Best Wi-Fi Routers for a Built-in Network Attached Storage (NAS) Server

Asus Time Capsule
When hosting an external drive a router can work as a Time Capsule alternative.

You probably already know how a router hosts a home network and delivers Wi-Fi to multiple devices at a time. But a USB-endable Wi-Fi router can work as a mini NAS (Network Attached Storage) server, too. All you need is an external drive.

So, if you want to dabble into network-attached storage, using a good Wi-Fi router is the best way to start. I detailed the process in this post on how to get the most out of a Wi-Fi router’s USB port.

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In this piece, you’ll find the list of the best candidates for the job. I’ll update as I review more.

Almost all Wi-Fi routers that have a USB port can work as a mini NAS server, at least for simple file sharing. What decides if one is good at this job, however, is the performance of this port. In other words, when it comes to network storage, the throughput speed is the king.

That said, below is the chart of NAS performance of (almost) all of those I’ve tested. They are popular routers — you might find yours here.

Note: This chart is updated each time I review a new USB-enabled router, including one that doesn’t make it to the top list below.

NAS Performance All Routers
(★) Full review NOT available on this website. For the rest, do a site search on the model number for more.

I tested each using a wired Gigabit connection. With those that feature a multi-gig port, I tried that out, too.

As for storage devices, I’ve always used SSD-based portable drives for the testing. The actual drive used for each router might vary, but they all are much faster than the router’s wired network port.

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


Best Wi-Fi routers with built-in NAS features: The list

Again, any routers on the chart above will work as a mini NAS server. But you’re on the market for a new USB-enabled router; find my recommendations below.

These are routers that deliver the best performance or have a great feature set when hosting external storage or both. I’ve personally used them all.

This list is sorted based on the NAS read performance using the fastest wired connection each router supports. In my opinion is the read throughput is more most important than the write one when it comes to network-attached storage.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see how their NAS numbers stack against one another’s.


1. Asus RT-AX89X

The Asus RT-AX89X has two 10 Gpbs network ports and two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports occupying two of its sides, making it one of the the best routers with USB features to date.

The RT-AX89X is the top-tier dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router from Asus, and it’s the very first router on the market that has not one but two 10Gbps network ports. That plus two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports means it can deliver ultra-high-speed NAS performance.

Like all Asus router, including the RT-AX86U and the GT-AX11000 below, the RT-AX89X can deliver all storage-related applications you can think of, including local and cloud-based data sharing, PC-less download app, Time Machine backup and a lot more.

By the way, the storage-based feature set is the same across all Asus routers released in the past few years. And that also applies to other Asus routers on this list.

ASUS RT-AX89X AX6000 Dual Band WiFi 6 Router

9

Performance

9.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

9.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Excellent Wi-Fi performance
  • Uniquely cool design with two 10Gbps network ports
  • Eight Gigabit network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation
  • Super-fast network attached storage speed when coupled with an external drive
  • Tons of useful features, including free-for-life real-time online protection, and AiMesh

Cons

  • A bit buggy at launch, relatively expensive
  • Smart Connect setting not available at launch
  • Tweaking required to deliver top Wi-Fi 6 speeds
  • Bulky physical size with internal fan
  • Web interface needs work
  • Not wall-mountable, no universal backup restoration
READ NOW:  Asus RT-AX89X Review: Most Wi-Fi Bases. Covered. And More!

2. Netgear Nighthawk RAX120

Netgear RAX120 Wings
With a 5 Gbps network port, the RAX120 deliver excellent NAS performance..

This router is the latest from Netgear and has the fastest network storage speed, by far, thanks to its 5Gbps port. But even when you use its regular Gigabit connection, the NAS performance is still outstanding.

Like most Netgear routers, when hosting an external drive, the RAX120 is all about sharing that storage space in as may way as possible. 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.

[P_Review post_id=8189 visual=”full”]

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3. Netgear Nighthawk RAX200

Netgear RAX200 Ports
The Netgear RAX200’s Multi-Gig port caps at 2.5Gbps.

The RAX200 is a tri-band router that shares the same storage feature set as that of the dual-band RAX120 above. It also has a multi-gig network port, but it caps at just 2.5 Gbps, so it’s not as fast as its cousin, but it’s still speedy.

Netgear Nighthawk AX12 12-Stream AX11000 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router (RAX200)

$499.99
8

Performance

9.0/10

Features

7.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Reliable and fast performance
  • Eye-catching design
  • Helpful mobile app, robust web UI
  • Multi-Gig support (2.5Gbps)

Cons

  • Comparatively super-expensive with nothing extra
  • Shallow Wi-Fi customization, spartan feature set
  • Comparatively low CPU clock speed
  • No 5Gbps or 10Gbps LAN port, not wall-mountable
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4. Asus RT-AX86U

Asus RT AX86U 5
Among other things, the Asus RT-AX86U comes with two USB 3.0 ports.

The Asus RT-AX86U is currently the best Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 router on the market. There are many things about this router but the stellar NAS performance when hosting a portable drive sure helps elevate it to this status.

As for features, like other Asus routers, it delivers all you can ask for in terms of what you want to do with the USB ports.

ASUS RT-AX86U AX5700 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router

9

Performance

9.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast performance, excellent range, reliable
  • Tons of helpful networking features and settings
  • Useful settings for online gaming
  • Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app
  • Multi-gig, WAN/LAN Link Aggregation support
  • Excellent NAS performance and features when hosting a storage device
  • Comparatively affordable

Cons

  • No support for WTFast Gamer VPN
  • Not wall-mountable
  • Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off
  • Multi-gig port caps at only 2.5 Gbps
READ NOW:  Asus RT-AX86U Review: The Best Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router to Date

5. Asus GT-AX11000

Asus AX11000 Back
The Asus GT-AX11000 has a 2.5Gbps port and two USB 3.0 ports, enough for it to deliver fast NAS performance.

The GT-AX11000 is the tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router from Asus. It’s also a powerful router, and like its cousins above, it has everything when it comes to network storage.

Again, like other Asus routers, its USB ports can host printers, storage devices, or cellular modem, and deliver a ton of storage-based features. On top of that, it also has a 2.5Gbps network connection to deliver fast NAS performance.

ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Gaming Router

8.3

Performance

8.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

7.5/10

Pros

  • Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance with excellent range
  • Lots of useful features for home users
  • Unique and effective settings for online gaming
  • Multi-Gig network port, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation
  • Mesh ready

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bulky design, loose antennas, non-wall-mountable
  • Fewer LAN ports than previous model
  • Long boot-up time, buggy (at launch), fluctuating Wi-Fi throughputs
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There are two USB 3.0 ports to host storage devices or printer.
The TP-Link C5400X Wi-Fi router has two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports to host storage devices or printer.

This massive and ostentatious Wi-Fi router is quite impressive in terms of USB-based NAS performance. Despite having no multi-gig network port, it delivers fast NAS performance via its regular Gigabit ports.

The router supports sharing storage locally as well as over the Internet. It can also work as a media server, casting content to network streamers, and an Apple Time Capsule alternative.

TP-Link Archer C5400X Tri Band Gaming Router

$300.60
8

Performance

8.0/10

Features

7.5/10

Design and Setup

9.0/10

Value

7.5/10

Pros

  • Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance
  • Solid design with responsive and well-organized interface
  • Useful HomeCare features
  • Extra LAN ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation
  • Fast NAS performance when coupled with an external hard drive

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No advanced gaming-specific features
  • Bulky physical size
  • 2.4GHz Wi-Fi speed could be better
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7. Linksys MX5 Velop AX

The Linksys MX5 router has a good heft to it. Note the NAS-ready USB 3.0 port.

The Linksys MX5 is the latest Wi-Fi router of Belkin’s Linksys Velop mesh family. It’s part of the Linksys MX10 mesh system, but you can also get it as a standalone router.

Unlike some other Wi-Fi 6 routers below, the MX5 doesn’t have a multi-gig port, so its NAS performs caps at 1Gbps. And that was almost the speed it delivered in my testing.

The router’s USB port doesn’t offer anything more than local storage sharing — there’s no personal cloud, streaming features. Interestingly, it does support Time Machine backup despite the fact TP-Link says it doesn’t.

By the way, if you get the MX10 mesh system, keep in mind that you can also use the USB port of the satellite unit, meaning you can host more than one drive in your network.

Linksys MX10 Velop AX WiFi 6 Mesh System

8

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.0/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Reliable and relatively fast Wi-Fi performance
  • Helpful mobile app, full web interface
  • Effective backhaul that delivers Wi-Fi 6 throughout in a mesh setup
  • Fast NAS speeds when hosting an external drive

Cons

  • Expensive with comparatively low Wi-Fi specs
  • No support for 160MHz channel bandwidth
  • Mobile app and login account required for initial setup
  • Spartan Wi-Fi settings, modest feature set
  • No multi-gig network ports, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
  • USB port awkwardly place, not mountable
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8. Synology MR2200ac

The Synology MR2200ac has one USB 3.2 Gen 1 port to host a storage device or a cellular modem.

The MR2200ac‘s NAS feature isn’t exactly fast, as you can see on the chart above. However, thanks to the advanced firmware, it has, by far, the best NAS feature set, similar to that of a Synology server.

Hopefully, Synology will release a more powerful Wi-Fi router in the future with similar storage functions. For now, the RT2600ac also offers the same NAS feature set. Other than storage, you can also use the MR2200ac’s USB port to host a cellular modem.

Synology MR2200ac Mesh Wi-Fi Router

8.6

Performance

9.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance
  • Powerful mesh system when two or more units are used together
  • Sophisticated yet easy-to-use firmware
  • Lots of useful and effective features with accompanied mobile apps
  • Ability to import settings from other Synology routers

Cons

  • Only one LAN port
  • Not wall-mountable
READ NOW:  Synology MR2200ac Review: A Fantastic Mesh Router

TP Link Archer AX11000 Router 7
The TP-Link Archer AX11000 is the first Wi-Fi router on the market that has a USB-C port.

The TP-Link Archer AX11000 is the Wi-Fi 6 of the C5400X above. It’s a newer and much better router overall. But in terms of NAS performance, it’s behind its older cousin. The two share the same storage feature set, however.

Despite other advanced networking features of a Wi-Fi router, the comparatively slow read NAS speed when hosting a storage device lands it at the bottom in this post.

TP-Link Archer AX11000 Next-Gen Tri-Band Gaming Router

8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.0/10

Design and Setup

9.0/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance
  • 2.5 Gbps WAN port with eight Gigabit LAN ports
  • 160 MHz channel bandwidth support
  • Excellent, Antivirus, QoS and Parental Control features
  • Robust full web user interface, helpful mobile app
  • Eye-catching and convenient hardware design
  • USB-C ready, wall-mountable

Cons

  • Misleading gaming veneer, no actual gaming-specific features
  • No multi-gig LAN port, bulky design
  • Not mesh-ready
  • Artificial "Game" items make the interface unnecessarily confusing
  • Mobile app require a login account

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Best Wi-Fi routers with built-in NAS features: The performance

Find below the NAS performance charts of my recommended routers above. Again, I test them all using a weird Gigabit connection. And for those with a multi-gig port, I also tested them using that with my 10 Gbps adapter.

Best NAS Router Performance

It’s important to note that I performed the tests with just one client connected to the Wi-Fi router. When you have multiple clients writing or reading from the router’s connected storage, the speed will reduce accordingly. But that’s the case of all NAS servers.

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4 thoughts on “Best Wi-Fi Routers for a Built-in Network Attached Storage (NAS) Server”

  1. 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

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