Solution for: #90: 5Ghz mode with Ralink RT2870 and AirPort Express

Must use a lower channel than 149

The Ralink RT2870 works with the 5 Ghz band on 802.11n, but it has specific channel requirements.

The main trick here is that by default, the AirPort Express will set its wireless channel in 5 Ghz automatically. In fact, the only choice under "Channel" in AirPort Utility is Automatic, and it usually chooses channel 149. Apparently this is out of range for the Ralink RT2870. At high channel, the Ralink card will not detect the 5 Ghz network.

If you hold down the Option key while clicking on the Channel pop-up menu, you can manually set preferred channels. Set it to a low channel, such as 36, and reboot the router. When it comes back up, the Ralink should pick up the 5Ghz network when you scan again.


  1. I cannot get the Wifi N mode to work on my ralink RT2870 chip, it is set to 2.4G and greyed out (cannot be modified). I have a time capsule on the other end, which is N enabled.

    cybercap on May 20, 2010, 09:21 AM UTC
  2. I am having the same problem with the RT2870. I contacted Buffalo and they told me that it is capable of channels above 11, but only with their Windows driver. So unfortunately this is a limitation of the Ralink software. I will try to contact them, but they are in China and I'm in California

    Andrew H. on December 30, 2010, 01:58 AM UTC