D-Link DIR-510L travel router review: Fast and flexible, this one's a winner all around

D-Link DIR510L travel router

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At a Glance
  • D-Link DIR-510L Portable Router and Charger

Most travel routers trail the market, supporting older standards and offering limited features. Few would say that about D-Link’s DIR-510L (or the Wi-Fi AC750, depending on which name you find easier to remember), which costs $100 on Amazon. This is the first travel router to support the 802.11ac standard, and it’s loaded with features.

In case you’re wondering what AC750 means, it’s the industry’s fuzzy-math marketing speak for informing buyers that a router supports two 150Mbps spatial streams using the 802.11n standard, and one 433Mbps spatial stream using the 802.11ac standard (never mind that 150 + 150 + 433 add up to only 733).

I’ll cut D-Link some slack, because the DIR-510L is a marvelous device. It can run on AC power using the provided adapter, or it can run on its own internal 4000mAh battery. And it has three USB ports, so it can share files stored on a USB hard drive and run on AC power at the same time. The router must be put into charging mode to charge anything (the USB port delivers up to one amp of power to an attached device).

The DIR-510L is also a dual-band router capable of running on the 2.4GHz frequency band in 802.11b/g/n mode, or on the 5GHz frequency band in 802.11a or 802.11ac mode. It has only one Ethernet port, so it can’t support a wired network, but it can operate as a wireless router connected to either a wired broadband connection, or as a wireless hotspot connected to a wireless broadband connection. Alternatively, you can share a 3G, 4G, or LTE wireless broadband connection with a wireless USB adapter and whatever cellular service you subscribe to.

Travel Routers 2.4GHz Wi-Fi benchmark

This chart compares the D-Link DIR-510L's performance as an 802.11n router operating on the 2.4GHz frequency band. It's range as an 802.11ac router on the 5GHz frequency band wasn't as strong. 

It has a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button, which makes connecting clients super-easy (there’s no need to write down the SSID or WPA password). You should be aware, however, that the DIR-510L doesn’t come with any preset security. Don’t get in a hurry and forget to set that up, or anyone will be able to jump on your network. The DIR-510L supports guest networks on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands, enabling you to share Internet access with others without granting them access to the computers on your network.

In addition to being feature-rich, the DIR-510L was the fastest travel router I tested, by a wide margin. It delivered twice as much throughput on the 2.4GHz band in the bedroom (with the client nine feet away, in the same room as the router) and in the kitchen (with the client 20 feet away, with one insulated wall between it and the router). Its performance was much weaker at long range (with the client 65 feet from the router and separated by several walls), but that’s an unlikely scenario with a travel router anyway. Still, if you anticipate needing to support colleagues in adjacent hotel rooms, Netgear’s Trek might be a better choice.

Travel Routers

Only four of the routers tested for this roundup support storage on an attached USB hard drive. D-Link's was the second fastest. 

The DIR-510L has an onboard DLNA media server for streaming music, photos, and video from an attached USB hard drive. D-Link’s SharePort app supports most of the typical file formats: bmp, jpg, and png for photos; mp3, wav, and m4a for audio; mp4, mov, and m4v for video; as well as PDF and Microsoft Office document formats. Sadly, however, it does not support flac audio files. If you’re using a PC, you can use D-Link’s SharePort Web Access to view directories of files on an attached drive. D-Link also offers SharePort apps for Android and iOS devices.

Best of the best

The D-Link DIR-510L is the fastest travel router I’ve tested, and it has nearly all the features you could want. The DIR-510L’s $100 price tag marks it as the most expensive device in this roundup. In fact, it’s nearly three times costlier than the second-place finisher: Netgear’s Trek. But if you want the best travel router, this is it.

Update: The benchmark chart measuring each router's performance on the 2.4GHz frequency band has been corrected. 

This story, "D-Link DIR-510L travel router review: Fast and flexible, this one's a winner all around" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • D-Link DIR-510L Portable Router and Charger

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