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D-Link DIR-855 Xtreme N Duo Media Router
Simultaneous dual band Wi-Fi for the media-heavy home.
- Operates at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz simultaneously, quick info LCD, detachable antennas, fast 5GHz throughput speeds
- 2.4GHz speeds aren’t lightning fast even in non-crowded environments
There are better 802.11n 2.4GHz routers, but where 5GHz is a viable option the DIR-855 is an excellent device. The ability to use both bands simultaneously without consequence is valuable for a media-heavy home.
Price$ 479.95 (AUD)
The DIR-855 Xtreme N Duo Media Router is the pinnacle of D-Link’s home networking range, providing simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for an optimal connection. It is over the top for simple Internet routing but for a home where high-definition media streaming is an everyday practice the DIR-855 is an excellent choice.
Unlike the gamer-targeted DGL-4500 Xtreme N Gaming Router, the DIR-855 Xtreme N Duo Media Router broadcasts over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously. This means that individual users can pick which band to use based on their task, using 2.4GHz where range is paramount or 5GHz for situations where wireless interference may be an issue. The benefits are clear for media-heavy situations, allowing users to set aside a whole band for high-definition media streaming.
The router is a standard size but has a decent amount of hardware features to suit a variety of situations. A fixed angle LCD on top of the device provides a quick and easy way to retrieve basic network information including IP addresses, essential wireless settings and throughput data rates. The router’s three 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi external antennas are all detachable, allowing users to add higher sensitivity antennas if needed. A USB port provides Windows Connect Now capability, while five Gigabit Ethernet ports provide wired networking to a modem and up to four computers.
The wireless configuration options are fairly comprehensive. Unlike Netgear’s RangeMax Duo Wireless N Router (WNDR3300), which reduced 2.4GHz traffic to 54Mbps, the Xtreme N Duo Media Router allows 2.4GHz traffic to operate over a mix of 802.11b/g/n or using an individual standard. The 5GHz band has similar leeway, with options for broadcast over 802.11a or n standards or a mixed mode for both. Users can easily select transmission rates for each band. Wireless security is also satisfactory, with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption.
The benefits of simultaneous dual-band operation are immediately obvious in a wireless-heavy environment. The DIR-855 Xtreme N Duo Media is capable of throughput speeds up to 4.1 megabytes per second (MBps) at close range when operating at 2.4GHz in an environment relatively clear of heavy wireless traffic.
When we replicated this test in our offices at St Leonards, Sydney, this speed dropped dramatically to 2.41MBps; a satisfactory speed for minimal data throughput but inadequate for media streaming. However, 5GHz operation was able to surpass both these speeds, operating in a wireless-heavy environment at 6MBps over a 5m distance. At a distance of 20m, 5GHz operation continued to yield faster throughput speeds, averaging 4.1MBps whereas 2.4GHz speeds slowed slightly to 2.35MBps. Surprisingly, transferring data over both bands simultaneously didn’t seem to impact on our tests, though Wi-Fi speeds were generally erratic between tests.
Although 2.4GHz allows for greater speed consistency at range, the ability to use both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands simultaneously means users can easily switch between both, assign each to a specific task, and eliminate any worry of radio interference. We aren’t overly impressed by throughput speeds over the 2.4GHz band, but the 5GHz band’s ability to operate at fast speeds in a crowded environment definitely had benefits.
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