Wireless routers perform a few simple tasks to ensure all your PCs, laptops and mobile devices and gadgets have access to a working wireless network. When a networking company releases a new product, it usually brings incremental changes rather than an attempt at reinventing the wheel. D-Link’s latest router, the D-Link DIR-657 HD Media Router 1000, has small improvements in most areas over previous D-Link models.

A welcome change is the appearance of the D-Link DIR-657 HD Media Router 1000. Gone is the boring box-like design and external antennas of previous D Link models, replaced with a slim and minimalist black device, with the antennas hidden from view, with only two blue indicator lights at the front for power and internet activity. While an improvement over traditional designs, it doesn’t look as good as the sleek two-tone appearance of Cisco’s X3000 router.

All the latest technology is in the D-Link DIR-657 HD Media Router 1000, such as 802.11n wireless rated at 300Mbps, four gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, a gigabit Ethernet WAN port and a USB 2.0 port for sharing storage over your network. While it may seem overkill to use a gigabit Ethernet WAN port, it means the router will run at full speed when internet connections faster than 100mbps are more common in the UK. Although IPv6 is supported, there’s no support for 5Ghz wireless, although you can create a second guest wireless network.

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The on-board interface has received a minor makeover too. While it retains the orange colours that will be familiar to anyone who has uses a D Link networking product in the past, improvements have been made to the menu system, with clearer labelling. The advanced menu has plenty of new settings, so each function of the router has its own header. The Virtual Server, IPv6 and filters are all here, as are options for both the QOS engine and Wireless Intelligent Stream Handling (WISH), which are both used for prioritising certain types of network traffic.

There’s also the unusual addition of an SD card slot. While many routers can be turned into a
makeshift NAS with the addition of some USB storage, this slot also lets you share digital media directly from a camera with multiple computers simultaneously. We find this slot is somewhat redundant, as we’re still happy transferring images and movies over to a computer the normal way.

Transfer speeds were fast however, and the DIR-657 can be used as a network media centre, as it’s fully DLNA compliant.

The router was let down by its performance. As usual we transferred a large file from a local FTP server onto a laptop connected to the wireless network. At short range we recorded an average transfer speed of 61Mbps, while at long range, which includes passing through two solid walls, this dropped to 19Mbps. Under identical conditions, we’ve found that less expensive models perform better.

D-Link DIR-657 HD Media Router 1000: Specs

  • 1 x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN port
  • 4 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN port
  • NAT/SPI firewall
  • WEP/WPA/ WPA2 encryption
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wireless band
  • WPS button
  • SD Card slot
  • UPnP
  • VPN Passthrough
  • supports IPv6
  • ‘Hot Fuel’ QOS manager
  • MIMO
  • internal antennas
  • dimensions: 210mm x 160mm x 33mm
  • weight 342g
  • 1 x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN port
  • 4 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN port
  • NAT/SPI firewall
  • WEP/WPA/ WPA2 encryption
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wireless band
  • WPS button
  • SD Card slot
  • UPnP
  • VPN Passthrough
  • supports IPv6
  • ‘Hot Fuel’ QOS manager
  • MIMO
  • internal antennas
  • dimensions: 210mm x 160mm x 33mm
  • weight 342g

OUR VERDICT

While the DIR-657 is a solid router, with a well-designed interface and most technology and settings you’d need, its performance is slightly below par. There’s no possibility of using a 5GHz wireless network for a possible speed boost either. We certainly liked this router for its appearance and clear labelling, but not its performance. Cheaper routers such as TP-Links’ TL-WR1043ND may not look as good, but it outperformed the DIR-657 by a wide margin at both short and long range.

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