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D-Link DIR-868L review

Andrew Unsworth
25 Dec 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
105
inc VAT

Confusing web interface and lower than expected range, but its 802.11ac performance is pretty good

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Specifications

802.11n dual band, 4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports

The D-Link DIR868L is a dual-band 802.11ac router with a theoretical top data transfer speed of 1,300Mbit/s, four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB3 port. You’ll need to use an 802.11ac-compatible device in order to benefit from the DIR-868L’s highest data transfer speeds, but the DIR-868L will also work with older 802.11n, g, b and a devices. You can even administer it remotely.

Setting up the DIR-868L is a doddle thanks to its web interface’s wizard, which walks you through the process of configuring the DIR-868L for internet access and setting up wireless security. As the DIR-868L is a router only you’ll need to plug it into a modem to access the internet.

D-Link DIR-868L

Given the ease with which the wizard guides you through setup, it’s a shame the rest of the DIR-868L’s web interface is confusingly laid out. You have four tabs at the top of the screen and a series of sub-categories to the left, but this isn’t initially obvious and only becomes clear once you’ve spent much time searching for various options. The fact we’ve used this kind of web interface on other D-Link routers and still found it confusing is testament to the poor layout.

However, the web interface does provide all the options you expect to see on a high-end router, such as Dynamic DNS, port forwarding and even website filtering so you can control the websites users can and can’t access.

The free QRS Mobile app (available for iOS and Android devices) makes setting up the DIR-868L even easier, with clear, uncluttered screens and helpful diagrams guiding you through the process. Thanks to the QRS Mobile app you don’t even need to switch on your PC or laptop to configure the DIR-868L, making the router much more accessible to those who aren’t familiar with such devices.

D-Link DIR-868L

WI-FI PERFORMANCE
To test the 802.11ac performance of the DIR-868L we used the D-Link DWA-182 802.11ac-compatible Wi-Fi adaptor with our test laptop. 802.11ac only works on the 5GHz band, so we connected to the DIR-868L on this band and ran our wireless test. At one and 10 metres the DIR-868L achieved an average data transfer rate of 139.1Mbit/s, but failed the test at 25 metres. The one and 10 metre speeds are fairly impressive, but one of the advantages of the 802.11ac standard is greater Wi-Fi range, which makes the failure at 25 metres disappointing.

We also connected to the DIR-868L on the 5GHz band with our laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi adaptor. As it’s an 802.11n adaptor it couldn’t match the higher speeds of the DWA-182, but still provided 87Mbit/s at one metre and 90.1Mbit/s at 10 metres. These speeds aren’t too bad, but the test failed at 25 metres once again.

The DIR-868L’s 2.4GHz performance was similarly good at short range but poorer at long range. With the DWA-182 adaptor we saw data transfer speeds of 64.5Mbit/s at one metre and 52.4Mbit/s at 10 metres, with the test failing at 25 metres. When we used our test laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi adaptor we achieved data transfer speeds of 41.9Mbit/s at one metre, 38.7Mbit/s at 10 metres and 5.4Mbit/s at 25 metres.