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Wireless Reviews

HD Media Router 2000
At a glance
ProductD-Link DIR-827 HD Media Router 2000   [Website]
SummaryUbicom based simultaneous dual band router with IPv6 support and USB port and SD card slot for sharing.
Pros• Good routing feature set
• IPv6 support
• USB 3.0 port for drive and printer sharing
Cons• Only two status lights / indicators
• Borderline unusable throughput with low signal levels

Typical Price: $60  Compare Prices  Check Amazon

Overview

Well, CES is once again almost upon us. So that means the D-Link is getting close to shipping some of the products it announced at this past January's CES. Three "HD Media" routers were announced and we've already seen the single-band DIR-657. The DIR-827 HD Media Router 2000 we're looking at today is number two out of the birth canal. I'm not holding my breath on the simultaneous dual-band three-stream member of the family, the DIR-857, however. My guess is that it will be reintroduced in January...

On the outside, the DIR-827 looks a lot like the DIR-657. The main difference besides the name is a shiny finish and a bump in the top cover to add a rear-facing air scoop. You'll see a few other thermal management design features in a bit when we look inside. So D-Link is either taking a conservative approach to heat removal or was forced into it due to the components used.

The indicators, controls and ports shown below are virtually identical to those on the DIR-657. The main difference is that the USB port is 3.0 vs. 2.0 on the 657. All Ethernet ports on both products are Gigabit.

DIR-827 panels

DIR-827 panels

Inside

The FCC ID docs were not helpful at all, since the registration is only for the radio module. So after I completed testing, I opened 'er up for a look. The shot below shows a generous use of heatsinking and the simultaneous dual-band radio module that connects via PCIe bus. There are only two antennas, so that would make them both dual-band. Note that the board has room for two more antennas, which were probably designed out to reduce manufacturing cost.

D-Link DIR-827 inside

DIR-827 inside

Since I don't have X-ray vision, I had to do more disassembly to see what makes the 827 tick. So after removing the radio module and top heatsink, I finally got to the good stuff. The photo below shows a Ubicom IP8000 CPU, which is more powerful than the 657's Ubicom IP7160U.

D-Link DIR-827 board detail

DIR-827 board detail

To spare you more of my flowery prose, the table below compares the key components for the two siblings.

  DIR-827 DIR-657
CPU Ubicom IP8000AU Ubicom IP7160U
Switch Atheros AR8327N Atheros AR8316
RAM 256 MB 128 MB
Flash 16 MB 32 MB
2.4 GHz Radio Atheros AR9382 Atheros AR9227
5 GHz Radio Atheros AR9382 N/A
Table 1:Component comparison

I had to pop off the RF can tops and pry off the ceramic heatsink to identify the components shown in the photo below. Atheros AR9382 dual-band 2T2R SoCs are used for both the 2.4 and 5 GHz radios. The big device is a Pericom PI7C9X20303SL 3-port, 3-lane PCIe Packet Switch that connects the two radios to the Ubicom's PCIe bus. Note the unloaded components for a third antenna.

DIR-827 radio module

DIR-827 radio module

Removing the board reveals one more layer of heatsink coupled to the bottom of the board via the thermal pad shown.

DIR-827 bottom heatsink

DIR-827 bottom heatsink

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