Most people don’t look twice at a modem/router installed at home. That certainly won’t be the case with D-Link’s Taipan AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L). Looking a lot like a Cheops class warship from Stargate painted in blue enamel, the Taipan is certainly unique in its appearance. If the bright blue colour doesn’t get heads turning, the six antennas protruding out like spider legs certainly will.
But the Taipan isn’t just about good looks. It is based on Broadcom’s AC3200 chipset providing the capability to distribute wireless traffic over its 3 dedicated wireless radios using SmartConnect and Tri-Band technology. With the inclusion of an ADSL2+ modem, the Taipan is shaping up to be a great all-in-one wireless AC modem/router solution to review. Its reported feature set is well suited to online streaming, 4K HD video and lag free gaming scenarios.
Images courtesy of D-Link:D-Link Taipan (DSL-4320L) Specifications:
|Device Interfaces||IEEE 802.11ac wireless LAN
IEEE 802.11n/g/b/a wireless LAN
ADSL / VDSL WAN port
4 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN ports (configurable as WAN)
2 x USB ports (one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0)
|Antenna||6 x Detachable|
|Wireless Operating Frequency||2.4 GHz band: 2400 - 2483.5 MHz
2 x 5 GHz band: 5150 - 5725 MHz
|Wireless Security||WPA & WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) PIN
|Advanced Features||Web setup wizard
Advanced QoS (Quality of Service) with band steering
Advanced AC SmartBeam
VPN passthrough/multi-session PPTP/L2TP/IPSec
VPN Server - L2TP over IPSec
DLNA media server support
|Advanced Firewall Features||SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection)
NAT (Network Address Translation)
|Power||Input: DC 12V/5A|
|Dimensions||373mm (L) x 241mm (W) x 157mm (H)|
Installation & Configuration of the D-Link Taipan
I nearly fell off my chair taking the Taipan out of the courier satchel. To say it comes in an impressively large retail box would be an understatement. Dwarfing every piece of hardware sitting on my desk, you couldn’t but help get a sensation of something impressive hiding inside and like a kid on Christmas morning I just wanted to rip open the packaging and get straight to it.
The test unit shipped with firmware version AU_1.00.12 so the first thing we did was to upgrade to the latest version – AU_1.00.14, a process that was as easy as with any other router we’ve reviewed.
The web management console has a sleek and modern interface. It defaults to a simple mode with an option to display advanced options for the more experienced users. A small sample of the configurations screens are included below.
Additional Hardware Information
Using SSH to remote into the router we obtained some additional information:
# head -5 /proc/meminfo ; head -5 /proc/cpuinfo ; echo ; uname -a ; echo
MemTotal: 254848 kB
MemFree: 164320 kB
Buffers: 6868 kB
Cached: 21064 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 0 (v7l)
processor : 0
BogoMIPS : 1998.84
processor : 1
Linux dlinkrouter 126.96.36.199brcmarm+ #1 SMP Mon Dec 14 17:54:52 CST 2015 armv7l GNU/Linux
We can see that the unit has 256kB of memory and is based on an ARMv7 processor.
We are a little over 3km from the exchange with a line attenuation of 58-59dB so getting towards the outer limits of acceptable ADSL2+ here in Australia. I typically get line sync speeds of 4.5-5.2Mbps on other modems. This was fairly consistent with what was seen with the D-Link Taipan as well.
Our standard wireless tests were run to assess the performance of the router from 5 different locations:
- Same room
- Same floor next room separated by a void
- Same floor opposite end of house
- One floor above
Using an Intel NUC with an Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 PCIe half mini card connecting to the Taipan’s wireless network, file copy tests were also performed. Speeds were similar to other wireless AC based routers we’ve tested before.
There is no middle ground with the D-Link Taipan AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router. You will either love it or hate it. We firmly fell into the love it category.
The Taipan, like the D-Link Viper, does away with what a modem/router traditionally looked like. D-Link have pushed the boundaries of chassis design and merged it with state of the art electronics to provide a beast of a device worthy of its flagship status.
That said, D-Link have 2 important challenges in finding widespread love for this unit. Firstly, it’s big and desk space comes at a premium for the average home user. Similarly, due to its size, installation locations become a little more limited. Lastly, with a recommended retail price of AUD$579, it prices the average consumer out of the market.
However, this cosmic pyramid resembling something out of Stargate, does boast some outstanding features and you are getting an all-in-one device providing modem, router and wireless capabilities that would cater for most connectivity needs for years to come. If we gave out scores this would be up there with a solid 9/10.