Hands-on review: D-Link DSL-5300 Cobra AC 5300 Wave 2 Wi-Fi Modem Router
If I was reviewing this modem/router on looks alone it would get 11/10. The Cobra is, without a doubt the sexiest router I've ever seen.
With eight antennas, a funky triangular design, it's unlike any bit of networking kit I've seen before. As I got it out of its (rather premium) packaging the device looked like an upturned robotic spider (similar to those replicators on Stargate: SG1).
The Cobra is pretty future-proof. The built-in modem supports ADSL/VDSL, but it's also UFB (NZ) and NBN (AU) ready. If, like me you have cable internet, you can just switch the modem features off and plug in your cable modem. It's the perfect modem/router as we sit on the cusp of emerging internet technology.
Right now, it offers, pretty much the best home wireless networking performance that you can get. The devices tri-band Wi-Fi has one 2.4GHz band for speeds up to 1,000Mbps and two 5GHz bands for speeds up to 2,167Mbps. You can manually set this up or let the Cobra's SmartConnect capabilities sort all that out for you- picking the best frequency for your devices.
The router's quality of service (QoS) settings enable you to prioritise network traffic to give your most important devices the fastest connection to the internet. This is particularly important for online gaming and streamers.
The acid test that I use when testing a device is how much trouble I have setting it up. In 2017 I expect a router set-up to be completely issue-free. Ten years ago, it would have been a different matter.
When testing a modem/router, I first unplug the existing router and the remove the ethernet cables. I plug the ethernet cable into the new router and switch it on. Using the routers browser-based interface I change the router's SSID and password to my usual settings and check the internet is available. And that's it. Because I have a cable connection, the only extra step was to switch off the Cobra's internal modem.
The Cobra's ease-of-use when it comes to adjusting setting is mainly down to D-Link's very polished browser-based interface. Not only is is very intuitive, it avoids having too many menu tiers and hiding settings.
The device set-up in my house consists of a PC, Xbox One, and two Netgear switches, all hard wired. One switch serves a PlayStation 4, a PlayStation 3 (via the house wired LAN), a printer and whatever else I need to hook up in the office. The other switch is downstairs, connected via the house LAN, and serves a TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Yamaha home theatre amp and a Steam Link. Mobile devices include a PlayStation TV, two Xbox 360s, two phones, two tablets, a laptop and a PC. I've likely forgotten something off the list, somewhere, but you get my drift.
I expect each and every one of these devices to work without issue. With the Cobra, by-and-large, that was the case.
I did come across a couple of issues. The most important being that my downstairs switch did not connect to the router. I'm not sure why not. Everything else connected perfectly. I've reached out to D-Link to find a solution, and I'll update this review accordingly. Just be mindful if you are using ethernet switches. The other issue was using the USB. In order to get it working I have to switch on the SMB 1.0/CIFS Client from the Windows features setting in Windows 10.
Interestingly, though. Reconfiguring my downstairs devices to wireless, I was able to achieve the same network speeds as the connection through the switch. Also, I'd imagine that the Cobra's Wave 2 multi-user, multiple-input and multiple-output (MU-MIMO) does a better job of sharing the love between by downstairs devices than a $25 Gigabyte switch. I may have to start reconsidering my hard-core bias towards wired network rather than Wi-Fi.
Not only are the Cobra's Wi-Fi speeds impressive, the signal reach is phenomenal. My phone was quite happy streaming Spotify via the Cobra's Wi-Fi connection until I was halfway up the road, some 50m away!
DSL-5300 Cobra AC 5300 Wave 2 Wi-Fi Modem Router is a very cool-looking device that will supercharge your network. The flip side it that it's not very inconspicuous. It's a future-proof modem router that's going to serve you well regardless of weather you are connected to the internet via ADSL, cable or UFB or NBN. The device's AC5300 spec means that it will deliver the fastest consumer Wi-Fi experience available today.