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on August 26, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I simply could not get excited about this router.

This is classified as a gaming router - and one might rightfully assume that it should have blow-your-socks-off functionality - especially at the steep price premium.

Instead, what you get is a watered-down DIR-868L with a traffic shaping feature called Streamboost.

How does it compare to the DIR-868L?
-- lower 5GHz AC bandwidth rating - 867Mbps vs 1300Mbps
-- No SmartBeam
-- no Dynamic DNS support
-- no guest networks on either band
-- no USB 3.0 port
-- not a cloud router (mobile app-based router management)

The real question therefore is whether Streamboost is worth the premium paid. And that is where I will focus this review.

What is Streamboost?
###############

Streamboost is powered by Qualcomm Atheros' VIVE 802.11AC chip, and is supposed to be QoS (Quality of Service) on steroids.

When devices begin to clamor for network access, a router must determine how to prioritize this traffic and how to assign slices of the bandwidth pie. A "normal" router punts on this by assigning equal priority and equal bandwidth slices to each client. This is fine when the slices are large enough to meet the needs of each client device. However, as the number of clients increases, the slices that go to each client get smaller and smaller, until at some point the client application is unable to get a large enough slice to meet its needs.

The problem here is that the router is unable to consider the characteristics of a client's needs when deciding on the priority and slice size assigned to each client. For instance, a client that is streaming a video is much more sensitive to latency and must get a bigger slice, as compared to another client that is downloading a file.

Basic QoS, supported by most routers, recognizes this fact - that not all traffic is the same. It lets you tell the router what constitutes important traffic. E.g., you could prioritize traffic from a specific device on the network, or from a specific application (such as a game).

Unfortunately, this is a very blunt instrument since configuration is coarse grained - based on device IP addresses or ports. I.e., giving a higher priority to a certain computer raises the priority for all applications on that computer, not just for your Netflix streaming. In addition, this a complex manual process with a lot of trial and error.

These are the problems Streamboost is designed to address.

1] Streamboost maintains a fine grained mapping of client stream [client device + application on that device] to network policy [priority + bandwidth slice].

2] It automatically analyzes packet traffic to determine the client stream, and looks up the policy for that stream.

This lets it prioritize Netflix streaming over large file downloads - even if both are running on the same physical client! E.g., if it detects streaming video, it will attempt to minimize latency (higher priority traffic) and to meet the bandwidth needs (larger slice.)

This would be at the expense of, say, a file download where the client might tolerate lower priority/bandwidth.

3] And best of all? This happens without any user intervention. Because these policy tables are cloud based, they can also be automatically updated as brand new devices and applications are released.

Unfortunately, while this sounded good in theory, I did not see any earth shattering improvements over my 2 year old WNDR4500.

My assumption is that this is because of our particular usage patterns. In our case, video streaming is the most common application - on up to 3 devices at a time; and file downloads and online games usually occur only rarely/intermittently. As a result, we did not give Streamboost much to work with.

The DGL-5500 seems to be better suited for households where there is traffic with varied characteristics (huge downloads, Internet/local streaming, VOIP, online browsing/shopping, gaming, etc.) - where Streamboost can shine by using its policy based decision logic.

ConclusioN:
########
Given that this is not the fastest router on the market, and given that Streamboost did not blow me away, I'm reluctant to rate this router at higher than 3 stars (Its Okay).

Particularly because of its lack of Dynamic DNS support - which I have grown to rely upon greatly.

A disappointment with Streamboost's crowdsourced data is that you cannot opt in just for updates of that policy data - you must also opt in for uploading your network traffic for data analysis. In addition, note that this Streamboost data is only guaranteed through Apr 2017 - after which it will be delivered via firmware updates.

As with any product, this is just my personal rating - this is a capable product, and your specific experience with it might cause it to rate much higher.

Happy networking!
99 comments| 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 13, 2014
I was having NAT issues with having 4 Xbox Consoles in one house. This fixed the problem.
Their is also one update already out so go ahead and update to the latest Firmware before you put too much time in.
However either firmware works without NAT issues.
I have about 16 different things connected to this unit hardwired through switches. Security cameras, TV's, desktop computers, Xboxes, etc. plus IPods, phones etc. wirelessly.
I really like it. I would buy another one right now if I needed it.
Also support by phone is open 7 days a week 24 hours a day. I contacted them and it went pretty well.
I never leave feedback but it is difficult finding routers that can handle multiple XBox consoles.
So here you go. This one works like a champ.
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on December 8, 2014
so I kind of bought this on a whim. I was having trouble with having two xbox consoles playing a multi player game at the same time in the same house. I needed an OPEN NAT network, but one of my consoles kept telling me I had a STRICT NAT and it was going to degrade the performance of the game in order to play multi player. I was hoping if I connected this router to my atandt router/modem that it would solve the problem and OPEN the network. Long story short it did! I now have two xbox consoles with an open network, Not sure exactly how it did it but problem solved. Highly recommend this router to gamers with a decent internet connect and are having the same type of issue. If your curious what game I have been playing it is called Destiny, and when I connect I no longer with the help of this router get the connection warning of STRICT NAT... very happy! Hope this info helps some people.
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VINE VOICEon August 22, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
We have a two story home and while our existing D-Link Wireless N+300 Mbps Extreme-N Gigabit Router (DIR-655) provides great speeds, but we have notice reduced speeds on the 2nd floor in the opposite corner of the house. We have the house wired with Ethernet, so I picked up this router to open a secondary wireless spot on the 2nd floor and increase speeds.

PROS
======================================
+ Compact design. Many of the D-link routers now feature the tower design, which is more stable than some of the older routers that tend to fall when you start plugging in ethernet cables.
+ Easy setup. I love the fact that D-link didn't even include a CD. Software is outdated almost as soon as its packaged and I prefer the browser configuration.
+ Gigabit ethernet ports. This is a must at this point if you are purchasing a router, but this will ensure that your wired devices are getting the best throughput possible on your internal network.
+ Dual band. If you are worried about interference from devices like portable phones you can't go wrong with a dual band (2.4 gHZ and 5 gHZ).
+ StreamBoost. This is the big differentiator from the mainstream routers. Read the "What is StreamBoost?" if you are interested in why this matters. I actually ran some tests and saw this kicking in as my web traffic download/upload speeds were throttled as I had other connected devices (iPads) streaming video. When I ran the same tests on our current router I had faster upload/download speeds surfing the web, but my videos kept buffering on the iPads.
+ Web dashboard. The dashboard provides some great information about how the connected devices are sharing bandwidth on your network to show how StreamBoost is working. It's also pretty cool seeing the device detection from the router automatically identify all the different connected devices and what type of network traffic each is generating.

CONS
======================================
- Price. $200 is a steep price for a router.
- Parental controls. These are a bit light, but it's expected, since this is being pitched as a gaming router.

WHAT IS STREAMBOOST?
======================================
StreamBoost is a different QoS (Quality of Service) scheme. The most common scheme is fair sharing where every device connected shares equally. For example, let's say you have a 10 mbps connection and you are surfing the Internet and using a VoIP line. In this setup you have 5 mbps between the two. As you add more devices you get less allotted per each. Prioritized QoS is what most routers have today where you can identify a specific device to take bandwidth priority over others, but the remaining devices still fall into the fair sharing scheme. StreamBoost uses analytics, device/application detection and available bandwidth to allot bandwidth accordingly. For example, if someone in your house is downloading a 200 MB application would normally clog up your Internet bandwidth. Using StreamBoost the bandwidth used for download is throttled, so that online gaming, VoIP and video streaming are not impacted.

Check out the following link for a good overview on the technology and some additional testing results.

[...]

OVERALL
======================================
Overall this is a great router that provides some of the most advanced features available today. The cost, which to me is what will hold most from taking the plunge, is driven up by the dual-band and the StreamBoost technology. While this router is pitched as a gaming router I think it can easily serve as the primary router in a home with many Internet-enabled devices. Anyone considering increasing their current bandwidth due to competing traffic should consider this one-time investment versus an increased monthly cost. In instances where bandwidth increase is not possible this is your best option to optimizing your network performance.

********* I received this product for free as part of the Amazon.com Vine program. Nonetheless, I review the product in the same manner as I would if I had purchased it myself. *********
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on December 18, 2015
Bad product. Stream boost does not work as advertised. Terrible lag spikes over 2000ms in LoL.

Contacted customer support twice. The first time they had me update the firmware to a beta version that bricked the device. They refused to acknowledge that though so I returned the device and bought a replacement. Same issues.

Often the router menus won't even load without multiple hard resets.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on August 29, 2014
Stream boost boggles down the speed even after correct set up. The range sucks in a BIG house; my house is 3200 sqft. I have my router upstairs and the signal barely reaches my living area about 100 ft of direct line of sight. I had this router for a year but waited to resolve most issues before writing on it. I currently have made 5 trouble calls on it for various issues. I will not buy again. Currently it cuts off and locks me out the admin section not allowing me to log on to the router.
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on July 9, 2015
Issues setting it up and still haven't got it to work properly. I'm not a idiot with networking either. They should make this router a tad more simple to set up. I'll update when I finally get it working.
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on March 11, 2015
Great change from my old router. I love how this routes traffic. I had to unplug my old router everyday but this one I never have to (so far). We have a 2 pcs, laptop, ipad, tablet, and 2 Android phones and all run smoothly. I am very pleased with this!
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on December 4, 2015
I was not happy with my verizon fios router range so replaced that with this one. Its speed decreases as you move feets away, it dropped to 4/5 bars at about 25 feet from router with no obstruction. Upstairs at about 35feet from router I was barely getting 2/5 bars with 2.4 Ghz and no signal with 5Ghz. With verizon I used to get 3/5bars, moreover I had to reset it twice is 24hrs as it became too slow. I am seriously disappointed with d-link.
I am a heavy internet and intranet user and my router is routing more than 30-50gb of data everyday.
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on December 30, 2013
MOST RECENT COMMENTS:
After about 6 months, the router seems to have taken a turn for the worse. If I reset the router, it behaves normally for a few minutes. But after that, my entire internet access speeds come to a crawl. Latency on anything exceeds 1 full second or more. Bandwidth trickles by at speeds that make dial-up advantageous. I have tried reconfiguring the router. I have tried enabling/disabling streamboost and I have tried updating the firmware. None of which seem to make a bit of difference. Before this it had worked so well without a single issue. I can't imagine what has happened now. But rest assured the issue is continually repeatable and seems isolated to the router. If I connect my machine directly to the internet bypassing the router, my internet speeds remain constantly fast.

I'm truly disappointed by this and have now lost faith in D-Link as a whole, that which until now I have used almost exclusively for the better part of a decade without issue. I can't return to get my money back through Amazon as too much time has passed. This means I'll have to RMA it with D-Link, which I'm sure will be a horrific experience. I can't wait for the part to be exchanged either as I need my network up and running, so I am forced to buy Asus's AC1900 router.

Such a waste of expense, resources and a missed opportunity by D-Link.

ORIGINAL COMMENTS:
I've had every DLink gaming router so far. This one has reduced control set in how you can configure it. Despite that, it's outperforming and doing a better job at managing my network than my previous. I don't miss the advanced setup of QOS controls as this one seems to be handling the traffic priorities just fine.
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