I do not recommend this router. After 18 months of frustration, I replaced this router with the Linksys AC5400, and my problems disappeared. Specifically, even after 3 firmware updates, the DIR-890L still drops internal connections. For example, I am hard-wired (via the router) from the chat server on my Dell OpenSUSE Leap 42.1 machine to Adium on my Mac. I keep disconnecting from the group chats every 20 minutes or so. My Squeezebox music clients also lose their connections to the Squeezebox server on the same Dell machine. The same issues appeared using my previous Linux server also. They have disappeared using the Linksys AC5400.


I totally gave up on the Netgear X6 router. Even with the May 2015 update, it would not maintain a WiFi connection. The Netgear WNDR4500 did OK, but I was still having issues watching Netflix in my bedroom.

So I broke down and bought the PC Magazine Editor's Choice D-Link DIR-890L Wireless AC3200 Tri Band Gigabit Cloud Router. It cost $309, so this is not a cheap purchase. The router comes in a HEAVY box. Yes, the box itself is really heavy, even when the contents are removed. And the DIR-890L is the largest router that I have ever seen.  The box it comes in is the size of a dresser drawer.

D-Link AC3200 Router

As you can see, I have it sitting atop an amazon box, which is itself atop my Linux server. This saves desk space and also keeps it away from metal.

I had a terrible experience with a previous D-Link Dir-825 router, which is a piece of junk (I should throw it out). And at the time D-Link's technical support was worse than awful. However all the reviews of the DIR-890L raved about the good support, so I hoped that they finally got their act together.

Setup was a breeze, but you have to know what you are doing. In particular my 30 or so devices are all on 192.168.1.# addresses (used by Netgear and Linksys), and I did NOT want to reconfigure them all. (I am not sure I know how to do some of them anymore.) So I connected to the DIR-890L from my laptop (Ethernet) to 192.168.0.0, and reset the router's address to 192.168.1.0. Then things were pretty straight forward, but quite different from Netgear or Linksys setups. Most of the options are hidden under "advanced settings" on each screen. I suppose this is good for the average person who does not know much and just wants to get it working.

However, by default, the DIR-890L picked channel 1 for the 2.5GHz WiFi, and it is totally crowded by my untechnical neighbors. As you can see, channel 1 and channel 11 are totally jammed up, and there are others that were temporarily not detected.

2.5 GHz spectrum

In this picture I picked channel 9 for the DIR-890L, which was also where I used the Netgear routers. Lan24116 on channel 4 is my old Linksys router that is acting as a repeater for downstairs. It is hardwired to the DIR-890L. To pick my channel, I had to disable Smart Connect and then enable Advanced Settings.

I wish I knew exactly what Smart Connect does because the blog about it is very confusing.

  • Smart Connect put my DIR-890L on Channel 1, along with all of my neighbors. To change to Channel 6 or 9, I must disable Smart Connect.
  • And also, I only have b, g, and n, which I can specify with Smart Connect off. Does disabling a and c  improve performance?
  • Do I really need different SSIDs if Smart Connect is off?

I called D-Link, support. They insist that the router works best on channels 1, 6, and 11. Even if the neighbors are using it. So I turned Smart Connect back on, and will see how things work. They also gave me incorrect information about how to reserve an ip address for a device. They said the feature was removed, but on the router home page, of you click on the top network icon, all the connected devices are shown, and you can then specify a reserved ip address.

Last night, I tried using Smart Connect. IT DOES NOT WORK! It put me on channel 1 along with my neighbors, and I was unable to maintain a connection to the devices in my bedroom. One reason may be that the bedroom is at the front of my house, nearer to the interfering neighbors, and the router in my computer room in the center of the house cannot easily detect the interferers. I manually set the DIR-890L to channel 6, turned off Smart Connect, and everything worked. But now I cannot take advantage of the nice features of Smart Connect—a bummer! Wouldn't it be nice if sites like PC Magazine did proper real-world tests before bestowing accolades.

D-Link mist change Smart connect to allow the user to select a channel and still use Smart Connect. In the meanwhile, I have another very expensive router that does not live up to its promise.

On another matter, this router (and many others) is vulnerable to a new NetUSB vulnerability that allows it to be hacked remotely. Let us hope that D-Link promptly fixes both Smart Connect and NetUSB.

Updates:

Last night, I scanned the channels again, and the DIR-890L has switched to Channel 6. So maybe it is smart enough.

I trurned SmartConnect off and manually selected Channel 9 with much better results.


I decided to take advantage of the ac performance to improve connection on my Vizio TV and Squeezebox in my bedroom, so I purchased a Western Digital My Net Wi-Fi ac bridge. It connects wirelessly on two channels, and has 4 gigabit Ethernet outputs, which I hardwired to my devices. So far, so good. I have now replaced this with a Netgear AC1200 range extender which is even better.


Three times now, the 890L has totally shut off the 5 GHz transmissions (verified by my phone finder apps). This required a reboot of the Router.

Comments

Submitted by Dj on Thu, 09/17/2015 - 07:53

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Has new FW been tested out? Recommended channels to use are 1, 6 or 11. not 9 as it's a sideband channel. You are in a wifi congested area for 2.4ghz. Looks like chl 6 is best.

Submitted by jarome on Sat, 10/31/2015 - 07:58

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Listening to music on my internal music server, the stream just totally stops at times, even though the wifi signal is still there and strong. The music server is on a hard-wired Linux machine, so I have no reason to believe that the server stops sending.

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