D-Link EXO AC2600 Smart Mesh Wi-Fi Router Review
You know I’m going to be handing over to Dave for this techy review . . .
Fast Wi-Fi Speeds and good connectivity are a priority for our family
Wi-Fi is a big deal in our house. I’m sure yours is the same. What with Colette’s need to upload videos and pictures, the kids and I streaming video, Ben’s burgeoning online Xbox gaming sessions and our smart equipment communicating with each other, the need for a decent set up is a high priority. For years we’ve been using the BT Home Hub 5 which has been pretty good with a few exceptions, there’s a dead spot in Chloe’s room which means her smart speaker and lights can take an age to respond, and Colette can’t use her laptop at her desk with the screen closed (she uses a standalone monitor) without losing connectivity – too many walls and furniture in the way it would seem.
To get around Chloe’s dead spot we bought a Wi-Fi extender which we have plugged in at the top of the stairs, this has helped to fix that problem but is a bit of an eyesore, is quite a large box sticking out into the landing and takes up a plug socket. To fix Colette’s laptop/desk issue we’ve done………nothing really. She just leaves the screen open even when using the standalone monitor, but this reduces space on her desk and gets in the way.
The other problem we have with the Home Hub 5 is the 5ghz Wi-Fi band. It’s great when you first reset the router, but it steadily reduces in speed from the reset point over a few days until it becomes unusable. This has been going on for as long as we’ve had the router to be honest and we have just settled on using the 2.4 ghz Wi-Fi band for everything day to day. There’s only so many times you can reset the router after all. The problem with this is that the 2.4ghz band is crowded. Everything and everyone uses that frequency, and electronic devices can interfere with it. That’s why routers started offering 5ghz as well as 2.4ghz in the first place.
I’ve looked at replacement routers a few times but couldn’t justify the added expense as, aside from the exceptions above, everything works as is and there’s always a higher priority for our money. So I was very happy when D-Link reached out to us and asked if we’d like to review one of their new Mesh routers!
What is the point of a Mesh router?
We’ve got a D-Link EXO AC2600 Smart Mesh Wi-Fi Router (the DIR 2660 is the specific model) which is one of four new Mesh routers from D-Link. The Mesh part (if you were wondering) refers to the way the router sets up your home network. The DIR 2660 router allows you to extend your network with ease and automatically routes traffic in the most efficient way to avoid dead spots and any parts of your network which have lost signal. All this was possible previously, but you had to manually set up extenders and route traffic through devices. There’s no need with the DIR 2660 – it’s all done for you. Extra features include voice control using either Google assistant or Amazon Alexa and the router comes with 5 years of McAfee Secure Home Platform, which gives you piece of mind that your home network, and every device connected to it, is protected. It also comes with 2 years of McAfee Live Safe Protection. This means you can install McAfee on every device in your house and get on the go protection for 2 years! That’s a lot of protection, it’s also worth nearly £180 so that’s not to be sniffed at.
D-Link allows you to step up a Guest Network for security
D-Link also have an app. Doesn’t everyone nowadays? But this one is useful. You can set up your router using it rather than by accessing the setup wizard on the router with a web address in your browser. The app gives you visibility over your home network, every device connected to the router through Wi-Fi and ethernet. It also allows you to give access to your Guest Wi-Fi network. What’s the point of a guest network? Well if someone comes round to your house and you give them your Wi-Fi password then they have that until you change your password (realistically who changes their passwords when they don’t absolutely have to? No-one. That’s who.) and access to your home network and all your devices on it, never mind any files you have accessible on your network (we have video files and music on network attached drives for easy access by the kids). With a Guest network you choose how long people have access for and what they have access to. It’s so much easier to be more secure. The app also makes giving access to people easier than before – there’s a QR code available for both your networks, home and guest, that can be scanned to give access rather than giving out your password. The only negative thing I’d say about this process is that both QR codes are displayed on the same page. You’d think given the security aspects are stressed so heavily with this router that the app would split these QR codes. However you can easily obscure the home network QR code with your thumb when giving out your guest network access.
The D-Link AC2600 series is a router only and needs a modem to work
Now I must admit to my shame that when I said yes I hadn’t really done my research! Shocking I know. I assumed that nowadays all routers were modem / routers (if you don’t know the modem connects to the internet and the router sends the data throughout your house via Wi-Fi and Ethernet cables) but I was wrong. D-Link do make modems / routers but the AC2600 series are solely routers. Anyway, after much kicking of myself I managed to connect the DIR 2660 to our Home Hub and use the Home Hub as the modem part, even though the Home Hub 5 cannot be configured to run as just a modem (to be clear this is a sloppy method of connecting up your home network, I wouldn’t recommend it) but it did allow me to test the two Wi-Fi networks straight after each other without having to unplug one and then the other. I did turn off the Wi-Fi signal of one before testing the signal from the other in each area of the house.
How does the DIR 2660 compare the the BT Home Hub 5?
In every aspect the Wi-Fi speeds from the DIR 2660 is superior to the Home Hub 5. In the lounge, where the router is set up, the difference is nearly double the download speed (30.4 Mbps with the Home Hub 5 and 58.2 Mbps with the D-Link) and pretty much the same for uploads (17.3 Mbps with the Home Hub 5 and 17.7 Mbps with the D-Link). I’ve used the best speed recorded with the Home Hub 5 which is always the 2.4 ghz band unless I’ve just reset the router. I think the D-Link speeds are pretty much our broadband limit for downloads and uploads which is impressive.
At the extremes, i.e. Chloe’s room, the story is more exaggerated, the Home Hub 5 only managed 5.17 Mbps down and 3.94 Mbps up on the 2.4 ghz band. The D-Link achieved 57.5 Mbps down and 17.5 Mbps up! That’s almost the same as when I’m 2 meters away from the router in the lounge. How it achieves this I have no idea, considering the Home Hub 5 is using a range extender it’s an amazing increase in performance. All those are just numbers but in reality what it means is that Chloe’s smart speakers and lights now respond as quickly as the ones in the lounge. Winner. All that remains now is for me to get a dedicated modem and connect the DIR 2660 properly and we’ll be away!
If you are looking to improve your Wi-Fi coverage at home with an easy to set up router with extra features and loads of security then the D-Link EXO AC2600 Smart Mesh Router is a good bet.
We received the D-Link EXO AC2600 Smart Mesh Wi-Fi Router free of charge for the purpose of review and have been compensated for our time. All thoughts and opinions remain our own. (well Dave’s really!)