Easy to install. Solid 2.4GHz and 5GHz throughput performance in testing. Dual WAN support. Lots of management tools. MU-MIMO data streaming.
Middling MU-MIMO throughput and file transfer speeds.
- Bottom Line
The Synology RT2600ac is a feature-rich AC2600 router with support for MU-MIMO data streaming and dual WAN connectivity. It delivers fast 2.4GHz and 5GHz throughput, but its file-transfer and MU-MIMO speeds are merely average.
When I reviewed Synology's debut wireless router, the RT1900ac, I gave it high marks for its 5GHz throughput performance and robust feature set, but thought its 2.4GHz and file transfer speeds could be better. The company's follow-up router, the RT2600ac ($229.99), delivers solid 2.4GHz and 5GHz throughput and adds some new features, including support for MU-MIMO data streaming and dual-WAN connectivity. It also offers comprehensive parental controls, traffic monitoring, and intrusion protection. That said, the Editors' Choice D-Link AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router (DIR-885L/R) is a better all-around performer, if you're willing to pay an extra $50.
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Packed With Features
At 3 by 11 by 6.6 inches (HWD) the RT2600ac is an average-sized router. It has four removable and adjustable antennas, four gigabit LAN ports, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, a dedicated WAN port, and an SD card slot. LAN port number one can be used as secondary WAN port to support 2Gbps WAN as well as provide a failsafe if the main WAN connection is lost. Additionally, the Synology Router Manager (SRM) console allows you to load balance traffic across both WAN connections. The left side of the router has a WPS button and a Wi-Fi button, and there are Reset and Power buttons around back.
Under the hood are a dual-core 1.7GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM, and 802.11ac circuitry that supports AC2600 dual-band Wi-Fi (800Gbps at 2.4GHz, 1.73Gbps at 5GHz) and the latest Wave 2 technologies including beamforming, band steering, and MU-MIMO data streaming. The front of the router is home to a series of LED indicators for power, Internet (WAN), all four LAN ports, both USB ports, and WPS activity.
As with the RT1900ac, the RT2600ac can be managed using the windows-like SRM web console or with the DS Router mobile app (iOS and Android). The mobile app offers parental control and traffic-control settings, guest networking, and basic wireless settings, but the web console is more robust. It contains tiles for a Network Center, a Control Panel, a Package Center, and an SRM Help Center. Click the Network Center tile to view upload and download speeds, see a list of connected devices, configure wireless settings, and create guest networks, as well as configure Firewall, Denial of Service (DoS), Port Forwarding, and DHCP server settings. Here you can use parental controls to block access to social networking sites and those that contain adult content, drug use, malware, and more. You can also create Internet access schedules for each client. Traffic Control settings allow you to assign bandwidth priority to specific clients, monitor live traffic usage, and view historical usage reports.
The Control Panel lets you set up attached storage shares with permissions for each client, configure Windows, Mac, and FTP file services, add network printers, and configure email, SMS, and push notifications for when there are USB storage issues or when system updates are available. The Package Center offers links to Synology and third-party applications including VPN utilities, cloud file-sharing software, photo album sharing software, and more. The Security Advisor application scans your network for potential malware and other cyber threats and offers detailed reports and recommended actions.
Easy Setup, Solid Performance
Installing the RT2600ac is fast and easy. I connected the router to my host PC and to the Internet, which automatically launched the setup screen in a browser window. I was prompted to create an administrator user name and password and then name the network SSID and select an operation mode (router or AP). I then selected AutoIP and was finished.
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The RT2600ac delivered good throughput in our performance tests. Its score of 101Mbps on the 2.4GHz close-proximity (same room) test is a bit faster than the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 MU-MIMO Dual-Band Wireless Gigabit Router NBG6817 (97.2Mbps) and right up there with the Trendnet AC2600 TEW-827 (108Mbps) and the D-Link AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-885L/R (103Mbps). At a distance of 30 feet, the RT2600ac scored 81.5Mbps, beating the Zyzel Z2 (69.9Mbps) and the Trendnet TEW-827 (75.3Mbps), but not the D-Link DIR-885L/R (85.5Mbps). The RT2600ac's score of 501Mbps on the 30-foot close-proximity test is fast, but not quite as fast as the Zyxel Z2 (558Mbps), the Trendnet TEW-827 (590Mbps), or the D-Link DIR-885L/R (572Mbps). However, its score of 298Mbps at 30 feet is second to the D-Link DIR-885L/R (350Mbps) and beat out the Zyxel Z2 (251Mbps) and the Trendnet TEW-827 (260Mbps).
To test the RT2600ac's MU-MIMO throughput, I used three identical Acer Aspire R13 laptops equipped with Qualcomm's QCA61x4A MU-MIMO circuitry. Its score of 173Mbps on the close-proximity test bests the Zyxel Z2 (150Mbsp), but doesn't keep pace with the Trendnet TEW-827 (238.3Mbps) or the D-Link Dir-885L/R (237Mbps). At 30 feet, the RT2600ac averaged 100Mbps while the Zyxel Z2 scored 72Mbps and the Trendnet TEW-827 scored 127.6Mbps. The D-Link DIR-885L/R leads with 165Mbps.
Its transfer speeds, which I tested by moving a 1.5GB folder containing a mix of music, photos, video, and document files, are mediocre. Its write speed of 32.6MBps and read speed of 34.2MBps are a bit slower than the D-Link Dir-885L/R's speeds (33.2MBps write, 44.1MBps read) and significantly slower than our file transfer leader, the Linksys WRT3200 ACM (74MBps write, 88MBps read). The Zyxel Z2 scored 35.1MBps (read) and 51.2MBps (write), and the Trendnet TEW-827 scored 30.3MBps and 53.7MBps, respectively.
Good Performance With Lots of Perks
The Synology Router RT2600ac offers a nice assortment of management tools that let you filter website content, schedule bandwidth priority, monitor usage, and help keep your home or small office safe from malicious cyber threats. It is a cinch to install and offers the latest Wave 2 Wi-Fi technologies, including MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming, automatic band steering, and beamforming (wide-spectrum signal broadcasting). Although the RT2600ac's throughput performance is solid, our Editors' Choice for midrange routers, the D-Link AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router (DIR-885L/R), is significantly faster and offers many of the same management features, albeit for a cost of $50 more. It doesn't support dual WAN like the RT2600ac, but it does accept DD-WRT open source firmware, which offers advanced and customizable management options for optimal performance.
By John R. Delaney Contributing Editor
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of the Labs technical staff, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of the Labs testing machines and procedures. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, John spent six years in retail operations for… More »
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