When the D-Link DIR-890L AC 3200 router arrived at my door I was shocked…the box is huge. I’ve seen computers in smaller boxes. Inside the box was a slab of black plastic that looks like a stealth fighter with a pair of large antennae sprouting out of three sides.
Before getting into the specifics about this latest router from D-Link let’s deal with the market speak and the reality behind the technology of these new triple band routers. On first blush the so called 3200Mbps sounds spectacular. Well, not exactly. The real benefit of triple-band routers is to efficiently handle multiple devices connected to a wireless network, not to significantly boost throughput beyond the theoretical maximum 1300Mbps at 5GHz.
A typical dual-band router has two radios: one operating on the 2.4GHz band and the other on 5GHz. The top of the line dual-band devices support speeds of up to 600Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps at 5GHz.Tri-band routers have a third radio: one at 2.4GHz and two on the 5GHz band. The D-Link DIR-890L provides up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, and 1300Mbps on both 5GHz signals. 1300+1300+600 leads to the “AC3200” in the name. That 3200 by the way, is the combined theoretical throughput that is only seen in the lab under ideal conditions.
All this power comes at a price and in the case of the D-Link DIR890L that price is $300 which raises the obvious question do I need a powerhouse like this? Perhaps. If you only have a couple of devices connected to your router this would be overkill but if like me you have nearly 20 devices connected..some old and slow..some new and fast..then This router is certainly worth considering.
Let’s start with the nuts and bolts. As I said at the beginning, this is a big router Measuring 15.2 by 9.7 by 4.7 inches (38.7 by 24.7 by 11.9cm). The DIR-890 is powered by a Broadcom dual-core 1GHz processor. On the back are the usual network ports (four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit Internet [WAN] port). It also has one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port that you can use to host a printer or an external hard drive. On the front lights running along the central spine show the status of the Internet connection, the Wi-Fi networks, and the two USB ports.
As a tri-band router, the D-Link DIR-890 has three separate built-in access points (APs): one 2.4GHz AP to support all 2.4GHz 802.11n/g/b Wi-Fi clients, which caps at 600Mbps; and two 5GHz APs to support 5GHz 802.11ac/n/a client. The second 5GHz band is really helpful with clients of different Wi-Fi standards (802.11a, 802.11n or 802.11ac). Fast clients will connect to one band with the other clients linking to the remaining bands, allowing each to run at their fastest speed without adversely affecting each other. You can use the DIR-890 either as three separate Wi-Fi networks (one for each band) or combine all three into a single network in the Smart Connect mode. With SmartConnect, which is also the default setting, the router will automatically connect each client to the optimal band. I find this most effective and it is the configurations I use.
This high powered router is aimed at the average homeowner with lots of devices to connect and is sick of seeing devices dropped by their old router when new ones come on line..such as when the kids come home from school with their laptops, phones and tablets. As such it uses D-Link’s new user-friendly interface that will allow you to monitor Internet activity, block unwanted devices, creative public or encrypted guest networks, and prioritize (drag and drop) devices with the QoS engine.The Settings page has Setup Wizard that will walk you through the installation procedure, configure your network and Wi-Fi settings, and set your router password. It also contains separate Settings pages where you can manually configure the router. I did it manually because I wanted a specific SSID and the setup took me about 4 minutes. While this interface provides plenty of control for the average home user, some power users will complain that it is too simplified and has limited controls. However geeks will like the ability to access the router’s features remotely via MyDlink.
I found this to be an impressive router…it felt faster than any router I have used but most important it is the only router I have tried that could consistently deliver a useable connection to my front porch 45 feet away, down one level through 2 interior walls and one exterior brick wall. This is no doubt due to the SmartBeam technology which locates your devices and send them a focused signal to increase range and reduce interference. Also impressive was the fact that during a month of usage the DIR 890 has been completely reliable, never dropping a connection. Other routers often dropped connections to devices such as my Apple TVs. This is certainly the most reliable router I have ever used. This is something by the way, I have come to expect from D-Link for example my 8 year old DIR-655 router is still providing yeoman service on my brother’s home network.
On the back are a Gigabit WAN Port and 4 Gigabit LAN ports..As you can see below I am using all of them I don’t understand why more LAN ports can’t be provided on a router this big and powerful. There is also a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port which with a portable drive plugged in was quite impressive, averaging around 70MBps for reading and 35MBps for writing, more than fast enough for data sharing and media streaming. You can set it to share all of its content to everybody in the network. The drive can also function as a DLNA server to stream media files. You can also share the content of the drive over the Internet using D-Link’s cloud feature. Unfortunately the DIR 890 doesn’t support Time Machine backup..bad news for Mac users such as me..it should be added if it is possible via a firmware update.
The D-Link DIR890L AC3200 router is a fast, reliable and powerful router with very good range. It is my pick for my complicated home network. I gave it 4.5 stars only because it lacked Time Machine backup; otherwise I would have rated it 5 stars. So, if you are finding that your old router can’t handle the number of devices you now have connected to it or, if you need reliability and range as well as great performance then this then this is the router for you in spite of its stiff $300 price tag By the way you can get it in Red too, if you really want to make a statement.