As the bandwidth demands for multiplayer games continue to rise and 4K movie streaming starts to dominate the media market, router manufacturers have begun releasing a whole new range of high-end, high-powered routers that can handle the network requirements of the modern household.
Summary: D-Link’s AC3200 is another in a long line of solid routers released by the company, with enough extra features and performance that it took a top spot in our best wireless routers 2019 list.
Price: $268 (as of January 2016)
Model #: DIR-890L/R
Availability: Buy on Amazon
What We Liked
- Blazing fast download and upload speeds
- Easy and well-explained setup
- SmartConnect feature keeps WiFi gaming smooth
What We Didn’t
- Would prefer some more alternative color options
- Takes up a large footprint in the home
The design of the D-Link AC3200 is…interesting, to say the least. Without mincing words, the AC3200 looks like something straight out of a near future, where all spaceships also double as personal home networking devices.
Dripping in racecar red glossy paint that’s enough to send chills down the spines of interior designers everywhere, the AC3200 stands out no matter which room it’s in, acting as a central conversation piece that tells anyone who comes over that you take your internet connectivity seriously.
By now, router manufacturers have all but streamlined the process of getting a new router up and running within minutes, and the D-Link is no different.
Right out of the box, the D-Link setup wizard carefully holds your hand through the process of getting all the nuts and bolts of your new wireless network in a row, giving you the option to choose basic settings like the router’s SSID straight through to the type of encryption you want to use to keep the link secure.
Read: How Does Wifi Work
From here, you’ll find access to the many different configuration options and customization tweaks that you can use to make the D-Link the router that’s right for how your home gets online.
Once this is done, you’re automatically taken to the router’s main dashboard. Again, most of what you get here is standard fare for any router at this point: WPA2-PSK protected WiFi, a hardware firewall, and even a great set of parental controls that let you individually select when certain devices (say the kid’s iPad) is allowed to go online, and when it’s time to shut things down for the night.
- We should note that D-Link’s internal VPN service was a nice surprise, which allows you or any other users with the passkey to create a protected tunnel to or from any device attached to the network. This is perfect for anyone out there who wants to access their media library at home from the road, but is concerned that their standard encryption may not be enough to protect the channel.
- The D-Link also features something the company calls its “Smart Connect” service, which supposedly prevents older devices connecting to the router from affecting the performance of the other computers or laptops attached to the same wireless. We tried pushing this system to its limits, and were pleasantly surprised that not even iPhones from five years ago could put a dent in the overall experience.
- Last, we enjoyed the ease of setting up a media server through the router’s external USB port. Simply plug in any hard drive or thumbstick with recognizable media files onboard, and the router will automatically make it available on your home network or from abroad.
With so many antennae sticking off the side of the AC3200, it’s clear this is a router that was built for one thing and one thing only (and that’s definitely not to win any beauty contests): speed.
And the wireless router doesn’t disappoint. Testing across multiple devices at dozens of different distances and IP configurations, the AC3200 screams from start to finish. No matter what kind of loopholes we tried to throw its way, over both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz network the AC3200 pushed our cable package to its absolute limits.
Under optimal testing conditions, we were able to consistently achieve a transfer rate at the theoretical limit of what our cable line was capable of, about 150Mbps download, and 15Mbps upload. Under less ideal conditions, the router still didn’t falter by much, only dropping about 10Mbps on download, and around 3Mbps for the upload, a reduction of close to 10% and 30%, respectively.
Read: How to Hack Wifi
While the pure aesthetics of the AC3200 may not be for everyone, the look of the router speaks to greater picture of the product overall. This is a machine that’s not here to mess around or be discreet; it’s big, it’s loud, and boy is it fast.
With a breezy-simple setup and enough features to make any media collectors shimmy in their boots with excitement, the AC3200 is the complete package of routers that’s sure to handle the needs of even the most stream-happy households. Please feel free to leave a comment on what you think of our AC3200 router review, or if you have any hands-on experience.