- Blazing fast Wi-Fi 6 (AX)
- Versatile PCIe connection
- Adaptable design
- Optional Bluetooth® 5.1 connectivity
- Drivers require CD drive
- Cable for Bluetooth® could look better
It doesn’t seem like so long ago that I purchased my first W-Fi-capable modem-router. I was living in a small two-bedroom apartment and I needed to get internet from the connection in the kitchen to the study. I forked out quite a bit for my fancy new modem, as well as for an external USB Wi-Fi adaptor. The result was… underwhelming. But, how times have changed! Today I got my hands on the new D-Link DWA-X3000 – an AX3000 PCIe Wi-Fi adaptor that also packs the added benefit of cutting edge Bluetooth® 5.1. Is it good enough to do away with wires for good?
Disclosure: D-Link provided Blog of Dad with the DWA-X3000 for the purpose of review and ongoing use. Any thoughts expressed about D-Link products in this article are based on my own experiences. For more information, visit my disclosure statement.
D-Link DWA-X3000 – Specifications
Wi-Fi 6 (AX)
The D-Link DWA-X3000 is based on the latest Wi-fi Standard, known as both “AX” and “Wi-Fi 6”. This newest generation brings faster speeds, lower latency and better features for dealing with the inevitable congestion that home networks in 2021 face. The D-Link DWA-X3000 is designed to achieve speeds of up to 2402Mbps on the 5GHz band and 600Mbps on 2.5GHz, which is another way of saying blazing fast Wi-Fi.
In addition to premium Wi-Fi performance, the D-Link DWA-X3000 brings the latest Bluetooth® 5.1 connectivity. This enables better connections at greater distances, faster connection initiation and less power used on connecting devices.
Importantly, both Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth® 5.1 are backwards compatible, which means you should have no problem connecting with older devices.
PCI Express (PCI-e)
Wi-Fi adapters adaptors come in all shapes and sizes to suit the needs or preferences of your build. M.2, USB and PCI-e are all common options. For anything from a microATX to a full-sized PC build, PCI-e is a great option. It utilizes some of that spare space inside the case, doesn’t require a specialist slot that can add more cost to the motherboard, and is far more powerful and reliable than an external USB connection.
The beauty of the D-Link DWA-X3000 is that it is very flexible. Unlike some other PCI-e AX adaptors, the DWA-X3000 is compatible with any PCI-e slot – it doesn’t matter whether it is x1, x4, x8 or x16. No matter which empty slot you use, the D-Link DWA-X3000 delivers its superior AX3000 performance.
As with most quality, high-performance internal components these days, a heatsink is attached to the adaptor for improved stability and reliability.
The D-Link DWA-X3000 comes with two, omni-directional, high-performance antennas. These can be connected directly to the external rear of the PCI-e card or, if extra reach is needed, to the included magnetic antenna base. D-Link appear keen to make the DWA-X3000 as suitable as possible for the widest range of builds. This level of consideration is impressive!
The D-Link DWA-X3000 adaptor includes two brackets – again catering to the multiple possible configurations of potential builds. Both a full height and low-profile bracket com in the box.
D-Link DWA-X3000 – Installation
The D-Link DWA-X3000 is extremely easy to install. Just choose an empty PIC-e slot on the motherboard, unscrew the corresponding cover from your case and slot it right in. Immediately, the flexible nature of the D-Link DWA-X3000 is handy. I can install it in a spot well away from my large GPU in order to maintain good airflow throughout the case.
Once the PCI-e space is selected, simply slot the DWA-X3000 in (using the appropriate mounting bracket) and install the two antenna. They can be attached directly to the back of the DWA-X3000, or a better position using the included magnetic base and cable.
If you want to take advantage of the Bluetooth® 5.1, a small extra cable needs to be run from the D-Link DWA-X3000 to a spare USB header on your motherboard. It is easy to do, but it’s a shame that it isn’t the nicest looking cable.
The D-Link DWA-X3000 instructions state to install drivers from the included CD. This can be a bit tricky for some, as DVD drives are becoming a rare find on modern builds. Thankfully, the DWA-X3000 seems to work just fine as plug and play, it showed up in my system immediately and worked as expected. Unfortunately, the drivers do not yet appear to be available on the D-Link website. Hopefully they will be added soon so that all users can ensure they have the best connection experience.
D-Link DWA-X3000 – Use
The D-Link DWA-X3000 performed flawlessly in my testing. It connected easily to both my D-Link COVR mesh network and my Synology RT2600ac Wi-Fi router. With the antenna connected directly to the back of the DWA-X3000, I could make a strong connection to each device.
Both of these network systems are Wi-Fi 5, so it’s fair to say that I don’t yet enjoy the full benefits that the D-Link DWA-X3000 has to offer. That being said, my connections are consistently smooth and solid – whether gaming, browsing, streaming video or attending virtual meetings. In my day-to-day, real world usage the experience is no different to maintaining a wired connection.
The big advantage of opting for an AX adapter like the D-Link DWA-X3000 is in the future proofing it offers. The DWA-X3000 works beautifully on my current network, but it will only improve in performance over the coming years as I gradually upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 mesh network and higher NBN speeds.
On a Wi-Fi 6 network, the D-Link DWA-X3000 won’t just be taking advantage of the impressive speed on offer, it will also be well placed to deal with the increasingly congested nature of home networks. The MU-MIMO and OFDMA technologies baked into the D-Link DWA-X3000 enable simultaneous communication with multiple devices, meaning fewer bottlenecks and more consistent connections.
The Bluetooth® 5.1 connection is just as capable. I connected my new Logitech MX Master keyboard and mouse quickly and without fuss. Headsets too connected easily and the audio was transmitted consistently.
The connection was maintained as I moved about the room, giving me confidence that the D-Link DWA-X3000 is more than suitable for my everyday home-office use.
If you are going to go down the Wi-Fi route in your PC build, it makes sense to do it properly. The PCI-e D-Link DWA-X3000 adaptor packs state-of-the-art Wi-Fi 6 performance into an excellent, highly adaptable package.
For those of us still on Wi-Fi 5 routers or mesh networks, the DWA-X3000 is still an excellent choice. It provides an excellent connection now, and a way of taking advantage of the latest and greatest connections when you next upgrade the network.
Bluetooth® 5.1 connectivity is an added bonus and one that most users can take advantage of. It’s nice to not have to worry about tiny dongles that are easily lost.