D-Link DAP-X2850 review: Impressive real-world performance

The D-Link DAP-X2850 is expensive, but this Wi-Fi 6 AP performs well and comes with feature-rich and free management software

The D-Link DAP-X2850 on the ITPro background
(Image: © Future)

IT Pro Verdict


  • +

    Great captive portal features

  • +

    Mixed WPA2 and WPA3 encryption


  • -

    Dated web browser console design

The D-Link DAP-X2850 offers SMBs an appealing alternative to the cost of large access point deployments (AP). It's designed to be managed using D-Link's free on-premises Nuclias Connect software, with a single instance supporting up to 1,500 APs and smart-managed switches.

This Wi-Fi 6 AP is well built with a solid metal backplate and has good credentials, with its AX3600 rating comprising claimed speeds of up to 2,402Mbits/sec on its 5GHz radio and 1,147Mbits/sec on the 2.4GHz band. Its primary 2.5GbE port requires a PoE+ source, while the second gigabit port can be used to connect other wired devices and provide them with network access. 

The AP can also be managed in standalone mode, and although its dated web browser console won't win any design awards, it does provide access to all the important features. Enabling the multi-SSID feature allows up to eight SSIDs per radio to be created, and you can apply mixed WPA2 and WPA3 encryption, enable airtime fairness plus band steering, set limits on the number of clients that can associate with an SSID and use the intrusion protection scanner to identify rogue APs.

Captive portal features are good; unlike many competing wireless APs that only support these with cloud management, you can set them up in standalone mode. The DAP-X2850 supports a good range of integral guest authentication methods, too, including click-through with web redirection, a locally managed list of usernames and passwords, passcodes, Radius, LDAP and even POP3.

Installing Nuclias Connect on a Windows Server 2019 Hyper-V VM took 15 minutes, with the utility also loading the WinPcap service and a MongoDB database. Its web console then presented a wizard to help create our first management site and network, after which it ran a discovery routine that found the DAP-X2850 and offered to push the default profile to it. 

Profiles are a very powerful feature, as they include everything needed to create and manage your wireless networks. As with standalone mode, you can create up to eight SSIDs for each radio and apply an encryption scheme, but these go much further: you can enable fast roaming, assign bandwidth optimization rules and set schedules to determine when wireless services are available. Even more user authentication methods are available and include logins using Facebook and Google client and secret IDs.

You can apply web redirection, add a walled garden, customise the splash page presented to users, enable Hotspot 2.0 services if you're providing public wireless facilities and link up with Paypal if you want customers to pay for the privilege.

The D-Link DAP-X2850 dashboard

(Image credit: Future)

The console's main dashboard provides a clear overview of network activity; with an upper bar showing the number of managed APs and switches plus connected clients. While graphs below reveal the number of client connections and details of overall, upload, download and per-SSID traffic. Move to the Monitor page and you can select individual APs, view a 24-hour traffic graph, see connected clients and remotely reboot them.

The DAP-X2850 doesn't disappoint in the performance stakes either, and we tested it connected to the lab's Zyxel XS1930-12HP 10GbE multi-gigabit PoE++ switch. Large file copies between a Windows 10 Pro workstation equipped with a TP-Link Archer TX3000E Wi-Fi 6 PCI-E adapter and a Dell T640 server on our 10GbE LAN averaged 111MB/sec at close range with speeds dropping to a very creditable 101MB/sec when the AP was placed ten metres away in the next room.

Costing nearly £400, the DAP-X2850 certainly isn't the best-value AX3600 AP, but it's easy to deploy and offers impressive real-world performance. D-Link recoups points for value with the free Nuclias Connect software, as its wealth of management features and secure guest portal services will appeal to businesses that prefer to keep all management traffic on-site and out of the cloud.

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Band support AX3600 dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ax
RadiosInternal aerials
Dimensions (WDH)212 x 212 x 47mm
WarrantyConnect management limited lifetime warranty
Dave Mitchell

Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.