D-Link DIR-868L review
Unlike some of its rivals, there isn’t much in the way of ostentatious flair with D-Link’s latest 802.11ac router. Built in the same tall, cylindrical chassis the company has employed for some time, there isn’t much in the specifications to get the pulse racing either.
The DIR-868L’s top 802.11ac link speed is 1,300Mbits/sec, and with 802.11n it maxes out at 450Mbits/sec. This places it one rung down the ladder from flagship routers such as the Linksys WRT1900AC and the Netgear Nighthawk, but considering the low price, it’s still a respectable specification.
Elsewhere, you get only a single USB socket, although it is of the faster USB 3 type. There’s no ADSL modem, only a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, but external modems can be picked up fairly cheaply these days.
D-Link DIR-868L review: usability
Log into the router’s web interface and the D-Link continues to underwhelm. The clunky UI has hardly changed in years, and although it has plenty of features, its front-end is complicated to navigate and will be daunting to less-technical users.
We’re also disappointed to see there’s no form of content-based parental control, although you get the option to block access to specific devices at predefined times. It’s possible to block URLs, too, or run a whitelist – so only URLs in the list are accessible – if you really want to lock down your internet connection. But setting up these features isn’t straightforward.
The D-Link’s old-school UI sits at odds with the quality of features on offer. Its cloud management tools are good, and capable enough to rival Linksys’ Smart Wi-Fi features. You don’t get app extensibility, but you can monitor your network remotely from your PC and change core settings by registering the router with the cloud-based mydlink service. We like the way you can monitor how much data individual connected devices are consuming, and block those devices if necessary.
There are also iOS and Android apps: mydlink Lite lets you carry out basic monitoring and settings changes, and block devices remotely, although it lacks a live data-consumption meter; SharePort Mobile enables remote media streaming from a connected USB stick or hard drive; and QRS makes setup easier for those without access to a laptop or PC.
D-Link DIR-868L review: performance
Performance is key, however, and it’s here that the D-Link shines. At close range, it delivered the fastest speeds we’ve seen so far over 802.11ac, outstripping routers more than twice its price. It hit 79.7MB/sec from a distance of 2.5m, and speeds over 802.11n were also impressive.
In our long-range tests at 30m, it faded somewhat. Its 5GHz speeds took the biggest hit, throughput dropping 71% on 802.11ac to 23.2MB/sec and 66% to the 2×2 stream iPad Air. Its speeds over 2.4GHz, however, were more consistent, falling by just over 50% to our 3×3 stream PCI Express card, and a similar amount to the 2×2 stream iPad Air.
Despite that, speeds in this test never dipped to a level that we’d be concerned with. Throw in a top USB speed of 39.4MB/sec and you have a good-value all-rounder. At only £117, the D-Link DIR-868L is a steal.
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Gigabit LAN ports||4|
|10/100 LAN ports||0|
|Wireless bridge (WDS)||no|
|WPA Enterprise support||yes|
|WPS (wireless protected setup)||yes|
|MAC address filtering||yes|
|Port forwarding/virtual server||yes|
|Web content filtering||no|
|Dimensions||98 x 117 x 215mm (WDH)|
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