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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance

The DIR-890L/R is not Wi-Fi Certified. It was tested using the Revision 8 Wireless test process with 1.0.3 firmware loaded. The router comes with WPS enabled. I connected a Windows 8.1 notebook to the router's SSID and was prompted for WPS PIN with a pushbutton alternative. A pushbutton session quickly resulted in a WPA2/AES connection to the 2.4 GHz radio (identified by the link rate reported in the Windows connection properties). As noted earlier, WPS cannot be disabled or changed; it has no admin controls.

The router defaults to Smart Connect mode, which presents a single SSID and channel selection and bandwidth modes set to auto. Turning off Smart Connect leaves the same SSID and channel selection to auto for all three radios and 20/40 MHz bandwidth mode on the 2.4 GHz radio and 20/40/80 MHz bandwidth mode on both 5 GHz radios.

For performance testing, the router was first reset to factory defaults, Smart Connect disabled and unique SSIDs assigned to each radio. The 2.4 GHz radio was set to Channel 6 and 20 MHz only bandwidth mode. The "Primary" 5 GHz (low-band) radio was disabled and the "Secondary" (high band) 5 GHz radio was left in 20/40/80 MHz channel width to enable 802.11ac link rates. Throughput tests were run on the "Secondary" radio since it is the only one that supports our standard Channel 153 test channel. The NETGEAR R7000 bridge mode standard test client was connected using WPA2/AES encryption.

Our standard practice is to center the router under test's antennas on the turntable, both front-to-back and side-to-side in the chamber. This method is intended to keep maximum distance between the router under test and chamber antennas as the router rotates during test. The photo below shows the DIR-890L/R in the test chamber in its starting test position.

DIR-890L/R in test chamber

DIR-890L/R in test chamber

The Benchmark Summary below shows the average of all wireless throughput measurements made over the tested attenuation range.

D-Link DIR-890L/R Benchmark Summary

D-Link DIR-890L/R Benchmark Summary

We'll put these results in perspective when we look at throughput vs. attenuation profiles next. Note the near-equal USB 2.0 and 3.0 storage performance results, as discussed earlier.

The DIR-890L/R brings the total number of AC3200 routers reviewed to four. So the other three were included in the throughput vs. attenuation profile plots, i.e. NETGEAR's R8000, Linksys' EA9200 and the top-ranked ASUS RT-AC3200.

2.4 GHz downlink performance is very similar for all but the Linksys. The D-Link and ASUS were the only two to remain connected all the way to our 63 dB test limit.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz uplink plot tracks closely for all four routers from 24 dB on. But in the early going the NETGEAR and ASUS have higher throughput and the D-Link and Linksys lower.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

Performance spreads out in the 5 GHz downlink profile. ASUS' throughput is highest for most of the run, with the D-Link and NETGEAR converging from 30 dB on. The Linksys stays below the other three products for the entire test and disconnects first after 36 dB, same as the D-Link.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

A similar pattern is seen for 5 GHz uplink. The Linksys EA9200 once again turns in the lowest performance of the three. The DIR-890L/R stays above the NETGEAR R8000 for most of the test. The D-Link and Linksys are again the first to disconnect, after the 36 dB test.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

In the end, the Router Ranker placed the DIR-890L/R in the #2 slot, below the ASUS RT-AC3200 and above the NETGEAR R8000. The Ranker Performance Summary below shows #1 sub-ranks for wired routing, 2.4 GHz downlink average throughput and 2.4 GHz up and downlink range.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

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