PCs

User-friendly router, but performance is middling

The Synology Router RT1900ac makes up for its lower performance with its price, which is much lower than premium routers.
The Synology Router RT1900ac makes up for its lower performance with its price, which is much lower than premium routers.PHOTO: SYNOLOGY

Network-attached storage (NAS) maker Synology has launched its first router.

The Taiwanese firm said routers are "often too complicated to use" but believes its software can change this.

Synology NAS users will find the software of the Synology Router RT1900ac, called Synology Router Manager, a familiar-looking one.

It looks a lot like the desktop interface of the DiskStation Manager software on the company's NAS products.

That is not a bad thing, because this interface is what I like about Synology's software. It looks clean, well organised and less intimidating compared with the router interface of other manufacturers.

Like most routers, you access the settings by pointing the browser on a connected device to router.synology.com. But upon logging in, you will find desktop icons, with each icon representing a specific router function, such as Network Center and Storage & Printer.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $235

    ETHERNET INTERFACE: 1 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN, 4 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN

    STANDARDS: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

    SECURITY: WPA/WPA2, WEP

    ADVANCED FIREWALL FEATURES: NAT and SPI, DoS protection

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

At the top right corner are notifications, account settings and a search box. The search function is handy to locate a specific function from the myriad features available on a modern router. Helpful tips are also displayed the first time you log in.

Users can install additional software packages to enhance the router features. There are just five available for now, but my experience with Synology NAS devices tells me that there should eventually be packages from third-party developers.

The router has all the features I expect, including guest networks and parental and traffic controls. A Security Advisor feature scans the router periodically to check for malware. It even tells me if my router password is strong enough.

The parental and traffic controls are among the best I have seen on a router. The interface shows the devices on the network. Choose a device and you can proceed to block it from visiting certain types of websites, or cap its download speed.

In other words, the Synology router is easy to configure, yet has sufficient options to satisfy most advanced users.

A companion mobile app with a well-designed interface lets you access your router settings on your smartphone via the Internet. This feature can be disabled for better security.

The router hardware is fairly standard. It supports the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard with a top aggregate speed of 1,900Mbps. Its three antennae are adjustable and the router can stand upright or be mounted on the wall. Unlike other top routers that offer two USB ports, the Synology has a single USB 3.0 port. It does have an SD card reader though, which is rare for a router.

Performance could be better. The Synology's download speed of 490Mbps is significantly lower than similar routers, such as the Netgear Nighthawk (615Mbps) and TP-Link Touch P5 (552Mbps).

The router has a meagre 256MB of RAM. High-end routers typically have 1GB RAM. That said, I did not encounter any lag during my testing. The Synology makes up for its lower performance with its price. At $235, it is much cheaper than premium routers and has almost-comparable features, too.

Vincent Chang

  • An affordable router with a good software interface and plenty of features. But it is not as fast as top routers.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'User-friendly router, but performance is middling'. Print Edition | Subscribe