D-Link DIR-855 review
Our last router Labs focussed on wireless-n draft 2.0 routers with ADSL modems built in. But there’s a massive market for devices without the ADSL capability. For anyone with existing cable internet access or a modem that’s already set up and ready to go, there’s no need to pay for the extra functionality.
Other reasons to opt for a plain router include choice – there are far more 802.11n draft 2.0 routers around than models with modems – and, as D-Link’s latest router proves, features. The DIR-855 sports four Gigabit Ethernet ports alongside its WAN port; the only ADSL modem router we’ve seen with this feature was the expensive Belkin N1 Vision.
And it’s also a dual-band device, allowing you to connect in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously; there are no ADSL routers we’ve tested that offer that feature.
With the appropriate adaptor – D-Link sells a USB dual-band dongle for the purpose – you can switch between band depending on which one delivers the fastest performance. In theory, using the 5GHz avoids interference from neighbouring networks and devices and therefore improves performance, connections can be aggregated for improved throughput, or you can assign different tasks to different bands.
As with the Belkin N1 Vision we reviewed in our last routers Labs, the DIR-855 has an external screen for monitoring device connections, download speeds and various security settings. This OLED display is bright and very clear, and more useful than the usual blinking LEDs.
But for most operations and settings, you’ll need to access the D-Link’s embedded web pages, which are both well-organised and comprehensive. It has support for multiple SSIDs, so you can set up ‘guest zones’ – one per band – with different levels of security for each network. You can prioritise different types of network traffic to various levels using the router’s WISH feature. There’s the facility to create black and while lists of URLs, too – handy for paranoid parents.
More importantly, perhaps, performance is very solid indeed. Based on tests using the 2.4GHz band with the integrated Intel WiFi Link 4965AGN adapter in our test Lenovo X300 laptop, we tested the DIR-855 against our A-Listed router, the Linksys WAG160N.
It was faster in every test, completing the transfers of our single 128MB file and collection of 128 1MB files on average two seconds quicker. Its range proved to be pretty good too, with our long distance test 40 metres away from the router, through a couple of walls, resulting in an average transfer six seconds faster than the Linksys.
All very impressive, but alas as well as being packed with exciting features and goodies, the DIR-855 also carries a rather high price tag. If you absolutely must have solid, fast performance it’s swifter than our A List choice. But unless you really need the dual band feature, it’s not really worth the extra outlay.
|WiFi standard||Draft 802.11n|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Gigabit LAN ports||4|
|10/100 LAN ports||0|
|Dimensions||121 x 198 x 41mm (WDH)|