I can’t figure out what the D-Link intends to achieve with the DIR-X1560 EXO AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 router. At around $100, this entry-level router sure is not the most affordable among its Wi-Fi 6 peers.
And it’s not the most valuable, either, with a spartan set of features. The biggest issue, however, comes from the buggy firmware and lackluster performance. So this D-Link Wi-Fi machine has nothing on the similarly specced TP-Link Archer AX10, which costs some $30 less.
It’s strange, but the DIR-X1560 seems a bit abandoned, or neglected. It’s like D-Link cared just enough to say it has now had a Wi-Fi 6 router.
In all, when working as intended, the D-Link DIR-X1560 is a pretty-looking, compact router with decent Wi-Fi speeds and coverage. But if you decide to skip it, you won’t miss out on anything. At all.
- Compact design
- Easy to set up
- Decent Wi-Fi performance
- Lightweight, wall-mountable
- Buggy firmware, intermittent Internet disconnection
- Spartan feature set, low-speed-favored Wi-Fi settings, no 160 MHz channel support
- No multi-gig, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, or USB port
- Firmware update causes the admin password to change
- Potential security risks
- The "mesh" notion is a lie
The DIR-X1560 was the first D-Link router I’ve review in a long time, yet, it felt very familiar, too familiar. Not in a good way.
A compact and light entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router
The DIR-X1560 looks like a typical router with four non-removable, but swivel-able, antennas sticking up from its back and sides. The router is a bit smaller than the TP-Link Archer AX10 and is also slightly lighter at just 0.9 lb (410 g).
On the back, it has the usual four Gigabit LAN port and one Gigabit WAN port. And that’s it. There’s nothing else of note.
And on the underside, there’ a small label with the default Wi-Fi and network settings. You’ll also find two mounting holes.
The D-Link DIR-X1560 is a frill-free router. It has no multi-gig port, USB port, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, or anything fancy at all. For comparison, hardware-wise, it’s similar to the Archer AX10 from TP-Link.
The standard setup process, a potential security risk, and the general lack of love
The D-Link DIR-X1560 shares the same standard setup process as any standard routers — one with a web interface. From a connected computer, launch a web browser and go to the router’s default IP, which is 192.168.0.1 (or dlinkrouter.local), and you’ll run into a wizard that walks you through everything.
The rest is self-explanatory. If you’ve worked with a router’s web interface before, you’ll be able to handle the DIR-X1560 no problem.
The thing is you can skip this process and start using the router immediately with the default settings — except you shouldn’t do that.
For years now, most (good) routers require users to at least change the default admin password before Internet access is possible. The DIR-X1560, like those released some ten years ago, doesn’t.
Since the default values are public knowledge, allowing your home Internet access without a new admin password is a serious security risk.
If you proceed with the initial setup as mentioned above, the DIR-X1560 does ask you to change the security settings. But the issue here is that it gives users the option not to do that first.
By the way, according to the label on the router, the default username is “Admin.” In reality, it’s implied — you only need to type in the password — and you can’t change the username to something else, either.
So, it seems D-Link just dumped a bunch of generic information and settings from its old routers on the DIR-X1560 and called it a day. The new router sure has nothing of its own.
A firmware update that broke the admin password
And, as a result, the router is buggy, too.
During my testing, at one point, the DIR-X1560 prompted me to update the firmware to version 1.01, and I did. Lo and behold, after that, the admin password no longer worked and I lost access to the router’s web interface.
At first, I thought the router reverted it to the default value (which is “password”), but that wasn’t the case. I ended up having to do a reset before I could continue the work, and that password thing remained a mystery.
Since the DIR-X1560 has a firmware auto-update function, I found this bug quite terrifying. Hopefully, D-Link will fix it via the next update.
The overly similar web interface
The D-Link DIR-X1560’s interface has nothing new. It’s the familiar one first introduced in the DIR-880L some six years ago, with the same tab-to-menu design.
Interestingly, at the bottom of the interface, you’ll see a line that reads “Copyright © 2016 D-Link”. So when I called this router “old,” that wasn’t an exaggeration.
There are four tabs on top of the interface. Hover the mouse on each, and you’ll see a drop-down menu that leads to different sections of specific settings. So, despite the fact there’s no search function, you can quickly access different parts of the interface fairly quickly.
The DIR-X1560 has many different sections within the interface, which makes you feel like it has a lot to offer. In reality, it can’t do much. Indeed, the DIR-X1560 has limited customizability.
And yet, I found some settings redundant, if not even idiotic.
Idiotic Wi-Fi settings
Take the Wi-Fi part, for example, you can not make each of the router’s two bands work exclusively in the fast speed grades, but only the slowest one.
Specifically, there’s no option to make the 5 GHz band operate in a Wi-Fi 6-only mode, but you can make it do so for slower standards, like Wi-Fi 4.
Similarly, you can’t configure a band to use exclusively one of the wide channels the router supports (80 MHz or 40 MHz), but only the narrowest one (20 MHz).
In short, the only way to make the router work with top-tier Wi-Fi clients is to allow it to support all clients, which is precisely when it won’t work well with top-tier clients.
Scant feature set
The D-Link DIR-X1560 has only one notable feature, which is the Quality of Service. But it’s rather simplistic. You can drag a device to a high priority, and a couple to medium priority, and that’s it. You can’t prioritize the Internet according to application types.
By the way, the DIR-X1560 is the first D-Link router that marks the end of D-Link’s free Dynamic DNS server. It does support DDNS but you’ll need to use a different domain service.
And yes, you’ll find commonly important settings, including IP reservation and port forwarding, etc. And the router can also work as a VPN client.
Despite the fact D-Link refers to the DIR-X1560 as a “mesh” router in some markets, in my testing, the router exhibited no mesh capability at all, nor could I find anything relating to this function within its web interface. It’s just a standalone router, pure and simple.
I tested the DIR-X1560 for almost a week and had mixed feeling about it. The router did pretty well for its specs when it worked. The problem is it didn’t always work as I’d like it to do.
But let’s take at the number first.
Decent Wi-Fi throughput
On the 5 GHz band, my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients were able to connect at 1.2 Gbps most of the time. I expected that considering the router doesn’t support the 160 MHz channel width.
In testing, it delivered the sustained real-world speed of more than 780 Mbps at close range and almost 535 Mbps at 40 feet (12 m) away. These numbers were quite decent compared to other similarly specced routers.
The DIR-X1560 did quite well with Wi-Fi 5 clients, too. At some 10 feet (3 m) away, my 4×4 client registered 607 Mbps, and father out, my 3×3 laptop scored some 575 Mbps. Both were fast enough to deliver a fast Internet connection.
On the 2.4 GHz band, the router did OK, considering its 2×2 Wi-Fi 4 configuration. It had a sustained speed of just about 90 Mbps at the close range and almost 62 Mbps in the long-range. Where I live, this band suffers greatly from interference by the wand and has been much slower than the ceiling specs.
So in all, the DIR-X1560 did quite well in terms of Wi-Fi performance. It couldn’t compare to higher-end and more expensive routers, but for an entry-level one, its performance met my expectations.
OK coverage, intermittent Internet disconnections
Unfortunately, the router’s reliability was a different story.
As the rule of thumb, I always use a reviewed product as my personal device for a while to see how it pans out. In the case of the DIR-X1560, the router didn’t take long to show issues.
Every once in a while, it would lose the connection to the internet. Then if I kept trying — like refreshing the page, or opening a few different browser windows, etc. — it would get connected again.
The connection wasn’t consistent. Once the router worked the entire day with no issue. But generally, this occurred every couple of hours. During this time, the local network was working fine, however.
It was hard to pinpoint what happened, but it felt as if the router’s Internet connection went into a “sleep mode” after being idle for a certain amount of time. And I needed to wake it up by requesting something from the web.
As for Wi-Fi coverage, the DIR-X1560 has about the same range as that of the TP-Link AX10, or the Asus RT-AX3000. In my trial, its signals were strong enough to cover a small home to every corner.
The D-Link DIR-X1560 EXO AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 router is a compact little Wi-Fi machine that has nothing to appeal.
While it’s not a complete loss, D-Link sure needs to release a significant firmware update to make it a viable solution. And then it should cut the price down quite significantly before the router can begin to compete against the TP-Link Archer AX10.
That said, if you’re in the market for an entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router, skip this one for now.