D-Link’s newest Wi-Fi adapter offers both an eye catching design and eye catching hardware specs, but does the power contained in this little Death Star shaped adapter merit the premium price? We put it through the paces so you don’t have to.
What Is The D-Link DWA-192?
The DWA-192 is the latest Wi-Fi adapter offering from D-Link. The adapter eschews the traditional USB dongle form factor for a stylized spherical shape. While there was some debate around the office as to whether it looked more like the Death Star or a Poké Ball we all agreed, regardless of the Sci-Fi universe its design hailed from, that it was good looking and a nice departure from standard Wi-Fi adapter designs.
The design isn’t merely superficial, however, as the little sphere packs a 3×3 Wi-Fi antenna array inside arranged for maximum signal coverage. Although the “3×3” term is thrown around a lot in Wi-Fi networking terminology and reviews, the important thing to note here is that 3×3 antenna arrays are usually found in the router (and the nicer routers at that) but this is the first product we’ve seen that packs the 3×3 array into the Wi-Fi adapter. The end result is a speedy little USB 3.0 adapter that boasts an AC1900 rating with an upper limit of 1300Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 600Mpbs on the 2.4 GHz band.
Although the DWA-192 is a tad bulkier than many skinny plug + antenna Wi-Fi adapters it isn’t particularly large. The sphere is 3.15″ in diameter (slightly larger than a baseball) and, seen in the photo above next to the best selling Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse 5000 (a compact device in its own right) you get a sense of its scale. Although it’s really intended more for home use than for travel use, it does pack surprisingly well because there are no antennas sticking out and thus no concern they’ll bend or break.
The DWA-192 has an MSRP of $129.99 but is currently discounted on the D-Link website to $99.99 and is available on Amazon for an even lower $80.
Setting It Up
Like most modern USB-based equipment the setup was about as hassle free as can be. Install the drivers, plug it in, and you’re good to go. If you have WPS enabled on your router, simply press the WPS button located on the back of the device (the small button seen below to the right of the USB cable) and then press the WPS button on your router. If you have WPS disabled or prefer to enter your Wi-Fi credentials manually you just open up the Wi-Fi manager on your computer and input them like you would for any Wi-Fi adapter.
The indicator ring around the center of the sphere gives immediate feedback: dark indicates no power, blinking indicates no connection, and solid indicates everything is good to go and the device is connected successfully to a Wi-Fi network. If the indicator light is too bright or annoying (we thought it was subtle and pleasant but you may disagree if it’s lighting up your bedroom at night) you can press the LED button, located to the left of the USB plug in the photo above, to turn it off.
We’ll be the first to admit that we find performance benchmarks to be a tad boring. We log a lot of time wandering out test sites with laptops and adapters, testing router limits, measuring transmission speeds and, well, frankly, these days most gear is fast enough for most people. Your email reading, no video game playing, no Netflix watching parents, for example, don’t need a screaming faster premium Wi-Fi adapter. Heck maybe even you don’t have much of a need for the fastest USB Wi-Fi adapter currently on the market.
But if you do need a screaming faster Wi-Fi adapter for a computer on your home network we can assure you, having run the dry benchmarks and crunched the numbers, that the DWA-192 is the fastest USB Wi-Fi adapter we’ve tested to date (and it not only blew older Wi-Fi adapters out of the water but current generation adapters as well). During out site-wide test the adapter never failed to deliver above 270Mbps with a speed of 270Mbps at the edge of the property on which it was tested (approximately 85 feet from the router) all the way up to 405Mbps when tested in the same room as the router.
The Good, The Bad, and the Verdict
After installing, benchmarking, and using the adapter for a spell, what’s our verdict?
- The adapter was easy to install and the drivers are frequently updated.
- Indicator light is pleasant (but can be turned off if you find it irritating)
- The unit is easy to move/place for best coverage and looks nice out in the open.
- Self-contained spherical design isn’t just stylish, it packs well and protects the antennas from damage.
- Although you get a huge performance boost, $80 is more than you’ll pay for other Wi-Fi adapters on the market.
Really our Good/Bad list says it all. The DWA-192’s only downside is the price. If you need a screaming fast USB Wi-FI adapter, you have an 802.11ac-class router to pair it with, and you’re comfortable with the price point, there’s really no reason not to buy it. It looks good, it’s easy to setup, and it’s the fastest USB Wi-Fi adapter on the market as well as the first (and currently only) USB 3.0 1900ac Wi-Fi adapter with a 3×3 antenna array.