D-Link EXO AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi router (DIR-882) review: A race car at sedan prices
The D-Link DIR-882 dual-band router can transmit data to multiple devices simultaneously, has robust customization and an affordable price.
Dan has been a professional writer for more than a decade and now specializes in routers and networking devices. Originally from Chicago, IL, Dan studied comedy writing at Second City and worked as a Chicago sports journalist for a number of years. With a background in physics, he spends his spare time learning about the intricacies of the universe.
The D-Link EXO AC2600 router (DIR-882) has everything you'd expect and more for $150. (It's around £125 in the UK, and it's AU$350 on D-Link's Australian site.) It's a dual-band 802.11ac router with one 2.4GHz band and one 5GHz band, having theoretical speeds of 800Mbps and 1.7Gbps, respectively. MU-MIMO allows it to communicate with multiple devices at the same time and Advanced AC Smartbeam (D-Link's clever name for beamforming) will help rejuvenate Wi-Fi dead zones in your home.
D-Link EXO AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi router (DIR-882)
Affordable and fast with all the latest features, like MU-MIMO, beamforming, multiple USB ports and four spatial streams.
Customizing your settings can take awhile. D-Link advertises support for 160MHz channels, but this router currently can't use them. Very low flash memory.
The Bottom Line
The D-Link DIR-882 dual-band router gives solid Wi-Fi coverage and lightning fast internet speed throughout your home, at a highly competitive price.
The DIR-882 has all the features you want, including two USB ports (3.0 and 2.0) for connecting network storage or a printer, quad-stream technology for optimal signal strength and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) media server support to let you stream media between your devices.
And it's really, really fast. Check out the performance numbers on the next page. The only downside to this router is having to wait 20-30 seconds every time you update and save a setting. Nontechies will rarely, if ever, have to do this though.
The D-Link DIR-882 is great for anyone with a large home that needs total Wi-Fi coverage. It offers consistent signals and plenty of features. Whether you want a fully customizable router or one that's pretty much plug and play, the D-Link EXO AC2600 router will keep your network running the way you want it to.
Small router, huge antennas
The DIR-882 has an all-black design and a low profile except for its four excessively long antennas (they're almost 7 inches). It will be hard to hide them among the knickknacks on your shelves, but wall mount holes exist on the bottom that could help. The router itself is very thin and wide, and very light at just 1.25 pounds (570 grams).
The best and worst part about its design is that it has six small green and red LEDs on top for power, internet, 2.4GHz, 5GHz and two USBs. It's nice that they don't flash too brightly, but in a regularly lit room, it's very difficult to see which ones are actually on if you aren't looking at them directly from less than 3 feet (1 meter) away.
You get your standard four gigabit LAN ports and one gigabit WAN port for internet. But its two USB ports -- for storage, printers or phone charging -- is a great find for a router at this price. The ultrafast USB 3.0 port is hard to reach even though it's on the front. The USB 2.0 port is on the back next to the Ethernet ports and buttons for power, reset, WPS and Wi-Fi.
Overall, the design isn't very impressive, but D-Link stays consistent from most of its previous models. The DIR-882 is a far cry, though, from some of its cool extraterrestrial looking routers, like the dazzling DIR-879.
Easy setup, long wait times when changing settings
The setup process is super easy and is great for people who just want their network up and running quickly. D-Link has an app called QRS Mobile that you can use to set up your router or configure it remotely.
I went with the browser-based method, connecting the router to my modem via an Ethernet cable and using D-Link's handy dandy configuration card (just a piece of paper with wireless info that came in the box) to begin. I ran the setup wizard, updated the network name and password, set the router password and clicked Finished. The firmware was already up to date. Easy peasy.
Or so I thought.
It turns out that every time you change a setting and click Save, you have to wait up to 30 seconds for it to take effect. For many people, this won't matter because you'll probably almost never need to update your router settings, but for anyone who likes to customize their network, it will be a pain. The menu also automatically logs you out after about 3 minutes of inactivity.
The minimalistic DIR-882 menu does offer a lot of customization options though, so get ready to wait around if you want to set up a VPN, configure port forwarding, prioritize devices or set up parental controls.
Smart Connect (D-Link's name for band-steering) is enabled by default, allowing the router to automatically switch between its 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, ideally giving you the best connection possible. You will need to disable this feature if you want to change the 802.11 mode, channel or channel width, among other settings. IPv6 addresses are also automatically enabled to keep your devices connected and secure in the future.
You can enable local network sharing with Windows File Sharing (SAMBA) or FTP Server, and you can hook up a USB hard drive to the router for additional shared storage. The DIR-882 is compatible with DLNA-enabled devices, which will allow you to easily stream movies between devices.
According to D-Link, you cannot use the DIR-882 as a separate access point, wireless bridge or wireless repeater, but it will be phasing in AP/repeater modes in early 2018.
Mostly high-end features, but missing a few
The DIR-882 definitely has more features than other routers at its price point. The only new major feature it lacks is triband, which adds a second 5GHz band to your network. That usually pushes the price up significantly, so it's no surprise that D-Link left it off to keep this router affordable.
MU-MIMO and Advanced AC Smartbeam help the DIR-882 lock in on each device and give you the best signal possible. You can also prioritize which devices are allowed to wolf down the most bandwidth with D-Link's QoS Engine. This means when you're playing games, streaming 4K video or transferring files, you can decide which devices deserve high, medium or low priority.
The dual-core 880MHz processor gives you the power you need to connect all of your devices today. You may see performance issues in the future if you connect a lot more devices, however, due to the router only having 16MB of flash memory and 128MB of DDR3 RAM. Most comparable routers have much more -- the Linksys EA8500 AC2600 router has 128MB flash and 512MB RAM.
I was excited to see that the DIR-882 had 160MHz channel support, but couldn't find mention of it in the settings. You can only set the channel width to auto 20/40/80MHz or auto 20/40MHz. The retail box has a footnote that says, "160MHz support may require a further firmware update." According to D-Link, it's still working on offering channel bonding with 80MHz+80MHz channels to reach 3.5Gbps speeds. It should be available in early in 2018.
If you've used the D-Link AC1900 router (DIR-878) in the past, the DIR-882 will feel familiar. According to Wikidevi, a database of computer hardware specs, they both have the same hardware, except the DIR-878 doesn't have USB ports. Both support DD-WRT (open-source, third-party router firmware), so savvy users may be able to get the same functionality out of either router.
More streams mean high-speed dreams
Now for the fun stuff...
The DIR-882 performed exceptionally well, thanks to its four transmit antennas, four receive antennas and four spatial streams, collectively known as "4x4;4." Using single 80MHz wide channels, the D-Link router almost eclipsed the fabled gigabit transfer speeds on its 5GHz band.
As you can see, both bands performed very well, topping out at 165Mbps on 2.4GHz and 927Mbps on 5GHz. Remember though, that this is just local throughput, not internet speeds. You may see these speeds when transferring or streaming files on your home network, but anything you stream or download from the internet will max out at the speed you are paying for from your internet service provider (ISP).
I'm impressed by the total coverage area offered by this router. The speed was consistent on the 2.4GHz band everywhere I tested it in a 1,000-square foot single-story space in the CNET Smart Home. The 5GHz band almost hit 300Mbps two rooms away from the router, with multiple walls in between, but some dropoff is to be expected since signals typically fall off significantly on 5GHz when you introduce any obstacles.
Should you buy one?
No router can make your internet speed faster, but the DIR-882 from D-Link is capable of improving any home network that currently lacks stable coverage and fast local transfer speeds. You get MU-MIMO, beamforming, four spatial streams and multiple USB ports all for under $200. Customizing your settings may take a little longer than you'd like, but D-Link made it so you can configure your router however you want it.
Crazy-fast 5GHz speeds from the DIR-882 are encouraging for the near future when internet speeds catch up. More devices may be an issue though, as the flash memory and RAM are low compared to many newer routers. You can't beat the price of the DIR-882 though, so I strongly recommend it if you are looking for a highly customizable router that will give you fast coverage throughout your home.