D-Link Xtreme N DGL-4500 Gaming Router Review

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If you are in the market for a new router, the top of your tech wish-list needs to be Wireless N and Gigabit transfer speeds. D-Link has a wide range of options with those features, but one model that should interest all the gamers is the Xtreme N Gaming Router. In addition to the latest technology, it also has an advanced quality of service (QOS) filtering called GamerFuel. Throw in an LCD screen and a USB port and you’ve got yourself a very attractive product on paper. Hopefully this little guy has the muscle to back it all up and deliver the performance you require.

THe D-Link Xtreme N Gaming Router DGL-4500

THe D-Link Xtreme N Gaming Router DGL-4500

Specifications and Features

The DGL-4500 has a very impressive list of features that should cover everything you are looking for.  The only thing I think is missing is support for open firmwares like OpenWRT, DD-WRT, and Tomato. The dual-band 2.4 GHz/5 GHz is a great feature for those of you who have a real need for the fast Wireless N speeds and have a lot of radio traffic in your area. The 2.4 GHz band is very crowded with wireless phones, Wireless G devices, etcetera which can interfere with transfer rates and signal strength. Changing to 5 GHz mode only allows N and A devices to connect, but it’s good to note that not all Wireless N can use 5 GHz so make sure to double check your client adapters when trying to decide if you should use this feature.

  • Dual-band 802.11n Technology (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz) for Getting Your Game on in the Wireless Band of Your Choice
  • Updated GameFuel Engine to Keep Your Game Going Smoother
  • Gigabit LAN and WAN Ports to Power Your Wired Network
  • Backward Compatible with 802.11a/g/b Devices
  • D-Link Green Verified Product (hardware version A1 and A2)
  • Includes SharePort™ technology* for Sharing USB Devices like Printers and Storage over Your Network

The retail box

The retail box

Back of the retail box

Back of the retail box

included accessories

included accessories

The DGL-4500 router

The DGL-4500 router

Another beauty shot of the router

Another beauty shot of the router

Ports on the back of the router

Ports on the back of the router

Bottom of the router

Bottom of the router

The router powered up

The router powered up

Close up of the OLED screen

Close up of the OLED screen

Standards IEEE 802.11n
IEEE 802.11g
IEEE 802.11a
IEEE 802.11b
IEEE 802.3
IEEE 802.3u
Interface Type 4 Gigabit LAN Ports
1 Gigabit WAN Port
USB Port (for Windows® Connect Now)
Antenna Type 3 External Reverse SMA Dualband Antennas
Security 64/128-bit WEP
WPA™ & WPA2™ (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
Advanced Firewall Features Network Address Translation (NAT)
Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI)
VPN Pass-through / Multi-sessions PPTP / L2TP / IPSec
Device Management Internet Explorer® v6 or later; Mozilla® Firefox® v1.5 or later; or other Java-enabled Browsers
Certifications FCC Class B
IC
Dimensions Item (WxDxH): 4.6” x 7.6” x 1.2”
Packaging (WxDxH): 9.6” x 11.1” x 3.1”
Weight Item: 0.7 lbs
Packaging: 2.0 lbs
Warranty 1 Year Limited
Package Contents Xtreme N™ Gaming Router
3 Detachable Antennas
Ethernet Cable
Power Adapter
CD-ROM with Installation Wizard, Product Documentation, World in Conflict™ Content

The build quality seems to be very good. It feels solid and sturdy even though it’s completely made out of plastic (as are most consumer grade routers). I even dropped it once from waist high (about 3 ft) on carpet and it didn’t get damaged at all. Of course it sits well on its base, but the included side-stand is just as worry free.

It’s also got a USB port on the back which can be used with the SharePort application. It can be used to share files off a USB drive or turn a USB printer into a network printer. The problem is, the software did not work well for me. It would connect to my shared drive once, but after that it would continue to have trouble mounting the drive. I had no problem finding other people who had the same issue through Google, which is how I found Silex SX Virtual Link. This software appears to be the exact same as the Sharepoint Utility, and D-Link probably licensed it to make their own branded version. More evidence to this is that the software performed (or didn’t perform) in the exact same way. I’m sure I might be the exception instead of the rule, so your mileage may vary, but I’d much rather see the router run its own Samba or DLNA server.

Performance

I had to use the Netgear WNR3500L v2 to compare with the D-Link Xtreme N Gaming Router because it was all that I had on hand.  Both are Wireless N routers with Gigabit wired switches. But they differ in that the Netgear doesn’t have 5 GHz capability (among other things ). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much information on the exact hardware that lies inside the plastic shell of the D-Link DGL-4500, but here is the Wikipedia page with hardware specs of the Netgear WNR3500L.

To test the signal strength, I used my Google Nexus S and Wifi Analyzer to walk around my house to set points and then take 3 screen shots 5 seconds apart. To test the transfer rates, I connected two computers to the router.  For the wired test, they were both connected via Cat 5 cable at gigabit speed. For the wireless test, only one was wireless via Wireless N. Then I set up a shared folder that is writeable on Computer A. On Computer B, I ran CopyMark to copy 1 GiB file to and from Computer A. I ran this 3 times then computed the average. I tried some of the other presets that come in CopyMark which will transfer different sized files, but all of the other tests failed to complete while on wireless. I’m not sure exactly why, but they were fine when both were wired.. All of the speed tests were completed within 6 feet of the router.

Signal Strength from various distances

Signal Strength from various distances

The one thing to take away from the signal strength test is that the D-Link was reachable from a farther distance than the Netgear. The 0 in this case is supposed to represent that no signal was detected. Otherwise, the two were just about the same.

Wired network performance

Wired network performance

While the Netgear had higher speeds in both download and upload, I think they are close enough that this is marginally a tie. I think if I performed more tests, then the averages would come closer together.

Wireless network performance

Wireless network performance

These tests were performed at 2.4 GHz, which is very crowded in my neighborhood. When I open my list of detected access points, I see about 30. After a conference call with D-Link, we all agree that this is the reason my transfer rates are so slow. But again, both routers perform about the same.

Wireless transfer rates running in the 5GHz spectrum

Wireless transfer rates running in the 5GHz spectrum

My use-case is the perfect illustration of the benefit of the 5 GHz option. Changing to 5 GHz drastically reduces the amount of devices I’m competing with and allows my bits to transfer more easily. You can get similar results on 2.4 GHz if you don’t have many competing devices around. One other thing to note is that the advertised 300 Mbps speeds use a channel width of 40 MHz, but there is a “Good Neighbor” policy which dictates that all devices must drop to 20 MHz when other 2.4 GHz devices are detected. The 20 MHz width caps speed at 150 Mbps, so this is another case where the 5 GHz is better.

Conclusion

The DGL-4500 is a very capable Wireless-N and Gigabit router. It comes with a large feature set that should cover just about everyone’s needs (and wants). Unfortunately, all 5 GHz capable routers come at a price premium, and you can decide for your self if that is worth it. This one is currently selling for $190 from Amazon while you can find other Wireless N routers without the 5 GHz mode for less than half that. In my case, I can definitely see how it would benefit me, and now that I’ve tested it I’d be willing to pay more for it. The signal did reach further than my Netgear router, but the transfer speeds were basically the same. However, I’m all about free and open source technologies so the fact that the D-Link Xtreme N Gaming Router can’t run 3rd party firmware like OpenWRT, dd-WRT, or Tomato is a huge draw back. Still, I have to give props where they are due, and the router performed admirably. So, this one is Overclockers Approved.

splat

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Discussion
  1. Nice quick review there, Splat. It would be pretty difficult to run a bunch of tests without an inventory of different routers. you did a great job with what you had available.
    I been using mine for over a year now...
    It's a great little router...
    I did however have some firmware issues with the original firmware. A quick update solved all those though.
    Pretty quick review. How is the firmware that comes with it? My biggest question for routers is how intuitive are they? Can you make changes to it (ie open/close ports, turn on/off the wireless, ect..) without having to reboot the router and bring down the entire home network? Does it have traffic monitoring (this is becoming more important given more isp's are putting data caps on service)?
    Most lower end routers always seem to bring down the network for every change you make to them, which is annoying as hell.
    To tag along to Lyian's questions:
    How in-depth are the QoS functions? That was one of the main reasons I switched to Tomato/DD-WRT but apparently stock router firmwares have been getting better about it. Still really unfortunate that you can't put a custom firmware on it though.
    Lyian
    Pretty quick review. How is the firmware that comes with it? My biggest question for routers is how intuitive are they? Can you make changes to it (ie open/close ports, turn on/off the wireless, ect..) without having to reboot the router and bring down the entire home network? Does it have traffic monitoring (this is becoming more important given more isp's are putting data caps on service)?
    Most lower end routers always seem to bring down the network for every change you make to them, which is annoying as hell.

    at first it took me some time to find all the settings I wanted because everything is divided into "basic" and "advanced" areas. I definitely agree that rebooting is annoying, but even with dd-wrt, tomato, etc. there are some functions that will always loose connections because a service needs to be restarted. It's just something i've learned to live with when setting up a wireless router so I didn't take too much notice of how frequently the Xtreme N Gaming Router was rebooting. That being said, I'd conclude it reboots at the same frequency as any router when changing settings.
    I'll double check when I get home but I'm also pretty sure there isn't any bandwidth monitoring like there is on dd-wrt and tomato. I definitely don't recall any pretty graphs.
    Janus67
    To tag along to Lyian's questions:
    How in-depth are the QoS functions? That was one of the main reasons I switched to Tomato/DD-WRT but apparently stock router firmwares have been getting better about it. Still really unfortunate that you can't put a custom firmware on it though.

    The QoS seemed quite in depth. I couldn't really come up with a good test to show them working so I figured it best to not even comment on the subject. I tried to load up a few linux torrents on a couple of clients then play games on another but i couldn't get any solid stats on if anything was happening.
    However, I remember using the QoS in dd-wrt a few years ago and it was completely broken. Even when there was light traffic it would degrade the performance of anything running. I didn't experience that at all with the DLink, so i can just assume it was working. i haven't tried the QoS on tomato so i have no idea if it is any different than dd-wrt.