The Bottom Line
As the market stands right now, nearly every vendor has an AC3200 solution on the market, in past reviews such as the Nighthawk X6 and the Linksys EA9200, we had a chance to put these monsters of wireless technology through their paces. Shortly after CES 2015, we spoke with D-Link about their latest solution, the DIR-890L/R, and now a few months later, we have the latest in the lab ready for testing.
As we know, A3200 solutions allow the best mix of legacy and modern devices to communicate over a single network. With multiple 5GHz bands, you can manage your devices into a scenario where there is loss of performance with modern 802.11ac devices. Like previous AC3200 solutions, the D-Link DIR-890L/R is built on the Broadcom 5G Xstream platform featuring a 1GHz dual-core processor and what we can only guess is 256MB of DRAM and 128MB of NAND flash like previous solutions. On the wireless side of things, the DIR-890L/R features dual 5GHz bands capable of 1300 Mbps, while the 2.4GHz band reaches 600 Mbps.
Looking over the specifications, we find the DIR-890L/R housing four gigabit LAN ports next to a single gigabit WAN. A single USB 3.0 along with a USB 2.0 port allow Samba and DLNA access over the network. The wireless bands are split into a single 2.4GHz 802.11n network capable of 600 Mbps via TurboQAM, while both of the 5GHz bands are capable of 1300 Mbps.
The D-Link DIR-890L/R carries a MSRP of $369.99 with a one-year warranty.
D-Link Ultra AC3200 Wireless Router
D-Link Ultra AC3200 DIR-890L/R
Packaging for the DIR-890L/R is rather large, as is the router itself. The front of the box carries an image with bits of marketing adorning the box.
Opening the box, the DIR-890L/R has some of the best put together packaging I have seen for a router since the launch of the WRT1900AC from Linksys.
Pulling the router out of the box, it is massive, carrying a similar footprint to the original Nighthawk from Netgear. Like other AC3200 solutions, this router carries six wireless antennas.
The rear of the router houses both the USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports to the left, followed by the four gigabit LAN and single gigabit WAN ports.
Scope of delivery for the AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi includes reading materials, Ethernet cable, and power adapter.
The candy red exterior of the DIR-890L/R is adorned with a pearl silver center that houses all the activity LEDs.
Setup of the DIR-890L/R is quite simple and uses a new firmware than what we are used to seeing on D-Link solutions. To begin setup, you follow through a few menus including the one above.
The DIR-890L/R is unique with the way the network is setup in that while being similar to the Linksys solution, the D-Link houses all three bands under one SSID and password, it then chooses a network for you based on the device connecting.
Above, we have the new dashboard. As you can see, like similar solutions, we get an overview of what's going on with the router in one page.
The DIR-890L/R, like said above, by default puts all networks under one SSID and chooses based on device. If you would like to separate your networks, and setup multiple SSIDs, you must disable Smart Connect.
SharePort is the platform for media sharing and SMB servers on D-Link solutions. As seen above, you can setup a DLNA server, along with Windows file sharing.
The D-Link QoS engine allows you to drag and drop your devices into categories allowing you to decide what gets priority on the network.
A unique feature of the DIR-890L/R is the statistics menu that shows you activity across each band separately. This includes LAN and both WLAN networks.
Test System Setup and Transfer Performance
Wireless throughput is tested using the ASUS PCE-AC68 PCI Express Network Adapter. Range is tested with a Late 2013 MacBook Pro.
We perform all tests in a real-world environment. You may get better range and throughput results in a spacious facility with few internal walls or outdoors. Our tests provide a benchmark for estimating the range and throughput of wireless networking devices in an indoor setting, with some obstacles.
In the chart above, we have all four of the tested AC3200 solutions. All solutions do quite well in transferring files with the D-Link DIR-890L/R pulling ahead once we hit 802.11ac testing.
Benchmarks - Wired and Wireless Throughput
LAN-to-LAN throughput was surprisingly right with the previous D-Link solution we tested at 952.38 Mbps.
WAN to LAN throughput was on par with all other tested solutions coming in at 946 Mbps.
Benchmarks - Wireless Throughput
2.4GHz throughput was rather good with the 20MHz band, but as most solutions uses coexistence mode, the 40MHz band can be hard to achieve. With that said, we see that reflected in the performance of the 40MHz band.
5GHz throughput was quite good starting with the 20MHz band at 167 Mbps, followed up by the 40MHz band at 294 Mbps. Moving over to 80MHz and 802.11ac, the DIR-890L/R reached 395 Mbps.
Benchmarks - External Storage Test & Final Thoughts
External Storage Testing
In our external storage performance test, we map the USB 3.0 storage port on each router as a network drive, then run ATTO Disk benchmark and record the best results over three runs.
External storage performance for the D-Link DIR-890L/R wasn't the best we have seen, but wasn't the worst we have seen either. In read, the router was able to reach 58 MB/s, while write speeds touched 32 MB/s.
Since the release of 802.11ac technology, vendors have been producing solutions from the low-end budget friendly AC1200 all the way up to AC2400 Wave and AC3200. While many of these share the same platform underneath, your decision will largely depend upon product support, firmware and reliability. With MU-MIMO solutions set to start releasing in the very near future, upgrading your network has never empowered the home user more than now.
With the D-Link DIR-890L/R, we have our fourth installment of the AC3200 series, and quite possibly the best-looking router I have ever laid my eyes on. With that said, build quality adds to this solution, as it carries a solid platform underneath with the Broadcom 5G setup and the plastics, while managing to grab nearly every fingerprint in a 10 foot radius do fit together quite well.
Performance of the DIR-890L/R was rather good during testing in my testing. We found it to be in the top tier when it came to LAN and WAN performance. Wireless throughput for the 2.4GHz band was towards the top of the chart, but we lacked the ability to test the 40MHz band as there was no way of turning off the coexistence feature. 5GHz performance on the other hand was good, but again not chart topping, in both 20 and 40MHz we reached performance on par with other solutions on our chart, while the 80MHz band was quite a bit lower than most solutions tested at 395 Mbps.
Performance certainly isn't everything when it comes to routers, as most users just want something that is reliable and easy to use. The D-Link DIR-890L/R has just that, like all solutions that come through the lab, I personally used the D-Link as my home network's router for three weeks to see if it would act up or crash and surprisingly I had none of those issues. While the router does carry a massive footprint, it looks amazing doing it; a piece of art that's functional.
|Quality including Design and Build||87%|
|Bundle and Packaging||82%|
|Value for Money||78%|
The Bottom Line: D-Link's DIR-890L/R is an amazing looking solution and while it didn't carry top tier performance in our testing, it is a reliable solution with excellent firmware to back it up.
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