​AC5300 Router reviews: Linksys EA9500 vs. Netgear Nighthawk X8 vs. D-Link DIR-895L

Which is the best AC5300 wireless router according to our group test?

Which AC5300 router should you buy? Picture: Manolo Gómez (Flickr)

Which AC5300 router should you buy? Picture: Manolo Gómez (Flickr)

Review

D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 MU-MIMO Ultra Wi-Fi Router


Price: $700 RRP (From $590 real world)
Stated Max throughput: 5.3Gb/s
Processor: 1.4GHz dual-core
Antennae: 8 external
Ethernet ports: WAN plus 4 Gigabit
Bands: 1 x 2.4GHz, 2 x 5GHz (All bands have Smart Connect)
MU-MIMO: In Beta
USB: 1 x USB2, 1 x USB 3
Other features: N/A
Warranty: 2 years

The D-Link DIR-895L is basically the upgrade to the D-Link DIR-890L that we’ve been living with for some time. It’s arguably the best looking of the competitors – reminiscent of a space ship from the video game, Elite – but that might put other people off.

It's a shame that the MU-MIMO firmware isn't yet widely available but this didn't appear to make much difference at this point.

All buttons and connectors are at the back: four Gigabit Ethernet ports, USB2 and USB3, a WPS connect button plus a switch which turns it from a premium wireless router into a colossally-overpriced WiFi extender.

The quick start manual isn’t the most helpful but D-Link helpfully provides a sticker with the default network name and password. Yay!

The settings layout is more modern than what we saw with Netgear but not by much. The standard settings are all in the standard places, but at least you feel more like you’re browsing a modern website rather than router firmware.

Beginners will love the simple Smart Connect feature – you just slide a switch, choose a network name and password and then don’t have to worry about 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands and channels – it just appears as one network and everything else is automatic. We’ve been big fans of this over the past year as explaining which network to connect to for visitors and family members is simple. Also, connecting games consoles and the like is made much easier as you don’t feel obliged to test each channel before connecting.

However, as we saw with our performance tests, it’s not always so Smart. It frequently chose slower channels for connections when even its older sibling didn’t. Perhaps experience and a lack of a confusing secondary 5GHz channel counts for something?

Nonetheless, it effectively matched the field up close in the 2.4GHz tests. However, it should really have been using the 5GHz band instead and missed out on some considerable performance boosts.

It got the hang of things when one floor up – consistently scoring well when connected to our Surface Pro 3. However, it didn’t like connecting to our MU-MIMO dongle as much - probably because the antennae is smaller than the SP3's and the MU-MIMO isn't enabled yet. Indeed, while other 5GHz MU-MIMO scores soared, the 895L’s went backwards which was the only time MU-MIMO may have provided a significant advantage.

It did redeem itself at long range though with the best connection speed that we saw.

In terms of other features, there’s only the standard fare. There are no parental controls per se but you can create up to 24 access restriction rules, if that helps?

The main problem for the AC5300 is that while its AC3200 sibling is basically the same thing with one less network band and no MU-MIMO ability, it costs literally half the price. However, if, like us, you just want to see one WiFi network in your settings without wondering which will be fastest (and you want MU-MIMO compatibility down the line) the D-Link makes a good AC5300 choice. It might get things wrong a lot, but you’ll only notice this on very large file transfers.

However, for now, with the Linksys costing $150 less, we still can’t recommend it.

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: How we tested
Page 3: Results
Page 4: Netgear Nighthawk AC5300 X8 review
Page 5: D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 MU-MIMO Ultra Wi-Fi Router review
Page 6: Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router review
Page 7: Conclusion

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Tags WiFiWi-FiD-LinkLinksysrouterroutersnetgear

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Nick Ross
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