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D-Link's $109 DI-624M Super G with MIMO wireless router may cost less than some of its MIMO competitors, but it's a case of getting what you pay for--the DI-624M is a lot less reliable. From install to uninstall, we had numerous problems with the device. The DI-624M router, when paired with the D-Link DWL-G650M Super G with MIMO wireless notebook adapter, showed field-leading speed on our maximum-throughput test. But low price notwithstanding, we can't recommend this router.
The DI-624M Super G with MIMO wireless router is boxy, with two wide-paddle antennas. Its configuration wizard looks a little dated, but it offers all the standard options you'll want. Encryption options are WEP and WPA-PSK, a preshared key mode of WPA that's designed for home users. The router also includes a firewall with NAT and Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI). Other tools include a parental-controls option that enables you to monitor Web usage, MAC address filtering, system logging, and a VPN pass-through. The router gives gamers a DMZ option. Its settings can be configured from any Web-based browser, thanks to the DI-624M's remote-configuration option.
D-Link provides these very useful tools for the DI-624M Super G with MIMO wireless router, yet it doesn't adequately explain how to use them. For instance, the parental-controls capability makes it sound easy to block sites by URL or word. Yet when you try to configure the tool to block a certain site or type of site, it requires that you enter the beginning and ending IP addresses. It doesn't tell you that the info you should enter is actually the IP address of computers in your LAN, not the IP address of the Web sites.
Installation of the DI-624M router was smooth in our tests. We connected it to our cable modem and desktop PC, then launched the setup wizard and entered the usual password and WEP information. We restarted the desktop to save the settings and reboot the router, and 60 seconds later, we were connected to the Net.
Once we were up and running, however, we encountered reliability problems with the router. It sometimes hung when we attempted to switch modes and other settings. The only solution was to reboot the PC or the router. What's more, we found that the DI-624M Super G with MIMO wireless router delivered uneven performance, sometimes maintaining a connection, at other times inexplicably dropping the signal. Worse, the notebook adapter utility disabled drivers for the built-in Wi-Fi radio in one test notebook, and it hard-crashed another when we uninstalled the software.
The default setting for the DI-624M Super G with MIMO wireless router is Super G with Dynamic Turbo. In the setup process, D-Link does not explain the four settings, which also include Super G with Static Turbo, Super G without Turbo, and Disabled. Static Turbo is not backward compatible with legacy non-MIMO devices, whereas Dynamic Turbo should be. When installed on our own notebook, however, the setting worked, but the range was less than that of our standard G router. D-Link tech support recommended that we change the setting to Super G with Static Turbo, a move that yielded worse performance, with the signal dropping about 20 feet from the router. The router setup utility then hung, and we had to reboot our desktop PC.
In our CNET Labs tests, the D-Link combo topped the other MIMO duos, with its 51.5Mbps score on our maximum-throughput test. The pair achieved a respectable throughput of 33.3Mbps at a distance of 200 feet but scored a lackluster 17Mbps in mixed mode. When we installed the router and the PC Card in a home setting, however, the signal dropped off at a distance of 70 feet, delivering worse throughput than our standard 802.11g router.
D-Link offers one year of support with toll-free phone support 24 hours a day. It also provides support via e-mail; our queries were answered in less than six hours. Finally, the company provides a useful online knowledge base.