My master bedroom is a Wi-Fi dry zone. For the longest time, I have tried a lot of non-invasive methods to improve my WiFi coverage, from installing WiFi repeaters to powerline homeplug with access point. None of them gives me satisfactory result, getting less than 20Mbps, though I admit they are the low-spec 300Mbps 2.4GHz band.
The premium-spec DIR-895L that I reviewed early this month delivers great speed in my living room and my study room, but to my disappointment, fails to penetrate my master bedroom. When D-Link Singapore asked if I want to review the new DAP-1860, I thought to myself, why not. The DAP-1860 is a Wi-Fi range extender that supports 4×4 multi-user MIMO up to 2600Mbps (800Mbps on 2.4GHz band and 1733Mbps on 5GHz band). It sounds like a perfect companion to the DIR-895L that also supports 4×4 MU-MIMO up to 5300Mbps. But it can still work with any other routers.
The DAP-1860 is designed to plug directly onto the power socket, just like a homeplug. The DAP-1860 is about twice the size of an average homeplug, and that might be an issue if there are space constraint.
The benefit of this design is that it does not require drilling and mounting on walls or lying on the floor, so be mindful before buying it. And a quick search online tells me that this is the most compact AC2600 Wi-Fi extender in the market, while most competitors’ extenders look like a normal WiFi router.
The 4 antennae unfolds to form an X to deliver maximum coverage. They neatly fold back to the body during storage.
Like all D-Link networking products, the DAP-1860 supports WPS one-touch configuration, which oddly does not work for me. Nevertheless, I am not a fan of WPS, so I downloaded the QRS Mobile app on my smartphone, connected to the Wi-Fi name (SSID) of the DAP-1860, and started the step-by-step wizard. This option allows me to define the desired SSID of the range extender.
For a start, I selected the default settings, which is to let the SSID name be the same as the primary Wi-Fi SSID with an “-EXT” suffix. I also opted for Smart Connect, which will supposedly allow the DIR-895L and DAP-1860 to effectively utilise the full 4×4 multiple stream to rightfully achieve 2600Mbps.
In this “smart” mode, it is not possible to cherry-pick the Wi-Fi band to connect. The 5GHz AC-band is the one that can deliver higher speed, but somehow my device can only connect to the slower 2.4GHz N-band. So my speed tests deliver poor bandwidth results.
Advanced Set Up
Next, I renamed the AC-band to a different SSID from the N-band, so that I can force my smartphone to connect to the AC-band. This setting modification can be done using the same QRS Mobile app, just run through the wizard again. Strangely, my device could not “see” the AC-band SSID, even though my Wi-Fi Analyzer app detects it on the radar.
My last resort is to disable the N-band of the DAP-1860. After I did this step, the AC-band appeared, and I finally could connect.
With this set up, the speed is blazing. When the DAP-1860 is 2 metres from DIR-895L, the speed test reads 296Mbps download, 181Mbps upload. I then moved the repeater to my study room, which is about 10 metres away from DIR-895L with no line-of-sight, and tested the speed with my smartphone in the same room. Here, I still managed to get 184Mbps download, 120Mbps upload. This speed is more than twice the speed from my other Wi-Fi router in the same study room connected to a homeplug, which carries only 80Mbps over the powerline.
It gets better. Leaving the DAP-1860 in my study room, I moved my smartphone to my master bedroom and did another speed test. The result? 119Mbps download, 98Mbps. I have never achieved such speed before. This is not the first time I reviewed a Wi-Fi range extender. For every product I reviewed previously, I could only get below 20Mbps. With this setup, I can even get coverage in my master bathroom comfortably.
Very Effective Range Extender
I am sorry to bore you readers who are not computer savvy. The conclusion is: DAP-1860 is the most effective Wi-Fi repeater I have tested, though I must give due credit to DIR-895L for delivering the wireless data packets at great speeds. Wi-Fi range extenders can only re-broadcast what is available, so if it only receives 100Mbps, it can only re-transmit at most 100Mbps, usually less due to loss of efficiency during re-transmission.
Once a while, I find that the DAP-1860 restarts itself, for reasons unknown, but I usually notice that when I was doing speed test. Perhaps the restart occurs because I was stressing it out with speed tests.
The DAP-1860 has an Ethernet port which you can plug directly to the Internet source (e.g. router), turning the DAP-1860 into an wireless access point router. Furthermore, when the DAP-1860 is in repeater mode, the same Ethernet port becomes a data point for any device plugged to it, e.g. laptop. This direct LAN connection achieves higher speed than via repeater wireless mode!
The D-Link DAP-1860 is a compact and premium-spec Wi-Fi range extender designed with a small footprint by plugging onto the power socket directly without any dangling wires or wall-mounting. It supports up to 2600Mbps and boosts the Wi-Fi signal in my house better than any I have tried before. The DAP-1860 is a fantastic add-on to my home and a highly-recommended device for homes with dodgy network coverage.
But when it comes to home networking, each house behaves differently. It also depends on where you place the Wi-Fi extender. If you have a high-speed router and find yourself in the same situation as me, the DAP-1860 could work for you. Retails at S$189 at good electronic stores in Singapore.
Official product website: http://www.dlink.com.sg/dap-1860/