I first tested the Synology RT2600ac back in early 2017 and found it excellent for geeks and nerds. Now, almost two years later, Synology manages to make it cool again — probably for everyone this time around. So, I decided to take another crack at it.
Note: The RT2600ac is mostly the same as the recently released MR2200ac, with a few significant differences with the latest firmware version. This review will focus on those differences — I hate repeating myself.
That said, it’s a good idea that you first check out my take on the MR2200ac, which talked about the standard features of Synology routers.
To cut to the chase: The RT2600ac is an excellent standalone router that’s well worth its $200 price tag. And it can do a lot more than being a standalone router.
Table of Contents
Synology RT2600ac vs MR2200ac: An excellent pair
For the most part, the RT2600ac is superior to the newly released MR2200ac. I believe Synology designed the MR2200ac to compliment the RT2600ac. The two make a near-perfect combo to create an effective Synology mesh, with the latter being the main router and the former a satellite.
For the RT2600ac to work as part of a Synology mesh, it needs to run firmware 1.2 or later. Keep in mind that generally, Synology routers can’t always skip-update their firmware.
In other words, if your unit runs a firmware version, say 1.0, you might need to update it one or two releases in between first, incrementally.
Being almost two years older, the RT2600ac inevitably has its disadvantages. Let’s find out in detail about its pros and cons.
Synology RT2600ac vs MR2200ac: Hardware specifications
|Wi-Fi standard||Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)||Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)|
|Wi-Fi bands||Dual-band: 1x 5GHz, 1x 2.4GHz)|
|Tri-band (2x 5GHz, 1x 2.4GHz)|
|Mes Role||Router||Router or Satellite|
|Dedicated backhaul||Virtual||2×2 (5GHz-2) 867Mbps|
|Dimensions (no antennas)||3.03 x 11.02 x 6.65 in|
(77 x 280 x 169 mm)
|6.1 x 7.8 x 2.6 in|
(154 x 199 x 65 mm)
|Weight||1.54 lbs (0.7 kg)||1 lb (0.45 kg)|
|Apps available||Cloud Station Server|
|Gigabit Port||1x WAN, 4x LAN||1x WAN, 1x LAN|
|USB||1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0||1x UB 3.0|
What makes the RT2600ac better than the MR2200ac
- More network ports: It has four LAN ports (and one WAN port) and hence can provide Dual-WAN — you can turn its first LAN port into a second WAN port. The MR2200ac has just one LAN port and one WAN port.
- More USB ports: It has one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port, meaning it can host an external storage device and use a cellular dongle as a backup internet connection at the same time. The MR2200ac has just one USB 3.0 port.
- SD card slot: The RT2600ac has an SD card slot (the MR2200ac doesn’t). This slot comes in handy when you want to add more semi-permanent internal storage space to the router, which is significant considering the number of add-on apps Synology offers.
- Faster Wi-Fi: The RT2600ac is a quad-stream (4×4) Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) router. The MR2200ac is a dual-stream (2×2) router. That said, the RT2600ac has the top ceiling Wi-Fi speed of 1733Mbps, and the MR2200, has just 867Mbps.
- Better security: The RT2600ac has an advanced online protection app that’s not available to the MR2200ac.
Where RT2600ac lags behind the new MR2200ac
- Dual-band v.s tri-band: The MR2200ac is a tri-band router (the RT2600ac is a dual-band.) In other words, the former has three access points (two on the 5GHz band, and one on the 2.4GHz band) and the latter has just two access points, one on each band.
- Mesh satellite: The MR2200ac can work either as a router or a satellite hub in a Synology mesh. The RT2600ac can only work as a router.
- Quad-core CPU: The MR2200ac runs a quad-core CPU while the RT2600ac uses an older dual-core model. Among other things, the MR2200ac has much faster USB-connected NAS performance when hosting an external drive. More on this below.
All things considered, though, the part where the RT2600ac is better than the MR2200ac is more significant than the area it’s not. If you’re looking for a standalone router, it sure is a much better pick.
The RT2600ac has the same set of settings and add-on apps as the MR2200ac, plus Threat Protection. At first, this app seems redundant considering the availability of the Safe Access app, which takes care of both Parental Controls and online protection.
However, Threat Protection is much more advanced. With Safe Access, you can turn on or off the online protection, and that’s it! On the other hand, Threat Protection gives you more information and options to protect your network.
For example, not only can you find out how many times your network has been under threat in a given period, you can even pinpoint where the attacks come from, based on their WAN IP addresses. If you’re into that kind of detail, you’ll love this new app.
By the way, if you choose to use this app, make sure you use a fast SD card (or portable drive) of decent capacity. The app itself needs some 4GB of storage space to work correctly.
Synology RT2600ac’s detail photos
Synology RT2600ac: Solid Wi-Fi performance
The RT2600ac did well in my testing. It’s not as fast as some new routers I’ve reviewed recently but still plenty fast.
Note: For the sake of consistency, I tested the RT2600ac with the 3×3 client I’ve used for the rest of the routers. I’m in the process of getting a 4×4 client and will update the review when I get a chance to retest it.
On the 5GHz band, the router average more than 660 megabits per second at a close range of fewer than 10 feet (3m). When I moved the client to 40 feet (13m), it now still registered almost 500Mbps.
On the 2.4GHz, the router did even better with speeds fast enough to deliver even a fast broadband connection in full.
As for coverage, by itself, the RT2600ac is slightly better than the MR2200ac. When placed in the middle, I found that it can cover an average home of some 2000 ft² (186 m²) with reliable Wi-Fi to every corner. This coverage, of course, varies depending on the number of walls and furniture, but overall, this router has excellent Wi-Fi coverage.
It’s also reliable. I stressed it for three days with continuous heavy usage, and it didn’t disconnect once.
Middling NAS speeds
Unlike its Wi-Fi, the router’s NAS performance was somewhat disappointing when hosting an external storage device. I tested it with Samsung Portable SSD T5, and via a Gigabit connection, it averaged just around 35 megabytes per second for reading and 33 MB/s for writing.
These numbers are not enough to deliver the vast amount of NAS features the router has to offer. For comparison, the MR2200ac’s NAS performance was some 70 percent faster in my testing.
That said, if you use the RT2600ac, either as a standalone router or one in a Synology mesh, you better get a dedicated NAS server, like the DS218+ or the DS1618+, if you seriously want network storage.
Synology RT2600ac's Rating
Advanced firmware with a vast amount of network settings and features
Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance
Ability to host a robust mesh system
Can turn one of its LAN ports into a second WAN port
Powerful online protection features
Can't work as a mesh satellite
Slow network storage speed when hosting an external drive
No link aggregation
The RT2600ac router is far from perfect — it’s a relatively old device, after all. What’s important is with updated firmware, it’s now much better than what it was when first released.
Indeed, with a vast amount of valuable features, a state-of-the-art interface, reliable performance, and most importantly, the ability to host a robust Synology mesh, the RT2600ac ranks among the best routers you can get.
After almost two years, the RT2600ac now remains Synology’s flagship router and will likely be relevant for years to come.
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30 thoughts on “Synology RT2600ac Revisited (vs MR2200ac): A Lasting Flagship Wi-Fi 5 Router”
First off, many thanks for the site and the great information that you provide.
My home is approximately 3,400 sq ft on two levels. I recently upgraded from DSL to AT&T Fiber (500 Mbps). The AT&T gateway supplied is the HUMAX BGW320-500 which I believe supports wifi6.
My previous DSL configuration used an Asus RT-AC66U router behind the AT&T gateway that served all wired and wireless (3 wired and approximately 15 wireless) clients on the local network. The Asus router is connected to the gateway via Cat 6 cable and is located approximately 20 feet from the gateway (2nd floor).
I believe that it is possible to continue using the Asus router by configuring IP Passthrough mode on the new gateway. However I wonder if it is time to upgrade to a new router that would, perhaps allow faster wifi speeds throughout my home. I have had my eye on a Synology RT2600ac for a while, the idea being that I could start with this and add an MR2200 later if I found I needed greater coverage.
Do you think this would be a good upgrade to my current Asus router? Further, should I instead consider the new Synology RT6600ax rather than the 2600? I don’t presently have any wifi6 clients so I’m thinking this may be overkill at the present. The other option that I have been considering is the Asus RT-AC86U with an option to using AiMesh if necessary.
I’d appreciate your thoughts and input as to what my best option might be.
The RT2600ac will work, Tex, but it’s not that much better than the Asus in any aspect, if at all. I’d say the two are about the same — they are both excellent routers — but they have very different firmware.
For your case, I’d recommend first checking out this post on using a router on top of another. After that, depending on which route you decide to go with the setup, you can pick hardware accordingly. This post on using multiple broadcasters will help. Only you would know which is the “best” option for you.
Thanks for your feedback.
I guess I was thinking that since the Synology is a 2,600 Mbps router rather than the 1,700 offered by the AC66U that I would see higher wireless speeds than I get at present from the AC66U. Is this not the case?
Given that the two routers are only 20 feet apart, would you recommend that I put the the gateway in passthrough mode and use only the Asus router, to prevent interference issues? Or should I simply accept the limitations of the AT&T gateway and connect all of my wireless clients to that?
What I’d recommend, I mentioned in the posts linked in the previous reply — make sure you read them. I have no answer to random, validation-seeking questions, but it’s not just about interference.
The RT-AC66U is of a lower tier, but chances are, still, you won’t see much of a difference because you likely have 2×2 clients anyway. It doesn’t hurt to get the RT2600ac, but if you expect the world, you’ll be disappointed. Asking the same questions twice won’t give you the answer you’d like. 🙂
I’ve got a rt2600ac and saw on the web that Synology would let you use a second rt2600ac as a mesh unit.
“ Added support for Mesh Wi-Fi on RT2600ac and MR2200ac.”
Under Version: 1.2-7742 from https://www.synology.com/en-us/releaseNote/SRM?model=RT2600ac
“ Added support for Mesh Wi-Fi system on MR2200ac in router mode and AP mode.”
Can anyone confirm that a second rt2600ac can indeed be used as a second mesh unit?
You read the release note with typical “confirmation bias”, Mitty. No where it suggested what you wanted to believe and then you asked me to “confirm”. 🙂 And, no, in my trial, the RT2600ac can only work as the main router (or main AP) in a mesh. It can’t work as satellite. More in this post.
Ouch, well I guess I have been told 🙂
I really did not read into anything hoping it was true, I simply saw
“Added support for Mesh Wi-Fi on RT2600ac and MR2200ac” and got a bit confused and just asked for clarification.
I did enjoy the psychological flare you added as I’ve not heard the phrase “confirmation bias” before so you learn something new every day by asking questions.
If you read the quote for what it is, it sounds like the RT2600ac would have support for Mesh Wi-Fi, but rather not be able to be a mesh point itself. But as you stated I exhibited ( unknowingly ) “confirmation bias” and that was very wrong of me to do so.
Well I have a second rt2600ac that I will provision as an access point instead.
Hey, that happens to the best of us, Mitty. I myself was quite disappointed that the RT2600ac didn’t work as a satellite and the fact the RT1900ac didn’t support mesh at all.
Dong: Installing a router and ditching the FIOS router is a project I have wanted to do for some time now. I picked up the RT2600AC for right around $100 on Prime Day. I know there are more current offerings from other manafactures but I have an old Synology Disc Station that just keeps working and based my decision on that experience. I found this review to be helpfull in the decision to build an inexpensive Mesh Home Network that will have a lot of features for me to explore and implement. My first step is to install and upgrade the router to the latest software. The second step is to remove the routing function of the FIOS Gateway but retain the cable TV functionality. After that begin to explore add on to the Synology router.
You’ll be happy with this router, Thomas. That was a great deal.
Hi Dong, thank you so much for your website! I’m finally feeling much more informed and knowledgeable after spending so many hours over the last few days reading as many of your articles as I can. I’ve settled on a Synology setup, but I’m having a really hard time pressing the button on the RT2600ac, since it’s so old already. Otherwise, I’m thinking of maybe just starting with one MR2200ac, seeing if it covers my whole 1600 sq ft house (even though it would be stuck in a lower level corner), and then either getting another MR2200ac, or just holding out for an updated version of the RT2600ac. I suppose I could also start off with an RT2600ac, but I’d be really mad at myself if I paid ~$200, and then a newer model came out in the next few months or year. What are your thoughts on my scenario, now that the RT2600ac is even older?
I feel you, Thomas. Honestly, Synology has been lagging in networking which is disappointing. You can start with the MR2200ac. Other than the lack of LAN ports, it’s quite nice.
is there a VDSL/DSL modem/router that will help me defeat the ISP’s bonded connection blackmail? thanks
Not sure what you’re talking about but maybe you want to move to a new provider I’d possible, Russell.
I was curious about this myself as I’m about to install 2200 to extend my network.
It seems like what you must do is set it up wirelessly first for the meshing/backhaul. Then you can plug in by ethernet after that.
They don’t support any other way of doing it as of yet. So it sounds like you’re already good to go.
I set up a mesh of 2600 with 2200 for about a month with wireless setup. If I want to connect the 2 unit with Lan cable, do I need to do any configuration or just plugging cable is enough.
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It’s a bit hard to understand your questions. But thanks for the support! 🙂
Hi Dong, Ive bought a new property with 2 houses about 3 metres apart, One is a 250sqm house and one 90sqm whichmy retired parents will occupy with a shared network, Im looking at the Synology 2600 router + mesh kit with maybe 2 satellites, Ill he getting fibre wired up asap and will need to figure out the best spot for the ONT, I was going to get it fitted inside our garage which is at the far end of both properties but am now thinking to get it mounted in one of the bedrooms in between the 2 properties to allow wifi to have a centre point, not ideal as it is unsightly, what is your suggestion, I can buy more sattelites, large homewill be fully smart, lights tvs, accessories etc, second home just needs to stream netflix etc, much appreciated.
Simon, I’d recommend running network cables, at least from one house to another. If you can do that, a set of one RT2600ac and one MR2200ac will do. Add another MR2200mc to make sure. If you can’t run cables, just use a few MR2200ac throughout! It will work. 🙂
Thanks Dong. Apologies for not responding directly to your comment but I couldn’t figure out how. Yes, my situation pretty much forces a wireless solution, though not ideal. I will look into getting two MR2200ac units. Eero has been shipped back!
If I could ask another question: where would you place these units in my situation. We send the most time on the main level (second floor, where our entertainment setup is) and the third floor (bedrooms). Internet comes into basement (which I’ll call the first floor) and basement isn’t used very much, nor is the fourth floor (more bedrooms).
Would you place units centrally in 1st and second floors? Or another setup? Given that I’ll only have two units I’m a bit unsure of where is best to start.
For wireless backhaul setup, you should put the central unit (the router one) on the 2nd floor and run a cable to it from the Internet source (in the basement). For a wired backhaul setup, it doesn’t really matter. For more check out this post.
Hi Dong, love, love, love your site. One of the best around from which to actually learn, and I’m sure others agree.
Question for you: we have moved into a brick four story house with challenging configuration. Fibre (300mb) coming into basement, the main second level has two extensions (one is our home office, the other is our den that houses our entertainment area), a third floor with bedrooms that match the original foundation of the basement (ie much smaller than the main level), and fourth floor with two more bedrooms that we don’t really use. Total square footage is likely in the area of 3000 square feet, pretty square, and pretty old – 1930s build with lots of interference and odd wiring over the years.
I gave AIMesh a shot with an AC86U as the base unit and an AC68U as a wireless node but have experienced frequent dropouts of the wireless node, despite various placement options. I did order a 3 unit Eero Pro unit which has worked well (but I can return prior to the end of return period).
Would you suggest a 2 or 3 unit mesh, and depending on that:
1) AIMesh (perhaps get a second AC86U and roll with it instead of the AC68U in hopes that fixes my dropout issue)
2) Use the Eero Pro instead
3) Another option? Synology, Orbi?
Thanks in advance!
Thanks, Raymond. In your case it’s best to use wired backhaul. If so, the current AiMesh will work just fine. If that’s not possible, try a tri-band system. I’d use a couple units of the Synology mr2200ac but the Netgear Orbi RBK50 will do, too. Don’t use Eero if you value your privacy. Hope this helps.
Dong, thank you for this Synology router review. I am not super knowledgeable in networks or NAS. I have a Syncology 4 bay nas. Currently on an Apple Time Machine as router and wifi server. But, the house is 5900sq ft, 3 floors, and coverage is not great on perimeters.
Could you recommend a router or mesh setup that would be top of the line. NAS is wired, 4 computers are wired, Fire TV wired, all security cameras are wired. Mostly hand held devices are wifi, but could be upwards of 15 at a time.
So many thanks.
The RT2600ac is a great choice for your home. Considering it’s a big home, however, I’d recommend getting a MR2200ac, too. Put the former on the first floor and the latter on the top floor, link them together using wired connection in a Synology mesh and you’re all set. For more on Synology Mesh check out this post:
Hope this helps.
Thank you Dong, RT2600a and a MR2200ac it is.
Hi Dong, What router would you recommend for a home 4200sqft on two floors. Interested in coverage, speed, QOS, NAS attached drive as a media, music server and apple time capsule . Would love to get rid of the bufferbloat issue as well. Have been looking at Synolgy RT2600ac with or without MR2200ac or Asus-aimesh RT-AC86U With one or more units, and of course hate to go broke getting this set up. I’m open to other options/recommendations that you believe would be a better option. Your recommendation is appreciated.
Hi Henry. For that large a house, chances are you’ll need two units. If you’re into NAS and don’t care about wired clients much, I’d recommend getting two units of the Synology MR2200ac. If you have a decent amount of wired client, get two units of AiMesh (RT-AC86Us, or RT-AC88U or a mix of both). However, if you’re serious about NAS, you should get a dedicated NAS server. In this case get an RT2600ac and a MR2200ac.
Hope this helps.