Jeremy Laukkonen is automotive and tech writer for numerous major trade publications as well as the creator of a popular blog and video game startup. A fan of EVs since the early 2000s, he stays up-to-date on the myriad complex systems that power battery electric vehicles.
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Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen
SD card slot
Good web interface
Difficult to wall mount
Slow network storage
No wireless bridge support
The Synology RT2600AC is a rock-solid AC2600 router that supports MU-MIMO, dual WAN connectivity, and automatic band steering. It’s even been retrofitted to work in mesh systems with Synology’s MR2200AC satellite unit.
We purchased Synology RT2600ac Wi-Fi Router so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Synology RT2600AC is just the second wireless router ever released by network storage giant Synology, but it’s a definite step in the right direction. It improves over Synology’s older RT1900AC in just about every way, it’s compatible with their mesh wireless system, and it boasts some pretty impressive specifications.
We recently set a Synology RT2600AC up in a home network environment to test things like performance, speed and throughput, ease of installation, extra features, and more. To find out whether this router is worth the asking price, continue reading.
The Synology RT2600AC plays it straight in the design department, with a black rectangular aesthetic that doesn’t do a whole lot to set itself apart from the crowd. The blocky design is broken up somewhat by angled ventilation slots on the top of the device, and you’ll also find a full suite of indicator lights front and center.
This is a 4x4 multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO) router with four large antennas, two of which are mounted on the back, with the other two located on either side of the device. The antennas can be rotated and snap into place in 90, 135, and 180 degrees.
When you set this router on a flat surface, it doesn’t sit flat due to a raised foot on the back of the device.
On the front of the router, you’ll find an SD card, which can be used as network-attached storage (NAS). The rear of the router also features a USB port that can be used for the same purpose. You’ll also find the power button, a WAN port, and five LAN Ethernet ports on the back. One side of the device features WPS and Wi-Fi buttons, while the other features a second USB port and a media eject button.
When you set this router on a flat surface, it doesn’t sit flat due to a raised foot on the back of the device. This gives the router a bit of a unique look, and may help in heat management, but it also makes it extremely difficult to wall mount.
Setup with the Synology RT2600AC was just about as easy as it gets. We connected the router to the internet and our test PC, set up an administrator account on the router, created a network SSID, and were prompted to select whether the device should act as a router or an access point, and that was about it.
The Synology RT2600AC has a great web-based dashboard that provides a surprising amount of flexibility and control, but you don’t really have to dig into it to set up your network.
The Synology RT2600AC is an AC2600 MU-MIMO dual-band router that offers a theoretical maximum wireless bandwidth of 2.53Gbps, with 800Mbps over the2.4 GHz frequency and 1,733Mbps over the 5GHz frequency. It’s also capable of bonding two high-speed connections with a dual-WAN option. You aren’t likely to see those speeds in real life, even with the dual-WAN, but you can check out the next section to see what kind of speeds to expect.
This router supports MU-MIMO, which is a technology that’s designed to allow multiple devices to connect at once, using different wireless standards, without suffering any slowdown as a result. It also supports automatic band steering to ensure that each wireless device in your network maintains the fastest and most reliable connection it can handle.
The Synology RT2600AC is an AC2600 MU-MIMO dual-band router that offers a theoretical maximum wireless bandwidth of 2.53Gbps.
The Synology RT2600AC is a bit lacking in terms of Ethernet ports, but the loadout is fairly standard for a mid-range router. It has a single WAN port for connecting to a modem, and then just four Ethernet ports for your devices. If you choose to use one of those as an additional WAN port, you’ll definitely need to look for a switch to expand your capacity.
If you’re looking to connect some storage to your network to stream media or back up files, this router includes an SD card slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a USB 3.0 port. We found the NAS to be a bit on the slow side, but it works well enough.
We tested network throughput performance on a Mediacom gigabit internet connection, performing extensive tests on both the wired Ethernet connection and the dual-band Wi-Fi.
When connected to the Synology RT2600AC via a wired Ethernet connection, we were able to achieve a maximum download speed of 470Mbps. This gigabit internet connection notched speeds of over 900Mbps using another router during the same test set, so the Synology unit left a little to be desired there.
Next up, we connected to the Wi-Fi network with our wireless device roughly three feet from the router. Using the Ookla speed test app, we averaged 394Mbps down and 59Mbps up. That’s fast enough to stream 4K video and just about anything else, but it was pretty much in the middle of the road for routers that we tested using this internet connection and this test machine.
This router is worth a look if you want something that’s easy to set up but hides a lot of hidden potential under the hood.
We performed our next test about 15 feet from the router with a closed door between the router and our mobile device. At that distance, we measured an average download speed of 357Mbps and upload speeds of about 62Mbps.
Our next test was performed 30 feet from the router with two walls and various furniture and other items between the router and our test device. At that range, measured speeds dropped to an average of about 259Mbps, with upload speeds tanking to 27Mbps.
The Synology RT2600AC isn’t the fastest router we’ve tested, but it did exhibit speeds and range good enough to stream video, play games, and perform other tasks on the internet throughout our 1,800 square feet of space.
While the Synology RT2600AC was designed to be used alone, it’s important to note that it’s fully compatible with Synology’s newer MR2200AC satellite routers. That means you can add one or more MR2200AC units to your network to create a mesh network and eliminate any Wi-Fi dead zones you might have.
The Synology RT2600AC uses a Windows-like web console that’s a massive improvement over a lot of the competition. You can also change some settings through a phone app, like parental controls, guest networking, and basic wireless settings, but most of the advanced controls are locked behind the web console.
The web console is tile-based, including tiles for the network center, control panel, package center, and help center. The network center tile allows you to check current download and upload speeds at a glance, check out a list of connected devices, set up traffic and parental controls, configure your wireless settings and firewall, and more. The control panel digs into options like setting up network-attached storage and network printers, and the package center allows you to download additional packages.
The Synology RT2600AC uses a Windows-like web console that’s a massive improvement over a lot of the competition.
Some of the packages you can grab include cloud file sharing utilities, VPN utilities, and other things that can expand and increase the functionality of your Synology router.
With an MSRP of $240, and typically available for about $200, the Synology RT2600AC is a little on the pricey side for the underlying technology, functionality, and performance of the router. You can find faster routers for about the same price, or even less, which makes the RT2600AC a bit of a tough sell at its MSRP.
The Synology RT2600AC does have some things going for it that other routers in this price range lack, like the fantastic web portal and package manager, and the ability to use it with optional MR2002AC units in a mesh system.
The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 is a close competitor to the Synology RT2600AC with a lower MSRP of $220, and a street price closer to $165. It’s also a dual-band MU-MIMO router, but it’s a little slower according to the specs, with a theoretical maximum speed of 2.3Gbps versus the RT2600AC’s theoretical max of 2.53GBps. However, the Netgear Nighthawk actually tested better during our in-house testing, with faster-wired speeds, faster wireless speeds, and better coverage.
The Netgear Nighthawk does have fewer antennas, and it also lacks an SD card slot. We also like the Synology’s web portal a lot more than Netgear’s solution. This isn’t exactly a deal-breaker, but the Synology web portal is very easy to use, and the package manager feature allows you to add useful functionality like VPN integration even if you don’t have a lot of experience with routers.
This is a rock-solid router if you can get it for the right price.
The Synology RT2600AC is a decent mid-range router that suffers from just a handful of minor issues. You’ll probably need a network switch, and it underperformed a bit in our speed tests, but it still posted decent numbers. The fact that you can use it in a mesh system is also a nice touch, as is the fact that Synology continues to improve the router with regular firmware updates and new packages to extend the functionality of the device. This router is worth a look if you want something that’s easy to set up but hides a lot of hidden potential under the hood.
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