The Eagle Has Landed: D-Link AC3200 Ultra WiFi Router Review.
The Eagle has landed. I repeat, The Eagle has landed. The D-Link AC3200 Ultra WiFi Router DIR-890L/R offers Tri-Band wireless signal broadcasted from 6 antennae for performance minded consumers in a beautiful new shiny red design that looks like it might go into a hover and fly away!
Today with all the technology readily available and everything being “connected” to the cloud, it’s not unfathomable that a common home may have upwards of 20 or even 30 wireless devices running; MAC/PC Computers, Tablets, Smartphones, Gaming systems, WiFi Home Surveillance and Automation products etc. The DIR-890L/R allows you to optimize performance of your network, for fast speeds all of the time. Load balancing, sort of… more about this in Features and Performance.
Aesthetically this thing is awesome! I’ve never been happier to introduce a router into the home and put it on display like the DIR-890L/R. I was never a big fan of the foster beer can cylindrical designs of the AC1750 models like the DIR-868L.
DIR-890L/R Specs and Setup
The AC3200 Ultra Performance WiFi Router features 3 wireless networks in a single device. The normal 5GHz and 2.4GHz wireless bands provide excellent stabile speeds with the addition of a secondary 5GHz network. 1GHz Dual core CPU, Four port 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN, supports 802.11a/g/n/ac wireless, 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN, 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0 for use with SharePort, WPA & WPA2 wireless security. For those of you with an integrated wireless router from your ISP, the DIR-890L/R comes available with Bridge Mode.
It measures 15.23 x 9.73 x 4.7 inches. Our test unit is a DIR-890L/R, Hardware: A1 running Firmware 1.08. The physical footprint is slightly large as you are supposed to spread the 2 antennae on either side at a 45 degree angle, it’s best to seat it on your top shelf or wall mount it.
As with most of the D-Link wireless products the AC3200 Ultra Performance WiFi Router is super easy to configure and you’ll be up and running within minutes.
You can setup your router via internet browser as you would traditionally by accessing the UI at dlink.local or 192.168.0.1 or you can even grab D-Link’s Quick Router Setup/QRS app and do it over your mobile device. The setup wizard will run you through the appropriate questions depending on your Internet Service Provider/ISP.
Zero Configuration allows you to connect devices with absolute ease and also offers the WPS push button setup which lets you to abandon the UI all together; Simply press the WPS button on the device, then the router and presto! Very convenient feature.
DIR-890L/R Features and Performance
The DIR-890L/R offers potentially 3200mbps over the 11ac wireless protocol, however it is important to note that this is not a cumulative 3200 but rather an added total of the speeds on each of the divided 3 wireless bands; 2.4GHz at up to 600mbps, 5GHz at up to 1300mbps and a secondary 5GHz. So for each of the three the ceiling is the same as any AC1750 standard router but the ability to segregate traffic to different wireless bands is pretty nifty and comes in handy if your roommates or kids are constantly hogging all the bandwidth.
Stay tuned for our review of the D-Link DWA-192 AC1900 WiFi USB adapter.
The DIR-890L/R will prioritize device connections by auto-selecting one of the 3 networks for the best performance using their Smart Connect technology. As a device requires more bandwidth the router will determine the best way to connect, even shuffling the connection up, down or sideways between the 3 radios.
The range seems quite improved over the DIR-880L (it’d better be with 6 antennae) and gives upwards of 35mbps at 150+ ft where previously with the DIR-880L I would get about 6mbps. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I will always take stability over a few more mbps but the DIR-890L/R does both much better than the previous DIR-880L. Walls, Floors, Ceilings and other interference can affect your performance, your mileage may vary.
The router performs quite well, however as benchmarks have shown the DIR-890L/R may not be the fastest AC3200 router on the market but it does offer excellent stability and ease of use. You’ll be hard pressed to notice much difference unless you are hounding numbers all day running routers side by side. If it’s doing it’s job, you shouldn’t have to spend your time worrying and fiddling with your router. The AC3200 Ultra WiFi router will do all the work in the background keeping your speed and connection optimized, allowing you to keep your mind on whatever it is your doing!
QoS or Quality of Service
Prioritization of bandwidth (different Smart Connect) can be done with the QoS Engine, however the configuration is ultra simplified.
Populating the fields is Drag N Drop from a horizontal scrolling Connected Clients list. The problem is that you only get a total of 11 prioritized slots to play with; 1x Highest, 2x High and 8x Medium slots.
If you want to segregate a set of devices to a certain network band you can always run the 3 bands (5GHz, 5GHz, 2.4GHz) separately to force your devices to connect to the network you specify. Change the SSID for each band and change the passwords, then log into the wireless network you want to use for that device. Example SSID= Mynetwork5GHz, Mynetwork5GHz-2, Mynetwork2.4GHz might be one way to name them so you can easily tell which is which.
SharePort Personal File Sharing
With the DIR-890L/R you are able to run a personal file server via SharePort. Simply attach ideally a USB 3.0 or 3.1 stick or external HD to the USB 3.0 port on the router, visit the SharePort page, under settings in your router UI and set some basic preferences for Digital Living Network Alliance DLNA Media Server, Windows File Sharing (SAMBA) and Web File Access.
Remote access seems to be vastly improved over the performance on the DIR-880L. File population is substantially quicker with access speeds with reports upwards of 60mbps+ making operation much smoother and more importantly, useful. That said, your throughput will greatly depend on your ISP’s upstream bandwidth so if you running a 2mbps up connection with 5 down, don’t expect breakneck operational speeds remotely from this or any AC3200 premium router.
Access to SharePort from your iOS or Android device is quick and painless using D-Link’s SharePort app, while SAMBA and DLNA services allow you to seamlessly introduce files quickly and easily to your Windows or Mac (SMB) environment and DLNA media supported devices.
The UI is easy to use but doesn’t offer a ton of options with regards to ultimate control and security but makes it easy for most home users to introduce a performance oriented product without spinning their heads around in circles. For those of you that require tighter reigns and more functionality, DD-WRT firmware is almost always a great option. Your mileage may vary.
Though I’d appreciate a more advanced/feature packed interface, the dumbed UI focuses on what typically matters most for many homes; stability, speed and ease of use. D-Link has chosen an interesting angle and given advanced users the option to flash to DD-WRT firmware even endorsing it which is awesome! While this can be a bit cumbersome, if you are an advanced user, flashing a router’s firmware should be playtime for you anyway. We will not be reviewing the DD-WRT firmware in this article. DD-WRT OpenSource is a Linux-based operating system that features an alternative firmware, that packs in the functionality and optimizes performance. DD-WRT is built with the knowledge and know-how of the open source community.
If you like the DIR-890L/R AC3200 Ultra WiFi Router, D-Link is about to release the new DIR-895L/R AC5300 Ultra WiFi Router that sports 8 antennae and the DIR-885L/R Ac3150 Ultra WiFi Router sporting 4, both will come equipped with a new 1.4GHz Dual Core CPU.
The D-Link DIR-890L/R offers Tri-band signal with AC3200 performance in a hot new design that is a solid performer with excellent overall range, speed and performance; it’s even DD-WRT firmware compatible for advanced users! Recommended for the performance minded consumer with a crowded home network that’s looking for a premium level router with minimal fiddle factor.