What a disappointment. I had been looking forward to one of the first 802.11ac routers based on Qualcomm Atheros chips and running the Streamboost engine. For the first time in a decade, I ventured back to D-Link with the DGL-5500.
First off, let me say that I am not a fan overall of Broadcom based wireless routers. I tend to go for Qualcomm Atheros (QCA) based equipment for my personal use and in the numerous small business and home installation setups I do. Therefore, I have been mostly in Netgear’s sandbox of equipment for the past decade.
As Netgear does not have a high-end consumer 802.11ac QCA-based router on the market or in the works for 2013, I jumped on the DGL-5500. Yes they have the R6100, but with only 10/100 ports it falls into the mid-range tier in my book. The only thing coming from Netgear this year will be another Broadcom-based unit in the R7000.
- D-link DGL-5500 Router (Firmware v1.01)
- Netgear WNDR4700 Router (Firmware v126.96.36.199)
- Sony VAIO S15, Windows 8 w/ QCA Killer Wireless-N 1202 (AR9462 2x2 dual-band, Driver Package v188.8.131.524)
- D-link DCS-2132L Camera (Firmware v1.01.10, 1x1 RTL8188CUS 2.4GHz single-band)
- Canon MG8220 AIO (1x1 2.4GHz)
- Netgear ReadyNASv2 NAS (v5.3.8)
- 2- LG BP730 Blu-ray Players (10/100 wired, 2nd unit wireless using built-in RT2860 2x2 dual-band chip)
- Nexus 7- Second Generation (1x1 dual-band Qualcomm Atheros WCN3660)
I should say that I am comparing the DGL-5500 to my Netgear WNDR4700. It also has Qualcomm Atheros chips in it. The 3x3 AR9381 for 2.4GHz and the 3x3 AR9380 for 5GHz. It does however use a 1GHz Applied Micro APM82181 chip for the processor with 256MB RAM, whereas the DGL-5500 uses the 720 MHz QCA9558 chip for the processor and 2.4GHz with 128MB of RAM.
My plan was to upgrade my Sony laptop’s Wi-Fi card if the DGL-5500 performed well with what I already had. Sadly, the Killer Wireless-N 1202 will be staying inside my Sony longer. My LAN speed tests for the D-link DGL-5500and Netgear WNDR4700 for comparison with my setup. The router and laptop were 8’ apart with one wall between them. The 2.4GHz band where I live is crowded, so channel width was set to 20MHz on channel 1, which had nothing transmitting on it. The 5GHz band was running free with nothing else transmitting within range. As a result, The WNDR4700 was full boar on channel 153 at 40 MHz channel width and the DGL-5500 was set to “Auto 20/40/80 MHz” channel width on channel 153.
LAN Speed Tests:
DGL-5500 5GHz 200MB File:
Write: 78.81 Mbps
Read: 136.95 Mbps
WNDR4700 5GHz 200MB File
Write: 103.17 Mbps
Read: 156.65 Mbps
DGL-5500 2.4GHz 200MB File:
Write: 63.34 Mbps
Read: 81.18 Mbps
WNDR4700 2.4GHz 200MB File:
Write: 84.68 Mbps
Read: 95.60 Mbps
Now let me tell you what failed. First off, my second gen Nexus 7 could not maintain for more than three minutes or most of the time connect via either band. It did not matter if the DGL-5500 had security set on the router or was transmitting completely unsecure. The Nexus 7 would authenticate, but then loose the DGL-5500 connection. Second, my D-link DCS-2132L 720p network camera that I have setup looking down into my bird’s cage could not receive smooth video. No matter the set resolution, video (with no audio) coming from the camera was jerky with numerous dropped frames. This was never an issue with the WNDR4700 (or WNDR3800 or WNDR4300). Those router’s helped the video feed shine from the DCS-2132L. No so with the $200 DGL-5500.
Now let’s take video streaming.. I have Road Runner Turbo (20Mbps down / 2Mbps up). My modem is the Motorola SB6141. On the router I enabled StreamBoost bandwidth control, disabled “auto bandwidth estimation,” input my down/up figures and let StreamBoost update itself. For video streaming I was watching Netflix on a hard wired 10/100 LG BP730 Blu-ray player and the same player model in my bedroom streaming using the player’s internal adapter 2x2 dual band adapter connected to the 5GHz band.
StreamBoost did the job of detecting bandwidth used in the web interface, but numerous video titles streamed jumped around more than a little girl skipping rope on the playground. “Star Trek: Voyager,” which can get up to 480p mostly streamed at 384p. “House of Cards,” which can get up to 1080p was mostly sticking to 480p and hit 720p for only 9 minutes of the 52 minute episode. This was basically the case for both the wired and wirelessly connected players. When switching back to the Netgear WNDR4700 and the same network condition, “Star Trek: Voyager” played at its top resolution for 41 of the 44 minute program length. “House of Cards” hit 720p or 1080p for 49 minutes of the 52 minute length episode.
I also have to say, who ships a premium router today without being IPv6 ready? D-link apparently does. The DGL-5500 is not IPv6 ready with the current firmware available as I type this up.
I would love any feedback or suggestions in the next few days before I return the DGL-5500 for a refund.