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Wireless Reviews

AC1900 Wi-Fi Router
At a glance
ProductD-Link AC1900 Wi-Fi Router (DIR-880L)   [Website]
SummaryAC1900 class router with Gigabit Ethernet ports,USB 3.0 storage and printer sharing & L2TP/IPsec VPN server
Pros• VPN server
• Local and remote storage access
Cons• Some controls are not where you expect them
• Older design (1st gen Broadcom CPU)
• No VPN setup example

Typical Price: $170  Buy From Amazon

Overview

Updated 8/29/2014: Multiple corrections

It took D-Link longer than they probably wanted to squeeze out its first AC1900 router, the DIR-880L. Perhaps it was angst over abandoning the upright cylinder format adopted for just about all its other AC class routers. Nevertheless, it's out, it's flat, so let's take a look.

The DIR-880L does indeed look like most other AC1900 routers, with three designed-to-impress large dual-band dipole antennas arrayed across its rear panel, joined via RP-SMA connectors. The 880L's data sheet says these are "high-gain" antennas, but omits actual gain numbers.

The callout diagram below shows the 880L has both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, just like NETGEAR's R7000 Nighthawk, ASUS' RT-AC68U and Linksys' EA6900. All lights are on the top panel and most connectors are on the rear. Note none of the gigabit Ethernet ports have link or activity lights, so you need to log into the admin interface to see if stuff is actually connected.

The USB 3.0 port is awkwardly stuck on the left side and the WPS button, which bears no marking identifying it, sits in about the same position on the right side panel. At least D-Link didn't hide the USB 3.0 port under a gawd-awful tethered rubber plug as ASUS did on the RT-AC87.

On a more positive note, there are mounting screw slots centered on the bottom side that allow you to decide whether ports and antennas point up or down when wall mounting.

D-Link DIR-880L front and rear panel callouts

D-Link DIR-880L front and rear panel callouts

Inside

Updated 8/29/2014

You would think given its timing and pricing that the 880L would have a latest-and-greatest design. But you may be disappointed to learn that it uses the older Broadcom BCM4708A SoC as its main processor vs. the newer and more powerful BCM4709A. D-Link also cheaped out on memory, too, providing only 128 MB of RAM and 16 MB of flash.

At least they tried to do a decent job of heat-sinking, as evidenced by the big plate in the internal FCC photo below.

D-Link DIR-880L inside

D-Link DIR-880L inside

Removing the heatsink plate and RF can lids lays bare the 880L's design, which alternates 2.4 and 5 GHz amplifiers to keep path distances to each antenna connector short. That's the USB 3.0 port at the photo left front, wisely placed far away from the radios and shielded both top and bottom of the board, to eliminate causing problems with 2.4 GHz radio performance.

D-Link DIR-880L board

D-Link DIR-880L board

Table 1 shows the key components for the 880L and its AC1900 competition.

D-Link DIR-880L Linksys WRT1900AC NETGEAR R7000 (Nighthawk) ASUS RT-AC68U
CPU Broadcom BCM4708A Marvell MV78230 Armada XP @ 1.2 GHz (ARMv7) Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4708A
Switch In BCM4708A Marvell 88E6172 in BCM4709A In BCM4708A
RAM 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB
Flash 128 MB 128 MB 128 MB 128 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
Marvell 88W8864
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x4)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Unidentified 2.4 GHz Power Amp marked 397 649e 230(x3)
5 GHz radio - Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
Marvell 88W8864
- Skyworks SKY85402 5 GHz Power Amp (x4)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- SiGE 5023L 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
Table 1: Component summary

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