It’s been about two years sincemade its debut as the newest and fastest version of Wi-Fi, and at this point, it’s fairly well-entrenched as the de facto standard for wireless networking at home. If you’ve upgraded your phone or your computer in recent months, then there’s a very good chance that it supports Wi-Fi 6, and we’re starting to see adoption among peripherals like and , too.
You’ll need a Wi-Fi 6 router running your home network in order for devices like that to meet their full potential, and the good news is that you have plenty of options, including entry-level models that won’t cost you very much. One of the least expensive of all of them is D-Link’s EaglePro AI router, a dual-band, AX1500 device that costs just $65.
- As affordable as Wi-Fi 6 routers get
- Simple, app-based setup
- Can expand into a mesh network with additional devices
- Dated design
- Poor performance when connecting at range
- No USB jacks
That’s about as good a price as you’ll find for a name-brand Wi-Fi 6 router, but there’s more to value than the price alone — performance matters, too. Though it was indeed capable of maxing out my home’s 300Mbps fiber internet speeds when I’d connect up close, the EaglePro AI’s performance dropped significantly at range, with drastic slowdowns just a few rooms from the router. Even worse, devices that connected at range would remain stuck with sluggish speeds even after moving closer to the router. That’s not an uncommon issue in my tests, but with the EaglePro AI, it was about as bad as I’ve seen.
Though they cost a bit more, other entry-level Wi-Fi 6 models like theand the Editors’ Choice-winning will offer noticeably better performance than the EaglePro AI, and neither one will set you back more than $100. I say stick with those if you’re looking for a good Wi-Fi 6 budget pick.
With an angular, white plastic build and four particularly prominent antennas, the D-Link EaglePro AI looks less like a next-gen router than like something you’d dock a cordless phone in back in 2002. I’d stop short of calling the thing ugly — this is a router, after all — but you’ll need to shop around some more if you’re looking for something that feels futuristic at first glance.
The EaglePro AI is an AX1500 router, which means that it supports Wi-Fi 6 (“AX”) and offers top theoretical speeds on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands that add up to about 1,500Mbps (“1500”). Though the router puts out a single, unified network that automatically steers you between the two bands, you’ll only actually be connected to one of them at a time. That means that the true advertised top speed is actually 1,200Mbps, which is as fast as the speedier 5GHz band gets.
You’ll find plenty of setup assistance in D-Link’s EaglePro AI app, so getting your network up and running won’t take more than a few minutes. Once that’s done, the app will offer the usual overview of devices connected to your network, along with options for adjusting basic network settings and parental controls or turning the guest network on and off. You’ll also receive weekly usage reports and insights about network performance, which is where the “AI” part of the branding comes in.
The router offers three gigabit Ethernet jacks in addition to the WAN port, so you’ll have some room for wired connections if you need them. You won’t find any USB jacks, though, and that means that you won’t be able to connect an external storage drive to your network for shared file access.
One other point of note: If you like, the EaglePro AI router can serve as the centerpiece of a mesh setup with the purchase of additional EaglePro AI plug-in range extenders and mesh satellite nodes. Another feature worth mentioning: support for Alexa and Google Assistant, either of which can remind you of the Wi-Fi password, turn the guest network on or reboot your router with a quick voice command.
Performance that falls short
The EaglePro AI router didn’t perform particularly well when I tested it out in my home, a 1,300-square-foot house in Louisville, Kentucky where I have incoming fiber internet speeds of 300Mbps. After Asus returned overall average speeds of 299, 264 and 223Mbps in the same set of tests, respectively. There wasn’t a single room in my home where D-Link did a better job than any of those., the router finished with an overall average download speed of just 136Mbps, which is pretty bad. For comparison, other budget-priced Wi-Fi 6 routers from , and
The main issue is that performance falls off a cliff when devices connect at range, from more than two or three rooms away. Wireless speeds will always be slower at a distance, but with the EaglePro AI, those speeds remained slow even after I’d move the connected client device closer to the router.
It’s a fairly common issue with routers, and one that I always look for by running two separate sets of speed tests: one where I connect in the same room as the router and then move towards the back of my home, and another where I connect in the back of my home and then work back towards the router. In the first set of tests, my overall average download speed was 227Mbps. In the second set, where I’d connect from afar, that average plummeted all the way to 46Mbps.
Again, that’s just flat-out bad. With my top Wi-Fi 6 budget pick, the TP-Link Archer AX21, the close-connected, green bar average was 298Mbps, while the yellow bar average rang in at a perfect 300Mbps. That parity is what you want — a connection that works as expected regardless of what room you’re in when you connect. You don’t get that with the EaglePro AI.
At $65, the D-Link EaglePro AI is one of the most affordable Wi-Fi 6 routers you can buy, but it’s a very poor performer with devices that connect from more than a few rooms away. That isn’t a shortcoming you should tolerate at any price, and you don’t have to — other budget-friendly Wi-Fi 6 picks like theand the are perfectly capable of maintaining consistent speeds with devices that connect at range, and both of those are available for $100 or less.
That makes the EaglePro AI an easy router to rule out if you’re shopping for a new one. Aim just a little higher, and you’ll find considerably better home networking performance for the price.