The D-Link DGL-4500 GamerLounge Xtreme N Gaming Router offers decent performance and a long list of features for home wireless networking and hardcore gamers. However, it lacks support for simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands along with random resets during heavy loads. You may want to wait for a successor to the DGL-4500, or at least a firmware update, before buying it. With the hefty price tag of about $180, we expected better stability. Unless you plan to take advantage of the DGL-4500's GameFuel feature for prioritizing bandwidth for games, we still recommend D-Link's DIR-655 Xtreme N router for its superior performance or the Netgear WNR854T RangeMax for its speed, stability, and price.
• Device type: Wireless router
• Network standard: 802.11n (draft), 802.11b/g
• Bandwidth: 2.4GHz and 5Ghz (not simultaneous)
• Operating systems supported: Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, or Mac OS X (v10.4)
• Security options: 64/128-bit WEP; WPA; WPA2
• Features: Four Gigabit LAN ports; One Gigabit WAN port; DHCP support; VPN Pass-through / Multi-sessions PPTP / L2TP / IPSec; NAT; SPI; DDNS; USB Port (for Windows Connect Now)
• Notable design features: Distinctive look with Network Activity Display
• Support: One-year warranty
The D-Link DGL-4500 is a MIMO router with three antennas attached to its back. We would prefer that they resided on the side of the unit where they wouldn't crowd the ports. Like most D-Link routers, the DGL-4500 is wall mountable and also ships with a base to position it vertically. The DGL-4500 features a Network Activity Display that shows more than only the network's connection status. Using the two display navigation buttons, you can access various WAN, LAN, and wireless information via this little blue screen. While most of the information is just general information--current throughput, number of connected clients--it is a bit more useful than the typical status LEDs found on other routers. While somewhat convenient, we found it this display frustrating because it turns on only when you press one of the navigation buttons, it turns itself off after about a minute, and there's no option to change the length of time it stays on. Why not just keep the display lit at all times by default, showing you your network connection status? It's not so bright as to be a distraction, even in a darkened room.
The DGL-4500 supports Microsoft's Windows Connect Now technology, which lets you add new wireless devices to the network without having to type in the encryption key. All you need to do is stick a USB drive in the USB port at the back of the router and then stick that drive into the USB port of a WCN-enabled devices, such as a PC (running Windows XP SP2 or later) or a printer such as the "="" rel="follow">HP Deskjet 6840. Though it's faster and proved more stable in testing, the D-Link DIR-655 does not feature a USB port.
As a router designed specifically for gaming, the DGL-4500 features D-Link's proprietary GameFuel technology that identifies network traffic created by games and prioritizes Internet bandwidth to accommodate it. The router comes preset with settings optimized for popular games such as World of Warcraft, Quake, and Unreal Tournament, along with special services including virtual servers and remote desktop. These presets basically specify the port required to be open for each application and make sure it's open when required.
The DGL-4500 is a dual-band draft 802.11n router, meaning it supports both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz frequencies. Unfortunately, it can only operate in one frequency at a time, which means you're forced to use one or the other. So, you'll be stuck on the crowded 2.4GHz band if you have other wireless devices that are 2.4GHz only. If you are looking for something that can do both simultaneously, you will have to wait for the D-Link's Xtreme N Duo Media Router, which is still available only as a preorder.
Other than this shortcoming, the DGL-4500 has everything you could want in the realm of home networking, be it security (all WEP, WPA, and WPA2 available) or virtual private networking (VPN pass-through, multisessions PPT, L2TP, and IPSec) as well as many other popular and advanced networking features. The D-Link's state-of-the-art Web interface is among the best we've used, it's intuitive and responsive and most changes can be applied instantly without a restart.
We tested the DGL-4500 with D-Link's Xtreme N Notebook adapter (DWA-652) and were very happy with its showing on our maximum throughput (N-only) benchmark. Its score of 81.9 Mbps is among the highest we've seen, though still nowhere close to the theoretical max of 300Mbps the 802.11n specification or the old D-Link DIR-655's score of 112.6 Mbps. On our mixed mode test, where the router is forced to work with 802.11n and legacy 802.11b/g devices, the score was reduced to 50.9 Mbps, which is about on par with others. In our range test, the score was further reduced to 27.0 Mbps, more than acceptable when you compare it with the competition.
We tested the range of the D-Link by gradually increasing the range until the signal dropped. In our admittedly cluttered test environment, we were able to get a steady signal at 300 feet. While we were generally happy with the throughput and the range, we were a little concerned about the D-Link's reliability, even at shorter ranges. In our anecdotal test simulating a heavy load, the router randomly reset on more than one occasion. Even though it took only a second or two for the signal to get back on, this could easily frustrate gamers. Though chances most of the time routers are not used with heavy loads, we hope that this problem was only with the test unit or will be fixed with in the next firmware update. (The router was tested with its 1.02 firmware, the latest at the time of testing.)
D-Link ships the DGL-4500 with a standard one-year warranty, which is average for a home router. Its Web site offers very good support information including downloads, FAQs, and a searchable knowledgebase. The technical support phone line is available 24-7. We tried the number listed on the Web site and after having to go through many layers of automated options we were put on hold for about 7 minutes before reaching a representative who was very helpful and knowledgeable.
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