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D-Link DIR-1960 review: A well-rounded router

Expert Reviews Staff
13 Nov 2020
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
121
inc VAT

A very fast, simple-to-use router that you can expand into a full mesh system

Pros 
Smooth interface
Super fast download speeds
Useful security features
Cons 
Lack of support for some streaming channels
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Not sure if you need a wireless mesh system to get coverage around your house, or if an updated router would be the best way to go? With the D-Link DIR-1960, you get something in the middle: a regular router, but one to which you can also add wireless mesh access points to boost performance.

D-Link DIR-1960 review: Features

The DIR-1960’s plain black case is less striking than D-Link’s gaming-focused routers, though the four large antennas on top jump out. It can be placed flat on a surface or wall-mounted.

At the back, the DIR-1960 has everything you’d expect from a router: there’s a Gigabit Ethernet LAN port for connecting the router to a suitable modem, and four Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired devices. D-Link has also provided a USB3 port for file sharing.

The DIR-1960 comes preconfigured with a secure wireless network. Once the router is plugged in and hooked up to your network, you can connect a wired or wireless device to the router, connect to its web interface, and then follow the wizard through – something that takes only a few minutes.

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D-Link DIR-1960 review: Connectivity

D-Link’s web interface is nice and uncluttered. From the main page, you can see your internet connection status, and view a list of connected devices. Select any device and you can reserve its IP address: this is like giving out a static IP address, only easier.

You can also select the router and use the link to edit the Wi-Fi settings. The DIR-1960 uses band steering (called Smart Connect here) to combine the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands under one SSID. The router then sends connecting devices to the best network based on features and performance. We recommend leaving this setting alone, unless you have a specific reason to split the networks up, such as an old device refusing to connect to your new network.

Automatic channel selection is turned on by default, but you can disable this and pick a manual channel if you’re having problems. You can also control the QoS settings here. Neatly, once you’ve run an internet speed test, the router lets you drag and drop devices into priority boxes to set which ones should get the most of your internet speeds. There’s a single spot for Highest priority, two for High and eight for Medium.

That’s all the web interface gives you; to get more, you need to download the D-Link Wi-Fi app for your phone. As well as having most of the same features as the web interface, the app lets you enable the D-Link Cloud account, which lets you turn on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, plus D-Link Defend, which requires a separate app.

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D-Link DIR-1960 review: Usability

Powered by McAfee, D-Link Defend is a total security and parental control system. It’s made of two components: McAfee Secure Home Platform, which protects devices connected to your router (there’s a five-year subscription to this), and McAfee LiveSafe, which can be installed on computers (you get two years of this, otherwise it’s normally £90 per year for unlimited devices). That’s good value, although Kaspersky Internet Security provides better on-device protection than McAfee.

Secure Home Platform is useful, however. This will scan your network, alerting you to any vulnerabilities it finds, and also includes complete parental controls. These include the ability to group a child’s devices under a profile, controlling both what they can view online and how long they can go online for, or even pause internet access.

Alexa and Google Assistant integration are nice to see, too. You can toggle your Guest Network on or off, reboot your router and get your router to update itself using your voice.

The only feature this router misses out on is support for BT YouView streaming channels: if you watch BT Sport or the like through a YouView box, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

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D-Link DIR-1960 review: Specs

The DIR-1960 is a dual-band router with a 1,300Mbit/s 5GHz network and a 600Mbit/s 2.4GHz network. As a Wave 2 802.11ac router, this model supports all the features you’d expect, including MU-MIMO for faster speeds with multiple clients, and beamforming.

We tested with the router in its default state, with band steering turned on. In all cases, our test laptop connected to the 5GHz band. At close range, we saw upload speeds of 375Mbit/s and download speeds of 460Mbit/s: that’s very fast indeed. At range, the router held up well, with 320Mbit/s upload and 247Mbit/s download speeds on the first floor, as well as upload speeds of 284Mbit/s and download speeds of 329Mbit/s on the second floor.

That makes the router considerably faster than the TP-Link Archer C5400, which is no slouch itself. If you need a bit more range from this router, then the D-Link DAP-1620 mesh extenders will do the job.

READ NEXT: Best mesh Wi-Fi router

D-Link DIR-1960 review: Verdict

For larger homes or where there’s an issue getting wireless where you want, the Netgear Orbi mesh system is a better choice. If you’re happy with a single router, then the D-Link DIR-1960 is well priced and very fast, and the option to extend it to a mesh network remains.