The D-Link DIR-857 is the most advanced wireless router in the company's current portfolio. It includes just about every feature you'd expect from a high-end model crammed into its slim plastic chassis, along with a few extras too.
D-Link's DIR-857 Dualband HD Media Router has a 3x3 MIMO antenna configuration, theoretically allowing for 450Mbps connection speeds. It supports simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n wireless networks. A USB 3.0 port and an SD card slot are included for shared storage. Advanced DNS filtering and fairly comprehensive IPv6 support are also offered, along with all the typical features such as gigabit ethernet, port forwarding, a quality of service (QoS) system and built-in support for dynamic DNS services. See also: Group test: what's the best wireless router?
D-Link DIR-857 Dualband HD Media Router: Setup
D-Link has put plenty of effort into making its ‘Click n Connect' set-up software as friendly as possible. It takes the user through a step-by-step guide, with very clear diagrams showing which cables need to be connected, and the order in which to do so, followed by securing access to the router and its wireless networks with a password.
There's no Mac software on the CD, but an HTML guide automatically appears the first time a computer connects to the DIR-857's wireless network, regardless of operating system. And this is where the D-Link DIR-857 Dualband HD Media Router stops being simple to use. See also: Group test: what's the best modem router?
As with every D-Link networking product, the DIR-857's on-board web interface uses the firm's traditional orange and grey styling. Although it's completely functional and full of useful settings to tweak the D-Link DIR-857 Dualband HD Media Router to your heart's content, its sickly design and dated appearance is less user-friendly than the set-up wizard.
Menus filled with dozens of options are spread throughout the interface, with no use of graphics anywhere. Explanations of some of the settings are provided on the right-hand side, but these are presented as a giant page of difficult-to-read text, and mostly assume a prior knowledge of networking. The D-Link DIR-857 is more likely appeal to advanced users – it wouldn't be our first choice when recommending a router to a novice. See also: Wi-Fi hardware reviews.
D-Link DIR-857 Dualband HD Media Router: Performance
We measured some excellent performance when wirelessly transferring files from a NAS connected to the D-Link DIR 857. Over its 5GHz network, a 5GB file transferred at 27.1MB/sec, pointing to a good wireless speed of 217Mbps that approaches real-world USB 2.0 performance. Granted, this was at a distance of 1m, and the effective range of 5GHz is limited to just a few metres.
On the router's 2.4GHz wireless network, we measured 125Mbps at the same distance, a speed which outperforms much of the competition.
The DIR-857 then managed 37Mbps in a 10m long-range test, which is quite acceptable given the solid wall it had to pass through, and better than many competitors' have performed in the same test.
D-Link DIR-857 Dualband HD Media Router: Features
Under the Parental Control heading, there are four options to filter DNS addresses, which aren't just for preventing younger users from viewing adult content. You can set the router to block an OpenDNS white list of phishing sites, protecting everyone on the network. In addition, you can block access to specific sites within the router.
The DIR-857's IPv6 support extends to a separate firewall and routing page from the main IPv4-based settings, along with its own set-up wizard too. You can also create guest wireless networks.
Topping the DIR-857's impressive list of features are its media-sharing options. The single USB 3.0 port is a handy addition. With an external hard disk that supports the faster USB standard, the DIR-857 can be turned into a NAS. The SD card slot is a unusual and arguably less useful extra. In the router's interface there are settings for group permissions and an excellent DLNA SharePort mobile app for accessing the files too.
Although the DIR-857 is a good router, it's rather expensive. Few routers now cost more than £100, so to carry an even higher price tag, it has to really stand out.
The good wireless speed and handy extras let it do just that, but with a new 802.11ac wireless standard on the horizon that promises a major lift to wireless networking performance, the DIR-857 may not be an ideal long-term investment.