It’s been a long time coming, but the spaceship has finally landed at Bitbitbyte. D-Link’s latest series of “ultra” routers including this one, the AC3200, definitely bring a spaceship to mind. The wide, sharp angles and triple duo of antennas look menacing. But is the actual performance as good as the physical looks (and price) elude to?
If we had to judge a book by it’s cover, we’d say D-Link did a pretty damn good job. While not everyone will like the more in-your-face design that doesn’t exactly “fit in” on the ol’ AV shelf under the TV, it does look mighty slick. We appreciate the bold design. Be loud. Be proud.
Purely aesthetic talks aside, we’re dealing with a tri-band router here which when flipped around will result in finding a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, 4 WAN ports, and a power + reset button.
If you’re not into big, hulking, loudly designed routers, you may be having a hard time getting past this initial stage. But trust us, it’s worth sacrificing your clean design preferences if pure speed is what you’re after.
Power users may be a bit disappointed to learn that D-Link’s software controlling the 3200 Ultra aren’t the most in-depth or power user centric. That said, it’s not bad by any stretch. Quite differently, in fact. Simplicity and ease are the two focuses with the 3200 Ultra’s interface, so that both power users and “normals” can setup and configure the 3200 easily and quickly. That said, owners of pervious D-Link routers, such as the DIR 880L, will notice the interface for the software is identical to the 3200 Ultra’s. As such, for more of a breakdown of what it does, check out our DIR 880L review (over here).
Like D-Link’s other routers, setup and managing your router via the web portal is simple. The layout is actually quite well done. Those looking for more in-depth controls may find the simplicity a bit off putting and too over the top. Nonetheless, D-Link continues to offer a great solution for overall simplicity with bits of fine tuning should you want to drill down a bit more.
Moving on, if all you’re after is the fastest wireless router on the market, the AC 3200 should be near the top of your test. Whether it was 5 feet, 30 feet or 100 feet. The AC 3200 continued to impress. At each point we managed to get moderately to impressively faster speeds than both our other AC routers in-house, the dual band D-Link 880 and Linksys AC1900. The only area where the AC3200 was average at best was with file transfers via the built-in USB ports on the back of the router. Reads were in the high 40s to low 50s (Megabytes per second) while writes were solidly in the mid 20s.
On the wireless side of things, close range (5-10 feet) AC speeds were in the mid-500 MB/s range with ~40-50 feet long range in the low to mid 200s. (There was a wall in-between us in this further range test.) Switching gears to 802.11n mode resulted in ~185-195 MB/s at close range and ~mid 170s at further range. Make no mistake, the 3200 Ultra is fast. The 3200 Ultra is also the first router we’ve tested that gives out “usable” signal in our remote test room (aka: a garage) that is a solid 125′ away and several walls away to boot. While it’s nothing to write home about per say as it’s only really 802.11g that makes it’s way out there, it is enough to still stream music on a couple devices, which is more than previous routers which trail off at less distance.
Should you buy it?
If you’re not relying on USB connected storage devices and aren’t one to think twice about dropping a decent amount on a quality router, then the AC3200 is just the router for you. At $300 it’s certainly not cheap. But if you want one of the best of the best currently on the market, this is exactly what you’ll need to be spending. A solid recommendation from Bitbitbyte.