Home / Computing / Peripheral / D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router

D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router review

Gordon Kelly

By

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

1 of 7

D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router
  • D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router
  • D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router
  • D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router
  • D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router
  • D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router
  • D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router
  • D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • SmartBeam significantly improves WiFi range & performance
  • Stylish & practical design
  • Intuitive setup & graphical user interface
  • Well priced

Cons

  • Single band limits multiple user wireless streaming

Key Features

  • 802.11n/g/b WiFi
  • SmartBeam smart targetting WiFi technology
  • Six antennas
  • WEP 64/128-bit, WPA/WPA2 and WPS security
  • IPv6 ready
  • DLNA certified
  • Manufacturer: D-Link
  • Review Price: £79.99

Last month we reviewed the D-Link DIR-657, a router filled with proprietary tricks to get around the ever more limiting factors of 802.11n WiFi. It didn't work and felt like the final proof that you can't teach an old standard new tricks. Turns out we gave up a few weeks too soon...

With the 'DIR-645' D-Link is back for more and this time it comes wielding yet another new technology, 'SmartBeam'. Whereas most proprietary router technology focuses on prioritising important traffic over a network, SmartBeam is different. It uses no less than six multidirectional antennas which don't throw out wireless signal as a scattergun approach, but instead track and lock onto connected devices focusing beams in their direction. Think Top Gun minus the testosterone... and planes... and missiles.

10

D-Link claims SmartBeam is a genuine breakthrough in addressing the range and (by association) speed problems of 802.11n, boasting "strong and stable Internet connection in every corner of your house". The company must be confident too since it hasn't included any of its previous bandwidth optimising technologies, including 'HD Fuel' seen in the DIR-657. D-Link has also gone against the grain by opting not to make the DIR-645 dual band. Consequently the shorter range, higher performance 5GHz band is excluded in order to focus all six antennas on maximising the travel of 2.4GHz.

This isn't the only risk D-Link has taken. The DIR-645 also looks like no conventional router and its piano black cylindrical design is akin to a Pringles tube designed by Dark Vader. That said this is a compliment. D-Link is unclear on whether the cylindrical shape has any bearing on wireless performance, but it looks striking and the circular base has greater stability than traditional sideways balanced rectangular routers which require a separate clip on base just to stay upright. Style and practicality one, legacy nil.

1

There is nothing legacy about the rest of the router either. Four gigabit Ethernet ports, plus one for Internet are located on the back along with a Shareport compatible USB port allowing any USB device (such as a printer or external HDD) to be accessed across the network. On the front clear icons, starting from the top, indicate an Internet connection and wireless status with a power button on the bottom. Second from the bottom is a one touch secure connection setup button, an area the DIR-645 has well covered with WEP 64/128-bit, WPA/WPA2 and WPS included. In addition the router is DLNA-certified and IPv6 ready - the new protocol which makes room for a further 340 undecillion Internet addresses.

On paper the DIR-645 looks strong, but then again so did the DIR-657. The difference is with SmartBeam aboard the DIR-645 remains strong in practice...

5

Setting up the DIR-645 is a breeze. It has two quick start options: the first is to insert the bundled CD and follow step-by-step instructions, the second is to plug the router into a computer, switch it on, type 192.168.0.1 into your browser and follow the step-by-step instructions from there. Both are straightforward and you can be browsing within minutes.

Simon Heather

November 21, 2011, 6:51 pm

The link in the article takes you to Pixmania who are selling for £75.

betelgeus

November 21, 2011, 8:36 pm

the reviewer must be doing something wrong,my ages old netgear which isnt even n barely drops in speed even from 30 feet,i get 11mb on a 12mb line from that far.0.38MB on a 50 mb line?.

BMaz

November 21, 2011, 10:37 pm

There is a typo in the article, "This isn't the only risk D-Link has taken. The *DIR-657* also looks like no conventional router.."
It should have referred to the DIR-645.

Gordon394

November 21, 2011, 10:49 pm

Hi Simon, that was the price at the time of writing (one week ago) - sadly it has changed. I suspect a quick Google search will find you an equally good price. Either way even £79.99 is a steal.

Pbryanw

November 22, 2011, 1:08 am

It's nice to see some innovation in the Wireless Router market. It seemed that we had the draft N routers, then the N routers took ages to get ratified, and we've been stuck with them until something better comes along. With <30Mbit internet connections becoming more common, along with HD media streaming, even 5Ghz N wireless doesn't seem to cut it any more.

It's a shame this hadn't been released earlier as I've now gone down the Homeplug route (and this could have provided a nice alternative), but will look forward to the dual-band model when it's released next year.

Gordon394

November 22, 2011, 4:24 am

Good spot. Constantly referencing between the two has its hazards, thanks.

Gordon394

November 22, 2011, 4:28 am

I think you're confusing your Mb and you're MB. By 12MB (megabyte) line do you mean you are on a Virgin 100Mb (megabit) cable connection? If not then you mean a 12Mb line which is very common and if you're getting just 11Mb (megabit) that equals just 1.38MB which is actually very poor by today's standards and in line with very old routers.

MB and Mb are easy units to confuse. Hope this helps.

Gordon394

November 22, 2011, 4:30 am

Agree 100%. It is a clever workaround for an ages old problem and I only hope it can inspire other manufacturers to fine equally smart solutions.

The dual band router should be interesting, but with such performance on single band and 5GHz worse over distance the main benefit will be having two independent connections around the house.

Goodmane

November 22, 2011, 1:59 pm

I agree, however I may still get one of these in future. Although I have homeplugs which give stable connection usually; they have only 20Mb (not 200) performance due to my new-ish RCD (I think), so are not great for streaming video. I'm upgrading to CAT 6 (outdoor) but it would be nice to do it wirelessly too so we can stream the server's TV cards (via freeware Media Portal) on my wife's laptop.

Martin Daler

November 22, 2011, 2:00 pm

Sure is good to see some innovation! I've wondered before how you guys can muster the enthusiasm to review an endless stream of same-old routers - nothing to report except some boring stats and the colour of the case.
Now that somebody has dared to think different, maybe they could also think about:
>more than a measly 4 ethernet ports?
>built-in VoIP?
>built-in DECT?
>power efficiency?
>...?
>...?

PS
These swivelling beams - do they swivel in one axis only, like the pages of a book with its spine stood vertical, or are they more like the beam of a search light? In other words, in a 2-3 storey house, does the router also aim up and down, or does it just rely on the vertical spread of a fan-shaped beam for that dimension?

AJ

November 22, 2011, 5:46 pm

Am I right that this doesn't have ADSL2+ built in ? So if I want to use this in my flat I need to have the BE ADSL2+ router AND this router.

I've looked on their website and can't see any reference to ADSL built in, which is a shame as (like many other people) I don't want 2 devices running.

betelgeus

November 22, 2011, 7:14 pm

no that sright i have a12Mb line,i just imagine a router 8 years newer would achieve more than 0.38MB unless he lives in a lead house or something

Martin Daler

November 23, 2011, 3:18 am

it's not a shame for those on cable - the last thing they want is an ADSL appendage bolted onto the router.

purephase

November 23, 2011, 2:10 pm

Looks good - my house has thick walls so my wifi performance drops very quickly and is sketchy on the 1st floor. If all I've got is the crappy box that Sky give you can I just replace it with this?

Gordon394

November 27, 2011, 8:46 am

Yes, but you will need to disable the WiFi on your Sky router (typically a Netgear) and then plug the DIR-645 into it. Essentially this turns your Sky router into a simply modem and uses the wireless prowess of the D-Link.

You can also physically plug cables into Either router and they will work.

Martin Daler

November 27, 2011, 11:17 pm

not sure that disabling wifi will turn an ADSL wifi router into a simple ADSL modem - it will turn it into a non-wifi ADSL router. i.e. you won't get rid of the router functionality simply by turning off the wifi.

Some ADSL wifi routers will have a 'bridge' mode to turn them into ADSL modem only, others don't (I guess). If your's does not then you have to hope that Sky allow you to connect your own ADSL modem, and then plug the D-Link DIR-645 into that.

Gordon394

November 29, 2011, 7:20 am

Bridge modes exist on some routers, not all. Typically switching off the WiFi will mean it works simply as a wired router and the attached WiFi router will distribute its signal. I've done this a few times and it has worked every time.

Martin Daler

November 29, 2011, 4:28 pm

Gordon394, I think what you are suggesting is to 'daisy chain' the two routers together (with only the second in the chain, theDIR-645, having its wifi enabled) This would result in 'double-NATting' (i.e two NAT routers in series). Yes, it can work, but it can also lead to network gremlins.

Although it refers to cable rather than ADSL setup, the same issues are discussed in the following thread, which gives both scenarios, and might help?

http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/Up-to-30Mb-and-50Mb-broadband/External-IP-address-for-secondary-router/m-p/880321

laozhu

December 1, 2011, 1:55 pm

Good review, interesting product. For many of us signal availability is the real deal, not theoretical speed, product design or even security. I would be interested in this v rangemax from netgear.
Sadly the review came 2 weeks after a decision to replace ageing netgear dg834g with dgnd3700 - a pretty disastrous choice as the firmware development is only at the beta stage (genorously). Wonder if i could use the DIR645 as a repeater for the dgnd3700, the signal from which is ok but not great - across a 5 storey townhouse?

laozhu

December 1, 2011, 2:04 pm

interesting experience - i ran a dg834g v2 for a decade and once i found a good aerial position never really had signal issues for an internet connection which was only 5mb across 50ft and four floors. sadly an upgrade to dgnd3700 has been more troublesome for little signal gain. To compensate i thought i would upgrade the 834 firmware and see if it would act as a repeater - sadly this bricked the machine and in any event the last firmware version wouldn't have provided the functionality anyway.

coxwalls

December 14, 2011, 8:08 pm

I live in a stone cottage with huge thick walls. Will this device penetrate them?

laozhu

September 24, 2012, 7:33 pm

Came backto lookat this as tall house makes for weaksignal. Looking at other reviews and technical forum not all plain sailingwith many critics -i ccept he forus refor peplewith problems but also issue of separate modem and IPv6 on its way make new buy ard at the moment. So decided to look at asetting up the edimax 7288A as universal repeater having failed ayea back due to rubbish manua provided. Found website by man called dodgycoder and as soon as set up got 5 bars across the house. Maybe smarbeam isthe way forward but given alldevices are powe lmited a repeater sees a better option.

toboev

January 19, 2013, 11:44 am

"That said D-Link is working on a dual band Smartbeam router for 2012 (will it have 12 antennas?!) so some may wish to wait."
So 2012 has happened, the dual band Smartbeam has not.
Could you knock on D-Link's door and ask again when the dual band Smartbeam is due?

trustedreviewsjoke

March 21, 2014, 4:13 am

rofl...it's DARTH VADER...not Dark Vader....

Andrew

April 13, 2014, 7:39 pm

All 802.11ac routers have this technology.

comments powered by Disqus