So does it all come together? Yes and in a big way. D-Link’s own aforementioned DIR-645 has been our benchmark 2.4GHz 802.11n router since its release in November 2011, but the 845L takes its crown. In our real-world testing scenarios of 2 metres, 10 metres line of sight and 13 metres behind two solid walls the 845L achieved speeds of 10.6MBps (84.8Mbit), 10.5MBps (84Mbit) and 5.5MBps (44Mbit) respectively. This notably trumps the 645 at distance as it scores 10.3MBps, 9.8MBps and 2.57MBps under the same conditions.
The 845L is also the fastest dedicated 802.11n 5GHz router we have tested managing highly creditable speeds of 18.8MBps (150.4Mbit), 12.5MBps (100Mbit) and 7.1MBps (56.8Mbit) in our increasingly challenging test environments. You will note from the graphs above and below speed consistency is also rock solid and even the base figure of 7.1MBps (56.8Mbit) will smoothly stream 1080p.
The snag is the 845L cannot compete with 802.11ac routers, even when operating at 5GHz 802.11n. Notably D-Link’s own DIR-865L achieved speeds of 20MBps, 14MBps and 12MBps in the same environment and it was a similar story with the AC-compatible Linksys EA6500. Moreover 802.11ac itself delivers significant speed advantages, particularly at range. 30MBps (240Mbit) at 2m, 25MBps (200Mbit) at 10m and in excess of 20MBps (160Mbit) at 13 metres achievable were typically achievable on both the 865L and EA6500 when connected to 802.11ac compatible devices.
All of which means D-Link has set new standards for 802.11n dual band routers, but it still lags behind next generation 802.11ac routers - even when they perform at 802.11n.
Of course, beating next generation AC speeds was never the aim of the 845L and by sticking to 802.11n it is able to deliver sizable cost savings for anyone not swayed by 802.11ac. Consequently the 845L retails for just £84.46 before VAT, a price which has seen retailers typically sell it at a fraction over the £100 mark. Compared to the £150 to £180 RRPs of the best 802.11ac routers it is a highly compelling purchase.
It is worth noting the Netgear R6300 and Buffalo AirStation 1750 can be found for under £150, but our tests shows 802.11n 2.4GHz performance (by far the most common WiFi standard) on the former to be disappointing and both 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n performance on the latter to fall woefully short.
The DIR-845L proves 802.11n routers can still be taught new tricks. It is the fastest dedicated wireless n router we have tested and its performance at distance really stands out. The best 802.11ac routers remain faster, even operating at 802.11n, but with a 50 per cent cost saving and sparse AC compatible hardware the 845L has bags of appeal. Throw in D-Link’s intuitive setup process and mydlink Cloud-based remote control and anyone not tempted to wait and mass upgrade their kit to 802.11ac should reach for their credit cards now.