Late last year, Synology announced the new RT6600ax Wi-Fi 6 router. Serving as the modern update to its previous combination router and NAS, this new offering finally began shipping this week. With Wi-Fi 6 support out of the box, we’re seeing just what Synology’s usual NAS expertise brings to the table for its latest networking upgrade.
Hands-on with Synology’s RT6600ax Wi-Fi 6 router
While Synology may be known for its NAS, the company’s line of Wi-Fi routers are still equally beloved additions to its lineup of networking gear. Though unfortunately for those who rely on the hybrid router and NAS functionality of the RT series, the RT2600ac we last saw was originally released years ago. Now finally stepping in to save the day, Synology is replacing its aging predecessor with the all-new RT6600ax. And oh, is there so much to be excited about!
Synology was nice enough to send over the Wi-Fi router to put to the test, which I’ve been daily driving for the past few weeks. Before I get to the performance, let’s take a second to rehash just what you’re getting with the Synology RT6600ax out of the box.
For starters, if the name wasn’t already a dead giveaway, the new router arrives with Wi-Fi 6 support. This is the first time we’ve seen any of Synology’s releases support the standard out of the box and sets the pace for the other features that the brand has baked in. In terms of form factor, however, there isn’t all too much to be excited about. Sorry, Synology designer, but the typical alien spaceship-inspired build isn’t doing all too much to stand out from the competition. That’s perfectly fine though, as the function is wholeheartedly more important than the form on something like this.
Packed into its tri-band connectivity, each of the router’s six antennas support 160MHz channels with the 5.9GHz Wi-Fi 6 frequency. And if a single router isn’t enough, you can expand it with a second unit for some extra coverage on a second story. The wireless end of its connectivity is backed most notably by a 2.5GbE port on the back, though you’ll also find three extra standard Gigabit Ethernet slots too.
All that leads me to the price. Synology has occasionally received some flack for the slightly steeper price tags on some of its NAS. But you’ll find nothing of the sort here. The Synology RT6600ax clocks in at $299.99 and is as competitively priced as you’ll find for a Wi-Fi 6 router.
Before actually diving into the performance, it’s worth mentioning that I normally daily drive UniFi gear. So coming from the best of the best in the home network space definitely influences my opinion on the Synology RT6600ax. Fortunately for this Wi-Fi 6 router, that impression is an overwhelmingly positive one – not to give too much away.
The best place to start is with the actual speeds and range that the RT6600ax can dish out. I live in a relatively small 1,100-square feet apartment and so Synology’s new router had zero issues covering every inch of my space. That’s honestly to be expected these days with a router of this magnitude, though the really impressive part is the speeds it could offer. The short of it is that Wi-Fi 6 pays off extremely well and can offer over 500Mb/s wireless speeds in the same room. Heading downstairs or even outside saw my iPhone 13 Pro’s reception drop to around 200Mb/s, which is hardly slow by any of today’s standards.
Those throughputs also didn’t wave all too much when multiple devices were accessing the web at once. So as a baseline, Synology has nailed the actual Wi-Fi 6 router aspect of the new RT6600ax. But that’s only half the story, as there are all of the other features that the brand packs into the unit.
One of the more intensive ways that I tested the Synology RT6600ax was by trying out the built-in NAS features. That is the company’s overall claim to fame, after all. Plugging a hard drive into the USB-A port on the back lets you configure the same interface and features found on one of its DeskStation units for everything from Time Machine backups to photo storage and more. It works without a hitch and is just one of the ways that Synology’s latest excels.
Speaking of, the software aspect of the experience is certainly worth talking about. I could write an entire review on just what Synology Router Manager brings to the table, but the long and short of it is that all of the pro features you’d expect are onboard. Everything from parental controls and any other form of system monitoring are built-in, not to mention more unique add-ons like VPN support and more.
With how popular and compelling mesh systems are, let alone complex packages from Ubiquiti, I typically have a hard time recommending a stand-alone router like this these days. But if there’s just a single take-away from the Synology RT6600ax, it’s that this is more than just a Wi-Fi 6 router. Even if that wasn’t the case, I would still wholeheartedly be able to recommend it for providing speedy and reliable coverage to your home. It is as good of a wireless access point as you’ll find on the market, period, and deserves recognition as such.
So if that’s all you’re looking for, feel free to stop reading and just go buy one for yourself right now. But of course, there’s more to the story than just the Wi-Fi capabilities.
Synology has also packed in all of its other expertise to deliver plenty of power features on top of the baseline connectivity. If you’ve been thinking about getting a NAS, this is the next best thing for those starting out. The RT6600ax also has just about every high-end feature you’d expect from a router, be it at the $300 price point or something higher, though one of my favorite parts is that you don’t even need to use the more in-depth parts of the software if you don’t want. So the features are there if you want them but won’t stop you from using the device out of the box like Ubiquti’s gear does.
So at the end of the day, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an off-the-shelf Wi-Fi router, 802.11ax or otherwise, that can offer the features that the new Synology RT6600ax can. It may not have Wi-Fi 6E support, but it shines in a class all its own without it.
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