A router is all about performance so let us begin with the fact that D-Link DIR-657 was not an eye-popper, but it was good enough. A throughput test at close range yielded 60Mbps and that translates to 500MB transmitted within only 67 seconds. This is 20% better than the DIR-655. Under long range tests at 100 feet separation from the client machine, the speed dropped to 39Mbps.
In a third test at close range, where it was configured to communicate with Wireless-N and legacy clients the speed fell at 43Mbps. The maximum functional range for the DIR-657 was 200 feet, though it fairs best at under 100 feet. In spite of these less than spectacular speeds, the signal proved very stable, surviving for 48 hours under stress without a blip.
All of the features included in the DIR-655 are also found in the DIR-657. There is more to this little unit though. It has IPv6 support and built-in parental control through OpenDNS. The parental control is a filtering system that can be managed from anywhere on the Internet. You can choose to use the feature with or without OpenDNS. If you choose with, then you must first set up a free account with them.
You can set any computer on your network to be limited in running IM programs only between certain hours of the day. Another example of using the parental control is to prevent a computer from accessing adult content sites altogether.
The USB port on the DIR-657 is treated as if directly connected to your computer’s USB. It is not limited to external hard drives or printers, as with other routers. This is the magic of the SharePort program. You can even access the USB device from multiple computers on the network.
There is heavy emphasis placed on QoS in the router. So you can shape the traffic to give priority to certain kinds of services. Perhaps the coolest feature, though, also comes with other more expensive D-Link routers, that is the Guest Zone. It creates a virtual network for use by guests or the public, allowing that computer to access the Internet through the router, but nothing on the local network.
Perhaps one of the undesirable limitations for some customers will be the lack of support for the older WEP security protocol. Only the variations of WPA and WPA-2 are carried in this router. This is likely to continue to be the trend among newer routers. If you cannot access the router then first check that your client is not set up with WEP security protocol.
The long and short of it is that the D-Link DIR-657 has a great signal stability and good throughput, not to mention again the parental controls. Guest networking, IPv6, and the USB direct connect all add to the attraction of this unit as well. However, it does have a small wireless range and no dual-band. Likewise, it is lacking in WEP protocol. In the end there may be just enough to the DIR-657, though, to warrant upgrading from your older DIR-655.