- Review Price: £70.00
Over the past few months we’ve seen quite a few ISPs start rolling out ADSL2/2+ services in the UK and there are plenty of router vendors that have launched compatible products in readiness for the anticipated rush of bandwidth hungry users. We were impressed with Netgear’s DG834PN and now it’s the turn of D-Link’s DSL-G623M.
Pricewise, it looks good value coming in at around £20 less than Netgear’s sleek white lozenge and as you’ll see it does offer a similar level of features. The chassis feels a little lightweight but it’s built well enough and comes with a pair of chunky, paddle-shaped wireless aerials. Four switched Fast Ethernet ports are provided at the rear along with a port for the ADSL2/2+ modem. A simple array of LEDs is spread across the front panel showing status and activity for each LAN port, whether the wireless access point is switched on, activity for the Internet connection and the status of the router itself.
Installation is commendably swift as you connect a PC, leave DHCP to weave its magic and then point a web browser at the unit’s default IP address. The home page opens with a quick start wizard where you can change the administrative password, set the time zone and add your ISP username and password. During testing we had the router up and running with Internet access enabled in a matter of minutes. As we found with the DG834PN, the default wireless settings on the DSL-G624M will need immediate attention as the access point starts up as enabled, the SSID is broadcast for all to see and no encryption is selected. In other words the wireless access point is left wide open and DHCP services are ready for any wireless enabled device in the vicinity to hitch a free ride on your Internet connection or worse, have access to the PCs on your LAN.
All the key wireless security features are present and correct as you can change the default SSID, stop it being broadcast and implement 64/128-bit WEP or the stronger WPA-PSK or WPA-AES encryption. We would recommend checking for and uploading the latest firmware as this brought the review unit up to date with support for 802.1x authentication via an external RADIUS server. However, it was disappointing to see our ISP details had been wiped out after the update and the only way we could achieve a new Internet connection was by resetting the unit back to factory defaults and running the startup wizard again. If you do have any problems with the firmware then D-Link does maintain previous versions on its FTP site.
Wireless performance was up with the MIMO compliant competition and to test this we used a 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2 and fitted with D-Link’s DWL-G650M wireless PC Card.
At one metre we saw the open source Iometer return a raw read throughput to a PC on the LAN of 42.5Mbit/sec over an open connection, 36Mbit/sec over 128-bit WEP and 33.5Mbit/sec over WPA-PSK. Range was also on a par with Netgear’s DG834PN with drops of 19 per cent and 25 per cent being recorded for an open connection and WPA-PSK respectively when the notebook was moved down a floor with three brick walls in the way.
MAC address filtering can be activated so only those listed are allowed to access the network. The latter is set up from the Filter tab which offers a number of other useful features. IP filters can be used to block Internet access to specific addresses or an IP range and a schedule can be applied to determine when each filter is active. Web access restrictions are the usual basic affair as the router implements simple URL filtering so you’ll need to create a list of sites you want to block. The domain blocking option looks more useful as you can implement a much stricter system that blocks access to all web sites except those listed. This makes it much easier to set up parental controls for children as you can decide precisely which domains they are allowed to access.
LAN services can be opened up to external users by enabling virtual servers and a selection of predefined servers ranging from FTP and HTTP through to SMTP and POP3 are provided. You can add your own by entering the private IP address of the server plus associated private and public ports and apply a time schedule if required to determine when it is to be made available for access. The SPI firewall defaults to blocking all unsolicited inbound traffic from the Internet but although you can customise it with your own rules don’t expect much help from the manual. One system can also be placed in a DMZ (demilitarized zone) where it sits outside the firewall and is subject to unprotected access from the Internet.
D-Link delivers a very good range of features for a comparatively low price along with good wireless performance. However, the DSL-G6243M is not as easy to configure as Netgear’s DG834PN and the latest firmware upgrade is a must for this router.
A wizard speeds up initial configuration and the router supports a good range of ADSL connection types.
Wireless security is plentiful and upgrading the firmware brings 802.1x support into the frame.
Access can be opened to a range of pre-defined virtual servers and you can create your own.
Very strict web access controls can be implemented using the domain blocking option.
Extra features include VPN pass-through and UPnP support.
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