With the increasing number of wireless devices in the average home, finding the right wireless router that can provide ample coverage and speed can be a bit of a chore. There are many options available out there, and our D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi router review takes a look at a dual-band wireless router and sees how well it stands up in a home networking environment.
The D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router (model DIR-879) has the following features and specifications:
- 802.11 a/g/n/ac wireless LAN
- Dual-Band (one 2.4GHz and one 5GHz band) – Speeds up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band and 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band
- 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN Port
- Four 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN Ports
- QRS Mobile v1.5 Mobile App Support (requires iOS4.3 or Android 2.3.3, or higher)
- WPA & WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
- Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) PIN/PBC
- Firewall: SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection), NAT (Network Address Translation)
- Physical Dimensions: 7.9 x 9.5 x 3.5 inches
- Power Input: 100 to 240 V AC, 50/60 Hz
- Power Output: 12 V DC, 1.5A
- Certifications: Wi-Fi Certified, IPv6 Ready
- Minimum System Requirements
- Windows® 10, 8.1, Windows® 8, Windows® 7 , or Mac OS® X (v10.7)
- Ethernet Network Interface
- Internet Explorer® 11, Mozilla® Firefox® v28, Google Chrome v33, or Safari v7
- For optimal performance, pair the DIR-879 with an AC adapter (DWA-192)
- Cable, DSL or Fiber Optics
- SmartConnect – Automatically assigns connected devices to the best possible band for optimal Wi-Fi performance
- Guest Zone
- Multi-language web setup wizard
- Green Ethernet
- DLNA media server support
- Advanced AC SmartBeam
- Dual active firewall
- Network Address Translation (NAT)
- Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI)
- VPN Passthrough (PPTP/L2TP/IPsec)
- Advanced QoS – Traffic optimization delivers seamless performance for your applications
- Quick VPN – L2TP over IPsec
- Extender Mode
- Dual Core – Faster network speeds for a more powerful router
- High Power Amplifiers – Provide wider coverage throughout your home
What’s in the Box
- Wireless AC1900 Wi-Fi Router
- Quick Installation Guide2
- Power Adapter
- Ethernet Cable
- Wi-Fi Configuration Card
The D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router isn’t subtle by any means. Featuring a triangular design, the front two-thirds of the top is bright orange, with the back third being black. The black area has the D-Link logo in the upper right corner, and has ventilation holes across the entire surface. The front edge of the top houses an LED light which indicates the current router status. The front of the router has a black grille with more ventilation holes, and the bottom features four feet so the router is elevated a bit when sitting on a flat surface. Two black flat antennas are attached to each side of the router, when you first open the box they are folded flat against the top of the router and angle out to a maximum angle of 115° from the base of the unit when extended.
The back of the router contains the usual router ports: a reset button, WPS button, 4 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN ports, 1 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN port, power port, power button, and a mode switch to toggle between router and extender mode.
Ease of Use
The D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router is about as simple to set up as any other router, and the Quick Start guide has easy to follow instructions. Simply unplug your DSL or cable modem, connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable, optionally connect a computer to the router with an Ethernet cable (you can also connect wirelessly for setup of course), then plug in your modem, then your router, and once the main LED light is white you can proceed to configuration.
The front LED displays an orange or white light depending on the status of the router. A solid orange light means the router is booting up or in the reset process, blinking orange indicates it’s in recovery mode. A white solid light indicates the router is working properly, and blinking white indicates the WPS process is in progress. Of course, if the light is off then the router is powered off.
Configuring the router is done through your web browser or with the QRS Mobile app which is available for both iOS and Android. Upon initial setup you’ll connect to the wireless network indicated by a removable sticker on the router, and — in the case of both a wired and wireless connection — proceed to a specific IP address, URL, or the QRS app and login with the password provided. First off you’ll want to change your admin username, password, and network name. The website then walks you through the rest of the configuration process.
One of the features of the D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router is called SmartConnect, and it can cause a little bit of confusion to begin with. During initial setup you’ll be asked to name your network, and it appears that there is no way to name your 2.4GHz and 5GHz network. In the case of SmartConnect, these are one and the same and the router allows devices to connect to whichever network (2.4GHz or 5GHz) the device supports and has the best current signal. After the initial configuration though, you can disable SmartConnect and provide separate network names and passwords for either network. While SmartConnect is a great feature, there may be a number of reasons why you want to disable it. In my case it was due to using an extender which required separate configuration for each network, but it could be as simple as having the satisfaction of seeing your device connected specifically to a 2.4GHz or 5GHz network so there’s no guessing what band you’re running on.
After the initial setup, further configuration is possible and the admin website has the usual gamut of configuration options including Internet, Wireless, Network, QoS Engine, Firewall, Port Forwarding, Website Filter, Static Route, Dynamic DNS, System Log and Admin, Firmware Update, Time & Schedule, and Statistics reporting.
With the latest firmware version, 1.03, the D-LINK AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router can also be used in Extender mode as a Repeater or an Access Point. The easiest way to set this up is through the QRS Mobile app, and it’s a pretty straightforward process as the app walks you through it.
Overall, the D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router is no more difficult to use than other routers, and once configured it’s relatively simple to change a number of options through the web interface.
With speeds up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band and 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, the AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router performs quite well, and unlike other routers I was able to get full Wi-Fi signal strength in my basement on my smartphone and a laptop, and was able to take advantage of my full ISP speeds over Wi-Fi. The SmartConnect seemed to work well, but as previously mentioned I couldn’t really tell what band my phone was connected to. Once I disabled it and set up separate networks for both bands, I was able to discern which network I was on. As expected, the signal for the 5GHz network was about 1/2 the 2.4GHz network when in the basement, but speeds were still good.
Once set up as a repeater or access point, the router works well in extending the range of your existing network.
As far as the actual QRS Mobile app goes however, all it’s really useful for is configuring your router/extender, you can’t use it to change configuration settings afterwards. If you’re using the router as a router, I’d recommend skipping the app and only using it if you want to use the router in extender mode.
Priced at an MSRP of $149.99USD, the D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router isn’t the cheapest on the market, but it’s also far from the most expensive. It does offer a good value for the price given the range and speed of the router. You can save yourself a few dollars as well as it is currently selling on Amazon for about $135USD.
If you’re looking for a fairly affordable router that’s easy to set up and provides great coverage for your home, you really can’t go wrong with the D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router. The easy set up, coverage and speed is why it earned a spot as one of our Top Picks for 2016.
*We were sent a review sample of the D-Link AC1900 EXO Wi-Fi Router for the purposes of this review.
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