Fire Your Mac Up! 9 Essential Mac Upgrades (Plus More Power Tips)

Zack Stern's picture

Fire Your Mac Up! 9 Essential Mac Upgrades (Plus More Power Tips)

WIRELESS: Ride the Airwaves

 

The portable nature of notebooks makes Wi-Fi (the wireless networking standard used by AirPort) a must. Wi-Fi is a great way to get online when you're out and about. Some cities are even beginning to roll out low-cost - or free - Wi-Fi networks for all residents. But unless you live in such a city, a Wi-Fi upgrade has limited benefits for a desktop or iMac.

 

Wi-Fi comes in a range of flavors. If you locate an AirPort card for a particular Mac - try eBay and Craigslist for older machines - you'll have either the original standard, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n (the fastest flavor of all the Wi-Fi standards). Apple was the first to roll out its latest wireless network hub, the AirPort Extreme, with 802.11n built in. N is still in draft stage, but its data rate is significantly faster than G, which is even faster than B. A third-party upgrade won't work in Apple's AirPort slot, but options exist for PCI, CardBus, and USB. For best compatibility, look for a standard 802.11g card, or you can throw caution to the wind and try an 802.11n option. QuickerTek even makes 802.11n upgrades that fit in the AirPort slot of certain Intel iMacs, MacBooks, and Mac Minis ($149 to $179).

 

Bluetooth 2.0 communicates wirelessly with handhelds, phones, and other devices faster than the original Bluetooth, and older Bluetooth devices still work with Bluetooth 2.0–capable machines. Few older Macs support internal Bluetooth upgrades. Instead, opt for a USB Bluetooth 2.0 adapter.

 

TO INSTALL Wireless installation varies with each particular Mac. If you're installing a Wi-Fi card directly into a PCI slot, push it in firmly without rocking or angling it. CardBus and AirPort cards slide into their own slots, and many AirPort cards include an antenna connection.

 

> WHO'S IT FOR? Anyone who wants to cut cords and surf the Web from almost anywhere
> PRIORITY: Low
> OPTIONS: Belkin Bluetooth USB Adapter ($39.99), Sonnet Aria Extreme PCI ($99.95)
> SUPPORTED MACS: Towers, iMacs, iBooks, PowerBooks

 

Add Bluetooth with this tiny nubbin.

 

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