Chances are you use a router supplied by your internet service provider. That means it will be tried and tested, but uninspiring. Moreover, it’s unlikely the router will support Wi-Fi 6.
There are good reasons to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6, but little need to rush. If you are in a hurry, D-Link’s NZ$300 DIR-X1560 is the obvious choice. At the time of writing the alternatives are expensive high-end devices. These would be overkill in a normal home.
The DIR-X1560 is a small shiny plastic box. It has four removable and adjustable antennae. There are four LED indicators on the front. They show power status, the internet connection and two wireless network indicators.
On the back there are four Ethernet ports for the local network. There is an incoming Ethernet port that connects to your fibre terminal and a reset button.
The two wireless network indicators tell you what is going on with the routers two radio bands. Like many domestic routers, the DIR-X1560 can operate on the 2.4Ghz and 5GHz bands. More expensive Wi-Fi 6 routers can add a third 160Mhz waveband.
Gigabit wireless speeds
If you can, you’ll want to use the router on 5GHz as much as possible. It’s faster and less prone to interference. In theory you can get speeds of 1.2 Gbps on 5GHz. That’s faster than a gigabit fibre connection. It will pipe data around your house at a breakneck speed.
That’s the theory. In practice Wi-Fi never delivers theoretical speeds. It’s cheeky of router manufacturers to even mention them. The most I could get from the DIR-X1560 was around 600mbps and that was with a device placed a metre from the router.
Mind you, 600mbps is more than enough for every application you are likely to meet.
DIR-X1560 a basic Wi-Fi 6 upgrade
It says at the top of this story that the DIR-X1560 is a basic way to upgrade your home network. Basic because it lacks features you’d find on high-end wireless routers. Parental controls let you block websites and limit the hours your little darlings spend online. There is nothing in the way of malware protection.
Compared with other routers, it is a limited web console. You might view this as restricting your options for tinkering. Or you might see it as less scope to screw things.
You can see the cable and network status. There are all the address numbers. The console will show the number of connected clients. If you wish you can disconnect them. One feature I enjoyed was having a Speedtest run from the router itself. All routers should do this.
As the screen shot shows, D-Link’s web console struggles with Apple’s Safari browser. The second version shows the same page on Firefox. There’s a neat control that lets you prioritise devices. That way Mum’s home office computer can have priority over junior’s Fortnite session. You can protect bandwidth for work Zoom calls.
Away from the web console, you can manage the DIR-X1560 with a phone app. It is cruder and less comprehensive than the console, but you get the important controls.
And if that isn’t enough, a handful of controls work with Alexa or Google voice commands, if that is your thing. This can be useful if you need to reboot in a hurry.
At this point I should write about installing the router. but I ran into an authentication problem with my ISP that meant I took days to get everything working. It didn’t look like an authentication problem and I didn’t solve it until I called D-link’s support.
DIR-X1560 sterling performance
Compared with the ISP provided Wi-Fi 5 router it replaced the DIR-X1560 did a sterling job. I’m going to stick with this review product.
My testing process was simple enough. I ran Speedtest five times using my ISP provided Wi-Fi 5 router from the desktop iMac. The iMac supports Wi-Fi 5, not Wi-fi 6. Then I did the same again on an iPad Pro located next to the desktop. For the third set of tests I moved the iPad Pro to about 1 metre from the router.
The desktop is about three metres from the router, but the other side of a corridor. There are two walls in the way.
Then I did the same tests using the DIR-X1560 router. In both cases I made sure my devices weren’t running backups or other hidden web applications. I didn’t check to see if Johanna was using her computer, phone or iPad. After all, part of the reason for upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 is to improve throughput when you connect lots of devices.
To keep this simple, I averaged each set of five measurements. This is indicative, not scientific.
|DIR-X1560||Wi-Fi 5 ISP supplied router|
|IMac||653 down / 296 up||488 down / 417 up|
|iPad Pro||655 down / 446 up||320 down / 267 up|
Other Wi-Fi routers can allow client devices to choose a 2.4GHz or 5GHz connection.1.
With the DIR-X1560 you can make that decision from the console, not from the device. During testing I found a huge difference in performance between the two wave bands. The difference is larger than you might expect when looking at theoretical top speeds.
None of my devices could get much above 80mbps on 2.4GHz.
I benchmarked everything against an old ISP supplied Wi-Fi 5 router. This beats the DIR-X1560 by miles on 2.4GHz performance. It can reach as high as 200mbps. But the 5GHz is the one that matters.
The old router managed a strong signal in the home office, which is three metres and two walls away. It remains strong in the upstairs bedrooms that are five and seven metres and three or more walls away from the router. Beyond that the signal strength drops fast.
When I compared this with the DIR-X1560, it’s long distance performance was better on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz. In other words, the router has an extended reach. I don’t have the hardware to perform a better test of this, but my suck-it-and-see approach was clear enough for this house. Your mileage may differ.
If you want to get a Wi-Fi 6 network running today, the D-Link EXO Mesh AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1560) is a solid choice. Its 2.4GHz performance is poor, but that’s not always important for everyone. You can get more features and a fancier web console elsewhere. Yet unless you have specialist wireless network needs, the DIR-X1560 ticks all the boxes.
- To make life confusing, this is sometimes called 5G Wi-Fi. ↩︎