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rhodes54's avatar

What hardware do I need get an this particular iMac to connect wirelessly to my 802.11n (Airport) network?

Asked by rhodes54 (415points) December 22nd, 2009

Dese kids, they grown up so fast. So’s I had the idea to get my 3 yr old daughter her own computer; she loves climbing in my lap and trashing the OS of my MacBook in that cute way only toddlers can manage plus she’s tech-savvy enough to start/stop “Bolt” on the AppleTV 37 times a day. They only have some antique windoze(?) 95 thing at her pre-school so I found her an old iMac on Craigslist.

Here’s my prob: her xmas present has no wifi for connecting to her movies OR for playing the plethora of free product-tagged online “educational” games. I’ve bought a couple of 802.11n USB adapters, but although they show up in System Profiler, neither of them are seen in the Network Preferences. ( I think I’m supposed to be seeing “en2” or something.

Anyway: what hardware do I need get an this particular iMac to connect wirelessly to my 802.11n (Airport) network?

Again, it’s a 1.25gHz iMac G4 with 1.25 RAM and no installed Airport.

Thanks, y’all

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10 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

One of these is your best bet.

sndfreQ's avatar

Yeah, we did the same thing for our kids a couple of years ago…the problem is, the last line you mentioned: No Airport installed. I’m assuming an older version of Mac OS X (10.4?) most cases, the drivers in Mac OSX for iMac don’t support plug-and-play external USB wireless adapters…your best bet is to connect via wired ethernet, and get either an Airport Express, or an AirPort Extreme.

With either of those two solutions, you’d be able to extend your wireless network and the iMac would be able to connect to the network by creating a local network from the connected router.

You can accomplish this with non-Apple routers, but there is a definite advantage to using Apple gear. What we seem to have worked out is having an Airport Extreme as the base station (connected to the cable modem), which then serves as the main “hub.” Then, we bought a used Airport Express for about $50 on CL, and then used that to extend the wireless network to the iMac.

Here’s some more info from Apple’s website on the Airport Express; there’s a section there describing the ethernet port on an AE and how it can be used (in relay mode) to connect to a computer to extend the LAN (working as a LAN Port). But remember to do this, you need two routers, the AE is a relay/extender in this case, since it only has one ethernet port.

rhodes54's avatar

Thanks both y’all, but my network now (Apple Extreme, MacBook, AppleTV and iMac) are all N-speed- apart from my occasional iPhone connection, so I was hoping to add some kind of N to my daughter’s ‘new’ iMac so it doesn’t slow everything else down while she’s playing Mafia Wars-Toddler Edition or deconstructing “The Incredibles”

sndfreQ's avatar

@rhodes54 is your Airport Extreme the newer (dual mode) version? If so, you can do the Airport card (which I believe is 802.11B), and you’ll be fine-it won’t slow down your network. Otherwise, you’re going to have that bottleneck issue-that’s the nature of 802.11 network protocol-it slows down to the “lowest common denominator” in terms of bandwidth.

We noticed this with our iPhones (802.11 b/g) on our older Airport Extreme (which let you switch to either A/B/G or N. The new one lets you run both as it has two antennas to do the dual band action.

Yes on the Airport card-but they’re kind of hard to find as they’re no longer in production, so eBay or CL.

sndfreQ's avatar

btw, what is the model/specs of the iMac? I forgot to mention that our macs for our kids were the “eMacs” (the White CRT monitor, in the old iMac form factor, with a 1.25 GHz G4 processor). Plenty fast for internet browsing and CD-ROMs, but capped at 802.11b for bandwidth (10-Base T ethernet port and NIC).

rhodes54's avatar

Sorry, Airport is not Extreme, but 802.11n Express. The iMac is the iLamp 17” 1.25gHz model

sndfreQ's avatar

Yeah, unless it’s the dual-band antenna, you’ll experience the bandwidth drop, unfortunately.

Here’s a somewhat lengthy discussion on this; unless your AE is set to N-mode only (5GHz mode) then it will connect to N/G/B/A on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, whichever you choose to set it to.

Of course, if you set it to N-only, your kid’s B/G Airport card will not see the AE at all.

rhodes54's avatar

Sorry again, the kid’s got NO wifi at this point, no AP card or any working USB card. I’m just looking for some kind of USB adapter that actually works on Mac, not just stating that it does on the box…..

sndfreQ's avatar

@rhodes54 yeah…I haven’t had much luck in this area with non-Apple USB adapters…I fear it will be the same issue your finding (they claim connectivity but in practice, they aren’t recognized by the Mac).

Best bet-go with an Airport Card or another AE…good luck!

rhodes54's avatar

if anyone’s still following, these guys have the answer. Plug and play, just like all good Mac stuff.

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