Review of D-Link Ultra WiFi Router DIR-885L

After the much successful D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router, D-Link recently also released  its younger brother, the D-Link DIR-885L AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router.  The smaller D-Link DIR-885L comes with Dual Band Smart Connect instead of three on the D-Link DIR-890L.  However, the newer D-Link DIR-885L has a faster Dual Core processor running at 1.4Ghz and is Multi-User MIMO Ready.  For more details on the D-Link DIR-890L, please refer to my 3-part review of the router.

DLink DIR-885L - Features

Multi-User Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) Technology is something new among the WiFi technology arena.   Using MU-MIMO technology, a wireless router can transmit to and receive data from multiple Wi-Fi devices at the same time, thus increasing the router’s capacity without loss.  If you are interested to find out more on MU-MIMO, do check out the article at TechHive.  Currently, there aren’t much devices on the market that can support MU-MIMO, the D-Link DIR-885L is the first wireless router from D-Link that delivers this capability.

DLink DIR-885L - MU MIMO

The box of the D-Link DIR-885L AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router is much smaller than its bigger brother.  The front and rear of the box displays the capabilities of the router as well as the color of it.  You can see I’ve gotten a red colored one for this round. 🙂

DLink DIR-885L - Box Front

DLink DIR-885L - Box Rear

Within the colorful external box, a much sturdier black box will slide out.  Opening up, the interior is nicely designed with accessories all packed into yet another box while black colored foam are strategically placed to protect and cushion the red-colored router.

DLink DIR-885L - Box Inside

Something that caught my eye was that D-Link seems to have taken the suggestions from customers and delivered the D-Link DIR-885L with detachable antennas! All four of them!

DLink DIR-885L - Router Detached

The accessories that come with the  D-Link DIR-885L are the bare essentials.  Besides the power brick with its adapters, D-Link only provided a network cable and some mounting screws.

DLink DIR-885L - Accessories

I’m pretty surprised that for the D-Link DIR-885L, such a small power brick is able to power it.  Its bigger brother, the D-Link DIR-890L comes with a much bigger power brick, typical type used to power a laptop.  This power brick also comes with 2 adapters (a 2-pin and a 3-pin) which are inter-changeable with a push of the small release catch.

DLink DIR-885L - Plug

The D-Link DIR-885L comes with only four antennas as it is only a Dual Band (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz).  It still has the unique UFO design of its bigger brother but with smaller dimensions.

DLink DIR-885L - Router 2

The bottom consists of many holes for cooling, wall mounting holes and rubber legs.  Of course, you will be able to find the default SSID and security keys just in case you need to reset the device to factory settings.

DLink DIR-885L - Router Base

At the rear, there are four gigabit ports and only one USB3.0 port.  However, there is a physical switch that allows you to switch between router and access point mode easily.

DLink DIR-885L - Router 3

This shiny red surface of the D-Link DIR-885L is really very eye catching.  At the front tip, there are also a row of LED lights to show if the various features of the router is active.

DLink DIR-885L - Router Lights

As show earlier, this antennas on the D-Link DIR-885L is now detachable.  The connectors are also golden in color (although I’m not too sure if it’s real gold connector).  The detachable antennas also means that it may be possible to replace these antenna for better performance ones in future.

DLink DIR-885L - Detachable Antenna

Now to compare the difference between the size of the D-Link DIR-885L and its bigger brother, the D-Link DIR-890L.  From the front and top views, we can see that the older brother is slightly bigger but more intimidating with the additional two antennas.

DLink DIR-885L - vs DIR-890L 1

DLink DIR-885L - vs DIR-890L 2

At the rear, the D-Link DIR-890L has an extra USB 2.0 port but the D-Link DIR-885L comes with a physical switch to toggle between router and access point mode.

DLink DIR-885L - vs DIR-890L 3

And now onto the Performance Tests.  The first test conducted was signal strength.  Both the D-Link DIR-885L and D-Link DIR-890L were placed side by side and the D-Link DWA-192 AC1900 Ultra Wi-Fi Adapter was used to scan the strengths using the inSSIDer application.  Both routers were placed in Smart Connect mode but surprising the D-Link DIR-885L seems to produce a bigger signal than its older brother.

Signal Compare

The next test would involve the iPerf3 to see the speed throughput of the D-Link DIR-885L.  To baseline the subsequent tests, a direct wired test was first conducted.  Two-way tests (server -> client and client -> server) were conducted to ensure traffic performance on both directions are considered.  Just for the record, the command used for the iPerf3 tests were “iperf3.exe -c <ServerIP> -W 768k -P5 -t 60”.  This means that the socket buffer size would be 768k, there will be 5 parallel client threads and the test would run for 60 secs.  The results showed that the D-Link DIR-885L can achieve about 940Mbits/sec.

DIR-885 iPerf3 LAN Intel

DIR-885 iPerf3 LAN Intel R

The first wireless test was conducted with the D-Link DIR-885L on Smart Connect mode.  In this mode, the router will determine what is the best way to connect to the wireless adapter.  Based on the WiFi status below, it seems to be on the 5Ghz band with a speed of 1.3Gbps!

DIR-885 iPerf3 Room Smart Connect 1 status

Never the less, the realistic results from the 2-direction tests showed that the D-Link DIR-885L is capable of 195Mbits/sec over the 5Ghz band in Smart Connect mode.

DIR-885 iPerf3 Room Smart Connect 768K

DIR-885 iPerf3 Room Smart Connect 768K R

The D-Link DIR-885L  is then switched to manual 5Ghz mode and the tests were repeated.

DIR-885 iPerf3 Room 5Ghz status

This time round, the D-Link DIR-885L was showing similar results compared to the Smart Connect mode.  The test was then repeated with the socket buffer reduced to 256k but the results were still very much the same.

DIR-885 iPerf3 Room 5Ghz 256kb

DIR-885 iPerf3 Room 5Ghz 256kb R

Lastly, D-Link DIR-885L was rigged to the 2.4Ghz band.  The Windows WiFi status now shows the speed that this connection is “capable” of is at 450Mbps.

 

DIR-885 iPerf3 Room 2.4Ghz status 1

However, when the same tests were repeated, the results were very disappointing.  The D-Link DIR-885L was only able to achieve in Kbits/sec type of performance.

DIR-885 iPerf3 Room 2.4Ghz 2

 

Further analysis shows that there has been much lag in the transmission at the 2.4Ghz band.  The transfer rates can drop to 0(zero) bits/sec at 70% of the 60sec test windows.  During the writing of this blog, I’ve tried various means to determine the source of this but to no valid outcomes.  I’ll try to get another client to test this again and also to log a ticket with D-Link to see if there are issues with my setup.

DLink DIR-885L - Router 1

Although I still need to sort out the issues with the 2.4Ghz band of the D-Link DIR-885L AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, this router is still one of the prime leader of the D-Link Ultra WiFi Router range with its faster processor and MU-MIMO ready capabilities.  Priced at S$299, it would indeed give a run for the value and money compared to its bigger brother, the D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router.

Something else to take note also is that D-Link is starting to take pre-orders in Singapore for its latest flagship product, the D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 Ultra Wi-Fi Router.  The D-Link DIR-895L will feature the features of tri-band of the D-Link DIR-890L as well as the MU MIMO features of the D-Link DIR-885L.   Seems to be a product from the best of both worlds but most likely with a premium price tag as well.  Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to bring you the review of the D-Link DIR-895L in the near future.  Do keep a lookout for it here.