Review: 6 Ultrafast 802.11n Wi-Fi Routers - InformationWeek

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Review: 6 Ultrafast 802.11n Wi-Fi Routers

Here's a look at 802.11n routers from Apple, Belkin, Buffalo, D-Link, Linksys, and Netgear. Read on to find out which device is your best choice.

D-Link Xtreme N Gigabit Router
(click image to see larger view)
D-Link Corp.
Price: $170
With a sleek white finish and three matching white antennas, the Dir-655 will look snazzy in just about any location.
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The D-Link Xtreme N Gigabit Router (Dir-655) is an ideal solution for someone who doesn't mind paying a high price for one of the fastest N routers on the market.

With a sleek white finish and three matching white antennas, the Dir-655 will look snazzy in just about any location. It features a USB port on the back, which lets you plug in a printer or storage device, but I was disappointed to discover that I couldn't share those products with other computers on the network.

One of the router's best features is its inclusion of a sophisticated QoS monitoring system that effectively allows you to prioritize traffic on the network. If you're a gamer, or you want to stream video or use Skype, these latency-sensitive programs can be set to a higher tier and thus given preference over the less important traffic such as downloads. In essence, this feature gives you the ability to dole out the best performance as needed.

Unfortunately, the Dir-655 still uses a Web interface to configure the router -- as a result, its usability is abysmal. It affords tremendous customization capabilities and allows advanced users the latitude they can expect from a well-built router, but the menus are overcrowded and maneuvering your way to a specified setting is a pain. For example, a simple task like port forwarding, which should take a few seconds to configure, took me almost five minutes to find, configure, and implement.

Although I had problems with the menu system, the Dir-655 performed extremely well and almost matched the Buffalo G300N. At a distance of 10 feet, the measured throughput speeds over a dedicated N-network reached 120 Mbps, but at distances of 50 feet and 200 feet, that figure declined to 95 Mbps and 35 Mbps, respectively.

On a mixed network, the Dir-655 actually performed better than the Buffalo G300N, with measured speeds at 10 feet of 77 Mbps.

I was quite impressed with the range of the Dir-655, which almost matched the Buffalo G300N as well. All told, the router was able to carry a signal 130 feet past the back corner of my home -- a slight 20 feet less than the G300N.

The D-Link Dir-655 is a great router that performs extremely well in both dedicated N- and mixed networks. In fact, the Dir-655 is the best router I tested on mixed networks. That said, the high $170 price tag and complicated menu customization screens should be taken into consideration.

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