Published on October 28th, 2015 | by Greg0
D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router: A Whole Different Class
Networking gear comes in a lot of different shapes, styles, and prices. But the vast majority of the routers on the market- for home or business use- come in boring black and are compact, easily overlooked. Speeds can vary a bit, but much of the internal hardware is similar now, and even the software has begun to result in a pretty level playing field. Leave it to one of the oldest names in the field to shake things up, with a gamer-focused router that breaks the mold.
The D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router (model DIR-890L/R) is one of a small number of 802.11a/g/n/a tri-band routers on the market, and it comes in a form factor that definitely grabs attention. Six big antennas and a crazy shape mean you’ll need to devote some real estate to the router, and the bright red color ensures it will stand out. If you stream 4K media, or have a lot of simultaneous users, you need a home network that can handle your needs. With that target audience in mind- performance-focused enthusiasts- let’s break down the hardware before we look at software and usability metrics.
Inside, D-Link added a 1GHz dual core processor, and you’ll find mostly normal connectivity on the back- four gigabit ethernet, and both a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port for printers and external storage devices, respectively. As with most newer routers, there is SmartBeam technology (or beamforming). The most appealing feature is probably the tri-band capabilities- most routers are limited to working on two bands at a time while this one maxes out with a single 2.4GHz connection but offers two separate 5Ghz bands (for a total of 600+1300+1300 theoretical Mbps, or 3200 Mbps overall). Just about everything that’s wireless- from cordless phones to your laptop- all use 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands and that can make things crowded. So splitting traffic among three bands can help spread the traffic around, which can lead to increased performance and better throughput. The six directional antennas help in a different way, boosting the distance you’ll be able to connect and helping improve signal strength.
On the software side, it was nice to see that D-Link added support for DD-WRT, an open source firmware. Advanced QoS settings allow control over network prioritization and utilization, but some features seemed missing in the stock firmware. We didn’t see some typical functions like MAC filtering options and IP reservations, but if you’re serious about the backend functions, you can always swap to a more sophisticated firmware. Even the box and packaging were bleeding edge- heavy, serious, and sexy. Available now, online and in stores, expect to spend around $290- which makes the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router one of the most expensive we’ve seen- but to be fair, also one of the most powerful.