DrayTek Vigor2865ax: Two-minute review
DrayTek continues to impress us with its wide range of business-focused networking options, as well as a commitment to ongoing improvement with the latest features and upgraded performance. Today we're testing the DrayTek Vigor2865ax, which is the highest-end model in the larger Vigor2865 series.
These DrayTek routers are aimed at small to medium businesses, with VDSL2 modem, WAN port, and in some models, Wi-Fi support. The higher-end Vigor2865ax is equipped with Wi-Fi 6, but there are also models without wireless, others with VoIP options, or even built-in LTE connectivity. The Vigor2865 series is a multi-WAN router, so a key ingredient is its ability to maintain multiple internet connections for improved performance and/or redundancy.
All models include a VDSL2 modem, which supports 35b Supervectoring, as well as being backwards compatible with ADSL2+. With a suitable VDSL2 connection, the 2865 series can handle speeds up to 300Mbps. Of course you can also use a non-VDSL option via the Gigabit WAN port, or even configure Wi-Fi WAN connections. You also get five Gigabit LAN ports, and further connectivity is available via the USB ports, which can support 4G modems.
The 2865ax model includes ultra-fast AX3000-spec Wi-Fi 6. This is provided by 2x2 MU-MIMO radios and 2402Mbps of bandwidth on the 5GHz band, while the 2.4GHz band can do up to 574Mbps. While not the very fastest Wi-Fi available, this still offers excellent performance. For those not needing quite so much wireless bandwidth, or wanting to use the Vigor2865 series with existing Wi-FI APs, there is an AC1300-spec model, as well as one with no Wi-Fi at all.
Multiple high-speed WAN connections are not much use without enough performance to actually share it out over a wider network, so importantly the Vigor2865 includes hardware acceleration options. It can be configured in different ways, but makes for a big improvement in overall throughput – especially when running multiple WANs. For companies that use SSL-VPN tunnels for remote access, hardware acceleration can give a huge 2.8x boost to throughput.
Some key Vigor2865-series features are support for up to 32 VPN tunnels, 16 VLANs, the ability to handle 1,022 IP addresses, eight LAN subnets, a robust firewall, filtering and QoS options, failover and load balancing management and Wi-Fi hotspot options. The 2865 also supports managing up to 20 Vigor Access Points, and 10 Vigor switches. Management can be done via the 2865 interface itself, or using the DrayTek VigorACS network management software. With the latest VigorACS 3, the 2865 even supports SD WAN.
Getting the Vigor2865ax set up and managing our network of other DrayTek devices was fast and easy. Performance of the wired side was top notch, and while exact Wi-Fi speed will of course depend on the connecting device, we managed 549Mbps at close range, which dropped off to a respectable 399Mbps at 10 meter range. Importantly, the 2865ax handled multiple high-bandwidth devices at the same time. It will come as no surprise that such a feature-packed modem router has a rather dense interface, but it's generally well laid out and quite intuitive to use.
All in all, we can’t fault the DrayTek Vigor2865ax in any way more than a quibble, and it's a respectable option for a small-to-medium business network.
DrayTek Vigor2865ax review: price and availability
- How much does it cost? $300 / £330 / AU$699
- When is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in most major markets including the US, UK and Australia
It’s especially important to shop around for DrayTek Vigor products, because they tend not to be stocked as widely as residential gear, and pricing can vary a lot. The Vigor2865ax will set you back $300 / £330 / AU$699.
While comparatively easy to find in Australia and the UK, the Vigor2865ax is harder to buy in the US. American buyers may need to resort to sellers willing to ship internationally. Buyers Down Under get the worst of the pricing, while the UK and US, with their larger markets, are a bit more competitive.
There’s not a huge amount of competition in the Wi-Fi 6-capable VDSL2 modem-router space, but generally speaking the Vigor2865ax is fairly price competitive with alternate options.
• Value score: 3.5 / 5
DrayTek Vigor2865ax review: design and features
- Feature-packed interface
- Multi-WAN support
- Excellent VPN options
- Mesh network ready
The main drawcard for the Vigor2865ax over similar DrayTek models is the VDSL2 modem. A key feature is that it supports 35b Supervectoring, which allows for faster VDSL speeds up to 300Mbps. While a fiber connection is ideal, many smaller or retail business locations are limited to VDSL for internet, so it’s important to be able to maximise the bandwidth available. For those locations where ADSL2+ is still in operation, the 2865 series is also backwards compatible.
For those who need extra redundancy, handily the 2865 series can also connect to broadband via the WAN port and an external modem, as well as being able to use a (BYO) 4G cellular modem via USB. Importantly, these options are supported by extensive software features such as failover, load balancing, bandwidth limiting and the ability to prioritise specific traffic, such as for VOIP.
The Vigor2865ax we tested includes AX3000-spec Wi-Fi 6, but the models with lesser Wi-Fi, or no Wi-Fi at all, are great for businesses who just want the 2865 as a VDSL modem and network management hub.
Networking Ports: 1x 1GbE WAN/LAN, 1x RJ-11, 5x 1GbE LAN
Network Management: 20 Vigor Access Points, 10 Vigor Switches
Total NAT Throughput: 1.3 Gbps
USB: 2x 2.0
Maximum VPN tunnels: 32
Power: 12V, 2.3A
Dimensions: 241x 166 x 46mm
Weight: 0.62 kg
Warranty: 2 year back-to-base
Networking is what DrayTek is all about, so it’s important to acknowledge that many of the most useful features of the 2865 series involve the use of other hardware. The 2865 models with Wi-Fi can be part of a mesh network, or even access the internet via a wireless WAN. You can also use the 2865 to control a wider network of Vigor products, such as wireless access points and switches. This is ideal for growing businesses, as it makes expanding a network relatively easy. The USB ports can be used to add external devices, such as 4G modems or temperature probes.
Performance is key, and compared to the previous generation router, the Vigor2865 series much improved throughput thanks includes hardware acceleration. This can be used to provide increased performance in a range of areas. For example, using hardware acceleration, dual WAN use can avoid bottlenecks, with up to 1.6x the unaccelerated throughput.
The 2865 series also has a long list of other business focused features. For example it can host a quite advanced hotspot web portal, including a customised landing page with loads of template options available. The router also includes a comprehensive firewall, and other security and content options, such as web page filtering.
Overall the Vigor2865ax has a varied but useful mix of features, without going overboard with unnecessary options that would drive up the price. Don’t take our word for it either – Draytek have online demos available for their hardware, and you can log in and look through the interface and features before buying. Check out the 2865 series at https://eu.draytek.com:12865/ (opens in new tab).
• Design and features score: 4.5 / 5
DrayTek Vigor2965ax review: performance
- Multi-WAN failover and bandwidth allocation options
- App-based wireless management
- Mesh networking support
It’s hard to do justice to all the ins and outs of the Vigor2865ax with just words on a page. To better understand the router and interface, we highly recommend checking out the excellent DrayTek demo mentioned above, where you can investigate and test the interface and features up front. You can also do the same for other DrayTek devices. The product page (opens in new tab) is also a good port of call, and makes it easy to check out the manual, guides and other resources.
Getting the 2865ax up and running is straightforward, and can be done completely through the web interface. For more complex configurations the interface can seem quite dense, but DrayTek does an excellent job of providing comprehensive guides, manuals and other help online. There’s also DrayTek phone apps for wireless management, which is much improved from previous versions, and generally works pretty well.
For testing, we added the Vigor2865ax to a network populated with a range of DrayTek access points and switches, as well as other gear, such as a NAS and IP cameras, as well as a bevy of smart devices and computers. We included a 4G USB modem as a backup WAN source.
We didn’t uncover any surprises in testing, and the 2865 was more than capable of handling all the network throughput we could give it. VPN links, bandwidth allocation and WAN failover all worked as described, and the 2865 made it easy to manage other networked Vigor devices. On our Vigor2865ax model, Wi-Fi gave excellent performance up close (maxing out at 549Mbps) and through obstacles such as walls. At longer range performance was decent, but nothing spectacular, due to the relatively low-gain antennas – we achieved 399Mbps at 10m distance. DrayTek does have higher gain and directional patch antennas available as an optional extra for those who want to tweak the Wi-Fi experience. Mesh setup with other DrayTek devices was reasonably quick and easy, and handover between mesh nodes worked well.
Of course getting everything set up just so requires significant time, but that’s a reflection of the depth of features, rather than a failing on the router's behalf.
• Performance score: 4 / 5
DrayTek Vigor2865ax: network management
- Remote management direct from router interface
- TR-069 remote management compatible
- SD-WAN supported via VigorACS software
One of the key features of the Vigor routers for business use is the ability to manage a wider network made up of DrayTek devices. The 2865 series can control 20 Vigor wireless access points (seven in a mesh network) and 10 Vigor switches right from the inbuilt interface.
Of course such a setup can start to become unwieldy to manage – often long before hitting a high number of network devices. While you can use existing TR-069 management software options, DrayTek has a paid server-based TR-069 solution called VigorACS. The latest version, VigorACS 3, enables the DrayTek SD-WAN solution on compatible hardware, which includes the Vigor2865 series. This is a great inclusion, as SD-WAN is a fantastic option for businesses with remote workers who need secure, easily configurable access to the company network while at home or on the road.
DrayTek makes it pretty easy to give VigorACS a try, and buying a compatible device means you get a free 30-day trial. There’s also an online demo (opens in new tab). While it's not the only option for TR-069 management, VigorACS is a great match for DrayTek hardware, and for many will be worth the cost for the time savings alone. There’s also a large VigorACS knowledge base of articles (opens in new tab) that make using it much easier.
Should I buy the DrayTek Vigor2865ax?
|Value||Not a lot of price competition from retailers, but the Vigor2865ax is well priced against its closer competitors. Getting the best value does mean making sure the specific feature set of the router will be well utilized, and ideally also using other Vigor networking equipment.||3.5 / 5|
|Design & features||The specific featureset won’t appeal to all businesses, but DrayTek have done a good job at including what’s important without overdoing it. The larger 2865 series also makes it very easy to get the core modem router functionality without extras such as Wi-Fi. The availability of online support, documentation and demos is above average, and is a valuable addition.||4.5 / 5|
|Performance||Solid all round performance that avoids any bottlenecks and makes the 2865 series a capable option even by itself. The ax spec Wi-Fi is fast, but focused on closer range, and the endless network management options perform as expected.||4 / 5|
Buy it if...
Your business uses a VDSL2 connection
Even better if you can make use of the 35b Supervectoring support for higher speeds. ADSL2+ backwards compatibility is still surprisingly important in many regions.
You want to expand to a larger network over time
The Vigor2865 series gains a lot from being paired with other DrayTek hardware, and overall network management is a strong suit.
You want remote management options
The Vigor2865 is at home when controlling other networking gear, from configuring a few wireless access points, to mesh networking, TR-069 management and even SD-WAN functionality.
Don't buy it if...
You don’t have high network throughput
The Vigor2865 series does a great job at leveraging hardware acceleration to improve performance, but it’s wasted potential if your network is not under frequent high load.
You have super high network throughput
The Vigor2865 is a great router, but uses 1GbE ports, so can’t handle the very highest bandwidths. Those who need to move a lot of data over a network are better looking at 2.5GbE or 10GbE options.
You want long Wi-Fi range without extra hardware
While the AX3000 spec used by the 2865ax is quite fast, the performance drops off rapidly at range. That’s normal for this sort of router, and for wider coverage it’s best set up as part of a mesh network.
DrayTek Vigor2865ax review: final verdict
The Vigor2865ax is a relatively affordable business VDSL modem router, and combines a useful array of features for small to growing businesses. It has a decent amount of flexibility and future-proofing to scale with a business' needs, as well as plenty of options for more advanced functionality such as SD-WAN support.
The inclusion of hardware acceleration is of key importance, and takes the 2865 series from a pretty standard option to one with enough throughput to make it viable to hold off from upgrading to a 2.5GbE or faster solution.
While it is very capable on its own, the Vigor2865 series really performs best when paired with other DrayTek devices, as well as the VigorACS software. The hardware itself is excellent, but it's also important to note the relative abundance of support options to help get the most out of the router. The software side is also top notch, and DrayTek is committed to frequent upgrades and improvements over time.
It’s hard to fault the Vigor2865ax from a technical perspective, and most of our quibbles are really a wishlist of extra features that would inevitably drive up the price. It’s not perfect, but does what it says on the box with little fuss, at an appropriate price. For those businesses who can make use of its unique set of features, the Vigor2865ax is a great choice.
[First reviewed February 2023]