It all started with StarHub terminating its 25Mbps cable subscription plan, leaving me no choice but to upgrade my existing broadband subscription to the new fiber plans which offer higher bandwidths with lower cost. With this change, this give me a reason to update my wireless connectivity at home. Currently, I’m using a ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router as the base router supported by a few powerlink adapters to cover areas that my current router can’t reach. I’ve previously tried extending the coverage using repeaters but the performance was not too good. Actually, I have another ASUS (RT-AC68U) Wireless-AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Router that I’ve bought from Amazon during the 2014 Black Friday Amazon Sales but I just didn’t bring myself to go about changing the gears knowing that the improvements may be minimal, if any.
With the upgrade from my cable to fibre connectivity, I took the opportunity and look around for a new set of wireless router and wifi USB adapter to compliment the upgraded broadband speed. After much researching, I finally decided on giving the D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router and D-Link DWA-192 AC1900 Ultra Wi-Fi USB 3.0 Adapter a try.
For this review, I’ll splitting the coverage into 3 parts. The first part will cover the hardware and features of the D-Link DIR-890L Router and D-Link DWA-192 Wi-Fi USB Adapter . The second portion will cover details on the performance of the D-Link DWA-192 Wi-Fi USB Adapter and the final installment will cover the software and performance of the D-Link DIR-890L Router .
Interestingly, D-Link has changed their branded carriers from the typical plastic type to a nicely designed black colored one that is made of reusable materials. This carrier seems to be purpose-built for the D-Link DIR-890L Router which comes in a pretty big box compared to previous routers that I have.
There are other AC3200 routers available on the market currently. However, the reason why I jumped on this D-Link router is because of the various highly commentated reviews that states the performance gains of this router compared to its competitors. This router comes with tri-band (1 x 2.4Ghz and 2 x 5Ghz) so that you can dedicate bands for specific usage, eg for high speed games or 4K video streaming. It also boast of it’s high speed dual core processor and larger range and coverage compared to other routers. More details of the features of this router can be found at the D-Link site.
The external of the big box displays clearly the color of the D-Link DIR-890L Router you are buying (it comes in 2 colors, Red or Black). For me, I’m a more traditional person hence I prefer my router to be in black. The back of the box shows the various features of the D-Link DIR-890L Router including the ports available on the tri-band device for you to connect to.
When I removed the plastic packaging of the box, I was expecting to open the box at the shorted side after which a typical white colored internal box will slide out. Much to my surprise, the D-Link DIR-890L Router box opens up like a shoe box with a lid and base! 😀 The inside of the lid and the base are both lined with foam for good cushioning to prevent the items inside from being damaged.
With the main router in the center of the box, there are 2 long strips by the shorter side of the box. These are where the accessories are of the set are kept. I’ll come back to them again later in this blog post.
Taking the router out, you can see that the whole router looks like an alien space ship. The 6 (six) antennas which are tucked nicely into the box can be turned and positioned to point at any direction you want.
Looking at the back of the D-Link DIR-890L Router, there are where all the connectivity of the router (WAN, LAN and USB) are completed with the power, reset, WPS buttons and the DC input jack. Above the ports are a whole bunch of diamond shaped vents to allow for better heat dissipation. I’m not going to take the whole D-Link DIR-890L Router apart to expose all the chips and circuity used as it has been done previously. I’ll focus on more layman views of the devices in review.
At the bottom of the D-Link DIR-890L Router, there are more slots for cooling. There are also 2 holes to allow for this device to be hang on the wall. There is also a label providing a quick reference of the available ports on the device as well as information such as MAC addresses and default SSID and Password should you need to factory reset this device. Also, D-Link has cleverly placed the rubber feet of the router on where the joints of the antennas are. In this way, they would not have to waste real estate at the bottom of the router for the rubber feet and have more space for the cooling air vents.
The next thing that caught my attention were the antennas. Not too sure the reasons behind it, seems that only the 2 that are at the back of the router are printed with the D-Link wordings.
Not too sure why .. It seems that D-Link has chosen to make all 6 antennas on the D-Link DIR-890L Router to be non-removable. To avoid any problems of performance or quality issues due to wear and tear in future, maybe?
Nowadays, following the trends set by Apple, more and more equipment does not come with manuals, especially hard copies. For the D-Link DIR-890L Router, there are still papers and stickers provided to help a novice user jump start their installations. However, for regulars/experts, I don’t think these stuff will be necessary.
Remember the two black long boxes by the side of the big box containing the D-Link DIR-890L Router? Well, here they are, they are actually containing the power brick, power cord, LAN cable and some screws for mounting the router on the wall. If you look carefully, there are symbols by the side of the black long boxes that shows what they contain.
Now let’s move on to the WiFi client adapter. Unfortunately, it seems that technology for the client devices have not caught up with that for the routers. For the D-Link DWA-192 Wi-Fi USB Adapter, it is only rated at AC1900 and not AC3200 as in the router’s case. This means that this client adapter will not be able to fully harness the performance gain provided by the D-Link DIR-890L Router. If you do search around, you will notice that this seems to be the current trend as most, if not all of the big brands in the WiFi business domains do not have any AC3200 client adapters being offered in their product line. Nevertheless, at least getting the AC3200 router is sort of future proofing the current investments. 🙂
The D-Link DWA-192 Wi-Fi USB Adapter comes in a petite black box very much aligned to the design of the D-Link DIR-890L Router. However, what is more interesting is the design of the device itself. It is a sphere slightly smaller than the size of an adult fist. This design is so clean and slick that it outshines the rest of the competitors such as ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-AC1900 PCI-E Adapter or the ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-N900 USB Network Adapter just by its looks. In terms of features, this device supports dual band connectivity and comes with Advanced AC SmartBeam Technology (whatever that means). For more information on the features, you can find them at the D-Link page.
Inside the box, there is only an USB 3.0 cable and a small CD containing the drivers for this device. This is to solve the chicken and egg problem when it comes to installing such devices for connectivity to the internet.
See how slick and nice this is?
The device is connected and powered by the USB 3.0 connector.
Having seen the physical features of both devices, I’ll cover the performance of the D-Link DWA-192 Wi-Fi USB Adapter in my next installment of this review. Do keep a lookout for it.