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D-Link EXO AC2600 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi router (DIR-882) review: A race car at sedan prices

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

dir-882-us-front-2
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The antennas are 7 inches long and D-Link got the most out of every inch.

D-Link

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.

D-Link EXO AC2600 Router (DIR-882) Performance Tests

2.4GHz
165
164
164
5GHz
927
568
283

Legend:

7 Feet
25 Feet
50 Feet

Note:

All speeds in megabits per second (Mbps)

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.

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Be prepared to wait after hitting save on each menu screen.

Dan Dziedzic/CNET

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.

D-Link DIR-882 specs

Brand D-Link Model DIR-882
IEEE 802.11 Standard a/b/g/n/ac CPU Processor Dual core 880MHz
Class AC2600 RAM Memory (MB) 128
Speed (Mbps) 2,533 (800+1,733) Flash Memory (MB) 16
Frequency Dual band (2.4GHz+5GHz) Guest Wi-Fi Yes
Ethernet Ports 1 Gigabit WAN; 4 Gigabit LAN Parental Controls Yes
USB Ports 1 USB 3.0; 1 USB 2.0 MU-MIMO Yes
Antennas 4 external; 4 streams Beamforming Yes
Security WPA/WPA2 Setup Mobile app or browser
Size (in) 10.19 by 7.25 by 1.79 Weight (lbs) 1.25

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