D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 ultra Wi-Fi router review

DIR-890L frontI’ve seen the D-Link DIR-890L before when I was checking out the recommended routers for my NVIDIA SHIELD tablet (still yet to review). The thing is, I still wasn’t prepared for how big, red and visually impressive it is – but, is it any good at its job?

This AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi router definitely stands out in a crowd thanks to its stealth fighter styling and supercar paint job. It’s almost as though D-Link asked Filippo Perini at┬áLamborghini to design it.

As well as its aggressive styling there’s plenty of impressive things on the 890L’s spec sheet such as its Tri-Band skills. Where most routers offer a 2.4Ghz band and a 5Ghz band, D-Link has thrown in a second 5Ghz band into the mix, the idea being that this will increase the amount of data hungry traffic that the router can handle. That’s the theory anyhow.

D-Link DIR-890L design

Yes, it looks like an attack drone but I have to hand it to D-Link, it’s great to get away from the boxy or ‘sleek’ design treatments usually associated with these devices. Most routers are designed to do a job and be hidden away or ignored, the DIR-890L would probably kill you in your sleep if you didn’t have it out in the open.

d-link dir-890L packageAs alluded to earlier, the DIR-890L does have a much larger footprint than your average router. Check out the snap below as it faces off with my Linksys EA6900 router.

Linksys vs D-LinkThe DIR-890L AC3200 measures 15.2 x 9.7 x 4.7-inches (38.7 x 24.7 x 11.9cm) and then there’s the six non-detachable antennas. It’s a real shame that D-Link didn’t make the aerials removable as this means that you can’t replace them with high-gain or third-party antennas in order to increase its range. This is in no way a deal breaker but I am aware that there’s a number of you out there that like to add larger or more potent aerials.

DIR-890LAround the back there are four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit Internet [WAN] port. It also has one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port that you can use to host a printer or an external hard drive. This is also where the WPS button and power switch lives.

On the front ‘bonnet’ you’ll find an array of lights running in a vertical line that show the status of the Internet connection, the Wi-Fi networks, and the two USB ports.

d-link dir-890L frontA point to remember is that the AC3200 is a Wi-Fi router and not a modem so, if you’re wanting to upgrade the free thing that you got sent by your provider then you’ll need a modem and the DIR-890L or just switch off the Wi-Fi bit on the modem router you already have.

D-Link DIR-890L installation

Getting the D-Link DIR-890L up and running is simple. I plugged the router in to my modem and then, using my tablet, logged in to router’s local IP address and then simply used the wizard to configure the router. The entire process took around five minutes including updating the network name and password so that everything in the home could get back online quickly (smart plugs, cameras, as well as smartphones and tablets).

D-Link has simplified its web interface and it really is a lot more user-friendly. You can even access and manage the network from a smartphone app.

dir-890 mapNaturally, you can go deeper in to the settings should you wish to. You can choose a connection type (DHCP, Static, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, DS-Lite), set the device mode (router or access point), configure Mac Address cloning, and configure IPv6 DNS server settings.

d-link router tabletYou are able to enable, disable and rename all three bands, set Wi-Fi passwords, choose 802.11 modes (and security modes WEP, WPA/WPA2-Personal), and create a guest zone with limited access to network devices and data.

The Network page offers DHCP server settings, IPv4 and IPv6 multicast stream settings, and UPnP settings. You can configure USB drive settings on the SharePort page, which has sections for DLNA Media Server, Windows File Sharing (SAMBA), and Web File Access disk-sharing options.

qosAssigning bandwidth priorities is fantastically straight forward thanks to the Quality of Service (QoS) drag-and-drop feature. This is just a matter of clicking on each connected client and dragging it to a priority box. There is one Highest box, two High boxes, and eight Medium boxes. Yes, this means that whoever has control of this side of things has to make the decision who or what gets the highest level of priority ­čśë

D-Link DIR-890L performance

Looking around at the routers available today and Tri-Band does seem to be one of the latest selling points making its presence felt in this market and, let’s face it, being able to achieve 3200 megabits per second (roughly 400 megabytes per second) is something none of us would turn down, especially those with a Wi-Fi enabled smart TV and wireless gaming devices.

But, before you get all power hungry, these figures refer to the cumulative theoretical speed of all three bands put together, at the same time.┬áBasically, when each of the DIR-890L’s bands are operating at their maximum speed simultaneously.

This breaks down to 1300 megabits per second on the two 5Ghz bands and 600Mbps on the single 2.4Ghz band. Still, it’s no slouch that’s true – but it’s not the same speeds as what was getting us twitchy at the top of this section is it?

ac3200 mapI am happy to report that the DIR-890L does boast some pretty impressive real world speeds. I was averaging about 55 megabytes per second during file transfer tests using the 5Ghz band when sat in the same room as the router. Taking my kit in to the next room saw the speed drop slightly to about 35-40 megabytes per second which is still very usable.

You won’t be surprised to read that the speeds drop somewhat more when you switch over to the 2.4Ghz channel. Transfers were then hitting a max of around 10 megabytes per second which still had tablets and smartphones sharing photos and videos without issue.

Connection stability was what impressed me almost more than the speeds. I enjoyed long periods of gaming on my SHIELD without drop outs, and we all know how infuriating losing connection at those vital moments that can be.

shareportUsing the DIR-890L to share content from an attached USB drive on the network via Shareport is a real simple process, and works surprisingly well when it comes to media playback. Playing back a full HD film was almost as though it was saved locally on my device with forward and rewind maintaining smoothness without any discernible lag. I was going to hook up my external drive but it seems to have chosen this moment to curl up its toes and die.

D-Link DIR-890L review conclusion

D-Link’s DIR-890L performs as impressive as it looks.

I found that the DIR-890L AC3200 router offers great stable speeds as well as a decent range. The advantage of Tri-Band may be lost on some but should you be a tech-heavy household, or have friends over for LAN gaming sessions fairly regularly, then the DIR-890L AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi router should be worthy of your consideration.

d-link ac3200 sideAdd in to the mix the DIR-890L’s SmartConnect band steering and Beamforming tech, drag-and-drop QoS management, and Firewall settings all presented in an intuitive, user-friendly Web interface then it certainly makes it a very attractive package.

All-in-all, the D-Link DIR-890 is a great high-end Wi-Fi router which boasts high speeds and stable signals wrapped up in a very futuristic and needs-to-seen shell. Gamers and power users should really put the D-Link DIR-890L on their shopping wishlist.

You can purchase the D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router now for £240 at Amazon.co.uk.

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