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D-Link DIR-868L & DWA-182 Wireless AC Review

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Signal Strength

A good strong signal is a prerequisite of high performance wireless networking. If a device can barely send or receive a signal, the speeds will be very low as both devices will opt for a slower connection speed to compensate. To test signal strength we use inSSIDer, a program which can graph signal strength of all wireless signals being received by the computer’s wireless NIC.


We were pleasantly surprised by the level performance the D-Link DIR 868L router displayed in our signal strength tests. While there is a noticeable drop-off in signal strength as distance from the router increases, the overall results are still rather surprising given the internal antenna array design. Obviously, the oddly shaped form factor and intelligent beam forming is working hard to mitigate the distance issues. For most consumers this router will provide more than enough signal strength to blanket an entire home and then some.

This level of performance is doubly impressive when the rather mainstream asking price is taken into account. D-Link seems to have the makings of a great value 802.11AC router here.

The DWA-182 USB adapter on the other hand didn’t quite live up to expectations and the results are quite poor when compared against similar devices. The combination of small internal antenna array and low transmission power is simply too much for the Broadcom BCM43526 controller to overcome. Some of this may be overcome via the C1 USB 3.0 revision but that’s not what D-Link sampled this time around.

Attached Storage Testing

While USB has indeed be a mainstay of Asus routers for as long as we can remember, the AC68U is the first high performance router that also provides USB 3.0 and not just USB 2.0 ports. As most consumers know USB 3.0 brings numerous enhancements to the table including higher bandwidth potential and increase power over USB capabilities. As we have seen many times in the past reality sometimes can wildly differ than theory and there are numerous ‘USB 3.0’ devices which actually perform at the same levels as their previous USB 2 counterparts.

To see exactly how much capabilities USB 3.0 adds to the Asus RT-AC68U router we devised a very simple test. Using an empty Seagate GoFlex Slim 320GB device we connected it to the USB 3 a port of the router. We then configured it as a network drive and using MS RichCopy measured the performance via wired, 2.4HGz wireless and 5GHz wireless. Once testing was complete we repeat this process but using the USB 2.0 port.

Consumers certainly would not guess this router’s lower asking price based on the its storage performance. Opting for the ‘X’ variant of the Broadcom 4708 controller certainly has tangible benefits as both its USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 performance are the highest we have tested to date. Considering most of this router’s other components are very similar to others in the chart, the only possible explanation is the faster processor boosting performance. The end result is that the USB 3.0 port is a value adding feature that makes the DIR-868L’s price even more impressive.

 

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