Hands-on Gear Review

D-Link AC1200 (DIR-842) Review

The D-Link finished at the back of the pack with its poor scores and we wouldn’t recommend it
By: David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Feb 8, 2018
Price:   $60 List  |  $59.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, not difficult to use
Cons:  Sparse on features, mediocre throughput and range
Manufacturer:   D-Link
42
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Features - 25% 3
  • Ease of Use - 20% 6
  • 2 4 ghz throughput - 20% 3
  • 5 ghz throughput - 20% 5
  • Range - 15% 4
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Our Verdict

Rounding out the back of the pack, the D-Link failed to deliver with its lackluster performance. We found this router to be the most difficult to use of the entire group and have the most limited set of features, as well as the slowest throughput over the 2.4 GHz. band. While it is one of the least expensive routers we tested, its exceptionally mediocre and uninspiring performance makes it impossible for us to recommend


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The D-Link finished behind the TP-Link Archer and the NETGEAR AC1200. The TP-Link earned our Best Buy Award and is a great option when shopping on a tight budget. While the D-Link retails for about $20 less than the Archer, we would strongly recommend saving and spending just a little bit more for the Archer, as the improvement in performance is quite significant.

The D-Link DIR-842 router.
The D-Link DIR-842 router.

Performance Comparison


To find out which router is really the best of them all, we bought all of the top models on the market today and compared their performance side-by-side in five weighted metrics. The sections below explain how the D-Link fared in our tests and how it compared to the rest of the routers in the group.

The indicator lights on the D-Link showing the status of the connections.
The indicator lights on the D-Link showing the status of the connections.

Features


Accountable for 25% of the total score, our Features metric is the most important of our testing process. We scored performance by comparing which features each router had to a list of critical features that we compiled through extensive research on these products. The D-Link lacked most of these, earning it a 3 out of 10.

The D-Link's score took a serious hit right from the start for its lack of beamforming and MU-MIMO capabilities. These features increase the overall speed of your network considerably, so their absence on the D-Link is a severe detriment to its performance. This dual-band router also lacks the ability to be remotely reset, forcing you to manually cycle the power or press the reset key in the event of connectivity issues.

The back of the D-Link  showing its 4 Gigabit LAN ports.
The back of the D-Link, showing its 4 Gigabit LAN ports.

This product has the average four Gigabit LAN ports and no USB ports. This router can only be managed through a browser interface, though you can use a smartphone app for setup.

The D-Link was relatively easy to use  but still gave us more difficulties than the other routers.
The D-Link was relatively easy to use, but still gave us more difficulties than the other routers.

Ease of Use


This metric accounts for 20% of the total score, with the D-Link doing moderately well and earning a 6 out of 10 for its performance. We based scores on how much work it took to configure the parental controls, set up QoS, and how long it took to complete the initial installation and configuration of the router.

The D-Link was actually one of the easiest routers to set up, allowing us to set up the network SSID and password, as well as the admin password without any difficulties. This model also didn't require a firmware update before we started the install process.

The setup wizard for the D-Link.
The setup wizard for the D-Link.

However, the D-Link has our least favorite user interface, featuring an incredibly outdated design and very unintuitive labeling. We also weren't fans of the parental control features. They were the worst of the group, offering the least control and taking the most effort to enable even rudimentary content filtering. On the other hand, we did like the Quality of Service, or QoS, functions that the D-Link afforded us. It was extremely easy to set which device you want to have the highest priority with a simple drag-and-drop interface.

2.4 GHz. Throughput


We ranked each router on its average throughput speed over its 2.4 GHz. network to determine scores for this metric, worth 20% of the overall score. We did this by using the iPerf3 software on a test laptop at various distances from each router. We did a short distance test at 10', medium test at 35', and long distance test at 70', conducting an obstructed test at all distances, as well as a line of sight test for the short and medium ones. For each test, we averaged the results of three trial to ensure consistency. Overall, the D-Link did not do well in this metric, meriting a 3 out of 10 for its poor showing.

This router started off with an average showing in the line of sight short distance test, hitting an average speed of 40 Mbit/s, but performance began to drop off in the obstructed test. The D-Link averaged about 32 Mbit/s in the obstructed test, putting it slightly below average compared to the rest of the pack, as shown below.


It continued its below average performance in both of the medium tests, achieving speeds of 33 Mbit/s and 34 Mbit/s in the line of sight and obstructed tests, respectively. The D-Link finished out this metric with an abysmal showing in the long distance test, achieving one of the worst scores we have seen, as shown below.


The D-Link essentially lost signal, averaging around 0.1 Mbit/s — about 24 less than the top model.

5 GHz. Throughput


We conducted the tests for this metric in an identical way to the first, with the exception being the use of the 5 GHz. frequency rather than the 2.4 GHz. one. The D-Link performed much better, meriting a 5 out of 10 for its significantly improved performance.

The D-Link started off this metric with a strong showing in the short distance tests, performing well above average with an average of 224 Mbit/s in the line of sight test and 213 Mbit/s in the obstructed test. This compared very favorably with the rest of the group, as shown in the chart below.


The D-Link's performance dropped to mediocrity in the medium distance tests. While it did about average in the obstructed test with 186 Mbit/s, its 198 Mbit/s in the line of sight was definitely on the substandard side, as shown below.


The D-Link finished out this metric with a poor performance in the long distance test, only hitting an average speed of 7 Mbit/s.

Range


We assessed the range of each router for the remaining 15%. We did this by playing a 5-minute YouTube video on a test laptop at various distance from the router and noting at what distance the video playback began to require buffering. The D-Link failed to impress, earning a 4 out of 10 for its performance. The video began to cut out at 115' — about 100' shorter than the top model of the group.

Value


While this router isn't very expensive, it didn't perform terribly well, making it much more of a product that you get what you pay for, rather than a great value.

Conclusion


Overall, the D-Link was a disappointment. Its performance, on the whole, was quite spotty, finishing towards the back of the pack in the bulk of our tests and we wouldn't recommend it.

David Wise and Austin Palmer

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