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Wireless Reviews

HD Media Router 3000
At a glance
ProductD-Link DIR-857 HD Media Router 3000   [Website]
SummaryUbicom / Atheros based simultaneous dual band three-stream N 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
• Disappointing wireless performance

Typical Price: $129  Compare Prices  Check Amazon

Overview

It took more than a year after announcement, but D-Link finally started shipping the top of its "HD Media Router" family a few months ago. The DIR-857 HD Media Router 3000 is, for all intents and purposes, a three-stream N version of the two-stream N DIR-827 I was finally able to review at the end of last year.

In popular WLAN marketing-speak, the DIR-857 is an "N900" router, i.e. capable of maximum link rates of 450 Mbps on both radios when used with three-stream N clients, while the DIR-827 is "N600", with 300 Mbps maximum link rates on both radios.

Since pretty much everything except the radio is the same as the DIR-827, I'm going to take a quick run through the internals and features and concentrate on reviewing performance.

The indicators, controls and ports shown below are identical to those on the DIR-827 including all Gigabit Ethernet WAN and LAN ports, USB 3.0 port for D-Link's Shareport Plus drive and printer sharing feature and SD card slot for easy multimedia file sharing.

DIR-857 panels

DIR-857 panels

Inside

The FCC ID docs were again not helpful, since the registration is only for the radio module. So after I completed testing, I opened up the 857 for a look. I first thought I was looking inside the DIR-827, since the heatsinking, RF shielding and overall layout is the same.

D-Link DIR-857 inside

DIR-857 inside

The main difference is the use of three dual-band antennas on the 857 above vs. two on the DIR-827 shown in its internal photo below.

D-Link DIR-827 inside

DIR-827 inside

Aside from popping off the tops of the RF cans on the radio module for the DIR-857's internal photo, I didn't perform any further disassembly, since I'd seen it all before. And you can too, by checking out the rest of the DIR-827 internal pix. I also checked with D-Link, who confirmed that the same Ubicom IP8000AU SoC processor is used in the 857, but that RAM size has been bumped up to 512 MB from the 827's 256 MB.

Table 1 compares the key components of all three of the HD Media Router family. The main component difference is that D-Link has swapped out the dual-stream Qualcomm-Atheros AR9382 wireless SoCs for a pair of three-stream AR9380's. There is also the RAM size increase mentioned above.

  DIR-857 DIR-827 DIR-657
CPU Ubicom IP8000AU Ubicom IP8000AU Ubicom IP7160U
Switch Atheros AR8327N Atheros AR8327N Atheros AR8316
RAM 512 MB 256 MB 128 MB
Flash 16 MB 16 MB 32 MB
2.4 GHz Radio Atheros AR9380 Atheros AR9382 Atheros AR9227
5 GHz Radio Atheros AR9380 Atheros AR9382 N/A
Table 1: D-Link HD Media Router family component comparison

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