Gadgets DIR-890L

Published on October 28th, 2015 | by Greg


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.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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