D-Link DGL-5500 Router

4/3/2014 10:06:06 AM

A router built specifically for gamers

When it comes to PC parts and accessories, all roads eventually lead to gamers. Intel and AMD both sell unlocked processors so gamers can more easily overclock their rigs for a few extra frames per second; pro gamer Johnathan “Fatal1ty" Wendel has endorsed everything from motherboards to power supplies; there’s gaming RAM; and of course, a whole assortment of accessories designed to give you an edge when smoking your friends on the virtual battlefield. Up until now, one of the few items missing from the list was an 802.11ac wireless router.

D-Link gets credit for tying up that loose end with the DGL-5500, a dual-band AC1300 wireless router built specifically for gamers. What makes the DGL-5500 different from all the other 802.11ac models, including D-Link's own DIR-868L (reviewed in our February issue), is the inclusion of Qualcomm’s StreamBoost technology.

Description: D-Link DGL-5500 with box

D-Link DGL-5500 with box

Whereas the majority of modern routers rely on simple quality of service (QoS) rules to prioritize network packets, StreamBoost examines what applications are running and how much actual bandwidth each one needs. It also manages latency because a laggy gamer is a dead gamer. The question is, does it work as advertised?

For the most part, StreamBoost lives up to the hype. We consistently saw lower pings in online games when connected to the DGL-5500 versus our zero-point router, the Asus RT-AC66U. External factors beyond our control also affect ping, so it's hard to offer an apples-to-apples comparison, but to give one example, our ping averaged around 42ms in Battlefield U when using Asus's router. When switching to D-Link’s model and turning on StreamBoost, our pings hovered around 19ms. After firing up Netflix on a second PC and initiating file downloads on two other systems, the ping stayed around 22-24ms - that's impressive.

Description: D-Link DGL-5500’s front

D-Link DGL-5500’s front

In our evaluation of D-Link's DIR-868L, we said the fugly web-based interface could use a major overhaul, and that's wha t we got with the DGL-5500. It’s much better looking than before and far less complicated to navigate, though it’s also painfully slow when switching between menus. The Ul is also heavily biased toward StreamBoost - if you disable the feature, you lose access to the My Network map, which provides a graphical view of all active devices and how much bandwidth each one is consuming.

The DGL-5500 outpaced our zero point router in 802.11 n mode on the 2.4GHz band in our three indoor tests. It also did better at picking out uncluttered channels on its own - we use inSSIDer ($20) to identify the best channells) for testing. However, the RT-AC66U boasts better range and faster transfers in 802.11ac mode on the 5GHz band. It's worth pointing out the DGL-5500 lacks beamforming, which concentrates the wireless signal at connected devices for longer range and better speeds.

Description: D-Link DGL-5500’s back

D-Link DGL-5500’s back

There are other shortcomings, as well - you can't configure Guest networks, the single USB 2.0 port doesn't support printer sharing, and the combined speed of both channels is capped at AC1300 rather than AC1750 as it is with D-Link's DIR-868L. While StreamBoost is a step forward, the router is a step backward in other areas. Note to D-Link: Gamers care about this stuff, too.


·         Price: $140

·         Type: Wireless router

·         Standards: IEEE 802.11ac (draft); IEEE 802.11g; IEEE 802.11n; IEEE 802.11a; IEEE 802.3; IEEE 802.3u; IEEE 802.3ab

·         Interfaces: 4 Gigabit LAN Ethernet Ports (10/100/1000) ; 1 Gigabit WAN Ethernet Port (10/100/1000) ; 1 USB 2.0 Port

·         Security: Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2); WPS

·         LEDs: Power; Internet

·         Power: DC 12V

·         Certifications: FCC; IC; Wi-Fi

·         Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.5 x 2.8 inch

·         Warranty: 2-Year Limited Warranty


·         Pros: Lowers latency when gaming; fast speeds at close range.

·         Cons: No printer sharing; can’t configure Guest networks; lacks beam-forming.

·         Rating: 7/10


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