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Wireless Reviews

Routing Performance

Routing throughput running the only available 1.00 firmware and our router test process measured 330 Mbps WAN to LAN, 311 Mbps LAN to WAN and 330 Mbps total with up and down tests running simultaneously. That ranks it #4 on the WAN to LAN routing throughput chart, when filtered for single band 2.4 GHz routers.

Maximum simultaneous connections will be disappointing to fans of really high numbers, maxing out at a perfectly usable 4096 connections.

The IxChariot composite plot in Figure 7 shows upload speed somewhat lower than download in the simultaneous routing test, a typical result.

DIR-657 routing throughput summary

Figure 7: DIR-657 routing throughput summary

Wireless Performance

The DIR-657 has the honor of being the first product tested with our new (v6) Wireless Test process. The only difference between the new and previous process for this review is that wireless performance was measured at four vs. six test locations. Read the process to understand the reason for this change.

The DIR-657 is Wi-Fi Certified and properly defaulted to 20 MHz bandwidth mode in 2.4 GHz on power-up. I was able to run a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) PIN session with my Win 7 client that resulted in a WPA2/AES secured connection. All tests were run with this secured connection using our wireless test process.

Frankly, the results are pretty disappointing, as a glance at Figure 8 will confirm. For all the hoopla that D-Link is trying to make about its Amplifi technology, the results are pretty anemic.

Highest throughput of 50.5 Mbps was seen running downlink in 40 MHz mode in Location A. I was able to squeeze out only 65 Mbps running simultaneous up and downlink tests in Location A in 20 MHz mode. In fact, the Intel 5300 test client and router didn't seem to like to consistently use link rates above 130 Mbps with the router set to Auto 20/40 mode. I also tried my new Lenovo ThinkPad x220i with Intel 6300 client and it produced similar results.

DIR-657 wireless performance comparison - 20 MHz mode, downlink

Figure 8: DIR-657 wireless performance comparison - 20 MHz mode, downlink

I ran a 2.4 GHz Wireless Performance table (Figure 9) for the 657 and other comparable single-band N routers, the surprisingly popular ASUS RT-N16, Cisco Linksys E1500, and recently reviewed D-Link DHP-1320. The 657 doesn't make a very good showing against this group, in either 20 MHz or 20/40 mode.

DIR-657 Wireless Performance Table

Figure 9: DIR-657 Wireless Performance Table

Throughput stability was generally good, but not as good as I've seen on other recent routers.. The IxChariot 20 MHz mode downlink summary plot in Figure 10 is typical of what I saw during testing.

Belkin N750 DB IxChariot plot summary - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink

Figure 7: Belkin N750 DB IxChariot plot summary - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink

Here are links to the other 2.4 GHz plots if you'd like to check them out.

Closing Thoughts

As I said at the top, there is a lot of obfuscation in the wireless routing market thanks to the marketeers whose job it is to get you to pluck their product off the shelf. I hope D-Link can improve the DIR-657's performance via firmware, because it's certainly not one I'd recommend you pick up.

If you want a better performing D-Link router, I'd go for the DHP-1320 Wireless N PowerLine Router. You'll get much better wireless performance for about the same money, and the start of a HomePlug AV powerline network. You really should be exploring powerline anyway as a way to expand your network without running cable instead of mucking around with wireless repeaters and extenders!

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