The D-Link DIR-813 AC750 Wireless router is probably the cheapest 802.11ac router on the market today. The router, which retailed for $29.99 on Newegg.com and Amazon.com during the days leading up to Black Friday 2015 was quite the steal. The retail price for this router is $79.99 and for that price it is not a bad router, but its not without its quirks.
The router was particularly chosen as a potential replacement router to my tried and trusted Buffalo WHR-HP-G300N DDWRT open router. While the Buffalo continues to chug along with no apparent issues, the desire for a 5Ghz band and newer AC technology drove me to test out this D-Link router.
The 802.11ac frequency is a new one. Over the last decade, we have been exposed to various routers in the 2.4 Ghz frequency that started with a max theoretical speed of 11 mb/s (802.11b), to 54 mb/s (802.11g) and then finally a slew of 150-450 mb/s (802.11n) routers on the market. Each promising faster throughput and more device connectivity with greater range.
In principle, the improvements in wireless technology is real. I’ve personally gone through all the different variations of wireless connectivity since its advent in the early 2000. The current 802.11n, personally think is as good as it gets.
So what is the fascination with 802.11ac, after all all the manufacturers are now bringing out AC routers that claim to improve on an already excellent product for the casual user. Most wireless users would have never had the opportunity to test out the old 802.11a (5Ghz) band that was around in the early 2000’s. The 802.11a never really took off in the Small Office / Home Office market. It did get taken up in the enterprise market. Most devices until the advent of the iPhone 4s could not read 802.11a frequencies, the capabilities were never there. This is for a good reason. Unlike its sibling 802.11b, which operates on the 2.4 Ghz spectrum, 802.11a worked on 5 Ghz. Chip-set costs were higher and the overall range for the throughput was as low as the original 802.11b. In the end wireless devices in the 2.4 Ghz gained universal acceptance.
Fast forward to today, the throughput gained by the 5 Ghz frequencies out pace the already crowded 2.4 Ghz frequencies. With wifi popping up in every house hold, the airwaves are getting more crowded. 802.11ac aims to correct the congestion problem by use of various technologies including beam forming and increased bandwidth.
So back to my D-Link DIR-813 review:
The question asked most often, why is it back in the box. You see, 802.11ac is a great piece of technology. However its also a very new piece of technology. While it can connect to virtually all the older frequencies, the benefits of the 802.11ac only comes about if you use it to connect with a device that supports 802.11ac or (the draft 802.11ac). Without which the advanced technology – beam forming and bandwidth increases are a moot point. The maximum theoretical bandwidth provided by this router is 300Mbps on 2.4 Ghz and 433 Mbps on the 5 Ghz.
In real world testing, the only devices that could benefit in my use case scenario was my iDevices and the Google Nexus Tablet & Google Nexus Player that could see the 5 Ghz frequencies (but are not 802.11ac devices). Segmenting my network to use the upper frequencies for streaming would have helped if I had a congestion issue, however for my use case scenario, it would have no made a difference. The range of 5 Ghz was also limiting despite the three big antenna’s that make up the router. The 2.4 Ghz range was better suited for my use.
In the end, 802.11ac is a great device, and there is nothing wrong with the D-Link DIR-813 wifi router. It will one day make a good backup router for me. It is just that for most users, the need to upgrade to the latest and greatest is unnecessary. Your requirement for a new router could easily be satisfied by a cheaper 802.11n router. Unless you plan on upgrading all your devices to use the 802.11ac chip-set, there is no benefit to upgrading to a new routers for the casual user.
Forbes wrote an excellent article on 802.11ac and its benefits. It is well worth the read.
To purchase this router click on our Amazon Link.