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D-Link DGL-4300 Wireless 108G Gaming Router D-Link DGL-4300 Wireless 108G Gaming Router: Ping times suck? Too much lag? We look at a router designed for the gamer that also happens to be a great router for regular folks.
Date: March 25, 2005
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

Setting up the DGL-4300 initially was very quick, and the learning curve to add additional functions within the router/switch was very short, which had my inbound NAT table built quickly. The Firewall is pretty much setup out of the box, nothing you really need to do to protect your internal equipment, which is a nice touch for your typical homeowner. No worries, they let us tweakers have access so we can modify it to our hearts content.

A few things I noticed as I was tweaking the configuration is that after a change has been made, the unit requires a reboot. Granted you can make several changes, then reboot the unit, but I just don't understand the concept of changing a DHCP scope or an inbound NAT requiring me to reboot the box, especially when I have live connections over mIRC etc. I also noticed there is no where to hard code a port to a particular speed / duplex. I understand well that this is not a need of most people out there, unless you have an old print server or wireless AP that only accepts 10MB, and does not auto-negotiate. My last note is around Link Aggregation or LAG (802.3ad), although none of the SOHO solutions support it, I was seriously hoping something on this level might. I won't ding D-Link for not having this included, but it would be nice to be able to bond 2 of my NIC's in a Linux server for 200MB/Sec connection.

Money where your mouth is

So D-Link claims that the DGL-4300 can protect my game experience from diminishing no matter what anyone else is doing on my internal network (remember, no one can control what is going on outside of your cable modem / xDSL modem with exception to your provider). The included overview guide for reviewers had a scenario that they wanted me to test to prove this theory, well, we all know about canned tests and proof of concept. So I decided to go it alone as it where.

Testing

So here is the setup; I am going to test the GameFuel engine by playing Quake3, Tribes Vengeance (their provided online game) and UT2004. D-Link had offered a site to transfer files from that is all fine and good, but the true test is not only the download, but the upload on the same limited pipe (384K in my case). I enlisted my wife and her iBook G4 to assist in performing these tests.

Test 1: After connecting to a server (all games), I proceeded to start play, once I was in for ~1 minute, I had my wife begin an HTTP download of various Linux distributions from US mirrors, I then began an upload to my server using FTP of a 240mb zip file.

Test 2: Prior to connecting to a server (all games) I had my wife begin an HTTP download of various Linux distributions from US mirrors, I proceeded to begin the upload of the 240mb zip file to my FTP server. I then proceeded to connect to the same game server and play a game.

Test 3: Test 1 but upload only

Test 4: Test 2 but upload only

Results

As you can see below, it is very impressive, not only did my gameplay sustain a very playable ping, it did this whether I was uploading or downloading, or both...

*Note that a slight variation in ping is to be expected during normal gameplay, as there is a piece of this puzzle that is outside of the control of myself or D-Link; the server (and of course the Internet in general) also plays into the ping variation based on current load.

Game
Test1
Test2
Test3
Test4
Quake3 Server 1
16ms / 19ms
21ms – 23ms
17ms / 19ms
20ms – 23ms
Quake3 Server 2
47ms / 52ms
56ms – 59ms
51ms / 57ms
49ms – 52ms
UT 2004
37ms / 38ms
39ms – 44ms
38ms / 39ms
39ms – 42ms
Tribes Vengeance
98ms / 106ms
105ms - 109ms
98ms / 105ms
104ms - 109ms

Bonus Firmware upgrade

After I had completed the review I got a bonus. You see, in the Tools section there is a page that allows you to look for firmware updates and the like. I figured I would go ahead and click this as I was running code V1.0 (I am not much into being on a first release :p). Low and behold, V1.2 was available. So I clicked the link (still in the DGL-4300 manager remind you) and it brings me to the page that has the download link for the new code, as well as the release notes etc. I downloaded the code, went back to the DGL-4300 manager and pointed to where I had saved the .Bin file on my hard drive.

Of course with a code upload I expected to have a system reboot but I was very disappointed to find out that upon the reboot the DGL-4300 had lost everything. My configuration of the WiFi, LAN, password, everything was wiped upon the reboot with the new code. Hopefully this is fixed for future version updates. (See Hubert's notes below abut this topic)

Conclusion

Brook's $0.02

has provided a nice SOHO solution that can grow as your LAN and WAN grows, as well as your application needs. There are a few glitches here and there, only time will tell if they will be able to iron those out (which they should be able to do). The supported game list is pretty complete and of course you can define your own games to add to the list. While everything is basically setup for you out-of-the-box, you can tweak things yourself, although you may need to read the manual now and then. Overall, the D-Link DGL-4300 is a fairly solid product that actually does what it says it does; increase your likelihood of having a lag free game!

Hubert's $0.02

As some of of our regular readers may be aware, both Brook and myself have IT backgrounds and are quite picky when it comes to networking related components. I've worked with switches and routers that are 100x more expensive, and was pleasantly surprised with the features of the D-Link DGL-4300 when I received my unit a week ago. My family pretty much live on Bittorrent and P2P apps, and though I rarely game these days, it does suck having 80% of my home bandwidth get eaten by these apps when I want to get a game or two in. With the ability to control this now, I'm wishing I had the DGL-4300 five years ago when we were having Quake clan matches online.

If you've read this review in whole, you'll remember that Brook took issue that firmware upgrades causes the previous configuration to be lost. I've spoken with our D-Link representative, and although it's an issue, their does recommend that people should backup their configuration before upgrading, and then reload their settings. The DGL-4300 is one of the few SOHO routers that will accept configurations from a previous version of firmware which is a nice feature.

Long story short, we're loving the DGL-4300 and if you're in the market for a router, or looking to replace your current one (I sure did), D-Link DGL-4300 Wireless 108G Gaming Router should be on the top of your shopping list.

Pros: Does what it says - prioritizes games / applications you need, High performance 4 port 10/100/1000Base-Tx switch included, High performance WiFi (especially if using D-Link Turbo cards), WiFi is highly configurable to your needs for security and access, Great Help pages included local to device (not requiring your Internet connection to be active to assist you), One click to enable GameFuel's auto detection of gaming / VoIP packet prioritization.

Cons: Blue lights on front of unit don't tell me what speed was auto-negotiated, No ability to hard code a speed or duplex on the port, Any rule change requires a reboot (tsk tsk), Web management is not SSL capable.

Bottom Line: D-Link has brought to market a product that is both powerful and easy enough for most to understand (as long as you are willing to read the manual some). Not only have they provided you with a rather complete list of supported games, they have given you the ability to manipulate this with your own settings if you so desire. There are a few quirks yet in this newly released device, but that is to be expected when they just released code V1.2, hopefully by V1.4 or soon there after, it will fix some of these things I have outlined. Overall, a great product to put between you and the big bad Internet.

If you have any questions or comments about this review, please discuss it with us in our Forums.

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