How to Use Your Old PC Networking Devices with a Mac

If you’ve been using a PC and you’re switching to a Mac, you don’t have to buy all new networking devices. Most of the hardware you use to create a home network (technically called a local area network or LAN) for sharing broadband Internet access should work with a Mac, including

  • Ethernet switches and routers and Ethernet cabling: You use this equipment to create a network with wires. If you do decide to buy a new Ethernet router or hub, be sure to get a model that supports at least 100Base-T speeds (1000Base-T is blazingly fast but expensive and probably more than you need). If you own older 10Base-T equipment, you can use it if you like.

  • Cable modems and DSL modems: These modems come with high-speed Internet connections from your cable or digital subscriber line (DSL) provider, respectively. In all likelihood, you won’t need any different hardware to use your existing Internet connection with your Mac.

  • Wireless routers and access points: You use this hardware to set up the popular WiFi wireless networking. The 802.11b, g, and n standards also work with a Mac. The n version is the fastest, and b is the slowest.

    WiFi networks work at the speed of the slowest device on the network, so an older laptop that only supports 802.11b is best left off when not needed.

    Another, less common WiFi standard, called 802.11a, operates in a different frequency band from the b and g modes. The radios in WiFi-equipped Macs can operate on the 802.11a band as well, but Apple does not officially support this option.

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