I’m all right Jack with this setup. In future, once I get a 10 GB router, the primary RS700 will go into AP mode, just like the rest, anyway. The MikroTik RB5009 I had been using had only 2.5 GB uplink, so it had to go. I now need an alternative. Perhaps my 2018 Mac Mini needs to start seeing some Linux love.


I know this won’t meet all your requirements, but I just discovered that at least for some of us in some circumstances, a router really isn’t even necessary. I’m in a reasonably upscale Marriott hotel while visiting family for :turkey:.Speedtest shows me symmetrical up and down rates of about 10 mbits/sec on the hotels insecure WiFi, but my iPhone 14 Pros mobile hotspot shows download rates >450 mb/sec!