By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-01-03 Print this article Print

-Link DI-604">
Product: D-Link DI-604
Web Site: www.dlink.com
Pro: Easy setup; full feature set; great price; no wall-wart power supply.
Con: No stateful packet inspection; only four ports on the switch. Feature naming conventions somewhat confusing.
Summary:       Reliable, inexpensive, no SPI.
Street Price: $45, check prices
The DI-604 is the classic case of "Big things come in small packages." But dont let the 604s diminutive stature fool you. Inside this little $45 box lurk admin features-o-plenty, and the price is right. In fact, the DI-764 has the same administrative features found in its big and far more expensive brother, the DI-764. The main difference between the two is that the DI-764 has 802.11a and b wireless networking support.
Just like the DI-764, setting up the DI-604 was very straightforward, and the Web-based admin interface has an initial setup wizard that allows you to configure the most vital settings to get you up and running. Like the 764, we also had the DI-604 configured and ready to roll in about five minutes.
We could spend a lot of words telling you what we liked about the DI-604 but basically, we liked the same features in it that we liked in the DI-764. The 604s compact size allows it to be tucked away easily with your cable modem or DSL modem, and weve been running one of these 24/7 in our lab on our T1 line for about two months now, and it has been very solid, serving up IP addresses, and never crashing. Our findings during Unreal Tournament testing were also the same as those seen with the DI-764. Getting an advertised server to be visible on the UT Master Server list required enabling either port forwarding (which D-Link calls "Virtual Server") or port trigger, which D-Link calls Special Applications. Ditto for results using Nmap, but just to recap: We scanned the DI-604 using Nmap, and looked at the port addresses used by Unreal Tournament. On TCP, Nmap reported these ports as being filtered, whereas on UDP, it reported them being open. Nmaps method of determining whether a given UDP port is open however seems a bit suspect to us. It sends 0 byte UDP packets to the specified port of the target machine. If Nmap receives an "ICMP port unreachable," the port is assumed to be closed. However, if no response is received, Nmap assumes the port to be open. As it turns out, the routers we tested here are ignoring the port scan and discarding the probe packets, meaning that the ports are not open, and therefore do not pose a security risk. This was confirmed with the vendors, a look at the router logs, and by doing additional scans using Gibson Research test tools. Next, we tried to see a shared folder on a Windows machine that was behind the routers firewall. Windows file sharing uses ports 139 and 445, and TCP port scans of both of these ports showed them to be filtered. We were unable to see either the machine itself, or the shared folder on the target machine. About the only complaint we have about the DI-604 is that it only has four ports on its 10/100 LAN switch. An eight-port version of this (maybe called the DI-608) would be a nice addition to the D-Link lineup. D-Link currently offers a seven-port broadband router called the DI-707, which appears to come close, and its street price is around $90. But this minor quibble aside, the DI-604 is a solid offering from D-Link, and brings a lot to the table for the money. If your network is small, the DI-604 will make for a reliable nerve center to keep the whole thing humming.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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