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Michael Brown

Nov 08, 2011

D-Link DIR-657

At A Glance

TWINKIE

Ubicom QoS engine; DLNA certification; SD card slot; USB port.

DINKIE

2.4GHz radio only; very slow TCP throughput; terrible range.

D-Link markets this single-band (2.4GHz) router as particularly well suited for gaming and media streaming, and it is endowed with very good quality-of-service features, but QoS can’t magically render the 2.4GHz frequency band any less crowded. And given our relatively pristine test environment, the best word to describe the DIR-657’s range and TCP throughput is pathetic.

And while we realize that our room-within-a-room home theater presents a significant challenge to most 5GHz routers, the 2.4GHz DIR-657 could barely send music streams there wirelessly; streaming video to our TV was a nonstarter. The router couldn’t connect to the client located in our second outdoor test location at all—it’s been a long time since we experienced that problem with a router operating on the 2.4GHz frequency band.


D-Link's DIR-657 is pretty enough, but its performance leaves us cold.

D-Link’s DIR-657 is certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, too (as is Belkin’s N750 DB), so the D-Link (and the Belkin) ships with channel bonding disabled. We turned it on for our tests—and then triple-checked it to make sure it was actually on, because the numbers we got were so low: just 48Mb/s with the client sitting a mere 10 feet from the router. Performance curiously jumped by more than 20Mb/s when we moved the client to the kitchen, doubling the distance and putting a wall in between the router and client, but it went off a cliff—to just 11Mb/s—when we moved the client out to the patio.

D-Link deserves credit for going to the trouble and expense of obtaining DLNA certification. This interoperability standard has proliferated throughout the consumer electronics industry during the past couple of years, providing confidence that your computers, TVs, media streamers, and other networked devices will play nice together. The DIR-657 is also outfitted with a USB slot for sharing mass storage devices on your network, and it has an SD Card slot to make it easy to transfer your digital photos, movies, and music to other devices on your network. The aforementioned quality-of-service features come courtesy of Ubicom, which has long delivered the best automatic QoS tools in the industry. If you want to tweak these settings on your own, D-Link provides 10 sets of controls for doing so.

Perhaps a firmware update will change our opinion of the DIR-657, but we can’t recommend this product in its current state.

$100 (street), www.dlink.com

Benchmarks

2.4GHz Band
 D-Link DIR-657Netgear WNDR3700
Bedroom, 10 feet (Mb/s)
48
101*
Kitchen, 20 feet (Mb/s)
69
85.8*
Patio, 38 feet (Mb/s)
1167*
Home Theater, 35 feet (Mb/s)1.938.2*
Outdoors, 85 feet (Mb/s)0.14.2*

Asterisk (*) denotes best score. TCP throughput measure using JPerf.N/C indicates no connection at that location. Additional benchmarking methodology can be found here.

THE VERDICT

D-Link DIR-657

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