D-Link Covr mesh Wi-Fi

THE FASTEST, SIM­PLEST, MOST-EF­FEC­TIVE WAY TO BLAN­KET YOUR HOME IN WI-FI

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - NICK ROSS

We’ve been im­pressed by mesh Wi-Fi sys­tems for some time. Up to now, Google WiFi has ar­guably led the way thanks to its rea­son­able value and de­cent per­for­mance. But it’s been avail­able for a year al­ready and the price has dropped. With D-Link’s Covr sys­tem launch­ing into a ma­ture mar­ket with sim­i­lar specs, does it of­fer enough to turn our heads?

Like ri­vals, the Covr sys­tem sports slick de­sign flour­ishes and comes in a fancy box to make you feel like you’ve bought some­thing spe­cial. After years of test­ing util­i­tar­ian wire­less routers, it’s re­fresh­ing to un­box some­thing that apes Ap­ple’s i-de­vices. It also re­minds us that set­ting up a mesh sys­tem tends to be con­sid­er­ably eas­ier than set­ting up a reg­u­lar router. D-Link’s Covr makes things even sim­pler than we’ve seen be­fore as the three nodes come pre­con­fig­ured to com­mu­ni­cate with each other out of the box.

First, you’re asked to down­load the D-Link Wi-Fi app which walks you through setup (you can also do it via web browser). This in­volves us­ing Wi-Fi to con­nect di­rectly to the node to set-up a name and pass­word plus con­nect­ing it to your ex­ist­ing router via Eth­er­net ca­ble. Next, we po­si­tioned the other two nodes on the first floor and the sec­ond floor of our town­house, waited for an au­to­matic firmware up­date and had a new WiFi net­work up and run­ning in min­utes.

D-Link’s nodes look bet­ter than some ri­vals: Linksys’ ex­pen­sive, blocky tow­ers are a bit stark, while Google’s Wi-Fi nodes are some­what larger (but have some cool, Cy­lon­like light­ing). The Covr’s round­ed­tri­an­gu­lar shape blends in well with lounge and bed­room fur­ni­ture and even has change­able, coloured lids: blue, pink and gold (there’s one spare set in each box). How­ever, promi­nently il­lu­mi­nat­ing the name “Covr” might be a turn-off for some – it’s bet­ter than ‘D-Link’ but still lacks brand ca­chet. Each one has a USB-C based power socket, WPS (one-press) con­nec­tion but­ton plus two Eth­er­net ports.

In­ter­nally, each node op­er­ates us­ing 802.11ac MU-MIMO du­al­band (2.4GHz and 5GHz), three­an­ten­nae Wi-Fi with a the­o­ret­i­cal top through­put of 1200Mb/s. D-Link also high­lights its Smart Steer­ing and Smart Roam­ing tech­nolo­gies which au­to­mat­i­cally and dy­nam­i­cally switch to the node with the strong­est sig­nal and to the band with the fastest speed. So how did it per­form?

We ran Ookla’s Speedtest next to our pri­mary node while the kids watched YouTube on a tablet and did some PC gam­ing. We ran it again one floor up in a bed­room (con­tain­ing the node) and fi­nally on the top floor near the third node. Ev­ery­thing was con­nected to Linksys router which han­dled our Tel­stra ca­ble in­ter­net con­nec­tion that runs at 115Mb/s down­stream and 5Mb/s up­stream.

Up close the Covr hit max­i­mum speeds with a 12ms ping (as did ri­vals). One floor up, how­ever, it only dropped to 108Mb/s (14ms) ping whereas Google WiFi dropped to 78Mb/s (16ms ping). On the top floor the Covr was still able to hit 93 Mb/s (15ms ping) while Google WiFi man­aged 78 Mb/s (15ms ping). This makes the Covr the fastest Wi-Fi sys­tem we’ve ever had in our house. We’ve not found Google WiFi want­ing for any pur­pose, but the Covr’s num­bers are no­tably faster and will ben­e­fit those us­ing mul­ti­ple, large video streams.

As is usual with mesh sys­tems, other fea­tures are sparse. D-Link’s Wi-Fi app of­fers sched­ul­ing to turn the net­work on or off at cer­tain times dur­ing the week and this can be tai­lored to in­di­vid­ual de­vices. Guest Wi-Fi is avail­able and there’s a WPS, one-press con­nect but­ton but that’s pretty much it. Ev­ery­thing can be ac­cessed on­line via a browser.

At $450 for a three-node kit, it’s rea­son­able value: a bit more than Google’s $380 older, slower kit but still $200 cheaper than Linksys’ tri-band sys­tem. The Google nodes’ ap­pear­ance may ap­peal more to some but the D-Link is sig­nif­i­cantly faster. As such, it’s our choice for adding mesh Wi-Fi to your home.

“the D-Link is our choice for adding mesh Wi-Fi to your home”

KEY SPECS

AC1200 Wave II • MU-MIMO • 2.4GHz and 5GHz sup­port • Smart Roam­ing • Smart Steer­ing • dual gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net • Change­able colour fa­cia • WPS but­ton

$450 • www.dlink.com.au

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