D-Link DI-524 Wireless Router
D-Link was founded in 1986, and since then has catered to both consumer and SOHO users. D-Link is already a well known name in the home networking market, however in the past D-Link products have been considered inferior to those of their competitors such as Linksys (Cisco) and Netgear (Bay Networks). Recently this stigma has begun to disappear with D-Link taking a large portion of the home and SOHO markets. The D-Link DI-524 is one of the company's new series of Wireless-G routers, offering transfer speeds of up to 54Mbps and WPA encryption.
In the Box
- D-Link Users Manual and Software CD
VPN Pass Through/Multi-Sessions
Advanced Firewall Features
Wireless Operating Range**
Wireless Frequency Range
Wireless Transmit Power
External Antenna Type
The DI-524 supports the PPTP WAN addressing scheme (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, a new technology for creating Virtual Private Networks VPNs) which is a nice non-standard feature.
I am writing this review after using the product for approximately 2 months. I will start with an examination of the user interface and configuration options:
As you can see this model offers the standard Wizard feature offered by D-Link.
Certain DSL providers in Canada such as Telus restrict the connection to a single computers MAC address. The clone MAC address feature on this router is extremely useful to users who have an ISP with this policy as it will save you a phone call to their Customer Service department.
The next screen presented by the wizard is the wireless SSID (Service Set Identifier the public name of your wireless network) configuration page. Here you can set the SSID and channel of the device.
After this configuration you are prompted to set up encryption, and can enter a WEP encryption key to secure your wireless network.
This concludes the wizard setup and should satisfy most home users; however, for those of us that like to set up every little detail there are a few more pages of advanced configuration. I will start with the advanced tab.
Here you are presented with basic virtual server configuration, which is used to give WAN users access to LAN services.
The next pane is the Application tab where simple port forwarding rules can be set for applications that need multiple connections.
You can configure port ranges to be allowed or disallowed for a range of IP addresses, and also dictate traffic source and destination. Another useful feature is the option to limit traffic based on time of day if for instance you wish to block all Bittorrent ports overnight.
The DI-524 offers standard DMZ configuration, however it does offer an interesting panel for changing wireless performance settings:
A number of interesting settings can be changed fron this page, but I will only focus on antenna power, as the remaining features are beyond my needs and knowledge to explain appropriately. You can set the antenna power to 100, 50, 25, or 12.5%. This is useful for users who are concerned with broadcasting inside an apartment building and wish to limit the range of the device.
Under the Tools tab the user is presented with the option to change the password, set up remote management, and upgrade the firmware. Another feature that has been included in this product and is becoming more popular is the ability to save or load configuration settings on your computer from the System pane.
Finally back under the home tab you can access wireless settings. Here you can enable or disable WEP and WPA encryption, (Note that WPA cannot be enabled from the wizard with the current firmware) set the SSID, and set up a WEP key or configure WPA radius servers.
That concludes the interface portion of the review, now on to some numbers.
I tested internet throughput both with and without the router, and as you can see, the difference is negligible:
I highly recommend enabling WEP despite the speed decrease it poses (please see Tom Bouncer Blakelys review of the SMC 7004AWBR as he evaluates these differences).
D-Link has put out a solid product in the DI-524. In the time I have used it I have had to reboot it once during heavy file transfer. The configuration options are more than adequate for your average user and the product is extremely easy to configure. Selling for under $50.00 I have to recommend this router as a great performer for its price. It offers remarkable stability compared to other products I have owned and with a solid management interface it is a safe choice for the less technically inclined.
Rating: 9 out of 10