Monday, March 15, 2010

DLink DIR-615 Review

Having used this router for almost an year I decided to share my personal impression about it.

Things that I like/use:
  1. Price - it was one of the cheapest wireless-N routers on the market at that time (around 50 EUR).
  2. Easy to configure - most of the things are obvious once you log in
  3. Relatively good range - the router has two antennas and while some people argue that three antennas are better, I would say that for a small house or a big apartment the range is satisfactory
  4. Wireless security - WPA2 + ability to filter users by MAC address gives you a reasonable security
  5. DHCP reservation - lets you assign IP addresses per MAC address, so that your computers always get the same IP address. This lets you configure some network ports or forwarding more easily then
Things that I don't like very much
  1. Wireless throughput - I've been only able to get marginal speeds around 1MB/s when copying files between two computers. It probably depends on the file sharing protocol (NFS in this case) because bittorrent was able to reach a speed around 3.5 MB/s over the wireless.
  2. DNS Relay - this one is the nastiest problem that I had. This option is enabled by default. The idea is to minimize the number of DNS requests to your ISP's DSN server by caching DSN mappings in the router for a while. In order to do this, the router assigns itself as a DSN server to all the hosts on the network that are configured with DHCP (e.g. 192.168.0.1). The problem with this is that the built in DNS server stops responding to DNS requests after a while and all applications like browsers etc stop working. I figured that our issuing several dig @server commands, replacing the server with the router and my ISP's DNS server. While the latter was always working fine, the former was getting stuck after a while. The first workaround that came to mind was to configure the hosts on the network statically, so they don't use the router as a DNS server. While it worked, it requires manual effort for each new host on the network and makes it more complicated to configure hosts that are roaming around different networks. I thought I had given up on this one until I found the option to turn off the DSN relay in the SETUP > Lan setup menu. There is a checkbox that you have to uncheck. Then the router stops assigning itself as a DNS server and starts assigning the ISP's DNS server to the hosts configured by DHCP. I only tested this when the IP address from my ISP is assigned statically. I am not sure if it works with DHCP or PPPOE ISPs.
  3. Support from DLink - I filed a ticket for this problem, but never got a meaningful response

If it wasn't the DNS problem I would say that overall I am satisfied with the router.

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