Top positive review
441 people found this helpful
reliable, solid router with wireless performance comparable to routers twice as expensive
on July 23, 2012
In my capacity as IT admin, general geek, and most importantly family tech support rep, I make lots of recommendations for tech purchasing. So when both my parents and myself needed new routers to replace aging 802.11g routers, I went to work researching. Long story short -- this router from Dlink, the 605L, is extremely reliable and has excellent range, which are the most important criteria for home users.
Solid routers are notoriously difficult to find/recommend. You may have noticed that even the highest-rated routers on Amazon (such as the Cisco-Linksys e4200v2 and the Asus Dark Knight n66u) both have as many as 15-30% 1 and 2-star reviews! Why is there so much divergence in opinion? For one, networking equipment performance varies depending on location installed, and the experience of the installer. Choosing the right place to put the router, upgrading to the most stable firmware, and choosing the right channel/band/bandwidth are just as important as the device itself.
In my personal research I narrowed the field down to 4 models: two expensive, feature-rich models (the above-mentioned linksys and asus), capable of hard-drive/printer sharing, gigabit switch ports, and three-stream dual-band operation for maximum bandwidth, and two inexpensive but reliable, stable, and easily configured models (this model, Dlink 605L, and the linksys-cisco e3200). If the advanced features I just mentioned don't interest you, the cheaper models are all you need -- and at less than forty dollars, the 605L (this router) is a clear winner. (What about dual-band 2.4/5Ghz vs single-band 2.4Ghz operation of this router? In most locations, even though there is more traffic on the 2.4ghz band, it usually has better range. Bandwidth on the 5ghz channel tends to be higher but only at close to medium range. For most, 2.4ghz works just fine and supports the most devices.)
I settled on the 605L and bought it two weeks ago, setting it up in a relatively central location in a medium-sized single story house. In that time it has operated reliably with zero connection drops or required resets since I plugged it in 2 weeks ago, which is a remarkable feat in and of itself. Also, it has excellent range; I would estimate the wireless range is in the 65-75th percentile for home routers and is comparable to the range of most $60-80 routers. My parents' furthest device is about 40 feet away with 4 walls in between, and it gets about 50% signal which is enough for ~50Mbit of bandwidth (half of what you get when you plug in to the 100Mbit ports on back of the router, of which there are 4). Since most home internet connections are less than 25Mbit, this is more than sufficient for 99% of people who might consider this router. From the same location, I was able to do a file transfer between two computers (the other plugged into the router directly) at a rate of 1GB/2.5 min, which is reasonably fast (about 7-11MB/s).
Most important for novices is the easy setup interface. After plugging the device into your modem and a computer for initial setup with ethernet cables, typing in 192.168.0.1 takes you right to the web-based setup interface (admin/). You start with the simple setup wizard -- allowing you to set up your basic ISP settings and your desired WiFi name/password -- and for most people this is all they will need to setup and the router's default settings will take care of the rest. For advanced users, the manual settings provide a lot of additional control, such as parental controls, access lists, firewall tweaking, 40mhz band option, QoS settings, etc. But both routers I purchased were connected to the internet and all devices (asus laptop, mac mini, smart tv, roku, ipad, printer) with the basic setup option within 5 minutes.
The 'cloud' features allow you to view/block connected devices and reboot the router from a website (mydlink.com), as well as seeing your current internet bandwidth use (an instantaneous poll of your current use -- not cumulative use). Handy for family techs.
For its reliability, range, and simplicity, this is an excellent choice. (Other options under a hundred dollars to consider might be the linksys-cisco e3200 and apple's 2012 model airport express.
Feel free to ask questions in comments.
CPU: Realtek RTL8196C 5 port 10/100 switch & 32 bit RISC CPU SoC
Switch: Realtek RTL8196C
RAM: 32 MB
Flash: 4 MB
Radio: Realtek RTL8192CE 802.11b/g/n 2T2R WLAN SoC
An update, 7-nov-2012:
I have been running this router since purchase months ago without restarting once due to connection issue! This is a small miracle. I continue to highly recommend this router, esp now.
Asus has announced a soon to be available router, model RT-N12HP (google search if curious) that has huge 9dBi amplified antennas specifically designed for implementations where maximum range is required. If you have a largish area to cover, this router might be a better choice, though the release date hasn't been announced yet.
A response to a comment question:
I did a stress test where I ran a Netflix video, Skype call, iPad online game, a large file download, and a 4GB local transfer from a wired to WiFi computer simultaneously; the local network was only marginally affected by the Internet traffic, and I was able to determine using a network monitoring tool that the Netflix stream was using half of our internet bandwidth, and the other devices split the rest. This is because the QoS will prioritize rich media and VoIP over things like downloads. This seems to me to be optimal behavior, where bandwidth is split rather than gobbled up by one device.