D-Link DHP-1565 802.11n router with integrated powerline
One box, three networking technologies
Review Running network traffic over the data-unfriendly environment of mains wiring is a trick Reg Hardware has been enthusing about for some years now. Only once in that time has anyone integrated it into another product.
That, to refresh your memory, was a power brick Netgear put out for its routers. It was a standard AC adaptor with a built-in powerline feed and an Ethernet cable to get data in and out of the router.
Mains serving: D-Link's DHP-1565 router
D-Link's DHP-1565 Wireless N PowerLine Gigabit Router may have a name that's a bit of a mouthful, but it's a far better attempt at powerline integration than Netgear's effort was.
This time the powerline adaptor – the power brick too, for that matter – are inside the case, so there are no extra cables to confuse the punters. It really is plug and go, and you can have the thing up and running – from a powerline perspective – in seconds.
The usual array of router portage – powerline runs through the A/C in, of course
The DHP-1565 doesn't come with extra powerline adaptors, so you'll need to factor in extra money for them, but you'd have to do the same if you were buying any other wireless basestation whose reach you want to extend with powerline.
The D-Link supports the IEEE 1901 standard at a peak speed of 500Mbps – that's 250Mbps peak on the uplink or downlink – which means it's also compatible with the 200Mbps HomePlug AV spec. The router's four Ethernet ports are Gigabit, as is its fifth Ethernet port, to which you hook up your broadband box.
IPv6 is well supported
For folk like me who want to turn the device off when it's not in use – overnight, say – there's a power switch on the back, and switch to flip the box into Access Point mode if you want to use it that way.
There's also a tiny button to automate the establishment of AES encryption passkey for the powerline link. Push it, and the equivalent buttons on your other adaptors in a given time, and they'll agree on a passkey. Out of the box, there's no encryption on the powerline data.
The console's set-up options are comprehensive
Or on the 802.11n Wi-Fi, but it's easy enough to set one up in the web-based management console. Indeed, you're given the chance to create one on the second step of the set-up wizard that runs when you first access the console.
The DHP-1565's powerline support may be as good as it gets, but the wireless connectivity is limited to the 2.4GHz band. You can't then establish a parallel or alternative 5GHz WLAN, but you can set up a limited-access guest network.
No 5GHz support here
One nice touch: you can establish a schedule for the WLAN uptime. Don't want crafty herberts tapping the office wireless LAN out of hours? Set up a timetable that disables Wi-Fi during the evenings and weekends.
If you're using the D-Link at home, it's as easy to just turn it off, though I can see some folk wanting the Wi-Fi off overnight but the powerline on, perhaps to ensure connected gadgets get firmware updates and suchlike.
For IPv6 buffs, the protocol is well supported, though most of us will have upgraded our wireless routers to 802.11ac long before IPv6 support becomes necessary.
The D-Link delivers decent powerline performance, clocking up a ten-run iperf 2.0.5 pipe-filling average one-way bandwidth of 175.6Mbps, peaking at 177.6Mbps, on the somewhat artificial Reg Hardware lab bench: adaptors at either end of a power gang. It's not the best 500Mb/s link I've seen, but it's still well ahead of 200Mb/s adaptors.
Throughput in Megabits per second (Mb/s)
Longer bars are better
Wi-Fi transfer was reasonable, but nothing special. Performance is so dependent on where there router is placed and in what kind of building, your mileage may vary. Copying a stack of files from a USB stick connected to the D-Link's USB port produced a peak speed of 49.5Mbps. That was close up – after moving to the far end of Vulture Central, the maximum transfer speed I saw was 21.3Mbps.
Speaking of the USB port, it's branded "SharePort" by D-Link, which means you can share devices over the WLAN and powerline network. Except this requires special software, produced by Silex Technology, on the client. Under Windows I had no problem accessing the connected drive, but the Mac app – which D-Link doesn't even bother rebranding these days – seemingly couldn't see the drive, even running its lastest, Lion-friendly version. There's no Linux release at all.
Sharing what's connected to the router's port requires dedicated software
There's no on-board modem, cable or ADSL, on the DHP-1565, but dedicates one of its five Gigabit Ethernet ports for its internet feed.
Good dual-band routers are cheaper than the £100 or so the DHP-1565 sells for, but they don't come with powerline built in. The essential extra 500Mbps powerline adaptor will add 50 quid or so to the overall price, but then you'd spend the best part of £100 adding a powerline link to a regular router.
D-Link's router is interesting because it offers integrated powerline networking alongside the built-in Ethernet and Wi-Fi, but it disappoints with its OK but unimpressive wireless performance. I can forgive the iffy USB sharing – I'd hook up a Nas box no matter what – but the lack of 5GHz support would put me off as a purchaser.
Whether the D-Link represents good value to you will depend on the extent to which you value 5GHz Wi-Fi over powerline or vice versa, but don't ignore its easy access point setting, so you could hook up two of these over a 500Mb/s powerline backbone to extend its 2.4GHz wireless reach. Indeed, you might not need 5GHz with that set-up. ®
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