Testing at our usual distances of 2m and 10m line of sight plus 13 metres between two solid walls the D-Link DIR-868L Cloud Router recorded speeds of 34MBps (272Mbit), 31.2MBps (249.6Mbit) and 24.5MBps (196Mbit). This was when transferring data within the home network, letting us max-out the router's speed.
All are far in excess of any fibre optic broadband speeds and provide local network speeds fast enough to enable multiple streams of 4k video let alone 1080p. These speeds make the 868L our second fastest wireless ac router to date, just behind the retested Linksys EA6700, which clocked 36.7MBps (293.6Mbit), 35.2MBps (281.6Mbit) and 28.8MBps (230Mbit) in an identical test scenario.
And what the much hyped 802.11n SmartBeam performance? At 5GHz its speeds of 20.7MBps (165.6Mbit) at 2m and 19.4MBps (155.2Mbit) at 10m were actually topped by the EA6700, which managed 24.5MBps (196Mbit) and 22MBps (176Mbit) respectively, but it blew away the Linksys at arguably the most important distance of 13m with two solid walls recording 14.1MBps (112.8Mbit) verses the EA6700's fairly poor 7.7MBps (61.6Mbit).
In fact the 14MBps figure at 13m is the fastest 5GHz n speed we've recorded from any router, besting (surprise, surprise) D-Link's original wireless ac router, the 865L.
The good news continued on the wireless n 2.4GHz band as well hitting speeds of 11.5MBps (92Mbit), 10.1MBps (80.8Mbit) and 3.3MBps (26.4Mbit) at 2m, 10m and 13m. At 2m and 10m these again were records besting the EA6700 at 2m (9.1MBps) and 10m (9MBps) though interestingly not the EA6700's predecessor, the EA6500, at 13m (3.9MBps). All in all though this means the 868L is not just a great router for 802.11ac wireless, but one that will deliver a sizeable performance boost to your existing 802.11n equipment.
We also got reasonable speeds from the DIR-868L's USB 3.0 port. Dragging files from USB connected storage produced speeds of 4.9MBps (39.2Mbit) which remains some way off the 7.1MBps benchmark of the EA6700, but still the second fastest USB network speeds we have had. That said these figures do illustrate that USB network speeds (whether 2.0 or 3.0) are still a long way down on what can be achieved over a Gigabit Ethernet connection.
Incidentally D-Link restricts the 868L's USB 3.0 port to USB 2.0 by default saying it interferes with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. We didn't see any evidence of that with USB 3.0 enabled, but it is something we will keep an eye on in future USB 3.0-enabled routers.
Based on its performance alone, the answer to whether you should buy the D-Link DIR-868L is a resounding 'yes', and sweetening this further is that the 868L retails for £30 less than the EA6700 at £139.99, comapred to £169.99. D-Link products also traditionally fall faster in price online than Linksys models.
That said there are some caveats. The EA6700 does remain the faster wireless ac router and mydlink is significantly less developed that Smart WiFi. As such we find ourselves still slightly inclined to lean towards the Linksys EA6700. But there is only a hair's breadth in it. For all intents and purposes D-Link has produced a router every bit as appealing as Linksys's benchmark and consequently we highly recommend it.
The D-Link DIR-868L takes all the best elements of previous D-Link routers and wraps them into a single package. As such it has superb wireless ac performance, class leading wireless n performance and tops it off with an appealing price tag. The company's mydlink cloud platform does still need to develop though and we'd like to see a second USB port and activity lights on the Ethernet ports, but otherwise this is truly superb product.