D-Link DIR-645 £114

14th Nov 2011 | 15:34

D-Link DIR-645

SmartBeam technology in a wireless N home router with style

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Top-flight 2.4GHz performance; 4x Gigabit LAN ports; Complete media streaming;

Dislike:

Costly for a single-band solution;

Overview and performance

The D-Link DIR-645 (or the Whole Home Router 1000 as it's called in the US) is the latest D-Link push on injecting style into its home routers. Every networking company goes through this at some point, in an attempt to avoid yet-another-box syndrome. D-Link has done a good job of making this black totem of wireless technology look like it could have apes pawing at it seeking enlightenment.

On the face of it, this 2.4GHz-only device doesn't seem all that, with 802.11n technology dating back to the ìancientî but fondly-remembered D-Link DIR-655.

More recent routers such as the unstoppable Netgear DGND3700 and feature-packed Fritz!Box 7390 offer the sexy-sounding dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz capabilities.

D-Link dir-645

As it happens, 802.11n speed isn't simply about the frequency - more important are the number of spatial streams a router can provide, and the D-Link DIR-645 comes with an epic six-element antenna array. So perhaps those pawing monkeys are onto something after all?

Benchmarks

D-Link dir-645

We test wireless networking in a controlled but real-world and repeatable environment. Competing wireless networks are eliminated, a standard Intel-based dual-band laptop is used as the receiving machine and the router is set as optimally as possible.

The average continuous transfer speed is noted in three separate usage scenarios being in the same room, a wall and floor away and a 25m line-of-sight distance test.

Same room average transfer speed
File copy - MB/S: higher is better
ASUS RT-N56U 2.4GHz: 12 MB/S
ASUS RT-N56U 5GHz: 24.5 MB/S
Linksys E4200 2.4GHz: 12.4 MB/S
Linksys E4200 5GHz: 17.5 MB/S
Netgear DGND3700 2.4GHz: 17 MB/S
Netgear DGND3700 5GHz: 18.9 MB/S
D-Link DIR-645 2.4GHz: 19.6 MB/S

One room away average transfer speed
File copy - MB/S: higher is better
ASUS RT-N56U 2.4GHz: 10.7 MB/S
ASUS RT-N56U 5GHz: 17.6 MB/S
Linksys E4200 2.4GHz: 11.7 MB/S
Linksys E4200 5GHz: 10.6 MB/S
Netgear DGND3700 2.4GHz: 15.6 MB/S
Netgear DGND3700 5GHz: 17 MB/S
D-Link DIR-645 2.4GHz: 16.9 MB/S

25m line-of-sight average transfer speed
File copy - MB/S: higher is better
ASUS RT-N56U 2.4GHz: 1.1 MB/S
ASUS RT-N56U 5GHz: 2.0 MB/S
Linksys E4200 2.4GHz: 3.6 MB/S
Linksys E4200 5GHz: 5.2 MB/S
Netgear DGND3700 2.4GHz: 8.9 MB/S
Netgear DGND3700 5GHz: 13.7 MB/S
D-Link DIR-645 2.4GHz: 5 MB/S

Verdict

D-Link dir-645

As a consumer unit, we love the design of the D-Link DIR-645. We had some choice words when we first clapped eyes on it, but its squat Pringle tube-like build stands up well with connections in place.

Four Gigabit LAN ports with a fifth offering DLS WAN connectivity adorn the back, alongside a USB port that brings NAS, iTunes and DLNA/UPnP media streaming to your network.

Set up is straightforward, via a supplied CD or a standard web browser. D-Link sticks with its snappy orange browser interface that we're more than happy to use. The wireless internet router is IPv6 ready, and like previous units doesn't provide any repeater features. D-Link says you should buy a repeater.

The wireless 802.11n standard at its heart has always embraced multiplexed data streams - it's like multithreading the data transmissions. Make better use of these streams and you're rewarded with faster transfer speeds. 5GHz models can do so because at 5GHz there's less interference and more channels to use. The D-Link DIR-645 waggles its antennas in the face of convention and wipes the floor with any 2.4GHz kit we've tested.

19.6MB/S same-room speeds even challenge 5GHz units for performance, and it even outpaces the excellent Netgear DGND3700. Recorded upstream speeds were even faster. Only at distance did the D-Link lag the Netgear DGND3700, but it still competed well with other 5GHz models.

It's not all good news though, because as soon as a competing 2.4GHz router was turned on, speeds fell back to a more standard 12MB/S with 150MB/S connections, making the D-Link DIR-645's performance nothing more than standard.

We liked

The consumer styling works for us both in form and function - there's even an easily reached illuminated power button. The router's interface also works well, but as a consumer device it could certainly overwhelm or simply confuse novice users.

We also fully appreciated the excellent 2.4GHz performance that can, under the right circumstances, challenge and beat 5GHz dual-band models.

We disliked

At its original full retail price we couldn't recommend the D-Link DIR-645, but most places discount this by over a third. Even so, this is nudging on dual-band territory pricing, and its susceptibility to interference makes us question whether you would be better investing in a 5GHz future.

Final verdict

The best 2.4GHz performing wireless router we've seen both in speed and style, but at this cost it should be.

D-Link TRBC
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