D-Link’s DIR-655 was one of the fastest routers in our Draft-N roundup, and it proved best-in-breed in terms of range. But speed and range aren’t the only reasons to like this product. If you enjoy fine-tuning your network’s performance, the Xtreme N offers more control over more settings than anything else we tested.
The DIR-655 includes a robust QoS (Quality of Service) engine that you can use to prioritize network traffic, so applications such as online gaming, media streaming, and VoIP are given priority over web browsing. D-Link’s WISH (Wireless Intelligent Stream Handling) technology delivers more traffic-prioritization features, enabling you to configure the router to give A/V streams originating from Windows Media Center higher priority than traffic that’s less sensitive to delay—such as file transfers. You’ll need to access the router’s firmware to configure these and other settings.
Don’t enjoy twiddling with your gear? D-Link bundles a 30-day-evaluation copy of Pure Networks’s newb-friendly Network Magic software. It doesn’t give you any additional configuration or monitoring options, but it does make tasks such as printer sharing, security, and network-activity monitoring a lot easier. If you don’t buy the full version within 30 days, the software will shut off access to its advanced features, leaving you with the free version that you can get anywhere.
One of the first things we noticed when we unpacked the D-Link was the included package of drywall anchors, for use if you want to mount the router to your wall. Several of these routers have mounting holes on the bottom for this purpose, but only D-Link provides its customers with a means for actually doing it. Also, the CD jacket includes a space for you to write down the network’s SSID (Service Set Identifier)—the name and password. Sure, these things are minor, but such thoughtful touches show D-Link’s commitment to customer satisfaction.
Like most consumer router manufacturers, D-Link encourages the use of its browser-based installation wizard for router setup. Experienced users can skip this step without hesitation, but novices will appreciate the wizard’s thoroughness. This doesn’t mean D-Link leaves knowledgeable users to their own devices—there’s plenty of sound advice and tips in the router’s onboard help file. Set the router to use WEP, for instance, and it warns that your network will not run in 802.11n mode because that standard does not support WEP. This is to be expected, of course, but TCP throughput with WEP enabled was considerably slower on the DIR-655 than it was with competing routers. On the other hand, the DIR-655 delivered nearly three times faster scores at maximum range without WEP enabled than did the next contender. More important, it also delivered much higher speeds at range with WPA2 security enabled.
Speedy; extremely high range; great QoS; superb attention to detail throughout.
Not the prettiest router we've ever seen. TCP output with WEP slower than expected.