THE D-LINK DIR-868L looks great, thanks to its glossy black plastic and striking cylindrical design. The router is designed to be stood upright so has a small footprint, but there’s no way to mount it to a wall.
Setup is easy thanks to a wizard that walks you through the process. However, while the wizard was helpful, we found the rest of the web interface confusing due to its number of tabs and sub-menus. This meant digging through various screens to find options such as setting up the two guest networks.
You can also use the QRS Mobile app for iOS and Android to set up the router. For some reason, D-Link would prefer you to choose this option or at least connect to the router from any other wireless device, as the router’s four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports are stickered over with an orange label telling you to connect a Cloud device for setup.
You’ll find a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port and a USB3 port on the back. The USB3 port is used for sharing external storage across your network, but there’s no option to connect a printer. Using the SharePort Mobile app on iOS or Android, you can access files on your connected storage device from your tablet or smartphone. The app only works when you are connected to the router locally, however, but will let you listen to music and watch videos. If you set up a Mydlink account it is possible to access your files remotely through the Mydlink app.
The router’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks have a password set by default. The DIR-868L is a dual-band 802.11ac router with a theoretical top data transfer speed of 1,300Mbit/s on its 5GHz band, although it can broadcast simultaneously on the 2.4GHz band with a theoretical throughput of 450Mbit/s.
Using our laptop’s integrated 802.11n adaptor, on the 2.4GHz band we saw speeds of 33.6Mbit/s at 10m, dropping to 6.3Mbit/s at 25m. These speeds are underwhelming for the price. However, performance on the less congested 5GHz band was far better. At 10m it managed 209.7Mbit/s and 97.9Mbit/s at 25m, both of which are top-notch. Performance improved further when using D-Link’s DWA-182 USB3 adaptor (£38 inc VAT from www.ballicom. co.uk). On the 5GHz band in wireless-N mode we saw an excellent 256.3Mbit/s at 10m and an amazing 195.7Mbit/s at 25m. In wireless- AC mode speed was even more astonishing. At 10m the router managed a fantastic 326.2Mbit/s and maintained an excellent 256.3Mbit/s at 25m. This combination of router and dongle brings some of the fastest wireless speeds we’ve seen.
The D-Link DIR-868L is a good-looking router that has excellent performance to match. It’s a shame its web interface is tricky to navigate, but if you’re not expecting to be tinkering to a great degree the DIR-868L is a fantastic performer for the money.