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D-Link DIR-880L review: A good, basic 802.11ac Wi-Fi router

Michael Brown | July 17, 2014
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.

Register for D-Link's free Mydlink service and you can access and manage this router from the cloud. If you find yourself frequently troubleshooting your parents' home network over the phone, you might want to consider talking them into an upgrade.

The router's USB ports can share a printer, scanner, or a storage device over your network (any combination of two). I didn't test the router with a scanner or printer, and D-Link's SharePort technology isn't compatible with our storage benchmarking procedures, so I couldn't evaluate its performance on that score.

I'm just not a big fan of SharePort. On the positive side, the user interface helpfully presents your files in an organized fashion according to file type: music, video, photographs, and documents. And D-Link offers smartphone and tablet apps you can use to stream media files. The router is DLNA compatible, but it doesn't have an iTunes server.

On the negative side, SharePort limits you to viewing just one file at a time in this view, and it won't let you download or otherwise move files around. Switch to a hierarchical list view and you can at least upload files; but again, just one at a time. Our procedure for testing network-attached storage performance involves reading and writing both a single 10GB file and a 10GB collection of files. So I can't tell you how fast or slow the DIR-880L is when it comes to reading files from and writing to a hard drive attached to its USB ports. Don't buy this router if NAS functionality is on your must-have list of features.

In terms of its wireless routing performance, the DIR-880L was much slower on the 2.4GHz frequency band than the Asus and Linksys routers at close range (with an 802.11n client in the same room as the router, separated by 9 feet). It was slightly faster than the Linksys when the client was in my kitchen (20 feet from the router, separated by one wall hung with plywood cabinets). And it was much faster on this band than both of those devices when I tested it in my home theater (client 35 feet from the router) and in my home office (client 65 feet from the router).

D-Link's router trailed both the Asus and the Linksys with an 802.11ac client in three of my four test locations. I tested all three routers using an Asus USB-AC56 Wi-Fi adapter plugged into the client's USB port. TCP throughput of 328Mbps is nothing to sneeze at, but the WRT1900AC delivered 439Mbps here and the Asus managed 418Mbps. The DIR-880L will probably stream HD video to most rooms in the typical home, but it wasn't nearly as fast as the competition on this band in my longer-distance tests.

 

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