I’ve always been interested in wireless hardware and with Wi-Fi 6, we’re seeing a new generation of routers and mesh systems hitting the market. Typically, if you wanted the latest Wi-Fi technology, you had to pay a premium price. D-Link’s new AX1500 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 (DIR-X1560) router hopes to provide users with the latest Wi-Fi technology, at an entry-level price. 

Design

The DIR-X1560 sports a conventional router design with four adjustable antennas that are non-removable. The front features four LED indicator lights for power, internet, and the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz radio bands. The power button is on the back along with a WPS button, reset button, yellow WAN ports, and four gigabit LAN ports. 

One notable port missing was a USB port, which prevents users from connecting external USB hard drives and printers directly to the router.

Technical features

On the 2.4GHz band, this router is capable of speeds up to 300Mbps on two simultaneous streams. On the 5GHz band, two additional streams have a combined speed of 1200Mbps. By combining those speeds and streams together, you see why it’s a dual-band AX1500 router with four simultaneous streams.   

As a Wi-Fi 6 router, the DIR-X1560 uses the latest 802.11ax technology. This includes Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). While it sounds super technical, it’s one of my favourite new features in the 802.11ax standard. 

OFDMA reduces bottlenecks by combining multiple small packets into a single packet. This significantly improves throughput by allowing simultaneous communication. 

To protect the network and connected devices from hackers, the DIR-X1560 features WPA3 encryption. Target Wake Time (TWT) is another new 802.11ax feature that I like. It reduces power consumption by enabling IoT devices to determine how often to wake up to send and receive data. 

Setup

The router can be set up with a web browser or through the D-link Wi-Fi App. I used the app on an Android smartphone. During the initial part of the install, I was asked to scan a QR code on the included Quick Install Card. I could have opted for manual setup, but scanning the QR code made the install a breeze. There’s no need to keep the Quick Install Card after setup. I noticed the QR code is also available on the bottom of the router.

By default, the AX1500 WiFi 6 router comes with a unique network name and password. This information is available on the QR code sticker. During the app install, it asked me if I wanted to change the network name and password. This is something I always do, and recommend others to do the same. 

The entire setup experience was simple and quick. The D-Link Wi-Fi app lets me test the speed between my Internet Provider (ISP) and the router. It tested the download speed between my modem and router and provided an “Excellent” score. With that, I knew the router setup was complete.

Performance

I placed the DIR-X1560 router in my living room and connected a variety of devices to the new Wi-Fi network. I used a Wi-Fi signal strength app to monitor the performance in various rooms. In the living room, the signal strength was 99%, which was expected.

Inside my home studio. the signal strength went down to 55%. Still, video streaming on Netflix was seamless in all areas in my house.

I should note that I live in a single-story rancher. Outside on my back deck, I was unable to receive a Wi-Fi signal.

The D-Link AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 router can be combined with D-Link’s mesh-enabled range extenders. Unlike the range extenders in the past, the new ones keep a single SSID for seamless roaming. This is especially great for multi-level homes or extending Wi-Fi coverage outdoors onto a patio or deck. Unfortunately, I did not have a mesh-enabled range extender. Otherwise, I would have tried to extend the Wi-Fi to my backyard. 

The DIR-X1560 can also be connected to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With my voice, I was able to enable and disable guest networking. Despite using voice assistants to turn lights on and play music, I don’t think I would use this feature. If I need to tweak my Wi-Fi network, it seems more natural to do it on the D-Link Wi-Fi app. 

Final Thoughts

It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed an entry-level router so I wasn’t expecting much. What impressed me about the DIR-X1560 is getting access to new Wi-Fi 6 technology, at a low price. Combined with D-Link Wi-Fi mesh-enabled extenders, I can scale up a mesh network at a later point in time. In fact, this modem itself can be used as an extender with another D-link mesh-enabled router. 

Another thing I like is SmartConnect. In the past, dual-band routers would create a separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz band. SmartConnect provides one network name and devices are automatically directed to the optimum wireless band.

Even as an entry-level router, I was surprised there was no USB port. I typically attach a USB hard drive to quickly move files around between devices on my network. I also thought the parental controls were very basic. While I could create profiles, assign internet access schedules per device, and block websites, I would like to see age-specific presets. 

Despite having 128-bit encryption, this router does not feature any malware protection. While that protects me from hackers breaking into my Wi-Fi network, I’m still not protected from any malware making it onto my network. Many high-end routers feature malware protection but I feel this service should be available for entry-level routers as well. 

Still, if I was going to create a Wi-Fi 6 network on a budget, I would definitely start with something like the D-Link AX1500 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 router. You get the latest Wi-Fi technology, and the ability to create a mesh network in the future. That’s the kind of peace of mind I want, in a wireless network.     

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