Wash your hands, stay indoors, turn on Netflix and pray your router outputs 4K-necessary bandwidth to all your devices. This is the best remedy to avoid Corona.

D-Link’s dinky internet-spreading box is surprisingly affordable for anyone looking to cover a decent Mumbaikar-sized home. It even offers more than just routing high-bandwidth speeds and which is why we like this router a lot.

Design: It takes the same route

Very few routers will make visitors raise an eyebrow but not this one. The EXO series routers look like traditional routers. It’s 2020 and with four pointy antennas, the AC1300 is not going to blend well with the home decor.

However, we can’t really allow D-Link’s efforts to go unnoticed. It’s got angled perforations for ventilation and looks as if the design is inspired by a new age muscle car bonnet.

Performance: Works for me

We feel the sole purpose of this entry level EXO series router is to offer similar features like its peers with a price cut.

Router tests tend to differ and we tested this baby in a 1300sq.ft house. Its 5 GHz band range is quite good if placed in a central position in the house. We managed to get a 5 GHz band network to our smart TV placed around 20ft away with a thick wall in between.

The app makes things easier and configuration is monkey easy, but if you want to really put your nerdy network skills to test, the browser is the best place to manage your network settings. Things like firewall and QoS (Quality of Service) can be managed from there. In the QoS section you can play God. It’s like playing a jigsaw of your own, where you decide which devices get the highest and the lowest network priority as you drag and drop them from the list.It wouldn’t be 2020 without voice control so the router works with Alexa and Google AI. It won’t pull a rabbit out of the hat but you can tell your AI butler to reboot your router every time you feel like Roy from The IT Crowd.

However, a router’s duty is not to play butler but to make sure the ones taking the orders receive it quickly. During our testing we found minimal network congestion. With our 50Mbps speed, the router was outputting a constant movie stream on the telly and had the best speed possible on the laptop via LAN for downloading a 40GB game. Meanwhile, there were no hiccups with any data consumption from other devices as well.

This dual-band Wi-Fi comes with MU-MIMO, which means it can manage your network speeds and data with other routers like a well oiled machine. Yes, you can create a Wi-Fi mesh network with D-Link’s other MU-MIMO routers and repeaters. Quite futureproof and upgrade friendly, and we like that.

Features: McFree

The router itself is protected by McAfee. So it automatically protects every device on the network for five years. Apart from that, you can individually install McAfee antivirus on an unlimited number of devices for up to two years.

D-Link Defender is another app that you must download to be in complete control of your network. It’s powered by McAfee and gives you parental controls along with a list of devices on your network with their IP addresses and online status. Unlike some cities, you can play the government and the police here. Don’t like your kids snooping around on a tablet? Put it offline using the parental mode. You have to make profiles for your kids which starts and ends with entering their name and age. The network thereon automatically kicks out any websites that might be harmful for your little ones.

Although we found that our apps weren’t affected by it. An 18+ rated movie on Netflix will play just as easily as any other Disney movie. The D-Link Defender is there to keep nasty pop ups from ruining your kids childhood and that’s good enough.

Only the D-Link Defender app gives you Parental controls and a tighter grip on your network security. It is also the only app through which you can allow devices to install McAfee antivirus.

Verdict

If your life is compartmentalised within tall concrete structures, then the entry level EXO router is our pick under ₹5K. There’s simply a lot here to be happy about, and from our testing, the router works flawlessly within a two bedroom apartment.

McAfee subscription and being able to create a network mesh is just an added bonus.

Stuff says... 

D-Link EXO AC1300 review

Your safest bet on a network router is also quite the bargain
₹4999
Good Stuff 
Great range
Network congestion is a thing of the past
MU-MIMO is the future and it’s here
Can be controlled via voice assistants (no Siri)
Free McAfee subscription
Protects all devices on the network
Bad Stuff 
Home decor trauma