Clad in black, the DIR-865L is a tower-styled router mounted on a relatively stable pedestal stand. First impressions tell us it isn't possible to wall-mount this device, and its design is radically different from D-Link's previous suite of N-routers, such as the horizontally-orientated DIR-825 and DIR-655. Unlike the ASUS RT-AC66U, you won't find any external antennas on this router. Instead, the dual-band router hides three dedicated internal antennas for each radio, making it a total of six antennas in all. This router is tall. With an imposing height of 252 millimeters, it is slightly larger than most consumer models such Netgear's R6300 802.11ac contender. The front panel offers a simple spread with only two LED indicators for its power and internet statuses. With their round and slightly recessed design, it's actually easy to mistake them for buttons; of which they're not. Further below sits the Wi-Fi Protected Setup button for easy pairing with compatible WPS clients.
Let's take a quick peek at its back panel. Four of the Gigabit LAN ports are marked in blue, while the lone Gigabit WAN (Internet) port is highlighted in yellow. The single USB 2.0 slot (also dubbed SharePort) enables you to share content over the network, but lacks print server support unfortunately. Other controls include a Reset button, a rocker Power switch, and an inlet for the 12-volt DC power adapter. Air vents are located at the top and back. Last we checked with D-Link's support page, there isn't any new firmware available for this model. We'll proceed with our tests using the stock 1.02 version. The DIR-865L isn't accompanied by any CDs loaded with management wizards. However, less savvy users would appreciate the Setup Wizard available via the web browser.
To access the router's configuration page, you may enter "dlinkrouter" in the address bar or punch in its default "192.168.0.1" IP address directly. Savvy users may bypass the Setup Wizard by clicking on "Cancel" after the initial splash page. As for D-Link's user interface, little has been done to spruce up the unattractive black-and-orange-theme, compared to ASUS and Linksys who've taken a more graphical approach. Navigation wise, users familiar with D-Link's products will be right at home here. Settings are compartmentalized under five main tabs: Setup, Advanced, Tools, Status, and Support. Notable mentions include port forwarding, application rules, NAT and SPI firewalls, comprehensive IPv6 support (including IPv6 passthrough, routing, and firewall), DLNA media server, and parental controls. The latter offers three selections: Advanced DNS, OpenDNS FamilyShield, and OpenDNS Parental Controls. Advanced DNS offers minimal blocking of phishing sites, whereas FamilyShied blocks undesirable content from kiddy eyes but do note that it isn't configurable. To customize your settings, you'll need to choose the OpenDNS Parental Controls option. However, you're required to sign up with OpenDNS to utilize their content filtering and anti-phishing services.
A highly customizable QoS engine is available on the DIR-865L as with most D-Link's routers. Users may define the Queue Weight percentage in terms of bandwidth priority, plus the engine also comes with pre-configured classification rules for applications like YouTube and Google Talk. The DLNA media server feature makes it easy to share content on an attached USB drive over the network. Moving on, two guest SSIDs are available on the Guest Zone - one for the 2.4GHz band and another for the 5GHz (AC) band. This is useful if you want to provide guests with Internet access without worrying about them messing with your network. Routing between host zones and guest zones is available as well. Those of you who require trigger ports would appreciate the Application Rules page, where single or multiple ports for Torrent and VoIP applications may be opened on the firewall. Some of the pre-configured titles include BitTorrent and AIM Talk.
Now let's touch on the "mydlink" cloud feature. To keep things simple, we'd recommend creating your mydlink account via the DIR-865L's web browser interface. The router has a "Mydlink Settings" under the Setup tab, and it's best to start from there. If you have an existing mydlink account, simply log in and add the device. Although D-Link recommends using the CD or installation wizard, there is no CD in sight and neither is there an installation wizard for the DIR-865L to be found online. Once your account is up (with the router added), you'll noticed two main tabs on the mydlink page - Router Status and Settings. There're a number of critical network info to be found here, including the Internet IP address and the number of connected clients. You can choose to block them if need be. The Settings tab enables you to make basic changes to the router's wireless settings, including its SSIDs, security modes, and network keys. The selection here is pretty limited, but at least it gives you some form of control over your access point when you're away from home. There are also a couple of nifty email notifications you can set, such as when a new device connects to your home network for example.