Mesh routers have been around for a while now and there have been some great options and some lacking in some regards. Here at EFTM we have looked at offerings from Google, Orbi, and a D-Link version back a few years ago but now we are seeing companies update their mesh systems with newer Wi-Fi and security technology so the product cycle is never ending.
At CES D-Link announced a range of new products with a host of new features, all including Wi-Fi 6, one of the newer Wi-Fi technologies (of course there is always something newer on the way as 6E is now being released). One of the new products announced was a new version of their COVR mesh Wi-Fi systems, the COVR AX1800 so it seemed like a good idea to test it out and see if Wi-Fi 6 can really make a difference to your home (or work) Internet.
D-Link sent us the COVR-X1873 AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi package, which includes three COVR points, any of which can be the main source from your modem. The COVR-X1873 sells for $549 at D-Link and various retailers. The same Wi-Fi points, if three COVR points is too many or too few, also sell as a dual package (COVR-X1872) for $399 and a single point package (COVR-X1870) for $249.
So what exactly is the D-Link COVR AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi?
The extensive name says it all doesn’t it? It’s a mesh Wi-Fi router.
While not as pretty or stylish, nor as unobtrusive as the Nest Wi-Fi it is certainly not as garish as some of the multi-antennae routers you see for sale. The COVR AX1800 Wi-Fi COVR points will sit on your book shelf or bench top without looking too much out of place.
Inside the box, well, inside the three Wi-Fi point version you get, three W-Fi COVR points, three power adapters and one ethernet cable. Simple right? It certainly is, no fluff here. Of course, there is also a quick installation guide and an even quicker quick installation card with a QR code on it to help download the D-Link app directly from your relevant app store.
The rear of the COVR point has a WPS button, four Gigabit LAN ports, a Gigabit WAN port to connect to your modem or to your wired network in the house (to use your ethernet as the internet/mesh backhaul — this is my preferred option). As you would expect there is a power button as well.
The COVR-X1870 supports Wi-Fi 6, which is the headline feature for the router, as well as the rest of the Wi-Fi 802.11 standards: 802.11ax, n, g, b, k, v, ac, a and h.
Setting up the COVR-X1873 AX1800 mesh Wi-Fi is incredibly easy and can be done via the app on your phone and scanning the QR code on the quick installation guide. From here follow the step-by-step process and you will be online in no time.
The problem with the app is that there are very few admin tools, instead you need to access the router via a PC/web page to do so. It’s not very difficult to do this with http:covr.local./ sending you to the router login page. Enter your admin password and you are presented with all the features of the mesh system which are incredibly easy to use. You can change the link to access the management tools on your PC — just don’t forget what you change it to.
The range of features are what you would expect from a mesh router in 2021 and include:
- Wi-Fi 6 for faster speeds, greater capacity and less network congestion
- Parental controls (my favourite feature)
- WPA3 encryption
- Voice control with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
- Controls possible for each of these are to enable or disable guest Wi-Fi, reboot or upgrade the router.
- QoS engine to control device priorities
- And much more
The Wi-Fi 6 promises faster speeds but of course how many of us have Wi-Fi 6 devices? Not many just yet but many more will be coming very soon. I have two Wi-Fi 6 devices and compared to the Speedtest results I had been getting with my Google Wi-Fi mesh system (gen 1) it was, on an average, faster but not a great deal. I have — at the time of this writing with my kids at a different house, 42 connected devices (some of these are on 2.4GHz and some on 5GHz) so it’s fair to say I have a lot of devices on my network.
For this reason, Wi-Fi 6 should result in better speeds for the devices that need that better speeds and I did see better speeds at greater distances than with my previous Wi-Fi mesh system — about 20% better. The main result I noticed was a consistently higher speed, even when more devices were added to the network (ie. I turned on more Wi-Fi-using devices and set them running using the network) — ie. a lack of speed reduction.
There is an easy-to-use QoS engine that you can prioritise your devices as to which need the faster speeds. Being a parent to a Tik-Tok/Snapchat-addicted teenage daughter and a gaming-addicted 12yo boy parental controls are something that come in extremely handy. For some reason the kids don’t argue when the Wi-Fi turns off for them at certain times of the day (or night, or even just when they argue back and you are punishing them for swearing at you).
You can add any Wi-Fi connected device to the rules, including a website filter for certain times — eg. homework times only allow homework-related sites. You can set up 12 different profiles in parental controls and within each profile add up to 24 different filtered websites and 24 different selected devices.
The voice control is not native which means that you will need to tell your digital assistant to speak to “D-Link Wi-Fi” to do the few functions available. Unfortunately, none of them are to tell the D-Link Wi-Fi to pause the kids’ devices. D-Link, if you are listening, this would be more useful than enabling a guest Wi-Fi.
Should you buy it?
That is the main reason everyone is here right? Should you buy it? That is fairly simple.
Do you need a new router with mesh capabilities for a large environment with large volumes of devices on the network? If so, then yes.
Do you need a new router with extra speed over the older Wi-Fi 5 and have devices capable of using Wi-Fi 6? If so, then yes.
Do you want a mesh router that is incredibly easy to setup using your phone? If so, then yes.
If you do not need a new router just yet then no, probably not, even if you have a couple of Wi-Fi 6 devices. Wait until you have many Wi-Fi 6-capable devices before upgrading.
The D-Link COVR-X1873 AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi is relatively stylish in design, the hardware misses very little if anything with the ability to use Ethernet for the backhaul on your router, and the features are abundant. If you buy in bulk then the price is competitive — a three pack will set you back $549, a two pack $399 and a single point $249. You can add on points to whatever number of points you purchase as you need them — need 6? Buy 2 x three packs.