The new D-Link D-Fend DIR-2680 AC2600 router with McAfee will protect every IoT and computing device on a home network. On that basis alone it is a 5-out-5. GadgetGuy reviews this new breed of embedded security router.
The D-Link D-Fend DIR-2680 AC2600 McAfee embedded security router has been a long time coming, but perhaps that is a good thing as it allowed a few other companies to make the mistakes, notably Norton’s ill-fated and no more Core.
Norton Core was an AC2600 router loaded with Norton
Security. It was available in the US since early 2018 and in Australia exclusively
via Harvey Norman since about August. Ever affable Mark Gorrie, Director,
Norton Business Unit at Symantec Pacific said, “We
have had requests to load our Security software on third-party routers, but it
was a compromise. Norton Core has been designed to have the processing headroom
to run Norton Security. It has been available for nearly a year in the US. It
is ready for global use.”
Our Core review made two pertinent points – both wise in hindsight.
First, that Australians hate annual subscriptions ($17.99 per month after 12 months) and second, it was an adequate AC2600 dual-band router with no mesh or real expansion options. Vale Norton Core
D-Link has learned those lessons and its offering – another AC2600 router with $900 worth of security software – five-year McAfee Secure Home Platform (SHP $600) and two-year Live Safe ($300) for unlimited standalone Windows, Mac, Android or iOS computing devices. It make a $499 router compelling.
It – D-Fend – is a cute little white, half Besser-brick-sized box – sort of squat and muscly. It won’t win a design competition like D-Link’s elegant Covr, but its design befits the purpose – home network security for Ethernet and Wi-Fi connected devices.
D-Fend provides on-device security against virus, malware, drive-by web infections, hack attacks, botnets, web crawler intrusion and more for all connected devices. That includes the Internet of Things (IoT) devices like security cameras, smart TVs, and smart home devices etc.
All devices connected to it via LAN or Wi-Fi will automatically have
Automatic Security Updates
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
Intrusion Detection and Prevention System
A security score for your system that shows how protected it is
It has three main unique selling propositions
Embedded McAfee SHP should stop the nasties via packet inspection (traffic in an out of the router as well as on the network) as well as its access to the McAfee cloud for instant updates
Advanced parental controls built-in
Voice control (Amazon Alexa enabled) – don’t expect your router to give you an intelligent answer but you can turn off access to an individual or to all.
Upfront let me say that an AC2600 dual-band router – any brand – is for a small space like an apartment and typically fewer than 10 Wi-Fi connected devices. But D-Link has been a little cleverer. It can act in two ways:
As a standalone AC2600 Wi-Fi router that connects to an ADSL or NBN Gateway, e.g. Gateway>D-Fend>devices (suitable for smaller single level homes and apartments)
Or connect it to your Gateway then connect your router into it to protect all existing downstream devices, e.g. Gateway>D-Fend>router>devices
Method 2 is where I think this device shines – as a ‘black-box’ network protector and to that end it has few peers.
Tech specs: D-Link D-Fend DIR-2680 AC2600 with McAfee
CPU: Intel GRX350 dual-core 800Mhz
WAN chip: WAV500 AnyWAN SoC
800Mbps at 2.4GHz (2-stream 802.11n radio
433Mbps per stream)
1733Mbps at 5GHz (4-stream 802.11ac radio 433Mbps
MU-MIMO 4×4, Wave 2, Smart Beamforming and
Smart Connect (selects strongest 2.4 or 5Ghz signal
to connect to)
1 x Ethernet gigabit WAN Port (It is not a
3 x Ethernet gigabit LAN ports
1 x USB 3.0
12V/3A power supply barrel connector
Size: 160 X 160 X 160mm
Download the D-Link Wi-Fi app for Android (tested) or iOS
Give it relevant permissions
Create a D-Link account (you do not have to do this if you manually set up the router)
Use the QR code supplied
Run the Wizard to give the router an SSID name and password and change the Admin password
That is it.
The app is dumbed down and has all basic functions. If you access the router via its IP address you can access advanced functions (this uses the standard but very comprehensive D-Link web interface).
Regardless of brand or model of router, a Wi-Fi 2.4Ghz can
run up to 46/92 metres indoor/outdoor and a Wi-Fi 5Ghz up to 15/30 metres
line-of-sight. In practice cut that in half or more.
As D-Link points out you need a ‘direct line between the router and devices – A wall that is 0.5 meters, at a 45-degree angle appears to the router to be almost 1 meter thick. At a 2-degree angle, it looks over 14 meters thick!
We issue the standard advice that you need to plan where the router should go for best network speeds. The best place is right in the middle of where most of your IoT is. That way you can connect as much as possible by cabled gigabit Ethernet – it has three RJ-45 ports, and you can use an Ethernet hub if you need more.
Now you ask. “How do I get the NBN (and you need that if you intend to stream video) to my router when the port is in a remote cupboard or basement?”
D-Link has a pair of Powerline AV2 2000 pass-through power, Ethernet over Powerline adaptors. Plug one into the power at your NBN Gateway point and the other into the power where your router is ideally situated, and it will bring Gigabit speeds to the router.
The correct placement of the router is so fundamental to performance that mandatory hangings should be law if you ignore this.
The D-Link D-Fend AC2600 does not currently support D-Link’s PowerZone (Mesh).
Wi-Fi Performance test
Location from router and Mbps
Top floor (where the router is)
Second floor (one floor down)
Ground floor (two floors down)
The is comparable with other AC2600 routers, perhaps a little
stronger in holding the 5Ghz signal – most drop back to 2.4GHz on the second
It has some of the better software I have seen. You can set up to 30 user profiles and allocate different use cases, needs and restrictions.
You can block internet browser access by category (dating, sexual content, social mdia, etc.) or a specific site domain, and set specific use times.
You cannot block apps – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
apps will still work.
Finally, you can pause the Internet for specific profiles or for all.
While the manual states both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa the D-Fend app only support Amazon Alexa.
The D-Link Wi-Fi app does support Google Assistant but cannot control the McAfee D-Fend function.
D-Fend protects all devices on the router main IP address,
Earlier I mentioned method 2 – Gateway>D-Fend>router>devices. I tested this and D-Fend gave a 192.168.100.150 IP address to the existing router which then allocated IP addresses 192.168.100.151 and above to all the current devices attached to it.
Whether I logged into the D-Fend McAfee SHP router or another router, D-Fend was protecting all the downstream devices. Now that is cool!
This opens up broader use cases as a gatekeeper device
protecting an entire network (as long as it is all on the one IP subnet). This
means a painless insertion into your home network – change nothing! You can
also split Wi-Fi devices over the two routers – like an access point.
It also means you can physically separate the D-Fend and your router if you can run an Ethernet cable (or Powerline Ethernet over Power) between them. Imagine – yes your D-Fend could go in the NBN cupboard, even switch its Wi-Fi off) and move the main router closer to the action.
GadgetGuy take: Opens up more possibilities for IoT defence
Initially, I was apprehensive that an AC2600 router was
not the speed daemon I need. Sure, it’s fine for small single level apartments
and homes. But give me a V8 AC5300 or a new AX any day.
Using it to D-Fend the entire network gives it a 5-out-of-5. As an AC2600 router, it’s maybe a 4-out-of-5.
And in extensive testing, it has a minimal impact on internet speeds. Any corporate buyer should just slip it between the gateway and their router and have added peace of mind – not to mention unlimited McAfee Live Safe protection for devices off-the-network. SOLD