D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 Wireless Tri-Band Gigabit Cloud Router Review

The D-Link DIR-890L AC3200 Wireless Tri-Band Gigabit Cloud Router was released in Singapore back in February 2015 and is retailing for S$399 making it the same price as the Linksys EA9200 Wireless AC3200 Tri Band Smart Wi-Fi Router.

I wonder whats up with router names these days, is like each company is trying to add in more keywords to the official name of the router.

D-Link DIR-890L
D-Link DIR-890L

Features
The internals of the DIR-890L is basically pretty much the same as Linksys EA9200. It is the same Broadcom BCM4709A0 processor and BCM43602 Wi-Fi chip and hence the features are also the same.

It features three wireless bands (one 2.4GHz and two 5GHz) giving you a theoretically speed limit of 3.2Gbps (600Mbps + 1.3Gbps + 1.3Gbps) which you will not even get 1/3 of it in the real world.

It also has smart beamforming. Beamforming enables the router to identify and connect directly with the devices rather than simply sending out wireless signals in a general direction. This ensures faster network speeds, better wireless range, reduced interference from other devices, and stronger Wi-Fi connections.

Another new feature is the smart connect. With smart connect, you just need one wireless SSID instead of splitting up to 2.4GHz and 5Ghz band. This is because the router can intelligently identify the device, decide what band would provide it with the best possible connection, and connect it to that band.

Another benefit of smart connect is that it will load balance the devices across the three bands ensuring that one band isn’t getting overloaded while the other two are empty.
Specifications (From WikiDevi)

  • CPU: Broadcom BCM4709A Processor (1 GHz, 2 cores)
  • RAM: 512MB (EtronTech EM6GD16EWXC-15H)
  • Flash: 128MB (Spansion S34ML01G100TFI00)
  • Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless LAN

    • 2.4GHz
      • Broadcom BCM43602
      • IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11b
      • Speeds up to 600 Mbps
    • 5GHz
      • 2x Broadcom BCM43602
      • IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11n & IEEE 802.11a
      • Speeds up to 1,300 Mbps
  • LAN/WAN

    • 4x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN ports
    • 1x 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN port
    • Broadcom BCM4709A
  • Antennas: Six fixed non-replaceable antennas
  • Other Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 Port
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 8.9 x 25.2 x 20.32cm
  • Weight: 726g

Box
Just when I thought the box of my previous router, Linksys WRT1900AC, is huge, the box of this router is even bigger, almost twice the size.

D-Link DIR-890L - Box Front
D-Link DIR-890L – Box Front

D-Link DIR-890L - Box Back
D-Link DIR-890L – Box Back

D-Link DIR-890L - Box
D-Link DIR-890L – Box

D-Link DIR-890L - Box Open
D-Link DIR-890L – Box Open

D-Link DIR-890L - Box Open
D-Link DIR-890L – Box Open

D-Link DIR-890L - Box Contents
D-Link DIR-890L – Box Contents

Design
The D-Link DIR-890L comes in two colors, red or black. I chose red because that color stands out. I personally find that black a little boring for routers.

The shape of the router looks like a spaceship or a flying pyramid. I know some might disagree, but I think this is the best looking router in the market so far.

The router comes with two screws allowing you to mount it on a wall. I don’t think you can mount it on the ceiling though.

D-Link DIR-890L - Top
D-Link DIR-890L – Top

D-Link DIR-890L - Top
D-Link DIR-890L – Top

D-Link DIR-890L - Top
D-Link DIR-890L – Top

D-Link DIR-890L - Back
D-Link DIR-890L – Back

D-Link DIR-890L - Ports
D-Link DIR-890L – Ports

D-Link DIR-890L - Side
D-Link DIR-890L – Side

D-Link DIR-890L - Bottom
D-Link DIR-890L – Bottom

Setup
The default URL to setup the router is http://dlink.router or http://192.168.0.1. There is no password to the admin panel because the setup wizard will ask you to create one at the end of the setup process.

Setup - Step 1
Setup – Step 1

Setup - Step 2
Setup – Step 2

Setup - Step 3
Setup – Step 3

Setup - Step 4
Setup – Step 4

Setup - Step 5
Setup – Step 5

Setup - Step 6
Setup – Step 6

Admin UI
My previous D-Link router was the D-Link DIR-868L and that router still uses the old classic orange and black web interface.

It was a nice and pleasant surprise for me when D-Link changes the admin UI of this router. The admin UI is now more modern and brighter.

Nevertheless, it still loads as fast as the previous UI which is good. I care more about the speed of loading the admin UI rather than how fanciful it is.

Admin UI - Home
Admin UI – Home

Admin UI - Wireless
Admin UI – Wireless

Admin UI - Wireless - Smart Connect Off
Admin UI – Wireless – Smart Connect Off

Admin UI - Share Port
Admin UI – Share Port

Admin UI - Port Forwarding
Admin UI – Port Forwarding

Admin UI - Virtual Server
Admin UI – Virtual Server

Admin UI - Static Routes
Admin UI – Static Routes

Admin UI - Quick VPN
Admin UI – Quick VPN

In case you are wondering, you can set the router to be an AP (Access Point) instead. It is under Settings -> Internet -> Device Mode as shown in the screenshot below.

Admin UI - Router Mode
Admin UI – Router Mode

Wireless Strength
For the wireless strength tests of the DIR-890L, it differs by about 6% when compared to the EA9200.

I expected the DIR-890L to perform better than the EA9200 because the DIR-890L has six external antennas vs the EA9200 which only has three external antennas and three internal antennas.

I guess whether the antennas are external or internal doesn’t really make much a difference.

WiFi Explorer - My Room
WiFi Explorer – My Room

WiFi Explorer - Toilet
WiFi Explorer – Toilet

Location DIR-890L EA9200 E8350 WRT1900AC DIR-868L
My Room (2.4GHz) 85% 85% 55% 76% 79%
My Room (5GHz) 82% 76% 27% 78% 91%
Toilet (2.4GHz) 59% 64% 41% 50% 58%
Toilet (5GHz) 39% 46% 37% 46% 55%

Speed
For the speed tests of the DIR-890L, it outperform the EA9200 in every tests.

Speedy Net - LAN to LAN
Speedy Net – LAN to LAN

Speedy Net - LAN to Wireless
Speedy Net – LAN to Wireless

Speedy Net - Wireless to Wireless
Speedy Net – Wireless to Wireless

Type DIR-890L EA9200 EA8350 WRT1900AC DIR-868L
LAN to LAN 932.71Mbps 886.36Mbps 876.2Mbps 780.27Mbps 500.19Mbps
LAN to Wireless 175.87Mbps 173.49Mbps 97.64Mbps 146.14Mbps 217.61Mbps
Wireless to Wireless 119.70Mbps 98.79Mbps 50.53Mbps 146.91Mbps 75.71Mbps

Summary
The DIR-890L did slightly better in speed tests while having almost the same coverage as the EA9200. The DIR-890L comes with six non-replaceable antennas while the EA9200 comes with three internal antennas and three replaceable external antennas.

In terms of admin UI, the DIR-890L did better because it loads much faster.

I was disappointed at the lack of VLAN tagging in the DIR-890L in the current firmware. Without VLAN tagging, you can’t use the router directly with the ONT for some Internet connections. I was told that VLAN tagging will be in the next firmware update which is targeted to be released by end August 2015.

Priced at S$399, it costs the same as the Linksys EA9200. Both routers are the AC3200 Wireless Tri-Band router and hence both supports beamforming and smart connect.

To decided whether to buy the DIR-890L or EA9200, it just boils down to brand preferences and router design. But the lack of VLAN tagging currently in the DIR-890L might just make the EA9200 more favourable to Singtel and StarHub users for now.

Pros:

  • Nicely designed router
  • Smart beamforming
  • Smart connect
  • Good wireless and wired speeds

Cons:

  • Antennas are non-replaceable

D-Link DIR-890L - Plugged In
D-Link DIR-890L – Plugged In

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