D-Link DIR 3060 EXO Ac 3000 Mesh Router REVIEW
D-Link DIR 3060 EXO Ac 3000 Mesh Router REVIEW
PAT PILCHER kicks Wi-Fi dead zones in the nuts with the latest D-Link wi-fi router.
Having experienced the wonders of mesh networking as a way of banishing Wi-Fi dead zones, I was intrigued when D-Link announced their new EXO range of smart mesh D-Link wi-fi routers, which include mesh networking capabilities out of the box.
The DIR-3060 also combines Wi-Fi with McAfee network security, something that’s been sorely needed for home networks for quite some time. This sees the DIR-3060 sold with five-years’ worth of McAfee Secure Home Platform. In theory, this should mean that it protects every networked widget on your home network by blocking dodgy connections and warning/restricting access to malicious content.
Part and parcel of this is a pretty thorough set of parental controls. These can prevent kids from accessing inappropriate content (they can request access for more granular control), limiting online time via Wi-Fi schedules (these can be set up on a per-child basis) and so on. All told, the parental controls are comprehensive and give an unprecedented level of control over a kid’s online activities.
The icing on the cybersecurity cake comes in the form of a two-year subscription to McAfee LiveSafe, which allows antivirus software to be installed on an unlimited number of devices.
Security aside, the DIR3060 wireless specs are compelling. Its AC3000 capabilities include 802.11ac Wave 2, which allows for theoretical Dual-Band and Tri-Band wireless speeds of up to 3000Mbps. As lovely as zippy data speeds are, the real bonus is the ability to add D-Link DAP-1820 Wi-Fi mesh extenders. With these, you get a single seamless, self-optimising, mesh wireless network that fills in coverage blackspots for near-flawless wireless throughout your home.
Where I’d previously got good results by adding mesh extenders to my existing router, there were issues. I was sometimes left with two separate wireless networks – one of which couldn’t connect to the many smart home gadgets throughout my house. Some mesh extenders fixed this issue, but in doing so, left me with network DNS conflicts that created more problems than they solved.
By integrating mesh capabilities directly into the DIR 3060 D-Link wi-fi router, many of these problems no longer exist. I was able to get comparable network performance on the other side of my home as I got in the same room as the router.
If the good news stopped there, that’d be fine, but there’s a load of other features. These include Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, which means rebooting the router and other chores no longer required me fiddling about with a PC, and I could use my voice instead. I also liked that there is a speed test utility built into the DIR 3060. This allowed me to find out the real speed of my internet connection.
Under the hood, there’s plenty happening. D-Link designed the 3060 so that it automatically downloads and installs firmware updates. Updating your router’s firmware is something many forget to do once the router is up and running. Old firmware can mean that your router isn’t performing at its best, and worst of all, it could lack protection to network vulnerabilities. Being able to set, forget and have this taken care of in the background is an underrated bonus that I’d not want to do without now I have it.
Another bottleneck to router performance is the router’s CPU. Load a cheaper router up with too much networking activity, and things soon start to fall over. My home is literally bulging at the seams with smart home gear, and the 880 MHz dual-core processor in the DIR-3060 allowed it to handle large amounts of network activity almost effortlessly. For buffering-free video, lag-free gaming, and reliable surfing the DIR-3060 acquitted itself well.
The headline feature of the DIR-3060, however, is its Tri-Band technology. It provides Wi-Fi speeds of up to 3000Mbps (400Mbps on 2.4GHz, 866Mbps on the first 5GHz band, and 1733Mbps on the second 5GHz band). It’ll also deliver a serving of MU-MIMO to all users with MU-MIMO capable gadgets and makes use of what D-Link calls “SmartConnect”. The DIR-3060 will automatically direct devices to the wireless band best suited for them.
Fancy pants stuff aside, all the basics are there too. A QoS engine allowed me to prioritise media and gaming data traffic easily. Getting set up was a doddle, and no network engineering degrees were needed. There are also four Gigabit Ethernet ports, and most crucially, a Gigabit WAN port, which allowed me to wring as much speed as possible out of my fibre connection.
D-Link Wi-fi Router – Summary
If you’re thinking I’m impressed with the DIR 3060 D-Link wi-fi router, you’d be right. It’s fast, simple to set up and solves a lot of networking issues right out of the box (especially when mesh range extenders are added). As the amount of networked gear in our homes continues to grow, hardware such as the DIR 3060 EXO AC3000 router is just what the witch doctor ordered.