Affordably priced. Easy to install. Supports Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) streaming. Four LAN ports.
Lacks USB ports. Middling MU-MIMO throughput.
- Bottom Line
The D-Link AC1900 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router (DIR-878) brings dual-band Wi-Fi at an affordable price. It lacks USB connectivity, and MU-MIMO performance could be better, but it's easy to install and offers plenty of management settings.
The $119.99 D-Link AC1900 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router (DIR-878) is an affordably priced dual-band router that offers the latest 802.11ac technologies, including beamforming and Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) data streaming. It's easy to install and to manage, and is equipped with four LAN ports, but there are better performing routers out there for around the same price.
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Design and Features
The wedge-shaped DIR-878 has a matte-black finish and measures 1.7 by 7 by 10 inches (HWD). It's designed to sit on a flat surface, or it can be hung on a wall using the two built-in mounts. It features four non-removable, adjustable antennas and has four Gigabit LAN ports, a WAN port, and reset, WPS, Wi-Fi, and power buttons, all at the rear of the cabinet. The top of the router holds LED indicators for power, internet connectivity, and each radio band. Included in the box are a LAN cable, a Quick Install guide, and a Configuration Card.
The DIR-878 is powered by a dual-core 880MHz CPU. It's a dual-band 802.11ac router capable of speeds of up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz band. It supports the latest 802.11ac technologies, including beamforming, which send signals directly to each client rather than over a broad spectrum, MU-MIMO streaming, which serves data to compatible clients simultaneously rather than sequentially, and Smart Connect, which automatically selects the best radio band for optimal throughput.
You manage the DIR-878 using the same easy-to-use web-based console as the D-Link AC1200 Wi-Fi Router (DIR-842) or via the D-Link Quick Router Setup (QRS) mobile app for iOS and Android. The web console's home screen has a network map that shows the number of connected clients. Click the client icon to see who is connected, their IP address, and if parental controls are enabled. Under the Settings tab, you'll find a Setup Wizard and menus for configuring Internet, Wireless, and Network settings. Use the Wireless settings to configure Security Mode settings, 802.11 Mode settings, Wi-Fi Channel selection, Channel Width, and Transmission Power settings.
The Features tab offers a user-friendly drag-and-drop Quality of Service (QoS) engine, firewall settings, web-filtering settings, and port-forwarding settings. In the Management menu, you can create parental control rules, set up access schedules, view system logs, update the router's firmware, monitor network traffic, and change passwords.
Installation and Performance
Installation is easy. Once the router was connected to my PC and to the internet, I typed http://dlinkrouter.local in my browser's address bar and used the Setup Wizard to configure my internet and basic wireless settings. The entire process took around three minutes. I then set about creating unique passwords and SSIDs for each band (I disabled Smart Connect to test 2.4GHz and 5GHz performance separately), and the router was ready for throughput testing.
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The DIR-878 is a decent performer, but it didn't break any speed records in our tests. Its score of 92Mbps in our close-proximity (same-room) 2.4GHz throughput test was just a few points behind the Synology Router RT1900ac (95.9Mbps) and the Asus RT-AC1900P (98Mbps), but it came in well behind our Editors' Choice for midrange routers, the D-Link AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router (DIR-885L/R), which garnered 103Mbps. By way of comparison, our Editors' Choice for affordable routers, the TP-Link Archer C7 (V2), scored 91.3Mbps. In our 30-foot 2.4GHz test, the DIR-878 scored 55.2Mbps, beating the Synology RT1900ac (45.6Mbps), but not the Asus RT-AC1900P (75.8Mbps), the D-Link DIR-885L/R (85.5Mbps), or the TP-Link Archer C7 (V2) (62.8Mbps).
In our 5GHz close-proximity test, the DIR-878's score of 396Mbps couldn't touch the competition. The Asus RT-AC1900P scored 533Mbps, the Synology RT1900ac gained 479Mbps, and the D-Link DIR-885L/R had a throughput of 572Mbps. The TP-Link Archer C7 (V2) garnered 509Mbps in this test. At 30 feet, the DIR-878 managed 268Mbps, beating the Synology RT-1900ac (231Mbps) and the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (V2) (250Mbps). However, it trailed the Asus RT-AC1900P (337Mbps) and the D-Link DIR-885L/R (350Mbps).
We test MU-MIMO throughput using three identical Acer Aspire R13 laptops equipped with Qualcomm's QCA61x4A MU-MIMO circuitry. It should be noted that the TP-Link Archer C7 (V2) and the Synology RT-1900ac do not support MU-MIMO, which is why they are not included here. The DIR-878 averaged 188Mbps in the close-proximity test, besting the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router (176Mbps), but not the D-Link DIR-885L/R (237Mbps) or the Trendnet AC2600 StreamBoost MU-MIMO WiFi Router (TEW-827DRU) (238Mbps). At 30 feet, the DIR-878 came in dead last with a score of 80Mbps. The Linksys EA7500 was only a point higher (81Mbps), while the TrendNet TEW-827DRU (127Mbps) and the D-Link DIR-885L/R (165Mbps) were significantly faster.
D-Link's AC1900 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router (DIR-878) is affordable and offers respectable throughput performance, but it's certainly not the fastest router in its class. That said, it uses the latest Wi-Fi technology and features a user-friendly console that makes it easy to configure QoS for each client, set up parental controls, and configure guest networks. It's a snap to install, but it could use a few USB ports for connecting external peripherals, such as storage drives and printers. If you can live without MU-MIMO and beamforming support, our Editors' Choice for affordable routers, the TP-Link Archer C7 (V2), offers slightly better performance and USB connectivity for around $20 less. Or, if your budget allows, the D-Link DIR-885L/R gives you MU-MIMO data streaming, beamforming, support for open-source firmware, and outstanding performance, but it does cost quite a bit more.
By John R. Delaney Contributing Editor
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of the Labs technical staff, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of the Labs testing machines and procedures. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, John spent six years in retail operations for… More »
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