D-Link EXO AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi router (DIR-882) review: A race car at sedan prices
The D-Link EXO AC2600 router (DIR-882) has everything you’d expect and more for $150. (It’s around £125 in the UK, and it’s AU$350 on D-Link’s Australian site.) It’s a dual-band 802.11ac router with one 2.4GHz band and one 5GHz band, having theoretical speeds of 800Mbps and 1.7Gbps, respectively. MU-MIMO allows it to communicate with multiple devices at the same time and Advanced AC Smartbeam (D-Link’s clever name for beamforming) will help rejuvenate Wi-Fi dead zones in your home.
The DIR-882 has all the features you want, including two USB ports (3.0 and 2.0) for connecting network storage or a printer, quad-stream technology for optimal signal strength and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) media server support to let you stream media between your devices.
And it’s really, really fast. Check out the performance numbers on the next page. The only downside to this router is having to wait 20-30 seconds every time you update and save a setting. Nontechies will rarely, if ever, have to do this though.
The D-Link DIR-882 is great for anyone with a large home that needs total Wi-Fi coverage. It offers consistent signals and plenty of features. Whether you want a fully customizable router or one that’s pretty much plug and play, the D-Link EXO AC2600 router will keep your network running the way you want it to.
Small router, huge antennas
The DIR-882 has an all-black design and a low profile except for its four excessively long antennas (they’re almost 7 inches). It will be hard to hide them among the knickknacks on your shelves, but wall mount holes exist on the bottom that could help. The router itself is very thin and wide, and very light at just 1.25 pounds (570 grams).
The best and worst part about its design is that it has six small green and red LEDs on top for power, internet, 2.4GHz, 5GHz and two USBs. It’s nice that they don’t flash too brightly, but in a regularly lit room, it’s very difficult to see which ones are actually on if you aren’t looking at them directly from less than 3 feet (1 meter) away.
You get your standard four gigabit LAN ports and one gigabit WAN port for internet. But its two USB ports — for storage, printers or phone charging — is a great find for a router at this price. The ultrafast USB 3.0 port is hard to reach even though it’s on the front. The USB 2.0 port is on the back next to the Ethernet ports and buttons for power, reset, WPS and Wi-Fi.
Overall, the design isn’t very impressive, but D-Link stays consistent from most of its previous models. The DIR-882 is a far cry, though, from some of its cool extraterrestrial looking routers, like the dazzling DIR-879.
Easy setup, long wait times when changing settings
The setup process is super easy and is great for people who just want their network up and running quickly. D-Link has an app called QRS Mobile that you can use to set up your router or configure it remotely.
I went with the browser-based method, connecting the router to my modem via an Ethernet cable and using D-Link’s handy dandy configuration card (just a piece of paper with wireless info that came in the box) to begin. I ran the setup wizard, updated the network name and password, set the router password and clicked Finished. The firmware was already up to date. Easy peasy.
Or so I thought.
It turns out that every time you change a setting and click Save, you have to wait up to 30 seconds for it to take effect. For many people, this won’t matter because you’ll probably almost never need to update your router settings, but for anyone who likes to customize their network, it will be a pain. The menu also automatically logs you out after about 3 minutes of inactivity.
The minimalistic DIR-882 menu does offer a lot of customization options though, so get ready to wait around if you want to set up a VPN, configure port forwarding, prioritize devices or set up parental controls.
Smart Connect (D-Link’s name for band-steering) is enabled by default, allowing the router to automatically switch between its 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, ideally giving you the best connection possible. You will need to disable this feature if you want to change the 802.11 mode, channel or channel width, among other settings. IPv6 addresses are also automatically enabled to keep your devices connected and secure in the future.
You can enable local network sharing with Windows File Sharing (SAMBA) or FTP Server, and you can hook up a USB hard drive to the router for additional shared storage. The DIR-882 is compatible with DLNA-enabled devices, which will allow you to easily stream movies between devices.