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Top Five Best Router NAS Options: Add Easy Network Storage to Your Wi-Fi Today!

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You probably already know how a router hosts a home network and simultaneously delivers Wi-Fi to multiple devices. That's generally how a Wi-Fi router works.

But there are also "router NAS" options where a USB-enabled Wi-Fi broadcaster can work as a mini NAS server -- that's when a Wi-Fi router hosts a USB drive to provide storage for the entire network.

In other words, add a good external drive, and your router will also work as a file-sharing, media server, and more.

So, if you want to dabble into network-attached storage, a good Wi-Fi router is the best way to start before a real NAS server.

Routers vs NAS servers

In this post, we're talking about routers being used as network-attached storage servers, not actual dedicated NAS servers.

All routers will work with all real NAS servers in their respective roles. There's no such thing as "the best router for NAS", but those featuring multi-Gigabit wired connections will deliver the best network storage performance when hosting a similarly capable dedicated NAS server.

This post includes the performance chart of almost all USB-enabled routers and the best five candidates for the network file-sharing job.

Dong's note: I first published this post on October 29, 2020, and updated it on November 28, 2023, to add more options and relevant information.

Asus RT BE96U with USB Portable SSD for a NAS solution
Router NAS: When hosting an external drive, a router can work as a mini NAS server.

Almost all Wi-Fi routers with a USB port can work as a mini NAS server, at least for simple file sharing. However, it's the actual performance that counts.

Below is the chart of NAS performance of popular home Wi-Fi routers I've tested, listed alphabetically.

Router NAS Performance Write SpeedRouter NAS Performance Read Speed
Router NAS: Popular Wi-Fi routers' NAS performance when hosting an external portable drive. These charts are updated each time a new USB-enabled Wi-Fi router is reviewed on Dong Knows Tech.

I tested each using a wired Gigabit connection. With those that feature a Multi-Gig port, I tried that, too. As for storage devices, I've always used portable SSDs, which are much faster than the router's USB ports -- most use USB 3.2 Gen 1 (a.k.a USB 3.0) with a 5Gbps max ceiling speed.

USB standard: Speed grades vs connection types

Note that the scores on the chart are in megabytes per second (MB/s), not megabits (Mbps). The latter is generally used for network connection speed. Open the drawer below if you're new to digital data and connection speeds.

Digital storage and data transmission in brief

As you read this page, keep in mind that each character on the screen, including a space between two words, generally requires one byte of data.

The phrase "Dong Knows Tech," with no quotes, requires at least 15 bytes, and likely more since the formatting -- such as capitalization and font -- also needs extra storage space.

Byte -- often in kilobytes (kB), megabytes (MB), or gigabytes (GB) -- is generally used to convey storage space. For data transmission, we use bits.

One byte equals eight bits.

One million (1,000,000) bits = 1 Megabit (Mb).

Megabits per second (Mbps) -- the number of megabits being manipulated in one second -- is the common unit for data transmission nowadays. Based on that, the following are common terms:

  • Fast Ethernet: A connection standard that can deliver up to 100Mbps.
  • Gigabit: That's short for Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and generally means transmission speeds in Gigabit per second (Gbps). This is currently the most popular wired connection standard. 1Gbps = 1000Mbps.
  • Gig+: A connection that's faster than 1Gbps but slower than 2Gbps. It often applies to 2x2 Wi-Fi 6/6E or Internet speeds.
  • Multi-Gigabit: That's multiple Gigabits -- a link that's 2Gbps or faster.
  • Multi-Gig: A new BASE-T wired connection standard that delivers 2.5GbE, 5Gbe, or 10GbE over CAT5e (or a higher grade) network cables, depending on the devices involved, and is also backward compatible with Fast Ethernet and Gigabit.

Multi-Gig explained: Faster-than-Gigabit and beyond


Best Wi-Fi router NAS solutions: The top-five list

Again, any routers on the chart above will work as a mini NAS server. But you're in the market for a new USB-enabled router; find my recommendations below. I'll also mention their similar alternatives.

These routers deliver the best performance or have great features when hosting external storage. I've personally used them all. The list is sorted according to my preference, with the most recommended on top.


Asus RT BE96U TP Link Archer BE800 BE19000 Tri band Wi Fi 7 Router Side Angle Synology RT6600ax Wi Fi 6 Router 11 Netgear RAX120 Router Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E with power adapters
NameAsus RT-BE96U's RatingTP-Link Archer BE800's RatingSynology RT6600ax's RatingNetgear Nighthawk RAX120's RatingLinksys AXE8400 Atlas Max's Rating
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Design and Ease of Use
Value
Performance
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Design and Setup
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Buy this product

1. RT-BE96U: Representing Asus’s NAS-ready routers

The Asus RT BE96U is a large router
Best Wi-Fi router NAS options: The Asus RT-BR96U supports Wi-Fi 7 and has two 10Gbps network ports plus two USB ports, making it one of the best router-based NAS servers.

The RT-BE96U is the latest Wi-Fi machine from Asus and the first of the networking vendors to feature Wi-Fi 7. It replaces the long-standing RT-AX89X on this list.

Like the predecessor, it has two 10Gbps ports -- both are BSAE-T -- which help deliver excellent network-attached storage performance when hosting a portable SSD.

Like all Asus routers, including the alternatives below, the RT-BE96U has all available eUSB-related features and applications, including local and cloud-based data sharing, a PC-less download feature, Time Machine backup, and much more.

The storage-based feature set is the same across all Asus routers released in the past decade. If you want to see how Asus routers compare with one another on the performance front, including network storage performance, check out this post.

Similarly excellent alternatives:

Asus RT-BE96U's Rating

8.8 out of 10
Asus RT BE96U
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
9 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 7 support; excellent performance; AiMesh-ready

Lots of free, in-depth, and useful networking features and settings (VPN, AiProtection, Parental Control, Bandwidth monitoring, etc.)

Two 10Gbps Multi-Gig ports with excelling port flexibility; supports Dual-WAN, and LAN/WAN Link Aggregations

No vendor required login account; run cool and quiet

Cons

Only two 10Gbps ports; Wi-Fi 7 is still in draft

Bulky design, not wall-mountable

Lots of unnecessary plastic wraps


2. Archer BE800: Representing TP-Link’s NAS-ready routers

TP Link Archer BE800 BE19000 Tri band Wi Fi 7 Router Back Side
Best Wi-Fi router NAS options: The TP-Link Archer BE800 has all multi-Gigabit network ports and a USB 3.0 port.

The Archer BE800 is a big deal. For one, it's one of the first Wi-Fi 7 on the market. Additionally, it forgoes all Gigabit ports and only includes multi-Gigabit wired connections. That and a fast USB port translate into a robust network storage solution.

Other similar alternatives from TP-Link on the network storage front:

TP-Link Archer BE800's Rating

8 out of 10
TP Link Archer BE800 BE19000 Tri band Wi Fi 7 Router Side Angle
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
8 out of 10
Design and Setup
7.5 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 7 support; plenty of Multi-Gig ports with two supporting 10Gbps; excellent overall performance; competitively priced

Robust web user interface; lots of network and Wi-Fi settings

Useful (optional) mobile app; EasyMesh-ready; interesting LED lighting

Cons

No option for 2.5Gbps WAN or Dual-WAN; limited EasyMesh hardware

Bulky design; HomeShield Pro costs extra and requires a login account; Tether app needed for LED light

Wi-Fi 7 is still in the early stage, with no computer-based clients


3. RT6600ax: Representing Synology as a major NAS maker

Synology RT6600ax Wi Fi 6 Router 15
Best Wi-Fi router NAS options: The Synology RT6600ax has one 2.5Gbps LAN and one USB 3.2 Gen 1 port.

The Synology RT6600ax isn't the fastest in NAS performance -- though its performance is up there -- but it has a comprehensive network storage feature similar to that of a Synology server.

This network feature persists in most Synology routers. If you only care about that, also consider the following alternatives:

Synology RT6600ax's Rating

9 out of 10
Synology RT6600ax Wi-Fi 6 Router
Performance
9.5 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
8.5 out of 10
Value
9 out of 10

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi with support for 5.9GHz UNII-4 spectrum, mesh-ready

Robust, comprehensive yet user-friendly SRM 1.3 firmware with excellent web interface and DS Router app

Lots of useful built-in settings and networking features, helpful add-on packages with accompanying mobile apps

Can work as a full-featured NAS server

Practical design, wall-mountable

Cons

Only one 2.5Gbps port

No Link Aggregation, awkward Multi-Gig WAN, rigid default WAN port

Only client-based QoS, 5.9GHz clients are scarce


5. Netgear Nighthawk RAX120

Netgear RAX120 Ports 1
Best Wi-Fi router NAS options: With a 5Gbps network port and two USB 3.0 ports, the RAX120 delivers excellent NAS performance.

The RAX120, for now, is the only USB-enabled router with the fastest 5Gbps Multi-Gig port -- this likely will change in late 2023 when Netgear's RS700 becomes available. And in testing, the RAX120's network storage performance was quite impressive.

Like most Netgear routers, the RAX120 shares storage space in as many ways as possible when hosting an external drive.

You can share that locally or via the Internet using Netgear's ReadyShare software. The router also supports local backup for Windows and Mac's Time Machine.

An alternative worth considering: Nighthawk RAX200 | Buy now

Netgear Nighthawk RAX120's Rating

8.1 out of 10
Netgear RAX120 Router
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
7.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
9 out of 10
Value
7.5 out of 10

Pros

Powerful hardware, fast performance

Beautiful design

Multi-Gig network port (5Gbps)

Well-organized web user interface

Ultra-fast network storage performance

Cons

Expensive

No online protection, gaming, or mesh features

A bit bulky


5. Linksys MX8500

Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E with hand
Best Wi-Fi router NAS options: The Linksys Links MX8500 has a USB 3.2 Gen1 port and a 5Gbps WAN port.

The Linksys MX8500 is an interesting case -- it's part of the AXE8400 Wi-Fi 6E mesh system.

As a standalone router, the MX8500 doesn't have a Multi-Gig LAN port. However, when working as a satellite in a mesh setup, its 5Gbps WAN now functions as a LAN. That, plus the super-fast 6GHz band, means you can get excellent NAS speed.

And like the case of any Velop mesh set, you can use one external drive per MX8500 uint, meaning you can host more storage in a mesh setup.

Out of the box, Linksys doesn't officially support Time Machine backup, but you might be able to make it work with some tweaking.

Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max's Rating

7.1 out of 10
Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E with power adapters
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
7 out of 10
Ease of Use
7.5 out of 10
Value
6 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 6E-ready

Reliable performance, extensive coverage

5Gbps WAN port

Excellent NAS performance when hosting external storage device(s)

Separate SSID for each band

Cons

Expensive

Comparatively slow mesh Wi-Fi speeds in homes with walls

Limited Wi-Fi settings and features, mobile app coercion

No Multi-Gig LAN port (main router), Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation

No setting backup and restore


The final thoughts

All of the routers above will work well as a mini NAS solution. Apart from them, any of the others mentioned in the charts at the beginning of the post will work, albeit with slower performance.

It's worth noting that with the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 routers, all supporting multi-Gigabit, this top-five list will likely be updated more frequently starting in late 2023.

In any case, remember that you're using a router whose main function is to deliver network performance. The storage portion is not its primary function. If you're serious about network storage, consider a real NAS server.

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65 thoughts on “Top Five Best Router NAS Options: Add Easy Network Storage to Your Wi-Fi Today!”

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  1. I’m surprised… The Asus GT 11000 Pro (10G) WRITE is almost exactly as fast as the GT 16000 (10G); but the 11000 is almost 50% faster at READ.
    Any idea why this might be? And what then might be the reasons that one might prefer the 16000 even if using it for Nas?

    Reply
  2. “portable SSDs, which are much faster than the router’s USB ports”…
    I don’t understand. How do you connect the portable SSD to the router, if not by using the routers USB port?

    Reply
    • USB 3.0 is faster than the USB 2.0. So if you connect a USB 3.0 SSD to a router’s relatively slow USB 2.0 port, then the overall speed is by the speed of the router’s USB 2.0 port.

      Reply
    • Some routers support eSATA, Bob, but that’s not the point of the paragraph — I meant I could have used slow HDD-based portable drives for the testing, which I didn’t.

      Reply
  3. Great review, but it focuses mostly on file-sharing capabilities. I know it would be more time-consuming (and more subjective) but I would LOVE to see a comparative review of MEDIA SERVER functionality. E.g. Can it index and serve media libraries that have 20k-30k songs & videos? Can it “understand” PC-format M3U playlists. (E.g. Can it smartly handle a PC-ish “C:\Music\Beatles\Michelle.flac” M3U reference like my Android phone can do, or can it only “understand” a Linux-ish “…/Beatles/Michelle.flac” M3U reference?) Can it reliably serve Linux-format M3U playlists? Can commonly-used clients access the media (e.g PC/VLC, Firestick/Kodi, Yamaha/MusicCast receivers, etc.)?

    I know that would be time-consuming to do such a review. So if you even make a recommendation or two, I’d appreciate it.

    Here’s why I ask… At home I have a 2016-era ASUS RT-N66U with a 4TB USB-powered HDD attached (and its SMB & media servers turned on). It works great for file-sharing and nightly PC backups. I also use it for media-serving ripped music, movie, and home-video files– primarily to my networked Yamaha MusicCast receivers and to my TVs (via Firestick-4Ks/Kodi). It works well for that too. But out-of-the-box, the RT-N66U could not handle large media libraries– like my 21k-file music/video library. (It could only handle small libraries.) So I had to hassle with adding an EXT-formatted Linux swap-file on a USB flash drive, and hassle with doing some scripting to make the media server (MiniDLNA) use that swap-file. I’d like to upgrade the router (perhaps to something like the ASUS RT-AX86U Pro) but I’d really like the media-server to work reliably out of the box (without adding a Linux swap file).

    Also, for example, my Yamaha MusicCast receivers can play the playlists on the router’s HDD, but not reliably. (It will play a music folder reliably, but for playlists, it stops playing after some random number of songs.) But, for example, the MusicCast receiver can reliably play playlists from a PC-based media server (like Media Monkey). So I think the router’s MiniDLNA server has a bug– or at least some incompatibility with MusicCast.

    Also, I make M3U playlists using Windows Media Player, so I need to hassle with running a batch find-and-replace on my PC-formatted (Windows Media Player based) M3U playlists in order to convert them to Linux format before putting them on the router’s HDD. It would be nice if the router’s media server were smart enough to “understand” PC-formatted M3U playlists (like my Android phone can do even though its Linux based).

    I’d like to buy a new router with a more robust media server. I do not want to buy & power a separate NAS box. Unfortunately, I can find no reviews of router-based media-server functionality.

    Reply
      • Thanks Dong! Despite having to do a few workarounds, I’ve been VERY happy with the media server performance of my ancient ASUS RT-N66U (256MB RAM) ever since I added external swap-file space 3.5 years ago. I guess that a new RT-AX86U (1GB RAM) wouldn’t even require external swap-file space– which would be a huge selling point for me. I don’t know.

        Do you know if some brands tend to be better than others for media serving? Or do they all use the open-source MiniDLNA project? I read that ASUS is still using a 6-year old version of MiniDLNA (v1.2.1) even though the open source project is at v1.3.3. I’d expect Synology to have better media-serving software on their routers, but I don’t know.

        Reply
  4. hi Dong, i’m unable to find a solution in the web, so i’m thinking whether you’ll be able to advise on this.

    I’m using a D-Link DIR-868L, running on dd-wrt. It’s not my main router – I’m using it just to connect my HDD (via usb3) to the internal network. All wireless bands have been disabled.

    My issue is that the HDD does not sleep/spindown/hibernate at all. It keeps running, unless i manually eject the HDD from the router and switch the router off.

    Is there a way / or a setting / or another custom firmware that can do that? Similar to how a NAS’ disks sleep after a set timing. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • You have to check with DD-WRT, Leon. Generally, if you choose to use third-party firmware, you’re ready to tell the world that you’re an advanced user who doesn’t need support. πŸ™‚

      Also, there’s no point in having your HDD spun down. Most of the time, the issue is the opposite.

      More about using your router as a mini NAS server in this post.

      Reply
    • Spinning-down may be a function of the HDD’s firmware rather than a DD-WRT setting. Not sure. I keep a 4TB USB-powered Toshiba Canvio HDD attached to my ancient ASUS RT-N66U (Merlin firmware). My router’s (firmware) does not have an option to spin-down the HDD, but the HDD spins down when not in use. That’s great because that HDD uses 3.4W when spinning and 0.3W when not-spinning (so spinning down saves me about $9/yr in electricity cost, as well as reducing environmental damage (including carbon footprint), and wear & tear. I vaguely recall that my old 1TB USB-powered Western Digital Passport HDD also spun down automatically, but back when I had an AC-adapter-powered USB HDD (maybe LaCie?), it never spun down. As an experiment, I’d suggest attaching your USB HDD to a USB charger only (i.e. with no data-connection to tell it to stay spun-up). If it never spins down, then the issue is probably the HDD’s firmware, not DD-WRT’s firmware.

      Reply
  5. Great summary, Dong! I decided to keep my Amplifi Alien and replace my NAS with a $54 Raspberry Pi. It is on my 1 Gb LAN and is fast enough for daily use.

    Reply
  6. Hi Dong,
    Hope your well.
    Can you point me to any router that has at least 2 multi-gig ports.
    my internet comes in at 1.2gb and i would like to connect my multi-gig switch direct to the router without having to do link aggregation.

    id prefer not to have to buy adapters for SFP+ ports and like them to be Base-T if possible..

    Thanks
    Si

    Reply
  7. Hello Dong, Thanks a lot for your post. It gives a lost of options to choose. I bought a QNAP NAS and just trying to get a good Wifi Router as i will connect the SSD’s to the network and would like to access them by all the latops in the house. could you please suggest the best/affordable router with Multi gigibit port ?

    Reply
      • There are a few but I need something which covers the whole two level house which is a 259 Sqm. Do I need access points or extra ASUS routers for better signal as I have thick insulated walls in all rooms. I was thinking if the ASUS RT-AX8RU. Also do I need to do anything else to get a better speed from laptop to NAS or NAS to devices using this router? Y

        Reply
          • Hey Dong,

            My question is more on the access points if I buy RT AX8RU. Do you have an idea if I can add access points to this router or should I be only buying ASUS routers only to add more signal to the two level house. My question to you on the speed is, if I connect my laptop to NAS to the 2.5GbE port which will be connected to the same 2.5GbE gigabit port on the router. Should I be using a gigabit converter on my laptop or a gigabit car reader to get the appropriate speed as I only have a Ethernet port on my laptop?

          • Read the first linked post in the previous reply, Sunny. Again, the rule is you need to read before asking questions. I generally don’t comment on specific situations, nor do I offer one-on-one consulting.

  8. Hi Dong,
    Thank you for helping clarify this issue. A lot of information.
    So, my need is simple. I have 3-4 MacBook pro’s on wifi and a iMac on Ethernet and want the Time Machine to run on the router. I bought a Linksys mx5300 thinking this would work per their posted information. Wrong, it does not work with Time Machine, verified by Linksys on two phone calls. So, what do you think is the best way to proceed?
    Thank you for your time.

    Reply
  9. I’ve had a lot of experience with router based NAS over the years and I’ve found none of them to be reliable. The fastest ones I’ve had were the Linksys based ones, but they never really offered all the features I’ve needed.

    If you’re really interested in a NAS I suggest you just buy or build your own and get a decent router. I just built an Unraid setup based on a used Lenovo Thinkstation P300 w/Xeon e3-1226 v3 and 12GB I picked up for $75 off eBay. Stick a few hard drives in there and Unraid and you’re off to the races.

    Speaking of which, Dong, can you recommend any inexpensive, decent 10G (or 5/2.5G) switches? I don’t have a 10G wired setup yet but I picked up 2 Mellanox Connectx-3 cards off eBay and I’d like to do something with them.

    Reply
  10. “Note that the scores on the chart are in megabytes per second (MB/s), which is eight times the megabit per second (Mbps) measurement generally used for network connection speed. ”

    I think there’s an error there, which makes it unclear what you mean. Are the speeds in megabits/s or megabytes/s? Because there’s the other way around, there are 8 megabits in one megabyte and not vice versa as it’s implied in the above sentence I quoted. Thank you for your comprehensive review, sir.

    Reply
    • I don’t think it was unclear, Erick. But I revised the original text to make it clearer. Thanks. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  11. Hi!

    This is a great article, thank you. I found your Time Capsule alternative article and came here. I currently have a modem router combo bought from my ISP. It doesn’t have NAS capability but I don’t have the budget to replace it with a standalone modem and router. Another article I found suggested disabling router of the combo and use another router. The router I have doesn’t have that capability. Do you have a suggestion what kind of a product I should get? Maybe getting a router is not the solution I need, if so I am open to any suggestions.

    Thank you

    Reply
  12. Hi Dong,

    I am experiencing a connection loss from my router to my Arris/Comcast modem a few to a dozen hours after plugging in a USB drive. This happens with both n Asus RT-AC86U and a Netgear RAX78 and using either a 1.5 TB Seagate GoFlex Drive or a 6 TB Seagate Backup Plus, though faster with the 6TB. There is no drive activity when the drops happen, affecting wired and wireless connections, and it requires the router to be rebooted.

    Is there anything I can do to prevent this, like use USB 2.0 mode or just use a flash drive? I only need a lightweight NAS for security cams and video transfers. Both routers are new and I can still return them if something else would work.

    Thanks,

    Brandon

    Reply
    • You should go with a portable SSD, Brandon. The hard-drive-based portable drive can use a lot of power and that might affect the router’s stability. Or get a drive with its own power adapter. More in this post.

      Reply
  13. Hi Dong,
    I have a ASUS RT-AX86U that I am using for NAS server. Asus shows the USB ports as USB 3.2 Gen 1 x 2 which (if I understand) can run at 10 Gbps using 2 lanes. Have you done this or do you know how to do it ? Might require USB-C cable??? Seems this would be great for fast SSD (ext USB) drives. I am planning to upgrade PC to 2.5G Enet as well.
    Thanks for any help!
    John

    Reply
    • No, John. It’s a 5Gbps USB. Also, the speed would be limited by the network port anyway. It won’t help in your case since the router has no Multi-Gig port. Read the review.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dong.
        USB is a bit confusing, and I appreciate your article “Device Connections Explained: Thunderbolt or Not, It’s All about USB-C” that helped me a lot.
        Some references to USB 3.2 Gen 1 X 2 (Link removed) indicate 10Gbps over USB-C (dual lane) . Seems the key is the cable with dual lanes.
        Asus site specs show the RT-AX86U has USB 3.2 Gen 1 x 2 which probably refers to quantity 2 ports. They are not USB-C connectors, just standard type A.
        The RT-AX86U does have one configurable (LAN/WAN) 2.5Gbps ethernet port though, which might help the NAS speed a bit. I’ll let you know if I see any difference after I install 2.5G PCIe card in my I7-8700K.
        I’m very pleased with NAS performance on this router now, but “more is better” ! πŸ™‚

        Reply
        • As I mentioned in that post, the naming of USB 3.2 is a mess — by the way, there’s no such thing as USB 3.1 Gen 1×2. Also, USB-C has nothing to do with speed. So, no need to add more references. That only makes things more confusing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, though, John.

          Reply
  14. Took a few minutes to write up the prices, sorted up – down. Looks like the offering from Synology is the best in terms of price/speed of file transfer. The prices are enormous for the rest :O
    Though even 130 for the Synology would be a hard bargain. Still better than having to get a proper NAS for a single drive.

    Netgear RAX200 599
    Asus GT-AX11000 422.99
    Netgear RAX120 412.41
    Asus RT-AX89X 411.77
    Linksys MX5 399
    TP-Link Archer AX11000 365 Ebay
    TP-Link Archer C5400X 249.99
    Asus RT-AX86U 249.99 limited avail
    Asus RT-AX68U 199.99
    Synology MR2200ac 130.99

    Reply
      • What’s interesting is that even though they are all very expensive – they aren’t that widely available. Nor are they discontinued, which would be a good reason if they were.

        Any thoughts on why?

        Reply
  15. Dong,
    Thanks for the great article. Very helpful as I have been desperately trying to figure out how to setup some NAS without buying an actual NAS server.
    Quick question after reviewing all of the routers on your list and a much smaller set of requirements.
    Reqs:
    – no mesh
    – no gaming
    – small environment (750 sq ft)
    – streaming/playback of mp4 h.264 video via VLS over 5Ghz wifi

    What unit would you lean toward for requirements like this that are not as high?

    Reply
  16. Hi Dong, came across a few of your articles that really helped me decide on my next router. So I went from this…
    – “Ok” Frontier Fios Arris Wireless with a older Netgear AC1750 for NAS set up. I couldn’t use the AC1750 directly since it produced horrible speeds no matter what tweak I did. Then an Airi 2.4/5Ghz in AP mode + a switch.
    To this…
    – AX82U only, eliminating the Frontier router, the Airi & switch. For the life of me, couldn’t find the AX86U anywhere for the life of me.

    However, I really hate how Asus do their USB storage set up. With my old Netgear, I could plug in 5 external HDs via plugging in a USB hub into the router’s USB 3.0. Then when I accessed “readyshare” via any comp or my Android TV, I’m able to see all HDs separately and enjoy easily accessing anything from any drive. On the other hand, my new AX82U simply combines everything into a single location……. thousands of directories and files.

    So the question is, do you know if Asus have this same ability? To distinguish between drives and keep them as separate views (drives)?

    Reply
      • Thanks for your awesome feedback! Unfortunately, I was afraid that you’d hammer home what I already speculated lol.

        Ya, each drive is how I keep my media categorized and organized. I’ve looked into something like the Synology before but I’m unwilling to take the leap…. since after all, I feel I have “perfectly good” external drives with “ok” networking streaming abilities… notice all the quotation marks πŸ˜‰

        Thanks! I look forward to following your articles.

        Reply
        • Sure, Drew. You’re the perfect candidate for a Synology NAS. I mean it. Get one, you can start with an older model year (2013 or newer). You can get one used or refurbished for relatively cheap. You’ll love it.

          Reply
  17. Great review Dong! I decided to keep my Amplifi Alien and use a $54 Raspberry Pi as my NAS. It is on my 1 Gb LAN and is fast enough for every day use.

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  18. Are you sure about the RT-AC86U numbers? I have seen reviews claiming it has around the same performance as RT-AX86U.

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  19. Hi Dong,

    So I finally upgraded my RT-N66U with a RT-AX86U. Everything seems to be working great except for my portable hard drive I plug into the back of the router and use SMB within Kodi to play them. I have both H264 and H265 MKV files that played fine with my old N66U router. However, I’m finding that only the H265 files are constantly skipping/buffering now with the AX86U router which I don’t understand since it’s a way more powerful router. Are there any settings that I need to look at or change within the router that could be causing playback issues? During initial setup of new router I updated it, then reset it as suggested. Even though I don’t have any AX products, I chose the 802.11AX/Wi-Fi 6 Mode that was recommended settings when first setting up the router. Should I not use that option or will that not make a difference? Also, I already completely reset Kodi a few times and started from scratch for SMB, then tried some settings within, but still got the stutter/buffering although sound worked great and picture was crystal clear. Note: Same thing happening on 2 separate Amazon Fire TV boxes that had no problems before. I did try a Raspberry Pi 4 with Openmediavault to host the portable hard drive and added that to Kodi, but that skipped video too. Everything is hooked directly by ethernet too in case you need to know that.

    Sorry for the long message, just trying to get this fixed since my old router worked fine on these same files. Thanks for any help or suggestions you can give to try.

    Reply
    • Try playing the movie file straight on your computer using VLC player, via regular SMB file sharing. If it still skips then it’s the connection issue. If not then it’s Kodi’s fault. That’s as far as I can suggest. I’ve never tried Kodi with routers before.

      Reply
    • Hi Dong, I know this is an old review but I’d like your input. By the way, I really enjoy reading your reviews. I am interested in the Wiim music streamer, I’m sure you know it. However, my only disappointment is that one cannot attach an external USB 3 flash drive or hard disk to play local music files. Buying a dedicated NAS drive is costly so that is not an option and I do not want to go through the trouble of building a NAS Drive using Raspberry Pi and Open Media Vault because it is still costly. I have access to reasonably priced routers by TP-Link and Tenda although I do prefer TP-Link. Would it be possible to share music files on a 64 or 128GB Flash-stick via a TP-Link router that has DLNA function? Is DLNA easy to setup? The Wiim Mini is compatible with DLNA. I will appreciate your input and help.

      Reply
      • If a router has the media streaming server function then it supports DLNA, Samazar. That’s a given. All you have to do is turn the serving function on, pick the shared folder(s) that contain the media, and the frequency it scan for new content.

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        • Thank you Dong, I really appreciate your input. I will look into routers that have media streaming function. I have access to Tenda and tp-Link routers and will do a bit of research.

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        • How would I add more music files to the shared folder. Is it possible to access the drive on my computer considering I’m using an apple laptop. I suppose the drive or flash-stick could be formatted as a FAT32 or exFAT to retain compatibility.

          Reply

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