D-Link DIR-868L & DWA-182 Wireless AC Review
With a reputation for building high performance, easy to use networking components that date all the way back to 1986, D-Link is considered by many to be one of the few safe consumer networking choices. No matter what your experience level or budget they most likely have a product that will fit your needs. Simply put D-Link consistently released good products at good prices and has done so for decades. The latest additions to their wireless consumer networking lineup are the DIR-868L router and DWA-182 USB adapter hope to continue this tradition.
Like many other manufactures D-Link has recognized the massive potential bandwidth offered by the 802.11AC draft specifications and are actively pursuing this new market. With that being said, the products we’re covering in this review are nearly polar opposites which meant for different niches but both are 802.11AC enabled and allow consumers to upgrade their infrastructure from previous 802.11 standards without a budget busting price tag.
The interesting thing about the DIR-868L and DWA-182 is how they are two pieces of the same networking puzzle. D-Link’s router can easily replace an older unit while the USB adaptor can be added to any PC for a streamlined, high bandwidth wireless interface. For everything from NAS access to internet downloads, this combination seems to be affordable and highly capable.
Given its price tag of only $159 the DIR-868L 802.11AC router's specifications are rather impressive. Like 802.11AC draft routers costing over $200, D-Link has opted for a dual core Broadcom SoC which is paired up with Broadcom's wireless 4360 controller, offering simultaneous speeds of up to1300Mbits/sec on 802.11AC 5Ghz networks and 450MBits/s on 802.11N networks via a 3x3 antenna configuration. As with the competitions’ much more expensive offerings, this 'AC1750' router is also USB 3.0 enabled, allowing for greater attached storage performance.
The DWA-182 USB wireless network adapter is an interesting addition to D-Link's lineup to say the least. Not only is this new model an AC1300 adapter with speeds of 'up to' 866Mbits/sec on 802.11AC 5Ghz networks and 300MBits/s on 802.11N networks but all this power has been packed into a USB dongle not much larger than the typical USB flash drive. By comparison, most of the other adaptors we have seen are large, ungainly affairs.
While small, the DWA-182 still boasts an internal miniaturized 2x2 antenna array. It doesn’t even require a USB 3.0 port, making this one of the few USB 2.0 enabled 802.11AC adapters available on the market today, though D-Link has also released a USB 3.0 version. The impact of the narrower bus upon performance remains to be seen, but by using USB 2.0 this adapter will allow for boarder compatibility with older devices.
Value really is a major focus for the DWA-182 and DIR-868L. With a combined asking price that’s less than some other manufactures’ individual AC1750 routers, D-Link may be able to persuade many consumers that upgrading to Wireless AC doesn’t shouldn’t cost a fortune.
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