You might have a wireless router that is capable of driving that fast internet connection, however when there’s a huge number of connected devices in your network environment, your network gets congested and hence causing an unexpected slow down on your internet connection, this is what happened to our office recently, our TIME 300 Mbps internet connection went down to 220 Mbps simply because there were more than 30 devices connected on both wired and wireless on our ASUS RT-AC68U router. In our time of distress, D-Link was kind enough to provide us a unit of their flagship DIR-895L wireless router, which the company claims that it is the ultimate router for gaming and streaming, let’s find out how well it works for us after two weeks.
Design and Hardware
D-Link has intended the DIR-895L to not only serve as a typical strong signal wireless router, hence to be able to handle heavy network loads such as video streaming and gaming for multiple devices, the router needs to come with some serious power, apart from being able to broadcast two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band, it has a dual core Broadcomm BCM4709C0 1.4GHz processor with 256MB of RAM to process all that heavy traffic and supports 4 simultaneous data streams.
Though I’ve seen countless wireless routers in my lifetime, most of them looked squarish, ugly and cool, but the DIR-895L is a whole different story, in fact I would call it the most beautiful and coolest wireless router ever produced, I call it either a “alien-like”, “stingray like” or simply refer it to as a triangular design, the router has a glossy red paint coated over it with holes at the back to dissipate internal heat.
While I have to admit that this router has earned a spot in my heart for its design alone, it is going to be a problem for some who have tight spaces for their routers, but thankfully you still have the option of mounting the router to the wall with its bottom mounting points.
The white LED status indicators on the router look pretty cool for where they are placed at, however they don’t show activity from the LAN and WAN ports, which is really inconvenient if you were to troubleshoot cable connectivity issues.
Like most standard WiFi routers, you are getting four gigabit Ethernet ports and one gigabit WAN port for wired connectivity, there’s also a USB 3.0 port for sharing your storage and a USB 2.0 port for sharing you printer across the network, but sadly none of the USB ports support a USB modem, though most folks won’t buy this router for the sake of using mobile broadband at their homes, such functionality should be included should the need arises, considering that this is a high end router, there are users who require a failover internet connection.
Probably the most surprising and underutilized feature would be the dedicated switch to turn the router into an extender, which most people would have just bought an extender or home plug for that purpose with a much lower price tag.
User Interface and Features
It is great to see D-Link finally moving away from the old dated orange themed user interface, the new router management software is based on Linux OS and has very straightforward navigation, after logging in you will be presented with a dashboard that shows a diagram of how your Internet is connected, click on each of the icons and it will show relevant information such as your IP address, connected clients and USB devices. One thing I like here is that you can manage the connected clients, which you can simply click on them to enable parental controls and reserve their IP addresses.D-Link has literally modernized and simplified most of the router’s configuration, and that’s a pretty good thing for those who aren’t familiar with router software, features have their own dedicated page and most importantly, they aren’t complicated to understand. However, I somehow find certain features to be too simple for such an advanced router, take parental controls for instance, I have no idea why it has to be separated from the Website/URL filter feature, in fact it makes things a lot more complicated for the user.
Another example would be the router’s traffic monitoring feature in a page called ‘Statistics’ on the Management tab, while it does show you the throughput of each connection interface, there is now way to identify which client using the most traffic, and to be able to limit bandwidth for a client, you will be required to configure it via the QoS Engine feature. Therefore, you won’t have any idea on what devices is causing your network to be slow when it happens.
There aren’t exactly any gaming centric features on the DIR895L, if you were to compare to routers like the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300. Nonetheless, the router does exceptionally well in distributing bandwidth across the network, port forwarding can be achieved pretty easily, and if you want to access your home network remotely, D-Link does provide a free DDNS service and uses the L2TP over IPSEC protocol, which is simple yet more secure over PPTP.
Like other D-Link routers, the DIR-895L uses the same myDlink SharePort software to access your connected storage on the network, the good thing here is that there’s a dedicated page and user access to it, and along with the free smartphone app, you will be able to access your files remotely, which makes it pretty useful and simple cloud storage solution.
For our router benchmark, we used a D-Link DWA-192 wireless adapter that is able to achieve up to 1300Mbps of transfer speed when connected to the 5GHz network, we perform a data transfer between a Synology DS216+ II NAS and a WD My Passport hard drive connected directly to the router’s USB 3.0 port. Also, we used an iPad Pro 10.5 to perform a speed test of our TIME 300Mbps internet connection using the Speedtest.NET app. Based on the diagram above, we have picked three locations in our 1000sf studio office to perform the wireless test, we also have 29 connected wired and wireless clients.
LAN Throughput Test
The D-Link DIR-895L did very decently in both reading from the NAS and USB hard drive, though it slopped a little in writing back to the USB hard drive. During our test, five active users were transferring files between PCs, while one user was accessing the files in the NAS for video editing purposes.
NAS Wireless Data Transfer
As you can see, the DIR-895L outperforms the TP-Link Archer C5400 in most tests, the C5400 has the same processor and amount of RAM as the DIR-895L, however with a different antenna setup. If we take a look at the 2.4 GHz connection at Location B, the DIR-895L managed to broadcast the 40 MHz channel properly to our wireless adapter, which explains the huge speed difference between the C5400.
USB 3.0 Hard Drive Wireless Data Transfer
Don’t expect USB hard drives to have the same performance as if plugged directly into a PC’s USB port, in most cases both the D-Link DIR-895L and TP-Link Archer C5400 have fairly close read speeds, the DIR-895L loses out in writing performance, the same case we have in the LAN throughput test.
Internet Connection Speed Test (TIME 300 Mbps, tested with iPad Pro 10.5)
Using the Speedtest.NET app and connected to TIME’s testing server, the TP-Link Archer C5400 manages to produce better speeds in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless connections. Nonetheless, both routers managed to hit the optimal speeds on the 5 GHz connection.
The D-Link DIR-895L is an extremely powerful router that could easily handle a busy small office or household network with its great wireless performance, coupled with a straightforward software and configuration that doesn’t overwhelm a user, this is a great router that we have no problems recommending if a consistent data transfer performance is what matters to you the most. However, for the more advanced users, you might just want to lower your expectations on the router’s software as it doesn’t offer a lot of other advanced features for you to tinker around. The D-Link DIR-895L retails for RM1,799, which isn’t cheap for an AC5300 router, but let’s look at the bright side of things, this is a cool looking router for your home and office.
- Cool and futuristic hardware design
- Decent wireless coverage and performance
- Simple software and configuration
The Not so Good
- No LED indicators for LAN ports
- USB ports doesn’t support USB modem
- Router configuration not centralized
- Price could be lower