The D-Link DIR-825 is a Wi-Fi router with dual-band 802.11n support, broadcasting on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies simultaneously. It has a range of features useful for power users, and it is easy to set up.
The D-Link DIR-825 router has two chunky rear-mounted aerials attached to rear-facing sockets. Around the back you'll also find four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, a Gigabit WAN port (for connecting your modem) and a USB 2.0 socket. A removable cradle allows the router to stand vertically, but it can also be wall-mounted against a pair of screws.
Setting up the D-Link DIR-825 is a doddle — all you need to do is run the setup software on the supplied CD and follow the prompts. Gone are the days when setting up a router meant manually changing your IP address and other headache-inducing procedures. Only a few mouse clicks and a small amount of typing got our impromptu network running and connected to the internet. If you want to change any settings in the future you use the router's web interface, which is quick and easy to use.
If you have devices compatible with Wireless Protected Setup, then a button on the side of the D-Link DIR-825 makes it easy to connect them without entering a password.
Key among the D-Link DIR-825 router's features is its support for dual-band wireless 802.11n networking. The DIR-825 can simultaneously transmit on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands — you could have your non-5GHz-compliant devices connected over 2.4GHz while newer and more powerful devices occupy the higher end of the spectrum. Dual-band technology is great for high-density areas where a large amount of 2.4GHz traffic already exists from other routers and cordless phones. You can also use one band for file transfers while using the other for media streaming, for example. Alternatively you can set up a "guest" network that has restricted access.
As with the Belkin N+ Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router, you can connect external storage to the D-Link DIR-825's USB port and share files over the network. D-Link's SharePort software must be installed onto any computer on the network to access the shared drive. We would have preferred direct access without additional software, but the USB 2.0 port on the D-Link DIR-825 is still convenient.
The web interface of the D-Link DIR-825 contains all the nitty-gritty features common to wireless routers. Power users can play around with manual IP configuration, port forwarding, security, QoS and the inbuilt firewall to their hearts' content. All settings are clearly laid out.
We witnessed superior performance when using the D-Link DIR-825's 5GHz wireless band compared to the regular 2.4GHz frequency range. We transferred 10GB of files from one laptop to another using the full-power 5GHz option and achieved an average speed of 8.12 megabytes per second. Switching to 2.4Ghz mode put a serious dent in performance, with a 25 per cent lower rate of 6.01 megabytes per second. If you have devices that support it, such as newer laptops, we'd opt for the 5GHz option every time. The speeds achieved were slightly faster than the Belkin Double N+ Wireless Router.
The wireless transmission range of the D-Link DIR-825 is enough for a medium-sized home. We set up the router in a home office and found a maximum range of around 15 metres with a few brick walls in the way. In practical terms, we were able to take a laptop to every corner of a two-storey house and maintain good-to-excellent network strength from the centrally located D-Link DIR-825.
The D-Link DIR-825 is a competent dual-band wireless router. We didn't have any problems with stability, and the DIR-825's feature-set is enough to keep all but the most energetic power user happy. The inclusion of network storage is a nifty extra, and the router is easy to set up. If you're considering an upgrade to 5GHz networking, the D-Link DIR-825 should see you through with flying colours.