Introduction

External design and hardware

Firmware upgrade

Web-interface

Command line

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

It’s been a long time since our lab tested a compact wireless device. Lately we most often review top routers of considerable dimensions and weight. But wait! The time to make up for it comes now. Please welcome, D-Link DIR-806А.

External design and hardware

D-Link DIR-806A wireless router comes in a black plastic case with two dismountable dual-band antennae that have the gain ratio of 5 dBi. The device has dimensions of 115x81x22 mm (not considering the antennae). To work properly the device needs an external power unit (included in the box) with the following characteristics: 5 V and 1.2 А.

The upper panel of the device consists of two parts, the one is opaque and the other one is glossy, and doesn't have anything remarkable on it apart from a ventilation grate and the model name.

The side panels also have ventilation grates located on them. There is also a microUSB port located on one of them, which is used only for connection of an external power supply unit.

On the front panel there are LEDs indicating status of the device and its ports as well as the WPS button meant for resetting the user settings and adding devices into a local wireless network in an easier way.

The largest part of the bottom panel of the router is a ventilation grate. Apart from it, there are a sticker with brief information about the device and four rubber legs for desk-mounting of the router. Wall mounting is not applicable.

Now let's have a look at the insides of the case.

Hardware stuffing of the wireless router is one green textolite card. The system is powered by Realtek RTL8881AQA SoC CPU. A RTL8192ER microchip of the same-named brand is charged with duties associated with wireless connections. Winbond W9751G6KB-25 chip with the size of 64 Mbytes performs functions of the RAM. The thing about the card that surprised us the most was the usage of an aerial cable. To tell you the truth, we see something like this for the first time.

That is where we bring the review of the hardware platform of D-Link DIR-806A wireless router to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its software component.

Firmware upgrade

Firmware upgrade is carried out in Firmware Upgrade section, System group of the router web-interface. It may be carried out both in a manual and semi-automatic mode. As a matter of course, firmware upgrade in the semi-automatic mode is available only if the router is connected to the Internet. In order to upgrade the firmware manually the user will need to download the firmware upgrade file from the vendor's website. The whole firmware upgrade process takes about four minutes and does not require any technical proficiency from an administrator.

Manual firmware upgrade can be done using Information item, Home menu, too. The administrator will need to click on the link that features data about the current firmware version in order to do this.

It's worth mentioning that the information about the current firmware version is located in the title on every page of the web-interface.

That is where we bring review of the firmware upgrade process to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of the device web-interface.

Web-interface

One can access the router web-interface using any modern browser. When this article was being written, the web-interface was available in seven languages. The admin password will have to be chosen upon the first login to the system.

And though the web-interface of DIR-806A is different from those we got used to, we will not review all of its capabilities in detail but only focus on the most interesting ones.

Upon successful authentication the administrator will find him/herself on Information page, Home group, where brief information about the device is presented.

Click'n'Connect item in the same group is used in order to launch the wireless network settings wizard for connection to the Internet service provider and help the user facilitate the primary configuration of the wireless network and IPTV.

One can choose the operation mode of the wireless module using Wireless network settings wizard item.

The other two items in Home group are used to configure port forwarding (virtual server) for providing access to a certain service located in the local network externally as well as specify the interface to which the set-top box is connected.

Monitoring menu item contains the current network layout and key settings.

Items in Status group feature statistical data, information about the current routing table, connected clients and their active sessions as well as data about multicast traffic.

Settings of the router LAN and WAN interfaces are located in Net group. Apart from the IP parameters that are statically and dynamically configured, the following connection methods to the provider are supported too: PPTP, L2TP, and PPPoE.

The main wireless network operation parameters are located in items of Basic settings sub-group, Wi-Fi group. Availability of information on wireless channel utilization came to be a nice feature.

Selection of the encryption mode and specifying the key for every of the wireless ranges can be done using items in Security settings sub-group in the same group.

Client filtering based on their MAC addresses is done using MAC Filter sub-group.

Items in Additional settings sub-group are used in order to manage transmitter power, channel bandwidth, and other auxiliary parameters.

Apart from performing functions of an access point for the wireless network, the model under review can act as a wireless client too and get connected to existing networks. The respective settings are located in Client item, Wi-Fi group. Upon adjusting DIR-806A (in the wireless router mode) as a wireless client the device can actually be considered a WISP repeater, performing translation of NAT/PAT addresses of the devices connected to the router. When DIR-806A functions as an access point, the activation of the wireless client mode will make the device perform functions of a wireless network client or wireless network repeater.

Management of virtual networks is carried out using VLAN item in Advanced group.

Specifying the preferred version of IGMP and selection of the supported protocols can be done using Miscellaneous page in Advanced group.

Parameters of the router automatic configuration using TR-069 protocol are located in TR-069 Client item.

Management of virtual servers as well as traffic filtration parameters can be done using items in Firewall group whilst URL filtration can be managed in Control group.

Items and sub-groups of System group let the administrator change the web-interface password, manage settings, obtain access to log information, upgrade firmware, manage date and time settings, check the availability of certain clients using ICMP, select the device operation mode, and enable or disable access via Telnet protocol.

It's also worth noticing that the most widely used commands are always available to the user, irrespective of what menu item is open at the moment, via System link located in the page title.

That is where we bring review of D-Link DIR-806A wireless router web-interface to a conclusion and pass on to examining the capabilities of its command line.

Command line

Access to the device command line using Telnet protocol is enabled by default. In order to access the command line one must use the same log-on information as for the connection to the device web-interface. BusyBox 1.19.2 library is installed in Linux OS with a 2.6.30.9 kernel on the router.

dlinkap login: admin
Password:
Welcome to
 _______          ___     __  ____   _  _   ___
 |  ___  \        |   |   |__||    \ | || | /  /
 | |   | ||  ___  |   |__  __ |     \| || |/  /
 | |___| || |___| |      ||  || |\     ||     \
 |_______/        |______||__||_| \____||_|\___\
 = Building Networks for People =
BusyBox v1.19.2 (2015-04-24 15:20:30 MSK) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
$ busybox
BusyBox v1.19.2 (2015-04-24 15:20:30 MSK) multi-call binary.
Copyright (C) 1998-2011 Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, Denys Vlasenko
and others. Licensed under GPLv2.
See source distribution for full notice.
Usage: busybox [function] [arguments]...
 or: busybox --list[-full]
 or: function [arguments]...
 BusyBox is a multi-call binary that combines many common Unix
 utilities into a single executable.  Most people will create a
 link to busybox for each function they wish to use and BusyBox
 will act like whatever it was invoked as.
Currently defined functions:
 [, [[, ash, basename, brctl, cat, cp, crond, crontab, date, dd, echo, false, free, grep,
 gunzip, gzip, halt, hexdump, httpd, ifconfig, insmod, kill, killall, klogd, ln, logger,
 login, logread, ls, lsmod, md5sum, mkdir, mount, nc, nice, nslookup, ntpd, passwd, ping,
 pmap, poweroff, ps, reboot, renice, rm, rmmod, route, sh, sleep, syslogd, tail, tar,
 telnetd, test, top, touch, traceroute, true, umount, zcat
$ cat /proc/version
Linux version 2.6.30.9 (builder@rd) (gcc version 4.4.5-1.5.5p4 (GCC) ) #1 Fri Apr 24 15:18:22 MSK 2015

Let's see what processes are currently running on the device using ps command. By using top utility one can obtain information on the current activity of the launched processes.

$ ps
 PID USER       VSZ STAT COMMAND
 1 admin     1780 S    /sbin/init
 2 admin        0 SW<  [kthreadd]
 3 admin        0 SW<  [ksoftirqd/0]
 4 admin        0 SW<  [events/0]
 5 admin        0 SW<  [khelper]
 6 admin        0 SW<  [async/mgr]
 7 admin        0 SW<  [kblockd/0]
 8 admin        0 SW   [pdflush]
 9 admin        0 SW<  [kswapd0]
 14 admin        0 SW<  [mtdblockd]
 19 admin     2300 S    resident[mngr]: building networks for people...
 137 admin      776 S    iwcontrol wlan0 wlan1
 149 admin      740 S    /usr/sbin/link_watcher 0
 151 admin     1176 S    klogd
 153 admin     1212 S    syslogd -S -m 0 -C32 -l 6
 232 admin     1184 S    httpd -p 80
 234 admin     1184 S    telnetd -p 23
 236 admin     2360 S    tr069
 238 admin     1028 S    miniupnpd -f /tmp/miniupnpd.conf
 240 nobody     972 S    dnsmasq --keep-in-foreground --conf-file=/tmp/dnsmas
 243 admin      972 S    dnsmasq --keep-in-foreground --conf-file=/tmp/dnsmas
 248 admin     2300 S    resident[wrkr]: waiting for something...
 3722 admin     1184 R    -sh
 4210 admin     1184 R    ps
$ top
Mem: 17512K used, 36212K free, 0K shrd, 1760K buff, 6088K cached
CPU:   0% usr   0% sys   0% nic 100% idle   0% io   0% irq   0% sirq
Load average: 0.00 0.00 0.00 1/24 4215
 PID  PPID USER     STAT   VSZ %VSZ %CPU COMMAND
 236     1 admin    S     2360   4%   0% tr069
 248    19 admin    S     2300   4%   0% resident[wrkr]: waiting for something
 19     1 admin    S     2300   4%   0% resident[mngr]: building networks for
 1     0 admin    S     1780   3%   0% /sbin/init
 153     1 admin    S     1212   2%   0% syslogd -S -m 0 -C32 -l 6
 234     1 admin    S     1184   2%   0% telnetd -p 23
 232     1 admin    S     1184   2%   0% httpd -p 80
 3722   234 admin    S     1184   2%   0% -sh
 4215  3722 admin    R     1184   2%   0% top
 151     1 admin    S     1176   2%   0% klogd
 238     1 admin    S     1028   2%   0% miniupnpd -f /tmp/miniupnpd.conf
 240     1 nobody   S      972   2%   0% dnsmasq --keep-in-foreground --conf-f
 243   240 admin    S      972   2%   0% dnsmasq --keep-in-foreground --conf-f
 137     1 admin    S      776   1%   0% iwcontrol wlan0 wlan1
 149     1 admin    S      740   1%   0% /usr/sbin/link_watcher 0
 14     2 admin    SW<      0   0%   0% [mtdblockd]
 4     2 admin    SW<      0   0%   0% [events/0]
 5     2 admin    SW<      0   0%   0% [khelper]
 2     0 admin    SW<      0   0%   0% [kthreadd]
^C  3     2 admin    SW<      0   0%   0% [ksoftirqd/0]

Now let's turn to /proc catalogue to view its contents and find out the system uptime, its average utilisation, information on the CPU installed, and the amount of RAM.

$ cd /proc
$ ls
4244                  tty                   kpagecount            phyRegTest
3722                  bus                   kpageflags            br_mldsnoop
248                   sys                   crypto                phyPower
243                   irq                   diskstats             reInitSwitchCore
240                   misc                  partitions            mtd
238                   execdomains           gpio                  gc_overflow_timout
236                   ioports               usb_mode_detect       alg
234                   iomem                 load_default          hw_nat
232                   timer_list            rf_switch             url_filter
153                   modules               watchdog_reboot       qos
151                   buddyinfo             wlan0                 br_wlanblock
149                   pagetypeinfo          wlan0-vxd             br_igmpsnoop
137                   vmstat                wlan0-va0             br_igmpDb
19                    zoneinfo              wlan0-va1             br_mCastFastFwd
14                    vmallocinfo           wlan0-va2             br_igmpVersion
9                     swaps                 wlan0-va3             br_igmpquery
8                     slabinfo              wlan1                 br_igmpQuerierInfo
7                     filesystems           wlan1-vxd             br_mldQuerierInfo
6                     locks                 wlan1-va0             br_mldVersion
5                     cmdline               wlan1-va1             br_mldquery
4                     cpuinfo               wlan1-va2             br_igmpProxy
3                     devices               wlan1-va3             enable_dos
2                     interrupts            custom_Passthru_wlan  filter_table
1                     loadavg               rtl865x               fast_pptp
self                  meminfo               eth0                  pptp_conn_ck
mounts                stat                  eth1                  fast_l2tp
net                   uptime                custom_Passthru       fast_hello_reply
sysvipc               version               peth0                 fast_pppoe
fs                    kcore                 StormCtrl             fast_nat
driver                kmsg                  eee                   suspend_check
$ cat uptime
6155.48 6055.91
$ cat loadavg
0.00 0.00 0.00 1/24 4258
$ cat cpuinfo
system type             : RTL8881a
processor               : 0
cpu model               : 56322
BogoMIPS                : 519.37
hardware watchpoint     : no
tlb_entries             : 64
mips16 implemented      : yes
$ cat meminfo
MemTotal:          53724 kB
MemFree:           36248 kB
Buffers:            1760 kB
Cached:             6092 kB
SwapCached:            0 kB
Active:             4036 kB
Inactive:           5300 kB
Active(anon):       1484 kB
Inactive(anon):        0 kB
Active(file):       2552 kB
Inactive(file):     5300 kB
SwapTotal:             0 kB
SwapFree:              0 kB
Dirty:                 0 kB
Writeback:             0 kB
AnonPages:          1496 kB
Mapped:             1580 kB
Slab:               7468 kB
SReclaimable:        440 kB
SUnreclaim:         7028 kB
PageTables:          192 kB
NFS_Unstable:          0 kB
Bounce:                0 kB
WritebackTmp:          0 kB
CommitLimit:       26860 kB
Committed_AS:       3732 kB
VmallocTotal:    1048404 kB
VmallocUsed:         328 kB
VmallocChunk:    1045688 kB

We have placed the contents of /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, and /usr/sbin below.

$ ls
webs     usr      sys      root     opt      lib64    lib      etc      bin
var      tmp      sbin     proc     mnt      lib32    home     dev      VERSION
$ ls /bin
zcat            sleep           pppd            ln              igmpx           dd
wscd            sh              ping            l2tpd           iapp            date
urlfilterd      rm              nice            kill            gzip            cp
umount          resident_cli    mount           iwpriv          gunzip          chat
uboot.img       resident        modprobe        iwlist          grep            cat
true            ps              mkdir           iwcontrol       false           busybox
touch           pptp            ls              iwconfig        echo            auth
tar             pppoe-relay     login           ip              dnsmasq_script  ash
$ ls /sbin
tr069        reboot       lsmod        iwspy        iwconfig     halt         button_test
syslogd      poweroff     logread      iwpriv       insmod       event
route        miniupnpd    led_test     iwlist       init         ebtables
rmmod        mfc          klogd        iwgetid      ifconfig     dcfg
$ ls /usr/bin
udhcpc        tail          nslookup      logger        hexdump       [[
traceroute    renice        nc            killall       free          [
top           pmap          mtd_write     iptables-xml  crontab
test          passwd        md5sum        inadyn        basename
$ ls /usr/sbin
zebra             ntpd              iptables-restore  drop_caches       arptables
vconfig           notify_all        iptables-multi    dnsmasq
telnetd           link_watcher      iptables          crond
ripd              iptables-save     httpd             brctl

That is where we bring a brief review of the router command line to a conclusion and pass directly on to testing it.

Testing

The first testing procedure we usually begin our testing section with is estimating the booting time of the device, which is a time interval starting with the moment when the power is on until the first echo reply is received through ICMP protocol. D-Link DIR-806A wireless router boots in 31 seconds. We believe that the result is decent.

The second traditional test was a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility. On the whole, there were eight open ports discovered. The most interesting data of those we obtained are presented below.

Before getting straight down to performance tests we would like to mention the key specifications of the test stand we used.

Component PC Notebook
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VI Extreme ASUS M60J
CPU Intel Core i7 4790K 4 GHz Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6 GHz
RAM DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 32 Gbytes DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 16 Gbytes
NIC Intel PRO/1000 PT
ASUS PCE-AC68
Atheros AR8131
OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus

 

We decided to start the performance tests with evaluating user data transmission speeds upon performing of NAT/PAT translations. The tests were carried out with 1, 5, and 15 concurrent TCP sessions.

Apart from performing translations, DIR-806A can carry out common routing too.

The most important tests for the users who live on the territory of ex-Soviet bloc countries are device performance measurements upon operation of tunnel connections. Our experience tells us that the usage of PPTP connections loads routers the most and that's exactly why we decided to make the measurements using this protocol. On the diagram below one can see the results of the measurements of user data transfer speeds upon a PPTP connection that uses neither encryption nor data compression.

Naturally, data compression and even more so encryption reduce the performance considerably. Upon using data compression in the tunnel without encryption we could not perform the measurements in a complete way because the VPN connection failed in both directions when 15 concurrent TCP sessions were established. That's why the diagram below only has data about ten concurrent connections. It's worth mentioning that usually service providers do not use data compression and/or encryption for PPTP tunnels in their networks and that's why we don't think that the detected problem is serious. However, we still notified the vendor about this and we were told that this bug will be fixed in the next firmware versions. But our readers can already use the diagrams presented below in order to review the obtained speeds.

Performance tests of D-Link DIR-806A router wireless segment turned out to be really interesting, too. Its wireless segment supports both frequency ranges: 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

After receiving results of these measurements it looked like the bottleneck was not the module itself but the wired network. That's why we connected two wired clients and performed simultaneous transfer of data between one wireless and two wired clients.

Our concerns proved to be right: the wired segment performance was the bottleneck.

That's where we draw the testing chapter to a close and move on to summing it all up.

Conclusion

We are glad about D-Link DIR-806A wireless router we tested. It has good performance, doesn't cost much, and is pretty small. We would call it a nice standard model that will be a perfect choice for the majority of common users of the Internet who don't need the highest speeds and performance results but neither want to have a slow connection.

Among the strength areas of D-Link DIR-806A wireless router are the following.

  • Good device performance upon operation with VPN
  • Small size
  • Great wireless speeds
  • Availability of information on utilization of wireless channels in the web-interface
  • Competitive price
  • Support of virtual networks (VLAN)

Unfortunately, we cannot help but mention certain drawbacks of the model.

  • No IPv6 support
  • The device is pretty unstable upon usage of PPTP together with MPPC compression

As of when this article was being written, the average price for D-Link DIR-806A wireless router in Moscow online shops was 2288 roubles.

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