A comparison with the N650 router shows there are more than few additions to the web interface menu. D-Link’s URL filtering tools have always been a cut above the rest and the router now allows you to create either black or white lists containing up to 30 addresses. This lets you implement a stricter system as you can block access to all web sites except those in your white list. This makes it much easier to set up parental controls for children as you can decide precisely which sites they are allowed to access. D-Link goes a step further as you can specify the MAC addresses of certain PCs or laptops and block or allow Internet access based on a daily time schedule.
For wireless performance testing we called upon a 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2 and installed D-Link’s RangeBooster N DWA-645 PC Card in it. Running the Iometer utility over a two metre open link to a Supermicro Pentium D 3.2GHz PC on the LAN saw an average raw read throughput of 60Mbps – around the same as for D-Link’s N650 router. We then activated WPA encryption and saw Iometer return only 42Mbps. Copying a 691MB video file across the airwaves produces equally dismal results with an open link returning 48Mbps and a WPA link dropping down to 38Mbps.
Tests over distance weren’t any better as moving the laptop to the floor below and placing two brick walls in the way slowed the D-Link down significantly with an open link delivering a meagre 27Mbps. We also encountered some irritating problems during testing as at one point the router’s DHCP server stopped dishing out addresses and the access point went AWOL as well. The only way to get them back was to reset the router back to its factory defaults and start again.
The DSL-2970B certainly delivers an impressive range of features although we’re not convinced of the value in some of them. You now have incoming and outgoing packet filters for blocking specific traffic in both directions and extensive quality of service (QoS) features although for the latter the manual is woefully inadequate in explaining their creation. You also get QoS facilities for wireless connections but these are not yet supported in the 802.11n draft specification which must be deactivated first making this somewhat self-defeating.
For wireless performance we can’t see much to be gained if you already have a standard MIMO router as speed and range improvements for these draft-n products are not good enough to justify replacing existing equipment. That said, the DSL-2740B does offer a lot of unusual features for the price with above average parental controls although we would recommend checking out Netgear’s DG834N router before making a decision.