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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

Updated 11/5/09: RAM size corrected.

D-Link DIR-825

At a Glance
Product D-Link Xtreme N Dual Band Gigabit Router Rev B1 (DIR-825)
Summary Redesign of popular dual-radio dual-band 802.11n wireless router with 4 port gigabit Ethernet switch, now with Atheros WNPU, radios and Gigabit switch. Switch supports Jumbo Frames.
Pros • Two radios for simultaneous dual-band operation
• Gigabit WAN and LAN with > 200 Mbps routing speed
• > 200 Mbps combined wireless throughput
• USB server for storage and printers
Cons • USB device sharing is one Windows client at a time
• Lower routing throughput than the A1

A few months back, word spread via the SNB Forums that D-Link's B1 update of its relatively inexpensive dual-band, dual-radio DIR-825 [reviewed here] used essentially the same core chipset as NETGEAR's high-performing WNDR3700. So folks wanted to know whether they could save $50 by buying the 825 [B1] and get the same performance as the WNDR3700.

Since my review backlog is large and I have little time to retest new hardware revisions of products, I resisted repeated requests for a B1 review. But once I saw the significant performance advantages of the WNDR3700, my fate was sealed and I knew that enquiring minds needed to know.

For those of you in a hurry, I'll say that the DIR-825 B1 is no WNDR3700 in either its routing or wireless performance. So if you want the WNDR3700's performance, you'll need to buy a WNDR3700. If you want the details behind this conclusion, then just read on.

Figure 1 is the FCC shot of the original 825's board. It uses a Ubicom IP5170U clocked at 350 MHz, Realtek RTL8366SR gigabit switch, 16 MB of RAM and two mini-PCI radio modules.

DIR-825 [A1] board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: DIR-825 [A1] board

Figure 2 shows the 2.4 GHz mini-PCI radio module using an Atheros AR9160 dual-band 3x3 MIMO MAC/Baseband chip and AR9103 3T3R 2.4 GHz radio.

DIR-825 2.4 GHz radio

Figure 2: DIR-825 2.4 GHz radio

The 5 GHz board (Figure 3) uses an AR9106 2.4/5 GHz 3T3R radio and another AR9160 BB/MAC chip.

DIR-825 5 GHz radio
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: DIR-825 5 GHz radio

Figure 4 shows the B1 version board. The radios have been integrated into the main board and use more recent Atheros chipsets, i.e. an Atheros AR9223 2.4 GHz 2x2 single chip radio for 2.4 GHz and an Atheros AR9220 2.4/5 GHz 2x2 single chip radio for the 5 GHz radio.

DIR-825 [B1]  board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 4: DIR-825 [B1] board
Updated 11/5/09: RAM size corrected.

Both the processor and switch are under the grey ceramic heatsinks at the right of the photo. But since they're stuck on only with thermal tape, I was able to pry up the smaller one and confirm that the processor is Atheros' AR7161 WNPU @ 600 MHz. I didn't confirm that the larger device is an Atheros AR8316 Gigabit switch, however. The RAM complement is only 16 MB from a single Mosel-Vitelic v58c2256164 chip. RAM has been increased to 32 MB from a single ProMOS v58c2256164 chip. I didn't bother taking the board out of the case to ID the flash on the bottom of the board.

I'm not going to review features, since little has changed. You can check out the admin interface via the online emulator if you like or read the original review.

I will note that, despite switching from a Ubicom to an Atheros processor, D-Link has kept the QoS Engine controls the same. So perhaps Atheros' automatic QoS technology has progressed to the point where it provides a reasonable facsimile of Ubicom's StreamEngine functionality.

The other notable change is the IPv6 menu under the Advanced tab. It's not very complicated (Figure 5) and just provides a drop-down to select Static IPv6, DHCP v6, PPPoE, IPv6 in IPv4 Tunnel, 6to4 and Link-local only modes and displays the router's LAN IPv6 Link-Local address.

DIR-825 2.4 GHz radio

Figure 5: IPv6 screen

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