The D-Link DIR-865L Wireless AC 1750 Dual Band Cloud Router is the first wireless router from D-Link that supports the new 802.11ac (aka 5G Wi-Fi) and is the second cloud-based router I've reviewed from D-Link. The review of the router was delayed for about two weeks because of a bug in its initial firmware that caused the router's Web interface to be incompatible with Firefox.
D-Link has now released new firmware, version 1.0.1, that fixed the bug (though you might still want to use Internet Explorer with it). It proved to be a good 802.11ac router that also offers support for Wireless-N and legacy clients. Its cloud-based feature, though currently rather limited, also makes it convenient for remote users to manage their home network while on the go.
The DIR-865L is far from perfect, however, as I found its 802.11ac speed slower than that of some other 802.11ac routers. On top of that, it shares the now common drawback of all 802.11ac routers: the performance on the 2.4GHz band could use some big improvement. One last thing: the router doesn't have the useful HD fuel QoS feature found in other D-Link routers, such as the DIR-857.
That said, at a street price of around $190, it still makes a decent investment for those with lots of 5GHz Wi-Fi clients. For better performance and more features, you should also check out similarly configured routers, such as the Asus RT-AC66U or the Netgear R6300.
The D-Link DIR-865L looks very different from previous D-Link routers; it has a square shape and sits vertically. The router comes with a relatively narrow base on one side that's, nonetheless, heavy enough to keep it grounded on a surface without toppling. With all of its antennas hidden inside, the router manages to remain compact, despite the fact that it is a high-end router.
On the back, the DIR-865L comes with four LAN ports (for wired clients) and one WAN port (for the Internet connection). All of these ports are Gigabit, which is also a bonus and also somewhat a requirement if you want to have a home network with heavy traffic, such as streaming movies from between devices. Also on the back, there's a USB 2.0 port to host an external storage device, a recessed reset button, and and an on/off button.
On the front, the router has two round LED light that show the power and Internet connection status, as well as a Wi-Fi Protected Setup button, which initiates a 2-minute window when other WPS-enabled devices can enter the router's Wi-Fi network. In my trial, the router's WPS function was hit and miss, however, not working well with all WPS-enabled clients.
Similar to other routers from D-Link, It's very easy to set up the DIR-865L: you plug the router into an outlet, connect its WAN port to an Internet source (such as a cable modem) with the included network cable. Use another cable to connect a computer to one of the router's LAN ports. Now, from the connected computer, launch a browser and you will be greeted with a setup wizard that walks you through the process via a few simple steps.
Editors' note: With the initial firmware, the router only works well with Internet Explorer and might not work with other browsers. This is no longer the case once you have updated the router to the latest firmware. You'll have to download the firmware and update manually, since in my trial, the automatic update function of the router's Web interface didn't detect the availability of the new firmware.
The DIR-865Lis the first 802.11ac router from D-Link, and like the rest of the 802.11ac routers I've reviewed, it's basically a N900 router plus it has support for 802.11ac on the 5GHz band. An N900 router, by the way, is a true dual-band Wireless-N router that offers the top 450Mbps Wi-Fi speeds on each of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. This means the router will work with all existing Wi-Fi clients, and when you get 802.11ac-capable devices, it will support those, too.
Needless to say, the router also supports common features found in high-end routers, including Guest networking (with two networks, one for each band), support for IPv6, port forwarding, QOS and so on.
Other than that, the router offers features that have been collectively available in other D-Link routers, including a well-organized Web interface, OpenDSN-based parental controls, an extensive Web-filtering engine, cloud features, and support for a storage device for data sharing and media-streaming needs. Unfortunately, it doesn't offer HD Fuel, which is a very nice feature that's available in other D-Link routers. HD Fuel automatically detects media streaming, VoIP, gaming Internet traffic, and prioritizes the bandwidth for those. (The router does comes with a comprehensive QoS engine that you can customize manually, however).
To make up for this, the DIR-865L comes with a different features that HD Fuel routers don't: the router is Cloud-enabled, allowing you to mange a home network via the Internet, using a Web browser or a mobile app. It's very easy to enable this feature. You just need to create an account with the MyDlink portal then add to router to that account by entering the username and password in the MyDlink Settings section of its Web interface's Setup part. You can use one MyDlink account to manage multiple devices, including a Dlink IP camera and other D-Link cloud routers, such as the DIR-605L.
In my trials, the cloud features worked very well. It could easily view the status of the DIR-865L and its connected clients in real time. I could also quickly block or unblock a connected client. It couldn't manage all of the router's settings, however. In fact, only a few of its settings were available to the cloud feature. To completely manage the router, you'll need to resort to its Web interface, which is generally only available within the local network. Mobile users can download and install the MyDlink Lite mobile app for iOS and Android devices; it offers similar levels of management.