14 Dec 2020
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Hands-on review: EXO AX AX5400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router

By Darren Price

How fast does your wireless network really need to be? In my opinion, it needs to be just a little faster than it is right now. 

I swear, every year adds another five client devices to the home network. The extra traffic doesn’t interfere with the kids loafing about on the couch watching YouTube, or me watching Netflix whilst doom-scrolling Twitter. It does, however, upset my wife who is trying to get some proper work done, presenting to her clients, online.

Yep, this home-working biz has made the Wi-Fi network’s capacity a bit more of a priority for the boss than it used to be. I’m sure this story is not unfamiliar. With everything from the garden lights to the strange networked Rubik’s Cube that I’m testing, all vying for a bit of that Wi-Fi, it’s pretty essential now that there’s enough capacity for everyone. 

Enter the D-Link EXO AX AX5400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router. OK, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s also known as the DIR-X5460, so perhaps we’ll stick with that.    

The DIR-X5460 is not a subtle-looking device. It’s six antennae are a bit ominous-looking, but they are required for those six simultaneous data streams. This stops your wireless devices from having to wait for their turn for a bit of bandwidth.

Of course, the router doesn’t have to sit on the shelf. There are mounting holes to positioning the device out of the way. 

There’s a good chance a lot of your devices will not be using Wi-Fi 6. It’s only been around a few years. Most new laptops and motherboards are coming put with Wi-Fi 6 compatibility. Sony’s new PlayStation 5 offers Wi-Fi 6 connectively (but Microsoft’s Xbox Series X/S does not). Not does the DIR-X5460 work with your old devices, it also helps you to get the most out of your new devices, and futureproofs your network for the next five years or so. 

The router boasts top speeds of around 5400 Mbps, 2x faster than an AC router. The router also utilises both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands.

For most users, those speeds will equate to Internet speeds. Testing the Wi-Fi via my mobile Speedtest app and the browser version yielded identical results even at a distance of over 20m through a stud wall. Ookla’s Speedtest is built-in to the device so you can keep an eye on your Internet speed. The router has support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. 

The router slipped in as my home Wi-Fi hub without any downtime. I set the Wi-Fi SSID and password up as the same as the usual router. The office and important devices (consoles, ahem), are connected via wired ethernet, which made good use of the four RJ45 sockets on the back. 

Another thing to point out is that this router was connected to the National Broadband Network via a modem with IP telephony set to bridge mode. Simply swapping out the modem caused no problems. I also have a D-Link Mesh system for a separate Wi-Fi network that I connected to the DIR-X5460 with no problems.

My favourite part, though, and what I think sets D-Link apart from other router manufacturers, is their clean and consistent router web interface. The easy-to-follow wizard either via the mobile app or web interface sets up the router. And this is OK for 99% of users. But the logically designed menus of the web interface can then be used to tweak the device's advanced settings. 

Client priority can be set to a tired structure. The DMZ allocated as needed for a direct, unfettered (and unsecured) connection to the internet. The port-forwarding options, once hidden in the depths of the interface are easily set to direct traffic. These are all advanced features that turn an easy-to-use domestic router into a customisable network hub capable of looking after everything from streaming Netflix to a competitive Rainbow Six tournament.

Parents can make use of the devices scheduling to deny certain client devices access to the Internet at certain times. Websites can also be filtered by blocking URLs and/or specific keywords.

The D-Link EXO AX AX5400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router is a bit of a beast, but for its size, you get a robust network hub that is easy-to-use but fully featured for advanced users. The Wi-Fi 6 functionality means that it is future-proof and should not need replacing for a few years yet.

Whilst the device could do with looking a little less industrial, it is easy to recommend for both general home/office wireless networking and those with more advanced high-performance Wi-Fi requirements.

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