D-Link COVR-C1203 is D-Link’s first node-based mesh router. Last year, they launched the COVR-3902 which is based on a full-sized router up to 2600 Mbps and an extender up to 1300 Mbps over MU-MIMO. The C1203 on the other hand is running at a respectable dual-band 1200 Mbps which is more than sufficient for home use. It also looks nicer than the C3902.
The retail unit for Singapore market comes with 3 identical-looking units, but one of them is the primary unit labelled as “A”, while the other 2 units are nodes. This approach is different from other mesh nodes where any unit can be the main router.
One nice touch about personalising the router is interchangeable plates with different colours in dark pink (pre-fitted), blue (1x) and gold (1x). On each unit there are 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports that functions both as a WAN port – allows direct cable connection to another device – or LAN port – receiving data directly from router for broadcast.
Setting up from the smartphone via the D-Link Wi-Fi app is simple, but to ensure a better experience, make sure you turn off mobile data so that the phone keeps the Wi-Fi network connected. This is because many latest smartphones will switch from Wi-Fi to mobile data when it detects the Wi-Fi has no internet, which is a false negative during the setup.
The 3 units come pre-paired, so once the “A” unit is successfully connected to the Internet, you can then power up the other 2 units one at a time and wait for the LED to turn white. For best results, power up the units near to the first unit just to be sure the connection is successfully established. Once all units are good, then you can move them to the preferred spots.
I encountered some connection reliability issues initially, and after feedback to D-Link, they exchanged for another new pack which worked great. I placed the mesh nodes at the same spots as I had for all my previous mesh router products. The COVR-C1203 worked great and delivered good coverage for the entire house. I achieve up to 300 Mbps from the main unit and 130 Mbps from the nodes at close range. Testing with my desktop PC connected to the node as WAN, I achieve over 200 Mbps. At the farthest area of the house, I can still get 60 Mbps.
The LED indicator on the units can be turned off, but does not support on-off schedule, something that TP-Link Deco supports. Even when the LED is off, whenever there are issues, the units will start showing the new LED status for a while so that it gets your attention for diagnostics.
The area that I find lacking is the UI, which is not as consumer-friendly as other mesh like ASUS Lyra or TP-Link Deco, even Google Wifi. There aren’t much features available, not even traffic monitoring, speed testing, connection topography, nor does it support remote login outside the home network. For more advanced networking setup, user has to use the web browser login, with the same UI as D-Link traditional network routers.
Fortunately, the parental control feature received a small UI improvement, where I can set up access schedule from each connected device. Ultimately, the parental control links back to the schedule module, with a limitation of up to 10 schedule rules.
Still, this is not as intuitive as other brands. As of current app version V1.1.2 build 9, I can only select exiting or create new schedule rules but I cannot edit or remove existing from the smartphone app.
For now, D-Link does not sell the C1200 nodes individually, so if you need more nodes to cover a larger house, you might have to consider other brands. But 3 units, the COVR C1203 can already cover 5000 square feet.
The D-Link COVR-1203 whole home wifi system works seamlessly once installed, serving the entire house with a single network name. It adds to the list for consumers to consider buying for their new home. I have to say that mesh Wifi is really the way to go. The D-Link solution retains the web interface so that advanced users can manage the network configuration, parental controls, QoS, etc.
At a new retail price of S$299, the COVR-1203 is one of the cheapest mesh systems in the market. If you are looking for good value, you can consider this, or the TP-Link Deco M5, also same price.