|At a Glance|
|Product||D-Link RangeBooster N Dual Band Router Review (DIR-628)|
|Summary||Dual-band single radio Wi-Fi Certified 802.11n Draft 2.0 router based on Atheros XSPAN silicon.
Basically, a cost-reduced version of the DGL-4500.
|Pros|| Inexpensive access to 5 GHz band
Street priced below $100
Automatic QoS for Internet uplink
|Cons|| High wireless throughput variation
100 Mbps LAN
Bi-directional routing performance
It appears that D-Link has decided to aggressively pursue the sub-$100 dual-band draft 802.11n market by tweaking basic product platforms. The recently introduced the DAP-1522 Bridge / AP [reviewed] is essentially a cost-reduced version of its DAP-1555, primarily through the susbstitution of a Ralink processor and wireless chipset in the DAP-1522 for the Ubicom SoC and Atheros radio in the DAP-1555.
Similarly, the DIR-628 is meant to serve as a lower-cost alternative to D-Link's DGL-4500 Xtreme N Gaming Router [reviewed]. But the DIR-628 takes a different approach to reduce cost.
First, the flashy, but non-essential OLED display is replaced by the good ol' array of LEDs that you see on most other products. Then, a 10/100 switch is substituted for the 4500's gigabit. Next, the 628 stays with a Ubicom SoC, but substitutes a Ubicom IP5100, running at 200 MHz for the 4500's IP5160, which is clocked at 275 MHz. And finally, the same Atheros-based radio is used, but with only two antennas connected instead of three.
Figure 1 is taken from the FCC ID docs and shows the 628 disassembled into its primary components. I'm surprised to see the radio on a separate mini-PCI board, considering the cost sensitivity of the design.
Figure 1: DIR-628 inside
Figure 2 is a close-up of the board in my test sample, since the FCC ID photo was so fuzzy. The Ubicom IP5100U has a heatsink on it, but you can see the Marvell 88E6060 6 port 10/100 switch. There is a single chip providing 16 MB of RAM and a 4 MB Spansion flash chip on the bottom of the board.
Figure 2: DIR-628 main board
D-Link opted to stay with an older Atheros XSPAN AR5008 chipset, with AR5416 Baseband/MAC and AR5133 3 Tx, 3 Rx, dual-band chip. The FCC photo in Figure 3 shows a third miniature antenna connector. But if you look closely at the larger version of Figure 2, you see that the connector hasn't been loaded since only two antennas are used.
Figure 3: DIR-628 dual-band radio board