Getting Up and Running
You can follow the traditional, browser-hosted method for setting up the router or take advantage of D-Link’s Quick Router Setup (QRS) app for iOS and Android mobile devices.I tried the Android version of the app and found it to be a complete bust. It crashed ten seconds after loading each time I opened the app. Not a great opener, D-Link.
Fortunately, configuring the router via a web browser was painless and I was up and running in a couple of minutes.
The router’s latest firmware is v1.12 (October 2016) and includes a number fixes including one for Wi-Fi stability, so is well worth picking up.
D-Link’s user interface is clean, modern and reasonably simple for anyone to use. Four tabs – Home, Settings, Features and Management at the top of the screen allow you to navigate between configuration sections, with sub-menus controlling access to more detailed features.
The Home tab offers a neat network map with clear warnings regarding Internet connectivity.
From here, you’ll find shortcuts to view details of connected devices, manage USB settings and configure the company’s mydlink service (allowing you to remotely monitor and manage your network on a smartphone or tablet).
As I mentioned in my review of the D-Link AC5300 Ultra Wi-Fi router (DIR-895L), which shares many of the same features as this model, the DIR-885L offers a reasonably straightforward line-up of features, but an integrated DLNA media server and enhanced website filtering console elevate the device over some of its competitors. The router’s QoS features are also easier to configure and manage than many of its peers, thanks to a card-based drag and drop UI that allows you to prioritise applications on your home network.
Even advanced settings – such as IP filtering and Firewall controls – have been given some thought, with easy to use switches and clear forms on offer, simplifying configuration as much as possible. Don’t mistake this simplicity for a lack of features – there’s almost everything on offer you’d expect to see in a mid-range router, including static routing, dynamic DNS and VPN support. But D-Link’s designers have ensured navigation to those features is easy and configuration is a breeze.
While a 1.4 GHz with 256 MB RAM isn’t the highest specification we’ve seen on a router, it’s more than enough to ensure that the DIR-885L is responsive and fluid. It’s just a shame that the company’s mobile app is such a let down.
Let’s move on to performance. While our recent review of the TP-Link Archer C3150 didn’t encompass our full suite of benchmarks, we still have the data points required to form a good comparison between the two devices. We can also benchmark D-Link’s AC3150 against its more powerful AC5300 big brother, to see how performance varies. Finally, we’ll include the $269.99 ASUS RT-AC88U in our charts, which offers broadly similar internal specifications, albeit with the bonus of eight LAN ports.
As usual, we kick off with wired Ethernet performance and the DIR-885L immediately delivered a top-notch result. An average speed of 942 Mbps is almost as good as you get with Gigabit Ethernet. It’s one of the fastest results I’ve seen from a router recently and (almost) matches the best in a competitive class. Given the wired speeds disappointed, with just 735 Mbps, this cheaper model – at first glance – looks like a better bet. Perhaps this D-Link router has the kind of racy performance to match its looks?
5 GHz Wireless Performance
Moving on to wireless, we put the DIR-885L through its paces with our usual phalanx of wireless clients. Here it was up against tough competition, in the form of the ASUS RT-AC3100, which has excellent 5 GHz performance. D-Link’s model couldn’t quite keep up, but overall performed pretty well. Take a look at the D-Link DWA-192 benchmark – which we ran on off the models in this group – and you can see that the DIR-885L easily outpaced the ASUS RT-AC88, TP-Link Archer C3150 and the D-Link DIR-895L with an average speed of 631 Mbps.
Across our tests, only the ASUS RT-AC3100 managed to consistently beat D-Link’s model, with the DIR-885L peaking at an impressive 711 Mbps average when paired with the 4×4 ASUS PCE-AC88 desktop adapter. A strong performance indeed.
2.4 GHz Wireless Performance
At 2.4 GHz, the DIR-885L was a little weaker against its peers. An average speed of 109 Mbps with the D-Link DWA-192 USB adapter was easily beaten by both the ASUS RT-AC88 and TP-Link Archer C3150 (129 Mbps). That said, the router did produce a good showing elsewhere, with a very impressive average of 215 Mbps with the ASUS PCE-AC88. It’s clear that when you pair the 4×4 D-Link DIR-885L with a strong 4×4 wireless adapters, sparks are going to fly!