D-Link DIR-885L Review
The D-Link DIR-885L AC3100 is a powerful 802.11ac router. The DIR-885L has 4 external antennae and has beamforming for directional transmission, which decreases interference and increases range, enough that devices will receive strong signal even in a large home. The DIR-885L has a maximum throughput of 2600Mbps on 5GHz and 1000Mbps on 2.4GHz, though note that most devices support a maximum of only 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz bands. With simultaneous transmission, this adds up to a theoretical maximum 3100Mbps. It has the standard a gigabit WAN port for input and four gigabit LAN ports, as well as two USB ports, a USB 2.0 port for connecting a printer to the network, with a USB 3.0 port for connecting storage.
Today, with the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and streaming devices such as Chromecast and Apple TV, households have more and more WiFi connected devices. It is not unreasonable to expect a family to have over a dozen WiFi clients connected. With so many connected devices, WiFi congestion can become a real problem, slowing down the internet of everyone. The new D-Link has multiple technologies to combat WiFi congestion. As mentioned, the DIR-885L has beamforming technology. Not only does this improve the range of the router, but it also allows faster WiFi speeds when multiple clients are connected.
Another technology in the DIR-885L to improve performance with multiple connected clients is MU-MIMO, short for Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output, which is designed to handle Wi-Fi bandwidth more efficiently when interfacing with multiple clients than traditional MIMO. MU-MIMO is an improvement over the older MIMO technology, which would treat every connected Wi-Fi clients identically, which can become problematic because some clients have a much greater data transmission capacity. This means that a multi-stream router would use all available streams to connect with any connected device, even if the other device can only utilize one or two streams of data at a time. This in turn means that the other streams are being wasted, because the client cannot use their data rate. With MU-MIMO, different transmissions can be sent on different Wi-Fi streams to multiple devices simultaneously, allowing the router to send data to multiple clients at the maximum speed each client can receive it.
Finally, the DIR-885 has Smart Connect technology, which lets the router decide intelligently what devices go on what WiFi band, rather than you having to manually configure your devices to go on a specific band. Thus, a device which only supports 802.11n or 802.11g and does not support 802.11ac signals will not be sent signals over the 5GHz 802.11ac streams, meaning that while the router is sending data to said device over the 2.4GHz streams, it can simultaneously send data to another device over the 5GHz 802.11ac streams. This also allows for automatic load balancing, improving data rate with multiple connected clients.
D-Link’s ULTRA Performance series routers have possibly the craziest design on any router, with an aggressive angled shape that looks like a stealth fighter, or possibly a beetle. The DIR-885L continues this aesthetic, and is a bright crimson. It has four exterior antennae, and internally contains a dual core Broadcom BCM47094 CPU clocked at 1.4GHz. There is WPS support so you can connect your devices with just the push of a button.
The DIR-885 can be easily set up. There is good smartphone and tablet integration; you can even set up your router from your smartphone or tablet with the Quick Router Setup app. You can also manage your network from a browser or your smartphone or tablet. The router management software allows you to set parental controls, block unwanted devices, monitor internet usage and activity, as well as create a guest network. Most importantly, you can prioritize devices and applications.
The DIR-885 is a good high end router. It has good performance, and will certainly serve you well for many years to come. However, at the price point it’s at of near $300, there are also many other good options for routers worth considering, most notably D-Link’s own DIR-890 and DIR-895, which have improved performance for a minimal increase in price.