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Ask Max: Weak wifi signal from a G5

Asked on 09/10/2007:

I just added an Airport Extreme card to my G5 single processor 1.8. I am in a room about 10' away from my base station. My signal strength is on the lower two bars. I can use my G4 iBook in the back yard and the signal strength is at max. What gives? I expected a strong signal with this card and I am barely recording anything. What might help me improve signal strength?


When Apple switched its tower design from the G4 Plastic case to the all metal G5 case, they had to do something funky with the wireless antennas. Unlike plastic, wireless signals travel poorly through metal. So Apple solution was to route the bluetooth and Airport internal antennas to the back of the G5's case. There are two antenna ports on the back connection panel above the optical audio jacks. The topmost plug is for a T-shaped Airport antenna that came with the G5s when they were new. The other lower-port is for a pin-shaped bluetooth antenna.

If you still have the original G5 box, the "T" shaped adapter could still be in it. Otherwise one can be ordered for you as an Apple Service part. A replacement antenna will cost $19.88 plus shipping. The free fix is to run your G5 with the side door off. The plastic airfoil will keep it running cool and the clear plastic will not stop the wireless signal like the metal door does. The "T" antenna is the best solution though.

The "T" antenna was often lost and Apple came to realize that it was a bad solution. Later on when Apple switched to the Dual Core G5s, they integrated the antennas onto the outside of the case in a plastic strip along the back.

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