D-Link Covr mesh Wi-Fi
THE FASTEST, SIMPLEST, MOST-EFFECTIVE WAY TO BLANKET YOUR HOME IN WI-FI
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”
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