This COVID-19 pandemic is not progressing well, but I think everyone needs to experience ups and downs to truly appreciate what we have. Singapore has been fortunate to control the spread over an extended period of time, but the new strain of virus has shown us that things could easily go out of hand and that we need to tighten what we have been doing. As we begin another variant of a circuit breaker, home networking is back to the spotlight as we all reverts back to working from home. I am a strong advocate for Wi-Fi Mesh systems as they have proven to improve coverage at my home. For those who felt mesh systems lack the number of LAN ports, the D-Link COVR X1870 comes with the full 4-port setup.
But if you need even faster bandwidth, then there is the X5460 standard router. It delivers up to 5400 Mbps speed (4800 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band) over dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), supporting up to 6 simultaneous streams. The new AX standard comes with increased wireless security (WPA 3), reduced congestion, improved speed. There are underlying technologies that make them happen, e.g. MU-MIMO, OFDMA, BSS Coloring. The Target Wake Time (TWT) feature can help improving smartphone battery life by increasing device sleep time. Design-wise, they look less striking than the DIR-895L, but it’s also less bulky, which fits better in modern homes.
As part of the D-Link EXO ecosystem, the X5460 router can be paired with any EXO-series routers and extenders to form a Wi-Fi Mesh network that improves your Wi-Fi coverage within the same network name. Personally, I find that the EXO-series of routers and extenders are rather big compared to mesh. It’s a compromise between getting high bandwidth and aesthetics, and for my home usage, I would go for coverage and design over raw performance.
Just like all the D-Link traditional routers, there are generous number of Ethernet ports and USB ports to plug in external HDD and run it as a basic NAS. You can enter the router settings from the web to manage all the detailed configurations that a networking enthusiast will be happy to dabble. For my case, I want this router to co-exist with my existing mesh router, which is easily done by connecting the 2 routers via the LAN ports (not the yellow WAN port) and disabling DHCP. Once done, not only I get 3 extra wired ports to connect to my other devices, I also get an additional wireless network. Essentially, my home now has both Wi-Fi 5 (via my existing mesh router) and Wi-Fi 6 (D-Link X5460).
If you are using Wi-Fi 6 devices, like the latest flagship smartphones, a Wi-Fi 6 router like DIR-X5460 will achieve higher bandwidth. During my test over FAST.COM with the ASUS ROG Phone 5 enabling dual Wi-Fi mode, I am hitting 380Mbps from my study room, while my own Wi-Fi 5 (AC) mesh router reaches just 240Mbps. So there is no doubt that Wi-Fi 6 can deliver better real world performance, but not many users will actually utilise the full 5400Mbps bandwidth that X5460 can support. Having said that, these speeds assume the server can push the data at that speed. In real life scenario when you access normal websites, you won’t achieve the kind of speed, so there is no discernible difference between a premium router and a normal router. The more important factor is network stability.
In terms of coverage, the DIR-X5460 can really cover my entire apartment, except in my furthest corner: master bedroom toilet. During my daily throne time, while the phone remains connected to the Wi-Fi, it struggles to download data as the Wi-Fi radio needs to pass through 3 wooden doors.
A word of caution: if you still have very old IoT like security camera or smart plugs, they might not work properly, given my experience with X1870. I was unable to disable the AX network to get around compatibility issues.
The D-Link DIR-X5460 retains most of the hardware port designs and layouts, and reuses the familiar UI to manage settings. The improvement is on the Wi-Fi 6 hardware which comes with WPA3, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, BSS Coloring, Target Wake Time (TWT), all these technology designed to improve wireless performance, reduce congestion, improve device power management. Given we are staying more often at home now, Wi-Fi has become such an essential gateway to connect to work and play. As we equip the home with more wireless devices like smart switches, security cameras, smart lightings, robot cleaners, Wi-Fi 6 will improve the quality, provide the devices must also support Wi-Fi 6.
The D-Link DIR-X5460 retails at an affordable price of S$259 with a street price of below S$200 at all good retail stores as well as online platforms like Lazada, Shopee. Visit this link for the official product page.
- Supports Wi-Fi 6 improved features
- Traditional router features with 4 LAN ports and 2 USB ports
- Real performance improvement with Wi-Fi 6 devices
- Smartphone app is not as user-friendly as other brands
- Larger than mesh units
- Coverage not as wide as mesh units