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Wireless Reviews

Wireless AC1200 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router
At a glance
ProductD-Link Wireless AC1200 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router (DIR-850L)   [Website]
SummaryRealtek-based AC1200 class router with IPv6 support, Gigabit ports and USB 2.0 port
Pros• Good routing feature set
• IPv6 support
Cons• Poor handling of simultaneous up/down routed traffic
• No bridge mode
• Only two status lights / indicators

Typical Price: $50  Buy From Amazon

Overview

Updated 8/16/2012: Corrected 20/40 Coexistence test info

We're continuing to work our way through D-Link's new AC routers. We were impressed with the top-of-line AC1750 class Broadcom-based DIR-868L back in May. This time, we're looking at the first of D-Link's two AC1200 class routers we'll be reviewing, the DIR-850L.

The descriptions below taken from D-Link's site are identical except for the price. So what's the difference? According to D-Link:

"The main difference between the two models is the DIR-860L features a USB 3.0 port and the DIR-850L features a USB 2.0 port. In addition, the DIR-860L is equipped with D-Link’s SmartBeam technology which provides stronger, clearer and faster Wi-Fi by locating and focusing bandwidth to your devices."

DIR-850L / DIR-860L descriptions

DIR-850L / DIR-860L descriptions

Actually, there is a more important difference, as we'll see shortly when we dissect its innards. Like the DIR-868L, the 850L has only power and "Internet" indicators, which use color and blinking to indicate power, boot, WPS and internet connection status. There are no indicators to show Ethernet or wireless activity or status.

DIR-850L ports and buttons

DIR-850L ports and buttons

All the 850L's Ethernet ports are Gigabit and, as noted above, its single USB port that supports D-Link's Shareport Plus drive and printer sharing feature is 2.0.

Inside

Digging into the 850L's FCC ID photos revealed the first AC router we've tested based on Realtek silicon. The main processor is an RTL8197D, that is not listed on Realtek's website. WikiDevi, however, lists it as based on a Lexra RLX5281 (MIPS-based) core clocked at 500 - 660 MHz.

D-Link DIR-850L inside

D-Link DIR-850L board

The DIR-860L's FCC overview photos aren't that great. Fortunately, there are excellent close-ups of all the key components that clearly show a Broadcom-based design.

D-Link DIR-850L board naked

D-Link DIR-850L board naked

The 860L uses Broadcom's second-generation dual-core BCM47081A0 SoC that handles the main CPU, Ethernet and USB functions. All the other key parts are listed in Table 1.

DIR-850L DIR-860L
CPU Realtek RTL8197D Broadcom BCM47081A0
Switch Realtek RTL8367RB In CPU
RAM 128 MB Spansion S34ML01G100TFI00 (x1) 128 MB Spansion S34ML01G100TFI00 (x1)
Flash 128 MB (Nanya NT5TU64M16CG-AC) (x1) 128 MB Micron MT47H64M16HR (x1)
2.4 GHz Radio - Realtek RTL8192CE (2x2 bgn)
- No amplifiers
- Broadcom BCM43217
- No power amps
5 GHz radio - Realtek RTL8812AR (2x2 agnac)
- Unidentified 5 GHz amps (x2)

- Broadcom BCM4352KMLG
- RF Micro Devices RFFM4501 802.11a/n/ac Front End Module (x2)
(Radio is on mini PCIe module Alpha Networks WMC-A02)

Table 1: D-Link DIR-850L / DIR-960L key components

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