If you're a big fan of D-Link's connected-home product line, D-Link's DIR-880L is the 802.11ac Wi-Fi router to buy. D-Link is building out an ecosystem of IP cameras, motion sensors, and lighting controls that are super-easy to deploy, thanks to the company's "zero-config" architecture. This router is also a good choice for if you're looking for a new router that's easy to set up and manage, with or without a PC.
The DIR-880L isn't the fastest 802.11ac router I've tested lately, but it's also priced about $30 less than either the Asus RT-AC68U or the Linksys WRT1900AC. Like those routers, this is a dual-band model supporting 802.11b/g/n clients on its 2.4GHz frequency band (802.11n clients at speeds up to 600Mbps) and 802.11a/ac clients on its 5GHz band (802.11ac clients at speeds up to 1300Mbps). Add 600 to 1300 and you get the oh-so-popular AC1900 marketing label. You can also set up a guest network on either or both bands.
The DIR-880L has a low-profile enclosure with three oversized antennas that can be removed and upgraded. LEDs on top indicate the status of its power, Internet connection, 2.4- and 5GHz wireless networks, and USB ports. There's a USB 3.0 port on the left side, and a USB 2.0 port, a power button, a WAN port, and the usual four-port gigabit Ethernet switch in the back. If you don't like this router's desktop footprint, you can hang it on the wall.
This router's firmware provides a relatively basic, consumer-oriented feature set that includes beamforming, VPN support using L2TP over IPSec, and a Quality of Service engine that automatically prioritizes lag-sensitive traffic such as online games, VoIP calls, and video streaming over other data that can tolerate delayed packet deliveries. You can also manually assign higher priority to individual clients .
Advanced configurations such as port forwarding and assigning clients to static routes are supported, but you're limited to 15 instances in each case. Parental controls are even more limited: You can define schedules for when individual clients — or the router itself — are allowed online, or you can block particular websites. And that's about it.
The DIR-880L is quite easy to set up using a web browser. If you'd prefer to use a tablet or smartphone, D-Link's QRS Mobile app is available for the Android and iOS operating systems. The router comes preconfigured with a password for its wireless networks, and D-Link helpfully provides a small card with the router's SSID and password printed on it. The router's admin user interface is not password protected, but you're prompted to create one when you use the setup wizard.
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