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D-Link DIR-868L Cloud Router review

Gordon Kelly

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

1 of 9

D-Link DIR-868L Cloud Router
  • D-Link DIR-868L Cloud Router
  • D-Link DIR-868L Cloud Router
  • D-Link DIR-868L Cloud Router
  • D-Link DIR-868L
  • Mydlink
  • Router UI
  • 802.11ac performance
  • 5GHz 802.11n performance
  • smartbeam

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Superfast wireless n & ac performance
  • Simple setup
  • Smart, interesting design
  • Well priced

Cons

  • mydlink Cloud platform remains basic
  • Just one USB port
  • No Ethernet activity LEDs

Key Features

  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • mydlink cloud platform
  • 802.11n dual band 5GHz & 2.4GHz wireless
  • USB 3.0 port
  • 4x Gigabit Ethernet Ports
  • Manufacturer: D-Link
  • Review Price: £139.99

What is the D-Link DIR-868L?

The DIR-868L is D-Link's second 802.11ac wireless router following the impressive DIR-865L. Like its predecessor, it integrates the company's mydlink cloud platform, but also reverts to the D-Link's popular cylindrical design and incorporates the acclaimed SmartBeam technology found in the DIR-645 when using 802.11n. Could this combination make it both the wireless n and ac router to beat?

D-Link DIR-868L - Design

As mentioned the DIR-868L is the first time D-Link has brought its likeable cylindrical design to an 802.11ac model. This should not be surprising as many of the first wireless ac routers broke from their respective companies' traditional designs due to the scramble to get models to market.

In addressing this, D-Link is doing more than gifting us a more pleasant aesthetic. Many routers tend to perform better from one side of another (try turning your router around at home to test this), but D-Link boasts the cylindrical shape of its Darth Vader Pringle tube means signal can be distributed equally in all directions.

Aside from this the cylindrical design gives the D-Link DIR-868L a pleasingly small footprint. And while its casing is plastic like all routers (so as not to block wireless signal) it is well made and doesn't pick up fingerprints easily. The only downside of the cylindrical design is it is not wall-mountable.

D-Link DIR-868L - Features

The D-Link DIR-868L Cloud Router's specification list is impressive. The highlight is obviously the 802.11a/b/g/n/ac connectivity, which is boosted by six amplified internal antennas, but the talking point is the aforementioned SmartBeam.

This is a standard part of the 802.11ac spec (where it is called 'Beamforming') but is not usually applied to wireless n. It works by detecting connected devices and focusing signal in their direction instead of casting out wireless signal randomly in all directions. It benefits range and performance significantly. This gives us high hopes that the 868L Cloud Router will bring new life to your existing wireless n equipment, not just shiny new ac kit.

smartbeam

Moving to the more perfunctory side of the D-Link DIR-868L, it also packs Gigabit WAN, 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB 3.0 port for sharing a wireless printer or USB storage across a network.

Being picky, we would like D-Link to supply a second USB port (increasingly common on routers these days) and more Ethernet ports, but no router-maker seems to be listening to this latter request. One larger complaint is the 868L's Ethernet ports have no flashing LED activity lights. Some may welcome this as the lights can be distracting, but they are a useful element in troubleshooting problems should you ever run into difficulties.

Switching to software the D-Link DIR-868L offers WPA/WPA2 security plus WPS for adding devices at the touch of a button (here it is positioned on the rear below the USB port). There is also compatibility with IPv6 and support for guest access, which grants devices a web connection but restricts access to your local network and router settings.

To top its features off, we have mydlink, the company's cloud platform, which allows users to check the status of their router from any web browser from any location by logging into the mydlink.com website or using the company's mydlink app for Android and iOS. Additional mobile apps SharePort' and ARS Mobile let you access media remotely from your network and offer a step-by-step setup guide respectively.

Mydlink

The mydlink interface

D-Link DIR-868L - Setup

Something D-Link has aced in recent years is the simplicity of its router setups. This is again the case with the D-Link DIR-868L Cloud Router.

Just connect your modem to the DIR-868L's WAN port (a modem restart may also be required), plug in the power cable, switch it on and connect to the wireless signal using WPS or the password written on router and supplied on a card. Once connected you are prompted to change the default router password and asked whether you want to change the SSID and wireless passwords for the two signals its projects (2.4GHz wireless for b/g/n and 5GHz for a/n and ac).

As mentioned the mydlink Cloud platform remains basic, but its ability to check the router status, connected devices, set email alerts for any network activity you specify and change passwords and SSIDs is all most people will need. For more advanced users the traditional text heavy router interface we have seen for the last decade remains at 192.168.0.1 which will no doubt please techies.

David Horn

July 29, 2013, 12:15 pm

Yeah, the new designs *look* funky, but they also make it absolutely impossible to wall-mount the router or stuff it in a small wiring cabinet. And, to be honest, once there are 8 cables dangling out the back of it, all funkiness is gone anyway.

Pbryanw

July 29, 2013, 9:28 pm

Hi, thanks for adding the new transfer rate graphs for all speeds & distances. I'm just wondering if you could explain the halving in speed in the 10M 802.11.ac graph and the general unevenness of the graph (compared to 2M) - is this normal?

Also, thanks for all the router reviews on TR, and I hope they will continue.

mothergoose85

July 30, 2013, 9:11 am

This could be a great companion to the Sky router (which I have....sigh).

If it supports that special linux OS (can't remember the name of it for the life of me right now) it could also completely replace your sky router. Which would be nice if you have fibre and already have the Sky router and OpenReach modem.

Gordon Kelly

July 30, 2013, 1:22 pm

It's a fair point. I do say it stops wall mounting, but if it is placed in the centre of your home the practicality of the cylindrical design is probably worth it.

Gordon Kelly

July 30, 2013, 1:25 pm

Pleasure - we feel routers don't tend to get the attention they deserve given the vital role they play for all our tech gadgets so we're looking to methodically test all the major new routers and those from major ISPs.

We run multiple tests at every distance so we try to grab shots which are representative in terms of the average speeds we have been getting. Typically as distance increases performance will fluctuate more, but as ac transfers files so quickly even a dip for a few seconds can look huge on the graph. Performance is solid at all distances and we will be sure to comment on erratic graphs if it is a factor - as we did with the Sky Hub.

Gordon Kelly

July 30, 2013, 1:27 pm

There's no built in modem to most third party ac wireless routers (including this one) so you'd need the Hub but yes it should solve your range troubles (though obviously your actual broadband speed is a separate thing). Given WiFi is a standard all routers should work with any platform.

mothergoose85

July 30, 2013, 1:32 pm

That's a fair one Gordon - I forgot it doesn't have a modem.

I've found that the cabled speed for my broadband is absolutely fine - I've got 40mb so it doesn't max the 100mbs ethernet. The lack of gigabit ethernet really annoys me due backing up to my NAS.

Gordon Kelly

July 30, 2013, 4:56 pm

The lack of Gigabit was a real penny pinching decision. I'd personally be upgrading for that alone. There's a review of Asus ac router (RT-AC66U) going up in the next 24/48 hours and it is right up there with the D-Link and Linksys so wait for that then make a decision from those three (we have other reviews coming, but they are the stand out trio).

mothergoose85

July 31, 2013, 9:11 am

I see what you did there ;-)

I think I'd go for d-link as I trust them, my NAS is d-link too and I've got the myCloud thing setup reasonably well. It is a handsome looking thing as well, it'll sit on my desk (the Blue Lounge Studio Desk) so something small and cool like the d-link is a bonus.

mothergoose85

August 4, 2013, 8:58 am

Gordon Kelly - for the sake of completeness, when I mentioned earlier about putting a custom Linux OS on the router, I was thinking off DD-WRT. Couldn't remember the name for the life of me (obviously this is moot because this router doesn't actually have a modem).

Seeing as the Sky router is a bit pants, it would be cool if TR did a review of modem routers that could be a viable alternative to the Sky one - as long as you don't tell people how to work around Sky's "you must use our router" policy then I'd imagine you would be in the clear?

James Steer

August 4, 2013, 9:54 am

Could you please soak test the wireless routers you review, as I often find they perform well over short periods of time, but overheat and slow down or even crash after 4-5 hours of sustained streaming to multiple devices.

Vince

October 28, 2013, 8:23 am

I bought a DSL-2890AL which I believe is just an DIR-868L with a built-in modem. According DLink this model will be released soon in the Europe. Btw I'm in Australia

dgianchandani

August 20, 2014, 6:24 pm

I have had nothing but issues with the DIR-868L which I bought about 4 months ago as it has AC-Wireless speed. There is NOT a better wireless coverage, I used to have 3 year old DLINK DIR-825, same dropouts as with 868L as with DIR-825, no extended wireleass coverage . Now having issues with Firmware, where 1.07 revision was giving out multiple IP address to the same "wireless DHCP" client, and then all of sudden as I've configured to give only 50 DHCP IP address on the router (for security reasons), the IP address are given out to the same devise 10+ times as thus no Valid client/device can attach, here is an example
(unknown)192.168.1.9000:00:00:00:00:0036 Minutes
So upgraded to 1.08 as per the release notes states

=================================================
DIR-868L Revision A Release Notes
=================================================
Firmware 1.08B07
Date: 07/30/2014
Release Notes:
-Fix CE adaptively issue with updating Broadcom Patch
-Fix WAN DHCP Renewal bug
--

Still not fixed, called up DLINK support and got escalated to Level 3- still no resolution, DLINK support actually suggested downgrade to 1.07, clearly a Language Barrier as the calls get routed to Manila or Philippines, they state in Southern California, asked about the weather its nice did not mention it actually rained the much needed rain ..

Please consider another product, and not of DLINK, even when on Support or when you are trying to set it up it will time out after like 60 seconds and there is no way to change the time out - during setup I was typing in "mac" reservations and it would time out - very OLD configuration interface with little updates - the MAC reservations would be great to get around this issue, but the table is only able to hold like 30 entries - that has not been updated in the last 5 years, same table as in DIR-825 or even the older DIR-655
Buy a different Vendors product as with this you will have issues and no one on DLINK side understands Networking and or DHCP - and Firmware 1.08 was to fix this issue .. clearly very complicated for DLINK (again firmware 1.07 has the same issue, don't know if downgrading to 1.06 will help or introduce more issues ... )

(unknown) 192.168.1.90 00:00:00:00:00:00 16 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.96 00:00:00:00:00:00 16 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.111 00:00:00:00:00:00 17 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.113 00:00:00:00:00:00 19 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.112 00:00:00:00:00:00 17 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.114 00:00:00:00:00:00 19 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.119 00:00:00:00:00:00 55 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.109 00:00:00:00:00:00 17 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.108 00:00:00:00:00:00 17 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.106 00:00:00:00:00:00 16 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.105 00:00:00:00:00:00 16 Minutes
(unknown) 192.168.1.74 00:00:00:00:00:00 16 Minutes

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