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Performance & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly


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D-Link DIR-645 SmartBeam router


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Review Price £79.99

Once you do start browsing it quickly becomes clear that, unlike so many recent router technologies, SmartBeam is the real deal. In direct comparison to the aforementioned DIR-657 there is... well, no comparison. At two metres the DIR-657 manages 49Mbit (6.13MB per second) – a respectable speed, but the SmartBeam equipped DIR-645 maintained a steady 82.4Mbit (10.3MB per second) genuinely delivering powerful performance from its 'N 300' (300Mbit theoretical maximum) specification. This gap only grew with distance. At five metres the DIR-657 drops to just 19Mbit (2.38MB per second) while the DIR-645 is virtually unchanged at 82.3Mbit (again approximately 10.3MB per second).


Looking for a real world scenario, at 10 metres with a solid wall and closed door in-between the DIR-657 fell to a mere 3Mbit (0.38MB per second) low enough to genuinely hamper basic tasks such as web surfing. Under the same conditions the DIR-645 consistently transferred data at 44.88Mbit (5.61MB per second) enough to still max out a 50Mbit cable connection and stream 1080p video. Furthermore positioning the computer in a notorious black spot in our test area 13 metres away from the router with three solid walls, two of which are tiled, and a wood closet in-between the DIR-657 lost signal completely while the DIR-645 managed 20.56Mbit (2.57MB per second) faster than the vast majority of home broadband connections and still enough to stream 720p online video.

The reason for a strict comparison between these two routers is they have launched from the same company at almost the same time with SmartBeam the primary difference between them (the DIR-657 uses D-Link's traffic prioritisation technology, HD Fuel). As such it offers a powerful way to isolate changes. That said it isn't only against single band routers that SmartBeam excels. The dual band D-Link DIR-825 uses both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels yet it was unable to match SmartBeam using 5GHz at two metres (69Mbit) while at distance 5GHz dropped away completely and 2.4GHz performed little better than the DIR-657. Meanwhile the company's once flagship £170 quadband DIR-855 tops out at 64Mbps, even at close range.


All of which suggests D-Link is onto a winner with SmartBeam in general and the DIR-645 in particular. This is largely true except for a notable caveat: as it stands the technology relies upon its six antennas over a single band and dual band can be vital for households and offices where network bandwidth is often shared between multiple users streaming to different devices. Dual band 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels each have their own bandwidth and individual SSID while with a single band router like the DIR-645 all bandwidth is shared across the one connection potentially causing bandwidth clashes. 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.

Despite this it is hard to argue with the DIR-645 considering its price. D-Link sets a reasonable RRP of £79.99, but it can already be found for just £69 online and when coupled with a two year warranty that makes this breakthrough router a real bargain.



Having lost faith in the innumerable gimmicks designed to bolster the ageing 802.11n wireless standard we were amazed to find D-Link has cracked it with SmartBeam. The DIR-645 is the company's first router to incorporate this smart device tracking technology and it provides significant increases to real world performance and range to alleviate the long wait for 802.11's next standard. The DIR-645 is far from a one trick pony, however, it also sports a stylish and practical design and it is a snap to setup out of the box. Some may wish to wait for a dual band version, but with the DIR0645's bargain price tag thrown in, we're sold.

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Simon Heather

November 21, 2011, 6:51 pm

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


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?.


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.


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.


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.


November 22, 2011, 4:24 am

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


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.


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.


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?

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?


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.


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.


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?


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.


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?



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?


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.


December 14, 2011, 8:08 pm

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


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.


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?


March 21, 2014, 4:13 am

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


April 13, 2014, 7:39 pm

All 802.11ac routers have this technology.

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