We have an older, Intel-based Mac Mini that has had WiFi problems for years. It was unclear when it started having issues, but we have determined to our satisfaction that the cause was temperature-based. It appears that Apple has since solved the problem in later models (by adding a second WiFi antenna into the design), but that is of no help to us. We first “fixed” it using a fan, then later with some temperature-controlling software. Neither solutions worked when the Mini’s temperature got too high for the internal fan to handle. Now that we are using the Mini as a media server, we wanted to solve the WiFi issue once and for all.
According to BearExtender, the n3 WiFi radio is about ten times more powerful than the Apple-branded AirPort card included in the Mac. Combined with an external 2 dBi gain antenna, BearExtender n3 offers up to 2-4 times the range of the current wireless card (approximately 2X for AirPort Extreme and 4X for the original AirPort 11 mbps card). For an even greater reach, there is an optional 5 dBi omni directional antenna upgrade designed to pick up even more signals and different networks than the standard 2 dBi antenna.
The BearExtender will use up a USB port, but that’s a small price to pay for reliable WiFi connectivity. For now, it is connected to the front port of the USB hub. Since the N3 is small enough to be placed anywhere, we’ll eventually reconnected it to one of the ports in the back and hide everything out of sight.
The software setup for the BearExtender was a piece of cake. The USB driver came loaded on an 128MB USB flash drive. Installation and connecting to a WiFi network worked perfectly on the first try. Althought it was not our primary objective, we were able to see WAY MORE hotspots than previously possible.
Our connection has been 100% stable since including the BearExtender n3 in our setup. We are extremely pleased that our Mac Mini WiFi issue has finally been laid to rest. We can now enjoy our Hulu and Netflix viewing without interruption. BTW, the BearExtender n3 is a great way to add 802.11n wireless networking capability to your older Mac.