Cool features don’t make up for mediocre performance
D-LINK’S DIR-827 WI-FI router boasts two features that our current favorite router, Netgear’s WNDR4500, lacks: a USB 3.0 port and an SD media card reader. Both products are dual-band models with radios operating on the 2.4- and 5GHz frequency bands, respectively. The DIR-827, however, supports only two simultaneous 150Mb/spatial streams on each band, where the WNDR4500 supports three.
D-Link positions the DIR-827 as a media router, optimized for streaming audio and video and delivering exceptional performance for online gaming. It’s the big brother to the single-band DIR-657 we reviewed in the December 2011 issue. Like that model, this one is fully DLNA compliant and features Ubicom’s excellent quality-of-service engine that assigns higher priority to data packets associated with those types of apps.
We expected the DIR-827 to be slower than Netgear’s best because it’s outfitted with only a 2x2 antenna array (two transmit and two receive), whereas the WNDR4500 boasts a 3x3 array. And while the WNDR4500 costs $30 more than the DIR-827, we didn’t expect D-Link’s router to be more than 50 percent slower in most of our test locations (although the DIR-827 did beat the WNDR4500 when the client was in close proximity).
D-Link’s DIR-827 is priced like a premium product, but it doesn’t perform like one.
We were also disappointed in the DIR-827’s range. It delivered very poor throughput on the 2.4GHz frequency band when our client was in our media room (35 feet from the router), and it couldn’t reach the client at all when the client was outdoors (60 feet from the router). Its performance was only marginally better on the 5GHz band, delivering respectable performance at close range, while all but crapping out in more challenging circumstances. It’s not unusual for a 5GHz router to fail to reach our client at its outdoor location, but this one couldn’t maintain a connection to our client in our media room, either.
There’s only one USB port, so you’ll need to choose between sharing a printer or sharing storage. You’ll need to install D-Link’s SharePort utility on each client either way, and only one client will be able to access an attached device at a time. We used a 500GB, USB 3.0 Western Digital My Passport drive to evaluate the DIR-827’s NAS functionality and came away impressed with its read speed while accessing a collection of small files over our wired network. Write speeds, on the other hand, were only slightly faster than Netgear’s WNDR4500. We were also surprised to see that the D-Link was slightly slower than the Netgear when transferring a single large file (2.79GB) back and forth across our network, even though the Netgear is limited by USB 2.0 ports.
If your PC doesn’t have an SD card reader, the ability to take the card out of your camera and plug it straight into the router is a cool feature; but we’d rather have decent wireless throughput and acceptable range. In the end, our opinion of the DIR-827 is no higher than our opinion of the DIR-657: We can’t recommend either.
D-Link DIR-827 Wireless Router
DLNA certified; USB 3.0; SD Card reader.
Crappy wireless throughput and range; only one USB port; must use SharePort utility to share an attached printer or storage.
2.4 GHz Band
5 GHz Band
Bedroom 1, 10 feet (Mb/s)
Kitchen, 20 feet (Mb/s)
Patio, 38 feet (Mb/s)
Home Theater, 35 feet (Mb/s)
Outdoors, 85 feet (Mb/s)
Best scores are bolded. TCP throughput measured using JPerf. NAS tests consist of copying a single 2.79GB file and a folder containing of 659MB worth of files and folders to and from a USB 3.0 drive attached to the router. N/C indicates no connection at that location. Additional benchmarking methodology at bit.ly/r5USfh.