D-Link’s latest gaming router, the AC1300 (DGL-5500), is a router that, while primarily marketed towards gamers, claims to excel for all sorts of home networks. While the router provides a solid machine that has performed well in an environment heavy with a variety of electronic devices, it is not without its share of bugs and drawbacks, chief among which is the price.
“Built by gamers, for gamers,” according to D-Link’s literature, the AC1300 boasts of many useful features. The major feature is the Qualcomm StreamBoost technology, which automatically adjusts bandwidth between various gaming and non-gaming internet devices based on priority settings. The Dual Band Wi-Fi is another significant feature, offering 450Mbps (2.5GHz) and 867Mbps (5.0GHz) bands. It comes with six ports: four gigabit ethernet LAN, one WAN, and an USB 2.0.
To give some perspective to this review, it is necessary to describe the environment in which this routed was tested. Used at a proper new millennium household, there was no shortage of electronic devices connected to the internet. Commonly, all four people used devices on the internet simultaneously, ranging from laptops, to smartphones, to game systems, to Apple TV. The home resides within a complex with at least half a dozen networks within range. According to D-Link themselves, the AC1300 is best used by “Families that want the very best in networking experience,” so this is exactly the kind of household they are targeting.
For everyday use, the AC1300 has been nothing but reliable. In the several weeks it has been installed, the network has never needed resetting, nor have there been any sudden losses of connection on any of the computers or devices. The new router has not caused any interference with existing wireless devices such as headphones either. We have had absolutely no compatibility issues with any of our devices at all.
Our network has come out ahead in several areas as well. Due to the unbearable lag, the younger sister of the household had long ago given up on attempting to use her laptop’s web browser while World of Warcraft was open. She no longer has to worry about that problem. When playing online games for long periods of time, the team had come to expect the occasional random disconnect with our older router (a standard one from Cox), which is no longer a problem.
The AC1300 is an easy install, but can be difficult to manipulate. The browser page for adjusting network settings is easy to navigate and well-designed for easy-of-use, but it sometimes refuses to show the network status and history. Users are recommended to leave off the Automatic Bandwith Estimation feature, as many have reported issues with it. Messing with the StreamBoost settings without knowing exactly what one is doing can easily cause problems. Several users have reported having difficulties getting the router to assign bandwidth to specific devices at all when trying to adjust the priority settings, but we did not have any such issues. Some of the issues affecting users have been handled by the recent firmware update
Probably the most disappointing feature of the AC1300 is the Dual Band Wi-Fi. While the 2.5GHz band works perfectly, the other band can barely reach out of the living room. The signal is so weak by the end of the nearby open hallway that devices do not recognize the 5.0GHz band exists. This is especially egregious considering that one of the listed features of the Qualcomm VIVE 11AC technology used by the AC1300 is “Whole Home Coverage.” Considering that the 5.0GHz band cannot even cover an entire single-floor apartment properly, users should not expect to get much use out of the Dual Band feature.
While the router has clearly enhanced the test subject home network, it has done so only in minor ways. For a $200 price tag, the benefits seem rather lackluster. That price gets even higher when considering households that have router/modem hybrids. Such customers will have to add on another $50 or so to get a stand-alone modem. Add onto that the chance of the crippling issues reported by some users, and there is a strong chance the AC1300 will just not be worth the money and time.
The AC1300 certainly does have a nice design at least. It has that classy, modern look of high end electronics while still being understated enough to fade into the background. It’s small enough to fit in a large number of spaces as well.
A particularly hardcore gamer with a modern family of net aficionados that finds him/herself playing high level competitive games (perhaps even for money) who cannot abide even the slightest or most infrequent lag might find the investment invaluable. Otherwise, people could probably make better use of their money elsewhere.