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D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900 review

Gordon Kelly

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Editors choice

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D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900
  • D-Link DIR-880L Wireless AC1900

Summary

Our Score:

10

Pros

  • Benchmark wireless performance
  • Unrivalled value for money
  • Smart, cohesive design
  • Intuive setup and stylish UI

Cons

  • Fairly large
  • Premium app required to access all mobile features

Key Features

  • 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x Gigabit WAN
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi
  • 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • mydlink Cloud platform
  • WPS, WPA/WPA2 security
  • Manufacturer: D-Link
  • Review Price: £129.50

What is the D-Link DIR-880L?

The 880L is D-Link’s long awaited step into the top end AC1900 bracket already inhabited by Linksys, Asus, Netgear and TRENDnet. Yes D-Link is among the last to the party, but in coupling the 880L with an eminently affordable price tag it suggests good things come to those who wait.

Video: How to improve your home's Wi-Fi network

D-Link DIR-880L – Design

You can always tell when a router is important to its manufacturer because they spend time thinking up a completely new design. Linksys, Asus and TRENDnet all did it and now D-Link has followed the same path ditching its much loved cylindrical form factor for something altogether meaner and whiter.

Yes ‘white’ is the first word which comes to mind with the 880L since D-Link has managed to colour code every single part of it. That not only means white insets and antennas to match the body, but even a white power cable and plug and bundled white Ethernet cable. In fact the only bits that escape the white treatment are the ports and power button hidden at the rear and the top mounted activity lights which are blue.

Consequently the 880L is a real style statement which is likely to have particular appeal with Apple fans. Black cabling in particular is a plague on smart living room design and so D-Link’s choices get a big thumbs up from us.

The build quality is good as well. Yes it is plastic like all other routers (they need to be able to work with or without external antennas), but it is solidity put together, well ventilated and has brackets for wall mounting. At 246.9 x 190.4 x 47.2 mm and 745g it is one of the larger routers we’ve tested, but its low profile means it doesn’t draw too much attention.

SEE ALSO: Best Routers Roundup

D-Link DIR-880L – Features

In hopping aboard the AC1900 bandwagon the 880L plays some familiar cards: a full fat 1300Mbit 802.11ac implementation with 3x3 antenna array and bolstered 600Mbit 802.11n which leads to the enlarged ‘AC1900’ figure.

How the latter figure is achieved is by ‘Turbo QAM’, a proprietary technology from Broadcom used to boost 802.11n on the ageing 2.4GHz band. The snag is it requires a Turbo QAM compatible wireless receiver to reap the benefits on this, such as the Asus PCE-AC68 which is our standard wireless receiver for testing. The good news is with the wealth of AC1900 routers appearing many more Turbo QAM receivers are in the works.

But Turbo QAM isn’t the 880L’s only trick. Its three 5dBi dual-band dipole antennas are significantly larger than anything we've seen on any rival router (which usually stick to 3Bi) and they are backed by SmartBeam compliance.

In addition there is the usual combination of 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x Gigabit LAN and WPS, WPA/WPA2 wireless security. There are also dual USB ports, with the standard combination of 1x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 2.0, not that we’ve found USB 3.0 makes a difference to speed tests across a network.

Like Linksys, D-Link is also one of the few router makers to offer a Cloud platform to access and control the router remotely. This can be done both by web browser or Android and iOS apps (more of which below).

SEE ALSO: Best Powerline Adapters

DIR-880L setup

D-Link DIR-880L – Setup

As one of the major router manufacturers D-Link has long had a smooth setup process and the 880L continues this tradition and builds upon it.

With the 880L D-Link has updated the look and feel of its router UI and the result is a top notch experience with smart walk through wizard and a wholly new look and feel which is both fresh and intuitive (more shots in the Photos link at the top of the page). Major categories are split into 'Settings', 'Features' and 'Management' and the Home page has a useful graphic of your whole network where it is possible to click on individual devices, view their details and change settings.

DIR-880L UI

The whole experience is extremely slick and D-Link deserves a pat on the back for catching up to Linksys, which has long been the leader here. If we have a grumble it is that upon initial connection the router doesn’t automatically open a new browser tab to begin the setup process, you have to type the URL in yourself – but it is hardly a major issue.

It is a similarly positive story with the mobile apps: clean lines, simple, useful control and snappy operation. Confusingly D-Link still offers its ‘mydlink Cloud’ app on both iOS and Android despite no updates in two years, so be advised it is the ‘mydlink Lite’ app you want. A premium version (64p) enables remote access to connected security cameras and is something D-Link should perhaps make free.

MattMe

July 17, 2014, 9:02 am

An image search using your preferred internet search provider also reveals a black version of the DIR-880L. WIll one be coming in future?

What's the best method for connecting this to your ISP? Keep the supplied router plugged in as a modem (wifi disabled), and connect this to the LAN ports for wireless access? Or could I get a separate modem device?

toboev

July 17, 2014, 1:48 pm

"they spend time thinking up a completely new design"
Really - how can you tell? It looks like every other router. Oh, it's white. OK.

toboev

July 17, 2014, 3:00 pm

Ideally you want your ISP device connected to the phone line or cable to be acting as a modem only, which is not the same as just switching off the wifi. If you just switch off the wifi then it is still acting as a router and doing Network Address Translation (NAT). Your second device is also acting as a router, and doing NAT. If you are not careful both will also be doing DHCP (giving out local network addresses). It can be done (I do it..., it works, more by luck than judgement), but you can end up with problems if not careful.

The Virgin SuperHub has a modem-only mode, not sure about other devices.

I guess the other solution is indeed to just switch off the wifi on your ISP router, and use the DIR as a wifi access point, if it can do that (dunno). Then the ISP box is doing all the router work, the DIR is just bolting on its wifi capabilities.

Either way, if possible, you only want one device acting as the router/NAT/DHCP

Pbryanw

July 17, 2014, 5:28 pm

I'm thinking this must be referring to the darth-pringle design, D-Link's top of the range routers have used in the past.

Gordon Kelly

July 17, 2014, 6:51 pm

That's exactly what I'm thinking about. Thanks Pbryanw

Gordon Kelly

July 17, 2014, 6:52 pm

What toboev said, in a nutshell.

toboev

July 17, 2014, 7:38 pm

So, if I understand (sort of), the "completely new design" refers to the old products? I'd agree :)

Paul

July 18, 2014, 6:08 am

looks like I have found my AC router

Erwin Thierry Klein Haneveld

August 4, 2014, 11:42 am

hope this router can help me solve some issues I have now

Allan Kostyk

October 2, 2014, 8:10 am

I have not changed my old wireless router in years and it was connected to the cable router. I know our UPC router is not wireless. Our old Linksys from 8 or more years might be going.

marcwilson

December 11, 2014, 9:23 am

Does anyone know if this router can do multi-NAT? I have an 8-IP block rather than a single external IP, and I want to be able to route different IPs to different internal connections.

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