A Closer Look
D-Link's retail package includes:
- The DWA-192 USB Wi-Fi adapter
- A three-foot USB connection cable
- Mini CD with software
- Quick install guide
The mini CD also includes a PDF of the DWA-192's 46-page manual. Unless you're looking for that, though, we recommend visiting D-Link's website for the most up-to-date version of the driver.
As mentioned, the DWA-192 stands out due to its AC1900 rating. While there is no shortage of routers capable of matching data rates, this is the first USB Wi-Fi adapter offering that level of performance. Up until fairly recently, a lot of residential networking infrastructure topped out at 100 Mb/s. Now we have wireless solutions capable of exceeding (on paper, at least), gigabit-class Ethernet.
D-Link's design is also particularly noteworthy. Most of us are accustomed to hiding peripherals whenever possible. But with its unique shape, sleek black/silver paint job and blue LED, this adapter is clearly meant to be shown off.
We also want to point out the 3x3 antenna configuration, important not only because it affects performance, but also because it's internally housed. The ability to communicate via three spatial streams is what matches high-end router functionality. Most enthusiast-oriented Wi-Fi adapters are limited to 2x2, sacrificing peak performance.
Although this isn't the easiest USB Wi-Fi adapter to dismantle, the DWA-192 is well worth peeking inside. In the image above, we see (1) the LED on/off switch, (2) the micro-USB 3.0 connector and (3) the WPS switch. In the center is (4) the Realtek chipset and (5) the RF shield attachment. On the left, we find (6) two attachment points for the peripheral antenna wires, (7) two wires to the additional antennas and (8) antennas integrated into the PCB.
The bottom of the adapter houses a metal weight, which serves to keep the DWA-192 standing upright.
In addition to the antennas built into the main PCB, there are two daughterboards at the top of the adapter, each with an additional pair of antennas.
The DWA-192's software, provided on a bundled mini CD (but also available through D-Link's website), is limited to a Windows driver. If you're accustomed to using Windows' built-in networking tools, this approach has its merits. To begin, you aren't forced to run a bloated utility. Conversely, you also don't get any manufacturer-enabled access to more advanced functionality. A yellow Caution sticker reminds you to install the software before physically connecting the D-Link DWA-192. Going the native Windows approach is different from our previous review of D-Link's DWA-182, which had its own software package.
The D-Link DWA-192 also features AC Smartbeam, which uses beamforming (a wireless technology that utilizes multiple antennas to focus the signal and improve throughput between the router and the client). Beamforming is used in the 802.11ac standard, and many devices with multiple antennas support it. Also, beamforming only works over the 5GHz band, and not on 2.4GHz. AC Smartbeam is a proprietary implementation that can be used when both the supported adapter—in this case, the DWA-192—and compatible D-Link router are connected. A competing (and also proprietary) implementation of this is Netgear's Beamforming+. Both are exposed at the software driver level.