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Wireless Reviews

Hands On

As is becoming the standard for wireless extenders, setup is wizard driven and can be done completely over a wireless connection using any device that has a web browser. D-Link's Quick Install Guide first describes using WPS to first link the DAP with your router. You then just connect to the DAP using SSIDs in the form of (Your Router’s SSID)-EXT for 2.4 GHz and (Your Router’s SSID)-EXT5G for 5 GHz. The WPA2 key will the same as your main router's.

If you don't trust no steenkin' WPS, then aim your browser at the 1520's default 192.168.0.50 IP address (this requires setting your browsing device to a 192.168.0.X address) or just hit http://dlinkap.local./ or http://dlinkap (I had more luck with the latter). You'll get a login prompt, but the password is blank. Once you're in, you can launch the Setup Wizard as shown below.

DAP-1520 Home Page

DAP-1520 Home Page

The gallery below has a Setup Wizard walkthrough and select shots of the admin GUI. There aren't many wireless settings you can change and the status displays show neither link rate nor signal strength for either connection from the extender (boo!).

Performance

I used the new Extender test procedure to test the DAP-1520, which was upgraded to the latest V1.02B04 firmware before testing. Since this is an AC class repeater, our standard NETGEAR A6200 AC1200 class USB adapter was connected to the test client laptop and its internal Intel Centrino 6300 adapter disabled.

The Benchmark Summary below shows only "Extended" wireless results because the DAP-1520 lacks the Ethernet port needed to make the wired benchmark measurements. The lack of wired results should not affect ranking much, since those benchmarks are weighted at only 25% of the wireless benchmarks in the total rank.

Also note that, as is our test standard, results are measured with only a single radio backhaul active in the same band that is being extended.

D-Link DAP-1520 Benchmark Summary

D-Link DAP-1520 Benchmark Summary

The significant difference between up and downlink 5 GHz performance, mirrors results found with the EX6100. However, we didn't see the same pattern in the NETGEAR EX6200's 5 GHz Extended benchmarks, which used the same test process. I suspect the cause could be an incompatibility between the Broadcom technology used in the ASUS RT-AC66U that is part of the testbed and the Mediatek devices used in both the EX6100 and DAP-1520.

I used inSSIDer to check how much the DAP-1520 boosted the signals. It was run on the test laptop sitting in the "dead zone" test location. ASUS represents the 2.4 GHz signal being extended at -78 dBm and dlink-FCCC is the 2.4 GHz signal from the extender at -44 dBm, so that's 34 dB gain. The plot in the upper right shows the signal levels are pretty steady. Note that the both the ASUS and ASUS_5G SSIDs kept appearing and disappearing, so it wasn't possible to connect directly to them.

The lower left corner shows the bandwidth of the two signals, with the ASUS router signal only 20 MHz wide and the D-Link's signal at 40 MHz bandwidth. There is no way to control this in the GUI or I would have forced it to 20 MHz bandwidth. As a result, the link rate between the A6200 adapter and the DAP-1520 was 300 Mbps, vs. the 130/144 Mbps it should have been.

2.4 GHz signal levels

2.4 GHz signal levels

I waited until I switched to using 5 GHz backhaul to measure the 5 GHz signal levels shown below. ASUS_5G represents the 5 GHz signal being extended at -80 dBm and dlink-FCCC-5GHz is the 5 GHz signal from the extender at -59 dBm, so that's only 21 dB gain. Note that the two signals shown in the 2.4 GHz Networks box are both now 20 MHz wide. As noted earlier, the DAP-1520 provides no user control of bandwidth or channel, so it chose these settings on its own, with no other networks in range.

5 GHz signal levels

5 GHz signal levels

For a look at how steady throughput is, we'll turn to the IxChariot plots. 2.4 GHz looks pretty steady except for a sizable downlink dip near the 40 second mark.

D-Link DAP-1520 throughput - 2.4 GHz

D-Link DAP-1520 throughput - 2.4 GHz

5 GHz shows the big difference between down and uplink is not due to high variation.

D-Link DAP-1520 throughput - 5 GHz

D-Link DAP-1520 throughput - 5GHz

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