D-Link's new flagship Wi-Fi router (DIR-895L) is a prime example of the arms race among networking vendors since the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard was introduced.
Manufacturers have been steadily launching new routers, with each iteration touting higher transfer speeds. But these speeds are aggregated across multiple wireless bands and do not reflect the actual bandwidth available for a single client device.
For instance, the D-Link DIR-895L is marketed as an AC5300 router (5,300Mbps), derived by adding the transfer speeds from its three wireless bands. For a single client such as a smartphone or tablet, the DIR-895L will not be any faster than a basic AC1300 router.
But the D-Link's dual 5GHz and single 2.4GHz bands are useful for homes that are increasingly cluttered with Wi-Fi devices. Older clients that support slower Wi-Fi speeds can be put into their own wireless bands without affecting other faster devices. The router does this automatically via a feature dubbed Smart Connect.
Because of the competition among manufacturers, advanced features often make their way into routers before they are widely adopted. These features usually stay dormant till the manufacturer deems it appropriate to enable them via a firmware update.
The D-Link's dual 5GHz and single 2.4GHz bands are useful for homes that are increasingly cluttered with Wi-Fi devices. Older clients that support slower Wi-Fi speeds can be put into their own wireless bands without affecting other faster devices. The router does this automatically via a feature dubbed Smart Connect.
ETHERNET INTERFACE: 1 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN, 4 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN
SECURITY: WPA/WPA2, WEP
ADVANCED FIREWALL FEATURES: NAT and SPI, DoS protection
VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5
Take the Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) feature, which is not yet supported by most Wi-Fi clients. This feature lets the router send data wirelessly to multiple clients at the same time. It is currently disabled on the DIR-895L.
Angular in profile, and with eight detachable and adjustable antennas, the red DIR-895L cuts an eye-catching figure. It can be mounted on a wall, though I am not comfortable doing so because the router is relatively heavy.
The DIR-895L has four Gigabit LAN ports at the back, along with a USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port.
Features that you'd expect from a modern router, such as parental controls, guest networks and the ability to share files over the Internet, are all supported.
The router's web-based interface looks slick and is easy to navigate. By default, advanced features are hidden from users to reduce screen clutter.
However, the router can take varying amounts of time (from 25 seconds to 80 seconds) to save changes made to the settings. The good thing is that the interface always indicates the exact amount of time it expects to take. Still, I was expecting the router's dual-core processor to run faster.
Performance could be better. The router recorded an average download speed of 501Mbps, which is significantly lower than the top speed of 695Mbps managed by one of its rivals, the Asus RT-AC5300 ($469).
• Verdict: This tri-band router is useful for homes with numerous Wi-Fi devices. But its performance is middling, and the typical home user will probably just use a fraction of its features.