D-Link scores over the competition for the level of features it offers. Naturally, virtual servers and port forwarding is supported but you can restrict access using a MAC address list and prioritise specific application traffic with QoS (quality of service) rules which can also be applied to selected IP addresses and ports. The new guest zone feature will prove useful as the router can maintain separate SSID’s to allow wireless users to access the Internet only. Both APs can have their own guest zones, plus you can set up separate wireless security on each one and enable inter-zone access on either, which will allow wireless clients to see systems on the LAN.
For web access controls, most home routers offer a very basic facility but D-Link goes much further as you can create a list of up to 64 website addresses and use the Access Control feature to apply rules that determine what each system can access on the Internet. This allows you to block access to all websites except those in the white list and rules can have time schedules applied to them to determine when they are active.
For wireless performance D-Link still uses the dubious practise of advertising top speeds of 600Mbps which we all know by now are simply unachievable in the real world. For testing, we installed D-Link’s DWA-160 dual-band USB adapter (shown above – an optional extra at approx £44) in a Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2. The adapter comes with a handy desktop mount extender kit and a System Tray utility for scanning wireless networks and quickly connecting to them.
Starting with a connection to the 5GHz AP, we copied a 690MB video clip over a close range WPA2 encrypted link to a system on the LAN which took 87 seconds for an average of 64Mbps. We then reconnected to the 2.4GHz AP and saw the same copy complete in 96 seconds for an average of 57.5Mbps. Range is reasonably good for both APs as we took our laptop out in the garden and saw signal strength settle at around fifty per cent at a range of twenty metres from the house.
With basic wireless N broadband routers now available for less than eighty quid, D-Link is asking a lot for the DIR-855. There’s no denying it has more features than you can shake a stick at and wireless performance is better than most, but if you want a more affordable albeit less well endowed dual-band broadband router then check out Netgear’s WNDR3300.