Cloud-enabled, built-in VPN, but no Time Machine support
Like the DIR-880L, the DIR-890 includes D-Link's cloud feature, which lets you manage your home network over the Internet, via the MyDLink portal. You first need to create a free account (unless you have an existing one), then add the router to that account. After that, you can easily view the status of the router as well as manage a handful of its settings using either a browser or the myDLink Lite mobile app.
The DIR-890 can also work as a VPN server. This means you can create a profile to securely access your home network when you're out and about. You do need a quick VPN client installed on the remote client, and knowledge of how to setup a Dynamic DNS to take advantage of this feature.
You can use the router's USB ports with any external hard drives formatted in either FAT32 or NTFS. In my trial, the router recognized the connected hard drive very quickly and was able to power all bus-powered portable drives I tried with it. Once a drive is mounted, you can set it to share all of its content to everybody in the network or share it securely via user accounts. You can also stream digital content stored on the drive with network media streamers. On top of that, you can share the content of the drive over the Internet using D-Link's cloud feature.
This storage feature, however, doesn't support Time Machine backup. This is a huge drawback for Mac users, especially considering other routers, such as the
In my testing, the DIR-890 was both the fastest and the slowest Wi-Fi router in its class -- depending on the range.
On the 5GHz band, where it offers 802.11ac performance, it topped the charts with a sustained speed of 602Mbps at a close range of 15 feet (4.6 meters). When I increased the range to 100 feet (30 meters), however, it scored just 161Mbps, the slowest among high-end 802.11ac routers.
On the 2.4GHz via 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, the router didn't do very well, registering 122Mbps and 34Mbps for close and long range, respectively. These were below average on the charts.
I suspect that the router's data rates degraded so much over long distance because it doesn't have very good range. In my experience, AC3200 routers generally don't the best range compared to other 802.11ac routers, but the D-Link's range fell short compared with its peers. In my testing, its affective range was about 150 feet (45 meters). Further out it was hard to connect to it and hold a steady connection.
To make up for this, the router had exceptionally good Wi-Fi stability. I put it though two stress tests, one with Smart Connect and the other without -- each lasted for three days and the router didn't disconnect once.
Note that I tested the DIR-890 at CNET's offices, where there are plenty of walls and many Wi-Fi devices, including those from adjacent buildings, that are out of my control. Generally, walls shorten the reach of a Wi-Fi signal, and other Wi-Fi devices create interference. As with all Wi-Fi routers, your results may vary depending on where you live. I tested the router with its latest firmware (version 1.03).
When coupled with a portable drive, the DIR-890 also did very well, averaging more than 65MBps for reading and more than 35MBps for writing, via a Gigabit connection. These were among the fastest scores among routers with these features and more than fast enough for data sharing and media streaming. It's really too bad that the router doesn't support Time Machine backup.
The D-Link DIR-890 is without doubt a good high-end Wi-Fi router, having three things going for it: a great design, fast speeds (both Wi-Fi at close range and storage) and strong signal stability. Unfortunately, its range falls short, and the lack of configuration settings and features are disappointing. On top of that, it's just too expensive.
With that in mind, I'd recommend it only for non-tech savvy users who have multiple 5GHz clients, need to do lots of heavy tasks via Wi-Fi, and live in a relatively small home. If you fit this category and don't mind spending the dough, you'll be happy with it.
For most users, it's a better deal to get a regular AC1900 router, such as the this top 802.11ac router list. If you definitely need an AC3200 router and also want to customize your home network to the max, pick the Asus RT-AC3200 instead., the , the or one of those on