Hands-on review: D-Link’s DIR-882 EXO AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router
As home networks are put under pressure from multiple wi-fi connected devices D-Link’s DIR-882 EXO AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router makes sure everyone in the family has a fair go.
A couple of weeks ago I had the misfortune to have to call my Internet service provider. During the conversation the call centre person asked me how many devices were connected to the Internet. My answer, which is probably similar to most, was “I have no idea”.
Only a few short years ago that would have been easy to answer, likely to be just the family computer and perhaps a game console. Nowadays, you can expect two or three mobile phones, a tablet or two, a couple of game consoles, a laptop, a PC and however many TVs in the house. You could also have your home security system connected up to the Internet, as well as a smart plug or two. Even my home theatre amp regularly checked online for updates.
The gatekeeper to your Internet connection is your router and it, especially for wireless traffic, decides what devices get priority. Despite all your devices being connected to your network wirelessly, they don’t necessarily get unfettered access, all your wi-fi traffic has to take turns. That means that your dad’s Netflix, you mum’s Facebook and, god only knows what your sister is up to, are all vying for the same bandwidth as your online game of Battlefield 1.
This is 2017, something really needs to be done about this.
And someone has. Say hello to MU-MIMO. This multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output technology allows you to maintain your low ping gaming connection whilst the rest of the family engages in more pedestrian Internet activities.
D-Link’s DIR-882 EXO AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router is easy to set up, and easy to configure. Dropping in into my network setup was as easy as plugging in the cables and matching the SSID and password with my existing router.
The DIR-882 supports four wired devices and has one UBS 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port. It has four posable antennas, boasting the device’s superior wi-fi capabilities, making the thing impossible to look discreet, even when huge flush on a wall. Connected USB storage solutions can be used for a centralised file storage for access across the network or as an DLNA media server.
Be mindful that the DIR-822 is only a router, so you are going to still need a modem. Whilst a modem/router solution may seem a solution for ADSL connected premises, there’s a lot to be said for keeping your modem and router separate. This is especially so if you are using a modem/router supplied by your ISP. Whilst the modem may be OK, it’s likely that the wireless networking is awful. If you are a cable internet user you usually have no choice but to use the modem supplied to you by your ISP. If you were sent a cable modem/router from your ISP, switch off the router function by putting the device in bridging mode and simply connect it to your DIR-822 and you are away.
Matching the settings from my old router using the DIR-822’s browser-based interface is remarkably intuitive, especially if you are familiar with D-Link’s other networking devices.
The easiest way to get the router running is via the wizard, which’ll get your network up and running with minimal fuss. Of course, if you’ve splashed out on a router like this you are going to want to make use of some of the devices more advanced features.
The router’s home screen features an easy to read diagram of your network. Here you can check the status of your internet connection, any connected USB devices and how many clients you have on the network. Clicking the “clients” icon brings up all of the details of connected devices. This is so handy. Many routers like to hide this info deep in the menus. You can rename your connected devices and allocate IP addresses, which is essential to the most out of the router.
With no fuss each of my devices seamlessly connected to the network. Pushing the network to the limit, I switched on all my network devices. This consisted of three TVs (two wired, one wi-fi) eight consoles (five wired, three wi-fi, two PCs (one wired, one wi-fi), and two tablets, two mobile phones, two security cameras, printer and a laptop, all connect via wi-fi.
The DIR-822’s quality of service (QoS) feature enables you to allocate device priority across the network by simply dragging and dropping the devices into boxes labelled “highest, “high” and “medium”. This means that you can carry out streaming TV even if your lad is downloading his lasted purchase from the PlayStation Network.
The firewall setting enables you to easily set up a device on a DMZ via IP, something useful for gamers wanting an unfiltered connection to the Internet, but I’d only suggest using it for a console and not your PC. I also usually set up port forwarding to ensure that devices get the data they want without hindrance. I’d say the plug and play features of the router seem to be able to route traffic without the need for my help. I’ve not needed to set up the DMZ or do any port forwarding and I’ve had no problems. Even the PlayStation 4 Pro is happy with the router’s settings.
The router also has plenty of network management features allowing you to set up administrators, view logs and check traffic stats.
There’s no need to mess about choosing channels for an optimal wi-fi signal. The DIR-822 uses a feature call smart connect. This chooses the best frequency, either 2.4GHz or 5GHz, to connect to your wi-fi device. Whilst 5GHz is faster, the range is not as good compared to the slow 2.4GHz. The proof, of course is in the pudding. Whilst the range of the router is determined by the construction of your house, I was able to stream Netflix to my phone some 30m from the router. Perfect for using Spotify via wireless speaker to provide the musical accompaniment to your backyard barbecue.
The D-Link DIR-882 EXO AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router is designed for today’s Internet-connected home. If you’ve got more devices connected to the internet than you can count, your probably need to look into a MU-MIMO router. If you want total control over your home network or, at least, the best latency for your gaming rig the DIR-882 is exactly what you need.