Less than two years after it introduced its first wireless router, Synology - better known for its network-attached storage devices (NAS) - has launched a new router.
The Synology RT2600ac offers higher aggregate speeds than the previous model. It can deliver up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band.
It supports advanced Wi-Fi features such as MU-MIMO, which transmits data to multiple compatible clients at the same time, as well as beamforming, which focuses the Wi-Fi signal directly at your wireless device's location.
While these advanced features are fairly standard in new routers, especially the higher-end models, the RT2600ac has another trick up its sleeves: one of its four LAN ports can act as an additional WAN port. Combine this port with the default WAN port to get up to 2Gbps bandwidth, if your Internet service provider offers such a broadband plan.
Like its predecessor, the RT2600ac can be mounted on the wall. Its design is utilitarian, with status LED indicators at the front (can be turned off in the settings). Connectors include a USB 3.0 port and a SD card slot.
Where the RT2600ac excels over its competitors is its software. The Synology Router Manager (SRM) that powers the device is modelled after the software found in the company's NAS devices.
ETHERNET INTERFACE: 1 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN, 4 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN
SECURITY: WPA2, WEP
ADVANCED FIREWALL FEATURES: NAT, DoS and SPI
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
Its desktop-like user interface is a refreshing change from the menu-heavy interfaces on other routers. It is intuitive to use for anyone who has ever used a PC.
To add more software features, like creating your own cloud or media server, you simply download the appropriate add-on packages from Synology's server by clicking on the Package Center icon. One of the new packages is Intrusion Prevention (still in beta testing), which identifies online threats and blocks them.
In fact, security is, rightly so, emphasised by the router. During the initial set-up, the router asked me to change the default router and Wi-Fi passwords. It can even be configured to reject passwords if they are not complex enough. Subsequently, the router can regularly check online for software updates and notify you via e-mail or SMS.
In addition, the Security Advisor feature checks if the router has been correctly configured for security. The first time I ran it, the software told me to turn on Auto Block, a feature that blocks devices that have repeatedly tried and failed to log in to the router.
Like most routers, you can turn on parental controls and guest networks or prioritise bandwidth for specific devices. No other router comes close to the RT2600ac in terms of the customisation options available, without being too overwhelming for novices.
However, the router is not as fast as other high-end models I have tried. It managed around 330Mbps in my download test, which is similar to the recently-tested TP-Link Talon AD7200, but much lower than the 500 to 600Mbps achieved by the top routers from Asus and Linksys.
•Verdict: Suitable for both experts and novices, the RT2600ac is the most customisable router I have used.