The D-Link AC1900 EXO router is a cheap, quick networking solution for gamers who need a lot of power, but don’t have a ton of money to throw around. So, will its quirky color scheme or range reliability be enough to keep the multiplayer masters at bay?
Keep reading my D-Link AC1900 EXO router review to find out!
Summary: The D-Link is a fast, cheap router that’s perfect for gamers or just the average internet user, which often outperforms its competition twice the cost. If you’re looking for a top gaming wireless router on the cheap that has a strong signal over long distance and won’t drop your signal no matter where you are in the house, this is the one for you.
Price: $139.00 on Amazon
Available: Jan 2016
Model: DIR-879 AC1900 EXO
What We Liked
- Fun, sleek design
- Solid performance at all ranges
- Great cost for this tier of router
What We Didn’t
- Unique color scheme may not be for everyone
- Speeds did drop slightly at 30ft
D-Link AC1900 EXO Router Specs
|Processor||1.0GHz dual-core processor|
|Operation Modes||Wireless Router, Wired Networking, Access Point, Bridge|
|128-bit Wireless Encryption|
|Ports||4 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports,
1 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port
No matter what you might think upon laying eyes on the D-Link EXO for the first time, there’s no denying that it’s wholly unique. We haven’t seen any other router quite like this before, with a dual-color shell and heavy reliance on triangle-laden grating.
Read More: Linksys WRT1900ACS Review
Its wider, fatter antennas are equally inventive in the space, giving the router a sort of low to the ground, almost minimalist profile. The orange and black color scheme is a departure from D-Link’s AC3200 line, which itself was bright ruby red front to back.
Overall, the gamble pays off, proving itself as a conversation starter with any guests who come over wondering what that new device in your living room is made for. It may not be for everyone, but personally I think it creates exactly the kind of image that D-Link was hoping for when they let their designers take similar risks as they did on the D-Link DIR-890L/R AC3200 and other similar routers in its class.
The D-Link router is made for wireless networking first and foremost, but also has four ethernet ports on the back along with one WAN port, if you prefer a wired connection instead.
The D-Link has four 1000mW antennas with amplifiers installed, which ensures that you’ll get a strong, reliable signal whether you’re sitting on the couch next to it or streaming a 4K Netflix show from the next house over.
We would have liked to see the option for at least one USB port, but in this price tier it’s sort of hard to complain about the lacking connectivity options. This also removes the possibility for a media server attachment, however you can still forward one in on a PC that’s hooked up over the wired or wireless connection.
The D-Link’s software interface is lean, mean, and hugely functional for just about any task you’d need to take care of online or off.
Outside of the regular appearances of the features you’d expect from any old router (QoS, Media Prioritization, Parental Controls, etc), perhaps our favorite addition is D-Link’s SmartConnect feature. As we mentioned before in our review of D-Link’s AC3200, SmartConnect is a setting which automatically determines which frequency of the network your devices should live on (2.4GHz or 5GHz), depending on the apps or programs you’re using at any given time.
This ensures that the frequency doesn’t get too crowded during peak usage hours, and that every member of the house has the absolute best usage experience no matter how fast (or slow) the connection from your ISP may be.
Speed & Distance Tests
|All number in Mbps||2.4GHz (5ft)||2.4GHz(30ft)||5GHz (5ft)||5GHz (30ft)|
Netgear Nighthawk X10
|Up: 69.30 Down: 69.67||Up: 388.04|
AmpliFI HD Mesh Router
TP-LINK Archer C5400
Linksys EA9500 AC5400
D-Link DIR-879 AC1900 EXO
Netgear Nighthawk X4S
Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900
Netgear NightHawk X6 AC3200
Linksys EA7500 AC1900
TP-Link P5 AC1900
D-Link DIR890L/R AC3200
Thanks to SmartConnect and a little engineering wizadry from D-Link, the EXO is one of the fastest and most consistent routers we’ve tested to date.
Manufactured with gamers in mind, the DIR-879EXO is made for raw performance for online multiplayer gaming, but also works just as well when it comes to daily browsing tasks, streaming, or downloads.
On the 2.4GHz network at a distance of 5ft, we achieved results that again, are well in the range of competition with routers that outstrip the EXO in price and footprint with 81.34Mbps down, and 102.05Mbps up. This performance did dip about 25% once 30ft of distance was placed between us and the receiver, with a drop to 65.28Mbps down to just 64.75Mbps up.
5GHz weren’t as searingly quick as other routers like the Netgear Nighthawk X8, but were still plenty fast for any games you’d want to play without worrying about whether or not you’re going to get dropped in the middle of a round of Overwatch.
At a distance of 5ft, the D-Link DIR-879 AC1900 EXO was able to top out at 241.46 Mbps download, 338.53Mbps upload, and we noticed a similar dropoff percentage in the 30ft test as we did on 2.4GHz, with a score of 209.32Mbps down, and 177.06Mbps up.
The D-Link AC1900 EXO gaming router constantly kept pace with routers two, even three times its cost, all with signal strength and reliability that far outstripped its retail cost of only $139. Whether we were gaming, streaming, or downloading from five feet away or the limits of our fence in the backyard, the router had no problem pumping out performance like no other router at this price has so far.
Its design may be a bit offputting to some (personally I love it), but other than that this is about as close to router perfection as you can get, “gaming-ready” or otherwise.
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