The D-Link R15 Eagle Pro AI AX1500 Smart Router is my first experience with a smart IoT device certified under the Cybersecurity Labelling Scheme. It has the lowest rating, Level 1 (out of 4), which means it has met the basic security requirements set by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore. For example, this router comes with certain basic safeguards, such as having password complexity rules and three years of software updates. However, it has poor range, and shows alarming dips in speeds, making it a questionable choice, even if it's relatively affordable for a Wi-Fi 6 router with mesh networking support.
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (AX1500)
- 4 Gigabit ports (3 LAN and 1 WAN)
- WPA3 wireless encryption
- Coverage of up to 2,500 sq feet (230 sq m)
The R15 is a budget router, which means it's made of lightweight plastic that's barely heavier (at 300g) than your smartphone. You can also wall mount it — the antennas won't get in the way, unlike some routers. It's a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 model, which means it has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels with an aggregate bandwidth of around 1.5Gbps. Of course, the top speed (on paper) you'll get with the R15 is 1.2Gbps. This is good enough for many client devices that are capped at 1.2Gbps anyway. While it has a full complement of four Gigabit LAN ports, this entry-level router doesn't have any USB ports.
It can also create a mesh network with other Eagle Pro AI devices. Currently, there are just three: the R15 router, the M15 mesh system and the E15 mesh range extender. In my case, I found that a mesh network usually helps to plug some holes in my home's Wi-Fi coverage. To test this functionality, I had the D-Link E15 mesh range extender. To set both devices up, I had to install the new D-Link Eagle Pro AI app (for iOS and Android). It is different from the D-Link Wi-Fi app used for D-Link's older Covr mesh routers. Don't ask me why a new app is required. Perhaps it has to do with the new AI capabilities that's in the app's name. For example, there's an AI Assistant that generates weekly reports about your Internet traffic.
Setting up the R15 was a breeze, except my usual Wi-Fi password did not meet CSA's requirements. It had two consecutive letters that were the same (oh, the horror!). So I had to create a new password, and spent almost an hour updating all my home devices. As for the app, it could be snappier. But the features you'd expect from a modern router are there, like being able to prioritise client devices and set up a guest network. However, D-Link's parental controls are fairly simple. Advanced settings, which aren't as comprehensive as the ones in some other routers, are accessible only using a web browser, not through the app.
My biggest misgivings about the D-Link R15 Eagle Pro AI are its middling range, and inconsistent performance. In my distant bedroom, the average download speed was a dreadful 3Mbps. If the client was in the same room as the router, the average download speed was actually decent at around 600Mbps. But this would occasionally dip to zero for a couple of seconds. Adding the E15 mesh extender helps — the speed went up to around 198Mbps in my farthest room. But it didn't solve the intermittent Wi-Fi drops. The only silver lining is that the R15 is competitively priced at S$79 (usually S$99). It's also cheaper than one of its closest rivals in the Mercusys AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 router. However, I wouldn't recommend it until a future firmware update improves the performance. The R15 is available on Lazada and Shopee, and so is the E15 mesh extender (Lazada and Shopee).
Note: Review unit provided by D-Link.
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