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Synology Mesh Review (vs Asus AiMesh): A Home Way to Create a Pro Wi-Fi System

Synology first added mesh capability to its Wi-Fi 5 router back in October 2018 with the release of the MR2200ac. If that sounds so long ago, that’s because it has taken the company that long to make another router, the recently-released Wi-Fi 6 RT6600ax.

The known NAS maker never has an official name for this significant feature. I’ve called it “Synology Mesh” as a way to distinguish it from similar mesh approaches by other vendors such as AiMesh of Asus or OneMesh of TP-Link.

Synology Mesh is one-of-a-kind in more ways than one and it’s overall an excellent option to expand a Wi-Fi network for a home (or small office). It’s the only one that can genuinely rival Asus’s AiMesh in performance, flexibility, and features.

You’ll learn about it all in this post.

Dong’s note: I first published this post on Nov 1, 2018, after Synology released the MR2200ac, and I last updated it on May 22, 2022, based on Synology’s new router, the RT6600ax, which uses the latest firmware, SRM 1.3.

Synology RT6600ax Wi-Fi 6 Router
A pair of RT6600ax routers will make an excellent mesh Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi system.

Synology Wi-Fi Mesh System's Rating

8.8 out of 10
Synology RT6600ax Wi-Fi 6 Router
Performance
9.5/10
Features
9.5/10
Easy of Use
8/10
Privacy
8/10

Pros

Fast, reliable, and large Wi-Fi coverage

Advanced interface with high-quality add-on features

Highly-customizable network and Wi-Fi settings

Effective Parental Controls and online protection

Advanced Guest network

Cons

Limited hardware options, no satellite-only hardware, users have little control over the satellites

No 10Gbps or 5Gbps Multi-Gig option, no hardware with two or more 2.5Gbps ports

Synology Mesh: It’s quite fantastic

In a nutshell, Synology Mesh enables users to create a robust mesh system by putting a few supported standalone routers together.

Users can start their network with a full-featured standalone router and gradually scale up Wi-Fi coverage and network capability via additional hardware units as their needs grow.

A brief history

It all started in 2018 with the MR2200ac, Synology’s third home router. Before this, there were the RT1900ac and RT2600ac, released in 2016 and 2017, respectively, as standalone routers.

With the MR2200ac, Synology updated its router firmware, called Synology Router Manager or SRM, to version 1.2. Among other things, the new firmware brings mesh functionality to select Synology routers.

Consequently, when you use two or more supported routers, you can link them together to form a Wi-Fi system, just like other (purpose-built) mesh systems, like those from Asus, Netgear, Linksys, or TP-Link.

Like all Wi-Fi systems, you use one of the hardware units as the primary router which connects to the Internet. After that, you can add more hardware units, wirelessly or via network cables, to extend the home network.

That said, like the case of Asus AiMesh, a Synology Mesh system has the features of the main router. Consequently, users have all the features, settings, and customizability, just like when they use the router as a standalone unit.

Fast-forward to 2022, Synology released SRM 1.3 with the RT6600ax that continued the mesh capability with minor improvement.

But, similar to Asus’s AiMesh, a Synology Mesh can do a lot more than provide a reliable seamless Wi-Fi network. It’s a system that gives you the most, if not everything, in regard to home networking needs.

Synology MR2200ac vs RT2600ac Routers
A combo of the RT2600ac (top) and the MR2200ac has been a main Synology Mesh setup before the release of the RT6600ax.

What you can expect from a Synology mesh system

Synology Mesh system has all the bells and whistles of the primary router. That means you can do a lot more with your home network than with almost any purpose-built system, like those bearing the home brands such as Deco, eero, or Orbi.

Following is the breakdown of what you can expect from a Synology mesh:

  • Available supported routers: Synology Mesh is currently available to the RT6600ax, MR2200ac, and RT2600ac. (Synology’s first Wi-Fi router, the RT1900ac, has been largely left out.) Chances are, future Synology routers will support this feature, too.
  • Combo requirements: All routers must use the same firmware version (SRM 1.2 or 1.3) to work with one another. The RT6600ax is the first that gets SRM 1.3 which will be available as an upgrade to the RT2600ac and MR2200ac within 2022 according to Synology.
  • Hardware roles: The RT6600ax and MR2200ac can work as either the main router or satellites (Wi-Fi points). When running SRM 1.2, the RT2600ac can only work as the router’s main router. Synology said that it may also be able to work as a satellite when upgraded to SRM 1.3.
  • Max hardware units: There’s no limit to how many hardware units you can use in a Synology Mesh. However, Synology recommends no more than seven hardware units, including the primary router. Generally, you won’t need more than 2 or 3 units.
  • Backhaul: Synology Mesh allows for flexible backhauling. Specifically:
    • Wired backhaul: You can use network cables to link hardware units. In this case, you can use any port of the satellite as the uplink to the router.
    • Multi-Gig wired backhaul is available when multiple units of the RT6600ax are in use — a switch is required if you use more than one satellite.
    • Users can also mix wired and wireless backhaul.
    • In a wireless backhaul setup, there are two possibilities:
      • When all-Tri-band hardware is used, the system will pick the faster 5GHz band (the upper channels or 5GHz-1) as the wireless backhaul. Users have the option to not use it to dedicate it to the job of backhauling.
      • When a dual-band router (the RT2600ac) works as the main router, it can create a virtual 2nd 5GHz band for the backhaul link. This band still suffers from signal loss but will work gracefully with Tri-band satellites.
  • Feature-riched: The mesh network retains all features and settings of the main Synology router, which is among the best on the market — more in the review of the RT6600ax.
  • Auto-update: You can set the system to auto-update to the latest firmware, which will take care of both the main router and satellite (Wi-Fi points).
  • Guest network: A Synology mesh offers an advanced and highly-customizable Guest Wi-Fi network. There’s even a captive portal — where users need to interact with a website, such as agreeing with the terms of use, before getting connected — making the Guest network excellent for public use.
  • Auto-sensing network ports. Other than the WAN (Internet) port of the router unit, which needs to connect to an Internet source (like a cable modem), the rest of the network ports in the mesh function as LAN ports to host wired clients.
  • Access point mode: The mesh (main router + satellites) can work in the AP mode, allowing you to use the system with an existing router/gateway as part of one single network. In this case, other than the Wi-Fi network, no additional features or settings of the mesh are available.
  • Optional vendor account: You will not need to register an account with Synology to manage a router or a mesh network remotely, though there’s an option — called QuickConnect — to do so for the sake of convenience. Or you can use Dynamic DNS.
Synology Mesh SRM 1.3 Synology Mesh SRM 1.2
Synology Mesh: There's not much difference in the mesh function between SRM 1.2 vs SRM 1.3. Note how my SRM 1.2 set has been running for 78 days straight -- it has had no issue.

Synology Mesh vs Asus AiMesh

I’ve used both for years and they proved to be equally excellent. It’s quite hard to say which one is decidedly better but it’s decidedly clear that they are comparable and both superior to any other home mesh brands for advanced or professional users.

It’s easy to see how they differentiate, as shown in the table below.

Synology Mesh vs Asus AiMesh: Hardware specifications

Synology MeshAsus AiMesh
Supported Hardware
(at publication)
RT6600ax,
RT2600ac
MR2200ac
Dozens and counting supported routers and access points
Main Router OptionAny RouterAny Router
Satellite
Options
SRM1.2: Only the MR2200ac
SRM 1.3: All routers
Any
Dedicated BackhaulYes, when applicableYes, when applicable
Wired Backhaul YesYes
Multi-Gig Wired BackhaulRT6600axMany options
FirmwareRobust Linux-based proprietary operating system with
with multi-tasking
(Synology Router Manager – SRM)
Open-source menu-based firmware
(Asuswrt)
FeaturesPlenty plus 
add-on apps
Plenty
Guest NetworkYes
(system-wide with login portal)
Yes 
(system-wide with Aimesh 2.0)
Online ProtectionYes (free)
Via Threat Prevention add-on app
Yes (free) 
Via Network Protection
(part of AiProtection)
Parental ControlsYes (free)
(Safe Access app)
Yes (free)
(part of AiProtection)
Quality of Service
(QoS)
Yes
(Client-based only)
Yes
(Client- and app-based)
Dual-WANYes
RT2600ac and RT6600ax
Yes 
(on most routers)
Link AggregationNo Yes 
(on most routers)
AP Mode 
(as a mesh system)
YesYes
Wi-Fi PerformanceExcellentMostly excellent
depending on the hardware combo
Wi-Fi Coverage
(2-pack)
β‰ˆ 4000 ft2 (370 m2)β‰ˆ 4000 ft2 (370 m2)
Mobile appsYes
DS Router and others
Yes
Asus Router
NAS FeaturesExcellentVery good
Universal Settings Migration via Backup FileYes
(routers must use the same SRM version)
Yes
(between most routers)
Time Machine backup supportYes Yes
DemographicsSavvy home or business usersSavvy home users
Network SettingsComprehensiveComprehensive
Remote AccessDynamic DNS,
QuickConnect
Dynamic DNS
Synology Mesh vs. Asus’s AiMesh

Asus AiMesh vs Synology Mesh: It’s kinda home vs business, options vs stability

Asus AiMesh offers more hardware options. You can pick and choose from dozens of routers and there’re going to be more in the future.

But the plentiful hardware also comes with the innate fact that AiMesh is more susceptible to bugs. For this reason, it can be quite hard to get a good combo. I detailed that in this post on picking AiMesh combinations.

But in return, if you’re a gamer, Asus is more applicable since it has many features geared toward online gaming. Get a gaming router to host your mesh setup and you have a gaming Wi-Fi system — make sure you use wired backhaul, too.

Synology Mesh SRM 1.3 Interface Asus AiMesh Interface RT AX82U RP AX56
Synology Mesh vs Asus AiMesh: The web interface of AiMesh has slightly more options. Among other things, you can control the satellite's USB port.

On the other hand, Synology has much more advanced firmware and an extensive set of network storage features, including a powerful PC-less download app. When coupled with a good USB external storage device, the RT6600ax can work almost as a full-featured NAS server.

Synology’s SRM firmware has many business features, such as an advanced VPN server, robust VLANs, a DNS server, and the support for a login portable in Guest networking. It also has a more graceful way to deal with Wi-Fi backhaul when it comes to mixing Dual-band and Tri-band hardware.

That said, Synology’s approach to mesh is professional with business flavors. Asus AiMesh’s approach is a bit messy but fun and geared toward home users.

Both systems are effective in delivering fast Wi-Fi with extensive coverage — and you can use either a home or a small office. The two are similar in performance via wired backhauls but in a fully wireless setup, Synology Mesh can be consistently faster and more reliable thanks to its limited hardware options.

Setup guide: How to build a Synology Mesh

To create a mesh, you’ll need at least two hardware units. One will work as the main router and the other as a satellite. Later on, you can add more satellites if need be.

At publication, the MR2200ac and RT2600ac haven’t gotten SRM 1.3 so they can’t work with the RT6600ax yet. But no matter which SRM version you use, the process of setting a Synology Mesh is largely the same.

Synology RT6600ax vs RT2600ac
You have to wait till the RT2600ac (right) gets SRM 1.3 before you can use it with the RT6600ax in a Synology Mesh setup.

Steps to build a Synology Mesh

I performed the steps below using two RT6600ax via SRM 1.3 but will note the difference if you use older routers running SRM 1.2.

Housekeeping

A couple of things to note before we start:

  • Update and reset:
    • Make sure all routers involved need to use the same firmware version (SRM 1.2 vs SRM 1.3). After that reset them to the default factory setting.
      • You might skip this step if you buy new hardware units at the same time — chances are they already have the same firmware.
      • If you want to add a node to an existing router, then only reset the node.
  • Satellite placement/connection for the mesh building process:
    • For SRM 1.2: You can add only one satellite at a time and only wirelessly. f you intend to use network a network cable to connect a node to the main router, do that after the setup process:
      • Place a satellite node unit less than 10 feet (3m) from the primary router.
      • Plug it into power. Do NOT plug any network cable into its network ports.
    • For SRM 1.3: You can add multiple satellites at a time.
      • Place a wireless satellite at a good distance from the router.
      • Connect a wired satellite’s WAN port to the router (or existing network’s switch).
1. Set up the main router unit as a standalone router

All Synology has a web user interface and shares the same standard setup process as most other home routers.

You have the option to add a Wi-Fi point at the end of the router's initial setup process.
You have the option to add a Wi-Fi point at the end of the router’s initial setup process.
2. Add a satellite (Wi-Fi Point) to the router

At the end of the initial setup process above, you’ll have the option to add Wi-Fi points, use it if you want to add a satellite right away.

Synology Mesh SRM 1.3 Initial Wizard
The steps to initiate adding a mesh satellite to an existing Synology router with SRM 1.3.

Alternatively, you can always log into the router’s web interface, run the Wi-Fi Connect app, then click on Wi-Fi Point.

After that follow the wizard to add the satellite(s). Again, with SRM 1.3 you can have multiple satellites (both wireless and wired) at the same time. SRM 1.2 only allows for adding one wireless satellite at a time.

The wizard will walk you through a few simple steps and at the end, the satellite router will be part of the system. The process takes a few minutes.

And that’s it. Your Synology Mesh is now ready.

Synology Mesh SRM 1.3
Here’s a Synology Mesh in the wireless backhaul of two RT6600ax in action.
3. Hardware arrangement and extra mesh configurations

In terms of placement, keep the satellite (s) a reasonable distance — between 40 feet (13m) and 75 feet (25m) — from the primary router.

If you have more than one wireless satellite node, make sure you place them around the main router and not in a straight line to get the best performance.

If you use wired backhaul, it doesn’t matter the distance but you do want to arrange them appropriately to get the best coverage. You can daisy-chain them.

Synology Mesh SRM 1.3 Interface Synology RT6600ax Mesh Uplink Band
Synology Mesh: Users have some control over the backhaul link and certain aspects of the satellite unit.

Like the case of AiMesh, Synology Mesh doesn’t allow for a lot of control of the satellite. But you can pick the uplink type, including wired, and the band (5GH-1 or 5GHz-) used for wireless backhaul. On the satellite, you can restart, reset, and manage its LED status light.

Synology Mesh: Excellent performance

Synology mesh is generally one of the fastest and most reliable systems I’ve known. I’ve used a few RT2600ac + MR2200ac combos for a few years with no issues.

Most recently The RT6600ax proved to be one of the fastest Wi-Fi 6 routers you can find. And that applied when it worked as a standalone router as well as a mesh system, via my month-long hands-on experience.

Synology Mesh Routers Performance
Synology Routers’ performance against Wi-Fi 6 counterparts

For now, you need two or more units to form a mesh. In this case, in a wireless setup, you can use the hardware’s 5.9GHz band as the backhaul to have a reliable and fast link — most reliable of all Tri-band mesh in fact. It’ll also work solely for the backhauling considering theres’ are no clients that support this portion of the band yet.

I tried that out and tested the backhaul link via a Multi-Gig computer connected to the satellite RT6600ax’s 2.5Gbps port the mesh had the sustained backhaul link of around 1700Mbps — the fastest I’ve seen.

Synology Mesh Satellites Performance
Synology Routers’ performance as mesh satellites against Wi-Fi 6 counterparts

For practical purposes though, I’ve used the system using a client-friendly portion of the 5GHz-1 band and it still proved to be excellent as you can see on the chart. By the way, I test all mesh systems via a wireless backhaul.

Multi-Gig wired backhaul worked on the RT660ax, too, but considering the router has just one 2.5Gbps port, it’s still not ideal hardware for those with Gig+ or faster broadband.

Minor issues

Like all mesh systems, a Synology Mesh is not perfect, even with SRM 1.3. The following are a few issues:

  • You have no direct control over the satellite unit; if you attempt to access its web interface, you’ll get to that of the main router unit.
  • There’s no way to configure or monitor the satellite’s network ports — for VLANs or even viewing their statuses — or use its USB port.
  • Firmware update and setup time can be time-consuming, mostly because the hardware takes a long time – up to two minutes – to boot up.
  • Limited hardware, there are no satellite-only options.

On top of that, the RT6600ax had some bugs in my testing. Specifically, at times I needed to connect wired clients a few times to the satellite for them to get an IP address. And often, though not always, the 2.5Gbps port on the satellite unit delivered the same performance as a Gigabit port.

Hopefully, most if not all of these will be worked out via firmware updates.

Conclusion

For those looking for a reliable mesh system, the release of the RT6600ax proved exciting in the sense it means Synology Mesh is here to stay. Among other things, Asus AiMesh continues to have a formidable rival and that’s a good thing.

But the RT6600ax doesn’t solve the Wi-Fi solution’s biggest problem: The lack of hardware options. While the fewer hardware choices can mean the vendor can focus on making them stable, that doesn’t help with costs.

And the lackluster support for Multi-Gig can be a deal-breaker for those with Gig+ or faster broadband. On this front, Asus AiMesh is far ahead.

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65 thoughts on “Synology Mesh Review (vs Asus AiMesh): A Home Way to Create a Pro Wi-Fi System”

  1. The fact that Synology is little known, Dong approved, and not any of the big gorillas, so to speak, in the Wi-Fi game, Asus included, is more than enough for me to go with them in my next upgrade.

    Reply
  2. Are you able to specify the port network for satellites? If look at synology network center > status > port status we can see the network each port is assigned to. However for satellites it looks like you can’t configure it to be anything but Primary Network?

    Reply
      • Ah, thanks for confirming. I thought since it replicate settings to satellites it would at least replicate port settings but I guess not. Shame. Guess I’ll try to go up the grapevine in asking for feature support. They’ve been receptive in past but guess it’ll be unlikely.

        Reply
  3. Dear Dong,

    If it took Synology so long to make another Router…. I guess it would also take a long time for them to offer any fixes on their firmware. Honestly, I won’t buy it.

    But thank you for your review.

    Reply
    • Actually, ST, they release firmware updates quite regularly, even for the old Wi-Fi 5 models, which will also get SRM 1.3. But yes, you can get something else. It’s been out of stock anyway. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • Dear Dong,

        Okay…Thank you. Synology isn’t as popular as Asus, especially here in Asia. But Asus is truly one of the best in qty and has good firmware updates and local support.

        Cheers.

        Reply
  4. no certain updating each unit and performing reset is necessary. the update is applied whilst adding each additional wifi point.

    Reply
  5. I bought these from your recommendation about a year ago. Been going great. Thank you for the recommendation. I do have a follow up question though. I now have a garage door opener that’s wifi. It does not have a strong signal. Would a range extender be an option? Thank you again.

    Reply
  6. Hi Dong,

    Quick question… I live in a two storey house and wanted to put a mesh system in. Which of the following would you recommend?

    – The Synology mesh system as explained above (RT2600ac and MR2200ac)
    – The ASUS CT8
    – 2 x RT-AC86U

    Regards,
    Syed

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,

        Thanks for your reply and the suggested link. I have read it fully and also other related links on your website. I have come to the conclusion that one of the above three set ups seems to be amongst the best for me, however, I wanted to know which you feel will give the best coverage and stability. The Synology setup sounds interesting as I have only ever considered Asus routers. Any advice would be appreciated.

        Reply
          • Hi Dong,

            I have purchased the Asus CT8 and was about to replace my current setup of a router and a few powerline adapters when I had a thought… I have an Asus RT-AC86U which I was going to sell on eBay, but do you think I should keep the router and use both the CT8 devices as nodes? Would that be overkill for my property (3 bedroom Victorian largish terraced house with attic)? The router is currently on one end of the house in one of the bedrooms, so it is not central.

            Thanks in advance.

  7. Hi Dong – I stumbled on your excellent site when researching the Synology MC2200AC. I recently purchased two of these on a great sale at BH and am trying to decide whether to keep them. Here is my current setup:

    XFinity internet > Netgear router > Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 router
    The net comes into my study on the 2nd floor and I am also running LAN cables to two pc’s there. Overall coverage is decent but at times I have buffering issues with the tv (cut the cable several years ago). The other issue I have is with the Nighthawk as it seems to lose settings whenever the power goes out. This then also causes my wireless printer to need to be reset (Canon Pixma Pro 100)

    When I purchased the two MR2200AC’s I did not realize they only had 1 lan port so, if I decide to keep them I would need to buy a RT2600AC. This would bring my total cost for the 3 Synology units to $418.
    The other I have considered is a MoCa system. While this would not solve the resetting issues with the Nighthawk router and Canon printer, it should solve the buffering issues with the TV. I could then pick up a new router to solve the other issues. The Asus RT-AX86U gets good reviews and could be had for $250. Go CoAx Moca units are $60 each and 3 would be (one to connect to the modem, one for the tv and one for a second study).

    Current speeds: device / band / down / up / area
    PC’s / wired ethernet / 235 / 12 / study
    Laptop / 2.4 / 143 / 12 / study
    Laptop / 5.0 / 170 / 12 / study
    ipad / 2.4 / 101 / 11 / study
    ipad / 5.0 / 237 /12 / study (odd getting as much as ethernet pc’s)
    ipad / 2.4 / 37 / 7 / downstairs LR (real dropoff here)
    ipad / 5.0 / 128 / 8 / downstairs LR (same dropoff)

    Given these speeds and choices (or other suggestions you might have) what would the best scenario be for me (definitely want fast net in both studies for work at home and for the TV):
    1. Go for additional Synology RT2600AC to go with my 2x MR2200AC’s?
    2. Go for the Asus RT-AX86U plus 3X MoCa devices?
    3. Buy a Moca enabled router and add 2x Moco devices?

    Thank you for and advice and guidance.

    Reply
    • I’d go with #1 and add one or two Gigabit switches, like this one, Doug. They are very affordable and will give you more ports. MoCA *might* work but it’s a matter of luck. By the way, the buffering issue might be a QoS issue.

      Reply
  8. Dong,

    Thank you for such comprehensive evaluations of these units/systems. I am currently looking to upgrade my house’s wifi system. I have Verizon FiOS gigabit internet and will need to continue to use G1100 unit for my TV and then use a new mesh system for the house wifi. The house is a 5500sf split level and the distance between the main router unit and the satellite in the office is about 90-100 ft with some walls between them. I have not wired the house yet, but plan to when we renovate in the future. Looking at a wifi 5 mesh system, do you recommend the Synology RT-2600ac/MR2200ac (possibly a 2nd MR2200) or the Asus CT-8 (possibly adding a 3rd node)? I care about privacy, so have pretty much ruled out any other company that requires a portal. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Either will work out well, George. They are almost equally good, in different ways. But the former is better when you have wired backhaul.

      Reply
  9. Dear Dong

    Due to your articles I’ve installed the mesh system of synology (2600+2200).
    These are connected via wire, because this was convenient to do.

    I would like to extend my Wi-Fi inside my workshop that is next to my house.
    A network cable is already in place to connect to my 2600. To save some on my budget I was wondering if it’s advisable to install an used 1900AC?
    Or would you recommend expanding my network further with another 2200?

    Thanks for your nice write ups.

    Lucas

    Reply
  10. Hi Dong – my apartment is ~1900 sq ft and full of brick and concrete walls (I live in South Africa). The fibre in is at the front door so that’s where the router sits. The front door is towards one corner of the apartment – many walls between it and the master bedroom. Moving the router to the middle of the flat is not really an option – would mean drilling through brick just to run an ethernet cable.

    I currently run a TP Link Archer c2300 at the front door with a TP Link AV600 powerline adapter kit to help in the master bedroom.

    Would mesh work better? Better for me means coverage and speeds. A single SSID would be nice too but not essential. Another reason for asking is that the powerline adapter (the one that puts out WiFi) has started to emit an audible noise – like a giant baritone mosquito. Performance still fine though.

    Reply
    • It’s impossible to say, Phil. Brick walls are tricky. I’d still recommend running cable — you need just one so that you can place the router in the middle or add one more broadcaster. The high-pitch noise means you got a cheap adapter. All power adapters need to convert high-AC into low-DC, and the constant changes in magnetic fields can cause some components to vibrate, which creates a high-pitched noise. But a good adapter vibrates at frequencies outside the human hearing range.

      Reply
      • Thanks very much. I’ll probably try mesh and, if I do, let you know about mesh and bricks. Moving the router to the middle will also be considered a bit more. I suspect that doing so will win the battle for the main bedroom but create new problems on the outer edges of the kitchen and living rooms.

        Reply
  11. Hello Dong. Great information in your articles and your responses to comments. Apparently I have nothing better to do than overcomplicate my home network so I purchased a Netgate SG3100 router. I have many wifi and wired devices (home automation, laptops, desktops, servers, SONOS, etc.) and I also provide wifi to my neighbor. My home was built in 1930 and has plaster/lathe walls that have the effect of living in a Faraday cage. No wifi router has ever been able to blanket my home (about 3,000sq ft total consisting of basement, ground floor, and 2nd floor, each about 1,000 sq ft). I currently have Tenda and TPLink routers placed at opposite ends of the house one running in normal mode, one running in AP mode. The Tenda router gives DHCP to the neighbor and guests and keeps them off my primary network. The TPLINK runs in AP mode for my personal wifi devices with PFSense providing DHCP.

    When I was trying to figure out how to get wifi coverage everywhere I realized that just having simple AP’s means switching networks so that was not a consideration for me. I also know that a mesh network with a wireless backhaul was not going to work in the Faraday cage, either. Then for some odd reason tonight I googled for “mesh wired backhaul” and ended up at your site! Great reading.

    Enough discussion of my train wreck of a network and to the point … Could I run two or three of the Synology mesh products in AP mode connected to the Netgate/pfsense (allowing pfsense to provide DHCP) AND use a guest network on the Synology for the neighbor AND wire the mesh devices to my switch for wired backhaul? If so, which products would you recommend? Thanks very much for your time.

    Reply
      • Hello Dong. I decided to purchase the Netgear Nighthawk MK63/AX1800 Mesh Wifi 6 router and satellite system. While it seems to be working well for me now it was a rocky start. I noticed that one of the satellites kept dropping out. Also, a simple rename of the satellite device in their app never propagated across the app or in the router’s web page . I also noticed that when a satellite was shutdown my SONOS speakers did not switch over to the other satellite or the main router.

        After a chat with support I learned a few things. They claimed that for my size house (900 sq. ft ground floor, 800 sq. ft 2nd floor), two satellites were overkill and that one satellite was “interfering” with the other. Support suggested that I turn one off. I thought I was doing the right thing as my house has plaster/lath walls and its like living in a Faraday Cage. Support said that one satellite was able to manage 1500 sq. feet. I am pretty sure that refers to 1500 unobstructed sq. ft.

        So far so good but now I have one too many satellites (should have bought the box with 1 satellite!).

        As for the name change not propagating the support fellow finally admitted that “the app wasn’t working properly”. He suggested that it would be fixed in the next version.

        And regarding the SONOS One (gen 2) Speakers not reconnecting he recommended that I disable a feature in the router web app called AX. So far so good.

        I am still mildly disappointed in the treatment I got as most questions were answered with an obvious cut/paste into the chat window. He was also pretty snotty in the conversation about the “interference” from the 2nd satellite and the quality of the mobile app. He suggested that I just wait for the new version, which he did not know when it would be available, or if that time frame would happen before my “free 90 days” of support ended. He was, however, very interested in selling me another year of “good” tech support, or the more expensive “better” support.

        Anyways, so far so good. Keep up the great work!

        Marvin

        Reply
        • Thanks for sharing, Marvin. But yes, your place is kinda too small for a mesh. I think I mentioned that. Glad it worked out.

          Reply
  12. Hi Dong, thank you for your detailed reviews that lay things out so well.
    I am going to be moving in a few months (not yet finalized) to an apartment that might be between 1500-1800 sqft, built using brick and concrete.
    My use case is maybe 6-8 devices, with 3-4 of them doing streaming, and other devices being used for casual browsing intermittently.
    I am considering a mesh network, given the tendency for concrete walls to have a faraday cage like effect at times.
    I am hoping to use a wired backhaul between the units (pending wife’s approval of course), and also do not have any WiFi 6 devices.
    Apart from coverage and performance, I am also interested in parental controls.

    Do you think the Synology RT2600ac +MR2200ac is still a good combination to go in for? (at this point in time ie, Sep 2020)
    Is there any need/benefit in going for a WiFi 6 mesh router at this point?

    Reply
  13. Hi Dong,

    Can you explain this a little further Dong? Why does the 3rd band matter mostly in extender units? Doesn’t the dedicated backhaul both send and receive? I’m sorry for my novice questions, just trying to learn.

    Also, is the reason you would recommend a RT2600 and RT2200 is because the specs of the 2600 then? Could you go into a bit more depth into that thought process?

    Also, do you think it would be wise to purchase a synology combo of some sort now or wait a little bit since it seems as though the current units have been out since at least 2018? Maybe they are coming out with a newer version soon?

    Thanks for your help and this great site.

    -allen

    Reply
    • Allen, because the extender is the one it needs to do BOTH receive and send, the main router only sends. Of course, it’s better of the router is also a tri-band, but the extender has to work more. BTW, in a wireless mesh setup, the RT2600ac will create a virtual 5 GHz network that works only as the backhaul band. I recommend the RT2600ac as the router because it has a lot more to offer in terms of ports and other features, but a pair of MR2200ac will do. These are still relevant today for sure. Don’t worry about the year of release. More here.

      Reply
  14. Correction: the pfSense firewall rule appeared to work. But, it hit me that it shouldn’t, because the Guest subnet (192.168.2.0/24) is behind a NAT firewall. Testing verified this. For some reason though, some nodes on the IoT segment are reachable from the Guest network, and some are not.

    Reply
  15. Hi Jim, I have tried using an Asus RT-AC68u as an AiMesh node, connected to an RT-AC5300 (main router). Although it “works”, performance is terrible. I then bought another RT-AC5300, and connected it as an AiMesh node (and removed the 68u). Now, performance is top notch! The only thing I don’t like about the AiMesh system, is that Guest SSIDs are only available from the main router.

    This may be of interest to some; I have a rather involved home network setup. Partly, because (now retired) I have worked in IT, and Network administrative roles, but still love playing with this stuff. Plus, given the mounting internet threat, it has now become necessary to isolate (as much as possible) IoT devices, and even devices connected to Guest networks, from our personal use devices, such as PCs, Phones, Tablets…etc. This, in an effort to avoid any sort of malware from getting into things we really want to protect.

    First, connecting to my cable modem, is a Netgate SG-3100 (running pfSense). Which I’ve configured to have 3 seperate LAN segments.

    1) For all IoT devices: Security cameras, Amazon Echos, Tivo DVR, Security system, Doorbell..,etc. Devices on this segment can only see, & initiate traffic to other IoT devices on the same segment (obviously), or to the internet. This segment uses 2 Asus RT-AC5300 routers in Access Point / AiMesh mode, for IoT device connectivity.

    2) Only wired devices, that I trust, and want to protect, such as PCs: These devices can see, and initiate connections to IoT devices, and the internet, Devices on this segment cannot access nodes in #3 (below).

    3) Family & Guest WiFi: My main WiFi access for Family, & Guests: This is a Synology mesh system. The main router is a RT2600ac. I have one mesh node, which is the MR2200ac. One really nice feature is that by default, the Guest WiFi network (192.168.2.0/24) is separate from the main WiFi network (192.168.1.0/24). So, this allowed me to set a firewall rule in pfSense, to block Guest access to the IoT segment. Bottom line for the Guest network is, they can ONLY access the internet. Family who connect to the main WiFi SSID, can access the internet, IoT devices, and can remotely access the PC (#2 above) nodes.

    One note that may or may not be obvious… When using 2 separate mesh WiFi systems, you need to pay attention to the WiFi channels that each system uses. For instance, My IoT WiFi (Asus) uses Channel 1 (@20MHz) on 2.4GHz, Channel 149 (@40 MHz) on 5GHz. My Family & Guest WiFi (Synology) uses Channel 11 (@20MHz) on 2.4 GHz. Channel 44 (@40 MHz) on 5GHz. The point is, you don’t want to configure you separate WiFi systems to use the same frequencies. It would still work. But, performance will definitely suffer.

    Reply
  16. Hello Dong, thank you for your reviews; I appreciate your more thorough technical style! I have an Asus 68U that is not able to keep up with multiple xboxes, google home devices, 4 computers, etc. of a family of 4. Also, in a couple of parts of the house wifi goes down to -80-90 db. I am thinking about upgrading and had a couple of questions: (1) Does the 68U have enough life in it to make it worth pairing in an Azus AIMesh?(And if so, what would you recommend in Jan 2020 as the main router). I worry about Asus reliability as virtually every device has a 20% 1 star rating on user review sites (failing hw I suppose). (2) If I am doing a wired backhaul, what is the advantage of a mesh vs. an access point? (I am leaning towards the Synology RT and MR pair, but also looking at the Ubiquity, and/or a router plus AP)

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome, Jim. Thanks for reading my content. To answer your questions (1) yes, that router will last for a long time and (2) get another unit of the same router (or a Blue Cave) and link them together using a wired backhaul AiMesh and you’re gonna be game for a long time. If wired backhaul is not possible, well, then a pair of the Synology MR2200ac would help. But I totally recommend the former, speaking from a family of four myself. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  17. Hi Dongs,

    I replaced 2 units of Asus AX-92U with Synology RT2600ac and MR2200ac today. I put the router and node at the same location as the previous ones. Router at the center of 2nd floor and node at the room in 4th floor. Unfortunately, Synology cannot perform well as Asus. The signal between router and node is very low and the download and upload speed drop very significantly. It’s likely that I need to go back to AX-92U. Hence I assume the ax signal on the AX-92u does help a lot for the communication between router and node for the wireless backhaul.

    Reply
  18. Anyway, I’ve have stock of additional RT-AC86u 1 unit and RT-AX92u 1 unit. Can I also do this 1) add 1 more of AX92u to bring total of AX92u 3 units in Mesh or 2) use RT-AC86u as main router and put 2 units of AX92u as node as you mentioned that the router does not need to be tri-band.

    Reply
  19. ΰΉ‡Hi Dong,

    I upgraded from 2 units of Asus RT-AC86U to 2 units of Asus RT-AX92U (AX6100) 3 months ago. I live in a 4 floor house with total 220 m2 space. No gaming.

    I’m quite interesting to try RT2600 and MT2200. My home has only few devices; 1 of Samsung Note 10+, 1 of Samsung S10 Plus, 1 iPhone X, 1 iPhone 8, 2 laptop, 2 ipad and 2 Smart TV. My package is 1000 Mbps / 500 Mbps. From Wifi access, I can get maximum of 600/500 Mbps.

    Meanwhile, I don’t like the look of AX92u. If I switch to Synology Mesh, is it fine for the performance.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Yes, if you switch to Synology mesh, your performance will probably be the same considering your current situation, Wichai. It’s not a good idea to use Wi-Fi 6 Asus Mesh systems right now. Wait a year or two.

      Reply
  20. I am trying to do my due diligence prior to jumping back into the mesh Wi-Fi scene. Based on the reviews I am seeing, it seems that this Synology is probably about the best so far. Wi-Fi 6 does not seem ready, and I love the additional parental control features of the Synology mesh.

    If you were building your own system, have a two-story, 4,000 square foot house, have children, and don’t care about gaming, what would you do? I have network lines into most rooms of the house, so wired is an option for some devices, but others would need wifi.

    That being said, I have not seen a review of the Nest Wifi system. Have I just missed it? If not, do you have any plans of doing a review? As others have said, your columns are fantastic. Thank you for your thorough explanations that are easy to understand for the average user.

    Reply
    • Get the Synology or AiMesh, George. You don’t miss anything. I don’t publish any reviews on those big-name mesh systems for a reason. And I have kids, too. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  21. Hi Dong. Okay well I got the two MR2200ac set up in mesh configuration and it’s working well! I updated the firmware on each unit per your instructions in step 1. Going forward, how do I update the firmware on each unit? Do I have to repeat step 1 each time I want to update the firmware on both units including the factory rest. etc.?

    Reply
    • Excelente! Congratulations, Dale. And no, going forward, you can update the firmware using the router’s interface or the DS Router app. It’s quite self-explanatory. Merry Christmas!

      Reply
  22. Hi Dong! In step 1 of how to build a Synology Mesh, you say to update the firmware on both devices and then do a factory reset. Do you mean a Soft Reset (hold reset button for 4 seconds) or a Hard Reset (hold reset button for 10 seconds)? Thanks!

    Reply
  23. Hello Dong, I’m on the fence between the Arris Surfboard Max Pro mesh and the Synology mesh (2 X MR2200ac). What do you think?

    Reply
    • The Synology is a much better bang for the buck, Scott. It has a lot more features and settings. Depending on your needs and your Internet speed, you might not see much difference between the two in terms of performance. If you want to send the Arris kind of money, get the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 instead.

      Reply
  24. How well would the Synology router and Synology MR2200 work when setup at hotels to create a small wireless LAN? Basically looking to provide our own wireless LAN that could spand multiple floors or do you recommend another product?

    Reply
  25. Thanks Dong

    In review of this article I do not see any mention or reference of what modem you would recommend. I too use Xfinity for ISP.

    Reply
  26. Hi Dong, thanks for the reviews. I’ve learned a lot from them. I am planning to implement the Synology mesh but is debating between getting a RT2600ac / MR2200ac combo or two MR2200ac. Reason is the 5GHz backhaul on the MR2200ac. Although the RT2600ac is more powerful, having no extra 5GHz makes me think that it will impact the mesh’s overall performance (I cannot wire them together). Am I correct on my argument?

    I have tons of devices, not to mention IoT and 2 PoE cameras (connected via switch so the extra ports on RT2600ac really doesn’t matter to me) and 2 wifi cameras. Around 30 connected devices at a time is not uncommon.

    What would you recommend? By the way, I am using PPPOE (single thread) on my Gigabit service.

    Reply
    • You’re not wrong, Eric, but I’d recommend using the former combo. In a mesh, the 3rd band matters mostly in the extender units. The main router doesn’t need a dedicate band because it doesn’t receive any signal, it only broadcasts. The system will be able to handle 30 concurrent devices or more just fine. Hope this helps and good luck! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  27. Hi Dong, many thanks for your expert guidance. I believe a little of it is beginning to sink in. A WiFI Mesh question: I have a Asus RTac66U with a 3Γ—3 dual band. Can a firmware update allow it to function as a mesh satellite with a new Asus router? Many thankis

    Reply
  28. Dear Dong:

    I thank you for your excellent reviews regarding both Asus AiMesh system and Synology Mesh system. My only question for you is regarding both systems, should all nodes be directly connected or sinked with the main units or can one node be connected through another node to main router? I do understand even with 5G backhaul one may loose speed or signal but could it be possible to do that? If so how much signal or speed degradation I should expect? I do understand the signal penetration not only depends on distance between router and nodes but also depends on environment such as other wireless systems using 2.4G or interference form walls or other metallic objects. Currently my phone system using DECT 6.0 and I have tried to use my current Mesh system by TP Deco M5 Version 1.0 using 6 nodes. And at furthest point in my house, my last node is connected through another node to main routers. Before recent firmware update 1.2, I was able to easily achieve around 140 Mbps download on the farthest node and my Spectrum Cable Account at the modem using hard wire connection was giving me 225 Mbps download and 25Mbps Upload. However, after recent firmware update 1.2 and most recently 1.2.4 from TP link, I was only able to get maximum 10-15 Mbps download at main Deco M5 router but my upload remains at constant 25Mbps. After consulting with TP link IT multiple times and after IT person from Spectrum visited my house and check all wired and wireless connections and Deco and my modem, they could not find the problem or could help me to figure out the problems. My modem works fine and its firmware is updated and it was checked by 4 different Spectrum IT personnel confirming that I do get proper speed both up and download. I always check my system main Deco via ethernet and still poor download speed and excellent upload speed. I have updated all of my main PC hardware firmwares and always check them weekly and still no solution why my download speed is problem . I used Chrome, FIrefox, and Edge and still no difference., I even checked some sources regarding possibilities with Chrome having something to do with upload speed and still no change. I have also changed and assigned different nodes as the main routers and nothing works. My Deco App does not help me find the problem and it also shows that my download speed is severely affected at main unit but upload speed is unaffected. I turned off security system from Trend Micro and still no improvements. I even turned off my windows firewall and remove and deactivate any security softwares on my PC which runs Window 10 and still no improvement in my download speed which is now around 10-15 Mbps and my upload is at usual 25Mbps. I am not sure if recent Window 10 firmware upgrade could have contributed to my slow download speed but non of technician from Spectrum could help me with that. I am now thinking to return my Deco M5 (all 6 of them) and consider to purchase Deco M9, But after reading your article regarding Asus AiMesh and Synology Mesh, I am very interested to switch to one of this systems. I did look into Linksys Velop, Google Wifi, Netgear Mesh, Asus Lyro, Samsung Mesh, Eero and few other systems. But your article intrigued me and I am very interested to switch to one of this systems which may give me more flexibilities despite few shortcomings which is far better than the aforementioned mesh systems. Unfortunately, I am not very tech oriented and rarely use online gaming. However, because I have watch many online high definition videos and read lots of medical oriented articles as a physician, I do require from fast and reliable speed. Unfortunately, I am not getting any help from my service provider and I am willing to spend money to get a decent system. If cost is not an issue, do you recommend to purchase Asus AC5300 or AC5300GT (I believe that I may need at least 4 unit in order to reach all part of my house assuming 40 feet or less between each node) or Synology RT2600 with 4 units or Synology MR2200 with 4 units or purchase RT2600 as main router and add 3 MR2200 to it? I am tired of getting poor connections and I am willing to spend as much as necessary to have a system that is reliable and future proof for at least 2 more years. Hopefully, in next 1-2 year, Verizon will implement their 5G system for residential units in my neighborhood in Culver City, California. I thank you again for wonderful articles you have written, I am a big fan.

    Sincerely,

    Ebrahim Sajedi
    [email protected]

    Reply
    • Hi Ebrahim,

      For more on how you should arrange the hardware units of a Wi-Fi system, check out this post: https://dongknows.com/mesh-wi-fi-system-explained/2/

      Generally, though, in a wireless setup, you want to use the star topology (meaning the satellite units are placed around the main router unit). For your situation. I think it’s best that you use network cables to link the hardware units together. If you can’t do that with all of the units, at least with the units that are closest to the router unit.

      Otherwise, I’d recommend using a few Synology MR2200ac routers in a mesh.

      Hope this helps,

      – Dong.

      Reply

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