Software Slowing Some Wi-Fi File Transfers on New MacBook Air

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AirportextremeNetworking code in OS X Mountain Lion is slowing down file transfers over the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) and Microsoft's Server Message Block (SMB), according to examinations done by both Ars Technica and AnandTech.

The issue affects the new MacBook Air models that come equipped with the 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology. The new MacBook Air and Apple's new AirPort Extreme base station are the first Apple products to use the new Wi-Fi technology.

Anandtech discovered that the TCP window size for file transfers in OS X was too small to reach the potential throughput on many file transfers, slowing data transfers from a potential 533Mbps down to 170Mbps.

The bad news is that in its shipping configuration, the new MacBook Air is capable of some amazing transfer rates over 802.11ac but you won’t see them when copying files between Macs or PCs. The good news is the issue seems entirely confined to software. I’ve already passed along my findings to Apple. If I had to guess, I would expect that we’ll see a software update addressing this.

Ars Technica confirmed AnandTech's findings, and went a bit further. The site discovered that when running Windows 8 in Boot Camp, the new MacBook Air saw file transfer speeds significantly higher than under a comparable setup in OS X Mountain Lion.

Some variation between the two operating systems is to be expected. They're very different under the hood, after all, and Microsoft's strong commitment to the enterprise (and the file servers therein) makes it unsurprising that Windows' file transfer speeds are generally a bit faster than OS X's. However, the discrepancy between the Windows 802.11ac speeds and OS X speeds is too large to be explained away by networking optimizations alone. Windows is, at best, about nine percent faster over Gigabit Ethernet and 30 percent faster over 802.11n, but it's 218 percent faster over 802.11ac.

Ars' OS X wireless setup saw transfer speeds of 21.71MB/s on SMB, and 47.26MB/s on a comparable Windows 8 setup under Boot Camp.

The issues also exist under the developer beta of OS X Mavericks, but both sites expect Apple to release a software fix for OS X that will solve the file transfer issues.

Top Rated Comments

komodrone Avatar
99 months ago
some people are feeling this:
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
parapup Avatar
99 months ago

One would still think these issues should be more uncommon on Macs than they are since ”Apple makes both the hardware and the software”, no?

Haha the delusion of integration! It took a third party for Apple to do their testing and analysis for them after the product release. The Windows part gotta hurt the fanboys real bad :)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nightarchaon Avatar
99 months ago

Haha the delusion of integration! It took a third party for Apple to do their testing and analysis for them after the product release.


Isnt that how apple do all the testing,

Apples process is something like this

step one, J.Ive design a case nothing with a reasonable performance can fit into.

Step Two, the hardware engineers go out and shoehorn whatever they can find that can kind of fit into that case.

Step Three, Apples marketing team has to spin the reason you can get a PC for a tenth the price with 4x the power almost solely on the J.Ive designed case and a load of specs that don't work yet and might be patched in later.

Step four, build a giant ring shaped building to put all the money in the middle of and swim about like Scrooge McDuck.

Now im not an apple hater, i love the OS, i just wish they would u-turn from this sealed unit lockdown, all our products are disposable, kick they are on , when its easier to replace the Harddisk in my PS3 when it fails than my iMac, something is seriously out of whack.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
star-affinity Avatar
99 months ago

Not a big surprise. New hardware often has driver/software problems. No need to return new MacBook Airs. They will be fixed in a software update ;)


One would still think these issues should be more uncommon on Macs than they are since ”Apple makes both the hardware and the software”, no?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Plutonius Avatar
99 months ago
People must be holding it wrong :D.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thejadedmonkey Avatar
99 months ago
In other words, a typical 1st revision Apple product.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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