D-Link DGL-4300 wireless 108G gaming router
Playing an online FPS game through a busy wireless router is like entering a Corolla in the Indy 500: there just isn't enough speed to win. If you face this unfortunate reality, D-Link wants to pimp your Wi-Fi ride with its new DGL-4300 wireless 108G gaming router. The device includes a GameFuel mode that puts data packets from games, teleconferencing, VoIP, and other high-bandwidth apps at the front of the wireless-transmission line, ushering them through the router faster than other data. The DGL-4300 also offers perks such as four Gigabit Ethernet ports; an adjustable, 5dBi high-gain antenna; WPA security; and an SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) firewall. But at about $150, the device costs nearly twice as much as other Wi-Fi routers, such as the , which offer comparable performance when used solely for gameplay. So unless your router really is jammed with other traffic, hold off on the DGL-4300 until its next generation, which will no doubt support MIMO technology.
The slick, black DGL-4300 has seven blue status lights on the front that indicate when the power, WAN, WLAN, and four Gigabit LAN ports are working properly. The removable 5dBi antenna on the back edge bends and rotates 90 and 360 degrees, respectively, which helps you optimally position the antenna. In other efforts to help you position the router just right, D-Link ships the device with four handy rubber feet for lying flat, two snap-on rubber legs for vertical placement, and brackets for wall hanging.
The DGL-4300's browser-based configuration tool is also slick. The tool's smooth blue, orange, and black graphics and well-organized tabs are a nice touch. When you initially log in to the D-Link tool, it presents you with two helpful wizards for connecting to the Internet and specifying your wireless security settings. Or you can skip the wizards and alter all of the DGL-4300's settings manually, determining features such as the device's SSID, WEP and WPA security levels, acceptable MAC addresses, and DMZ assignments. Parents who want to limit their kids' computing activities can also use the tool to block access to certain Web sites and games at specific times. At press time, D-Link also posted a new firmware upgrade with a few potentially intriguing features, such as Xbox Live certification, which allegedly helps to limit ICMP, and the ability to test virtual server settings via a LAN connection, which may help those attempting to establish their own game servers.
Last but not least, the tool contains access to the router's GameFuel technology, which makes a noticeable improvement in gaming performance on wireless routers servicing multiple simultaneous connections. We started our anecdotal tests by using our laptop to play an online match of Unreal Tournament 2004, first through an 802.11b router, then through the DGL-4300, while neither router received any other Wi-Fi traffic. In each scenario, our movements were smooth and timely. We then used our laptop and the 802.11b router to upload photos to an FTP server while simultaneously playing Unreal Tournament 2004; we used another laptop to upload more pictures to an FTP server through the router at the same time. The subsequent lag in our gameplay was as plain as day. We experienced a similar lag when conducting the same gameplay and file transfers using our laptops and the DGL-4300 with GameFuel disabled. When we went through the same scenario a final time with GameFuel enabled, all of our movements and shots appeared smooth and timely once again.
The DGL-4300 kept up the fast performance in the first half of CNET Labs' tests. In its SuperG mode, the router earned the same fantastic 45.7Mbps max-throughput score as the MIMO-enabled . But the D-Link's lack of MIMO support showed in our mixed-mode tests: it clocked a sad 9.9Mbps score compared to the Belkin's 42.1Mbps time.