First a big thank you to D-Link for providing the DGL-4500 Gaming Router and the DWA-160 Dual Band USB adapter for this Review.
Today I take a look at the D-Link DGL-4500 gaming router from D-link and see what sets this router apart from the other routers that are out there today.
First up let’s cover the basics of this router.
- Dualband Draft 802.11n Technology (2.4GHz or 5GHz) for Getting Your Game on in the Wireless Band of Your Choice
- Network Activity Display that Gives You Vital Information about Your Router and Network Settings
- 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
When I seen a picture of this router online I had to get my hands on it and see if it was as good as I thought it might be. For years now I have been unimpressed with the lack of information you get from routers and the single lights over each port. At best these lights tell you that you have activity on the ports and that’s it.
For those like myself that want the router to provide more information you were out of luck with the majority of routers out there. The D-Link DGL-4500 gives you way more information with its built in display. When you power the router up this nicely lit screen lights up and on that screen you can view a lot of information about what the router is doing and how its setup.
So if for example you want to see how fast a file is being sent across the router you can see the speed of the transfer. If you want to check the wireless settings or other settings you can do that as well. To navigate the display there are two buttons on the router, one selects the tab you’re currently on and the other will cycle the information.
The picture below shows the DGL-4500 and its display.
The one thing about this display that didn’t impress me was the fact it only stays lit for 1 minute and then turns its self off. The fact the display does not stay on and there is no way to set it on all the time was a huge disappoints for me. The whole idea of getting a router like this with the display was to be able to see the information I wanted to see all the time. I really hope D-link does something to fix this and give the end user a choice of having the display on all the time or have it the way it works now with the 1 minute timer.
Below is a picture of the back of the DGL-4500 and here you can see the Gigabit ports and also the USB shareport.
The next thing that impressed me was the fact the router supports Gigabit LAN and that will really come in handy when transferring video files from one machine to the next. The wireless setup was also really easy to use as well using the web interface that’s built into the router. The only thing I would like to see different about the wireless is have it support both 2.4 GHZ and 5 GHZ at the same time instead of having to choose one or the other.
Speaking of the web interface I was impressed with the amount of stuff you can play with in this router and the fact the router has quite an extensive help system that explains what all the different things are.
The screen shot below shows one of the admin pages you see with the web interface.
In the default setup the router has the wireless enabled so that’s something you may want to switch right away or at least set it up so your neighborhood don’t start using your Internet connection. The one setting I wasn’t happy to see enabled by default was UPnP this is something that when enabled allows programs to open ports through the firewall. Allowing a program to open ports that you don’t know about is a bad Idea especially when you start talking about Trojan programs and the like. UPnP was designed to make it so programs would work smoother for the end user and you wouldn’t have to configure ports, but this also allows programs like Trojans to also work just as easily and that’s the reason why it’s a bad idea to have it enabled.
One of the features listed above for this router is a thing called SharePort technology and this allows you to use the USB port on the back of the router for hooking up attached storage or a printer. When I got this router the firmware was set to version 1.02 and the router worked perfectly out of the box. The problem was that in version 1.02 of the firmware this SharePort technology does not exist and so you are required to do a firmware upgrade.
So I update my firmware to the latest version which was 1.15 and much to my surprise that’s when I started to have some issues with the router. After the firmware upgrade I could not save some of the settings on the router at all. You would go to save something and the router would do a reboot and then come back with your changes not saved. I tried numerous ways and even re done the firmware upgrade and did all the restore to factory settings and all that and it didn’t matter I still couldn’t save my settings.
What makes the firmware issue really bad is once you upgrade according to the D-Link web site there is no way to downgrade back to the 1.02 firmware which for me ran fine. So it was off to the D-Link forums and other users in the forum are reporting the same saving issues with the new firmware. It was while browsing through the forum I seen a couple users say they reverted back to the 1.12 firmware and the router was working again so I tried that version of the firmware and the router is back to normal, well almost.
One thing I have noticed since using the 1.12 firmware is the clock in the router is not keeping time properly. I will set the clock and save the time and come back the next day to see the clock has lost a few hours of time somehow. And before you say it, my power did not go out on me. So despite the fact the router seems to be working fine under the 1.12 firmware there are clearly some more issues that need to be fixed. The other problem I’m noticing is I have shared folder setup between two computers and with this 1.12 firmware there seems to be a delay when that folder is displayed for the first time. This is something I did not notice at all in the 1.02 firmware.
To avoid these firmware issues I would recommend that users do not try and update their firmware until D-Link get a properly working firmware out. Keep in mind if you router has firmware version 1.02 there is no way to downgrade to this if your upgraded firmware starts to give you issues like I had.
Finally, the last cool thing about this router has to be its looks. If you want a sexy looking router that looks even sexier when the display is on then this is the router for you.
When D-Link sent me this router they also sent me a DWA-160 Dual Band USB adapter. This is a little device you can plug into the back of any computer that doesn’t have a network card and instantly you have wireless N access to your router, if your router has wireless N that is. This adapter works with both 5 ghz and 2.4 ghz and is backwards compatible with 802.11g networks. The DWA-160 Also supports both WPA and WPA2.
The system requirements for the adapter are the following.
- A computer or laptop with an available USB 2.0 port
- Windows 2000 XP or Vista
- At least 64MB of memory
- Properly installed and working USB controller
With the adapter comes an install CD and with that you will have the DWA-160 up and running in no time.
Below are several pics of the DWA-160.
In conclusion I have mixed feelings about this router, on one hand if you get the 1.02 firmware and never update the router it will no doubt be a solid router. If on the other hand you want to use the SharePort technology then that’s where it’s going to get risky when doing the firmware update. Also as stated above I wasn’t impressed with the display only staying on for a minute and no way to change that. Hopefully D-Link will get on the issues this router has and get them fixed. At the time of this Review you could purchase the D-Link DGL-4500 for about $170.00 Canadian. The DWA-160 Dual Band USB adapter at the time of this Review cost about $80.00 Canadian.