D-Link Covr Review (Page 4 of 5)

Page 4 - Performance Tests

For the tests, the wireless router was placed in the middle of the main floor of my house. To test the Covr mesh system with both nodes, one additional node was placed near Location 3 to strategically exploit the advantage of a mesh system. An ASUSTOR AS3202T network attached storage equipped with a single Seagate NAS HDD ST4000VN000 4TB was connected to the router via a CAT5e cable on a Gigabit Ethernet connection. On the client side, a 2015 13" Apple MacBook Pro running Totusoft's LAN Speed Test application was used to transfer 500MB test files to evaluate real-world throughput. In our results, "upload" is defined as data transfer from the client to the server via the wireless router; conversely, "download" is defined as data transfer from the server to the client via the wireless router.

A brief description of the test locations is as follows:

- Location 1: Line of sight to router, approximately 2m distance
- Location 2: Non-line of sight to router, bedroom, one floor up
- Location 3: Non-line of sight to router, driveway in front of attached garage, same level
- Location 4: Non-line of sight to router, near end of backyard, one floor down
- Location 5: Non-line of sight to router, open area, one floor down

Compared Hardware:
- D-Link Covr (AC2600 Router, AC1300 Extender)
- Linksys Velop (AC2200 Mesh)
- Linksys WRT3200ACM (AC3200)
- TP-Link Archer C3150 (AC3150)
- TP-Link Deco M5 (AC1300 Mesh)

Since wireless channels are generally characterized by path loss, large scale fading, and small-scale fading, the router was tested in five different locations described above to comprehensively measure its true throughput performance. This includes a combination of line of sight and non-light of sight spots, different distance and positions relative to the router, as well as shadowing caused by objects between the laptop and the router. In order to overcome inconsistencies due to small scale fading, a relatively large 500MB test file was used. Furthermore, movement of people and objects within the vicinity of the devices during testing was eliminated whenever possible.

Given the D-Link Covr's router and extender are not the same like other mesh products currently in the market, and they cannot be purchased separately, I conducted only one test for the system that include both elements. In Location 1, the D-Link Covr delivered line-of-sight speeds as expected compared to other products, keeping in mind the COVR-2600R is an AC2600 router. In Location 2, the Covr system did very well; outperforming even the venerable Linksys WRT3200ACM in download and keeping its own in the upload department. Even though the Covr was faster than the Velop with three nodes, it was not unable to beat the Deco M5's download speed with three nodes. Location 2 and Location 5 are almost just above or below the router, respectively, showing the COVR-2600R's antenna array strength when the MacBook Pro is not just adjacent to the device, but also on top. The COVR-2600R seemed to do very well when the laptop is below it, too -- beating the Archer C3150 by almost 100Mbps in download speed in Location 5.

In Location 3, I was surprised to find the D-Link Covr was the slowest router in the test, even though the COVR-1300E extender was placed strategically to specifically improve wireless performance in this spot. This is a tough testing location, because the signal needs to go through a thick garage wall. Both mesh routers -- the Linksys Velop and TP-Link Deco M5 -- in multi-node configuration had no problems outperforming the D-Link Covr. The top performers in this test remain to be high performance single routers like the Linksys WRT3200ACM and TP-Link Archer C3150. Location 4 is a tricky scenario, where the distance is not only the longest compared to all the other locations, but the laptop is also located a level below the router. That said, a few glass windows in between help with the signal. For the triple node routers, an extra node was strategically placed near Location 4 to improve its performance. Unfortunately, the D-Link Covr lacked a third node, and placing the second node near Location 3 provided a higher average performance gain. The D-Link Covr scored last place compared to other mesh models and high power single routers in this location.

Based on the graphs above, I was not exactly impressed with the D-Link Covr. That said, it is true we are yet to be impressed by any mesh system currently offered in the market today. Even though the COVR-2600E router is a star compared to other mesh systems with identical nodes, its overall system performance was average at best. The Covr was unable to outperform the Linksys Velop or TP-Link Devo M5 with triple nodes except for the former in one test. The D-Link Covr was also unable to beat the single Linksys WRT3200ACM, again apart from one test, by a very small margin. I do not think this is a problem with the concept of a mesh wireless system, but rather as a matter of two factors. Firstly, the D-Link Covr is designed to be slower than the Linksys WRT3200ACM, which is fair. However, there are some design concerns that I have, which brings me to my second point: The extender. The COVR-1300E only has two antennas inside, and this is supposed to handle both front end traffic and wireless backhaul. For comparison, the Velop has six internal antennas to do the heavy lifting. This will severely impact its ability to handle multiple users, and judging from our tests, the COVR-1300E was not very good at overcoming negative channel conditions due to its low antenna gain either.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Configuration and User Interface
4. Performance Tests
5. Conclusion