Synol­ogy RT2600ac


PC & Tech Authority - - REVIEWS INTRO -

Synol­ogy is a name more usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with NAS drives than routers – and when you rst open up the RT2600ac’s web por­tal you’d be for­given for think­ing you’d ac­ci­den­tally logged into a stor­age de­vice, be­cause it looks an aw­ful lot like the com­pany’s DiskS­ta­tion Man­ager soft­ware.

That’s no bad thing: the in­tu­itive mousedriven in­ter­face makes many ri­vals look clunky and out­dated. Icons, live graphs and il­lus­tra­tions help you nd your way around with ease. But this is no Fisher-Price front-end, and as you click through the tabs you’ll nd no short­age of tech­ni­cal stats and net­work set­tings. These in­clude up­mar­ket fea­tures such as a true wire­less re­peater mode, email and SMS noti cations for speci ed er­rors and events, and the op­tion to fall back to a con­nected 3G/4G USB adapter if your main in­ter­net con­nec­tion goes down.

The phys­i­cal de­sign is just as thought­ful. Along­side its four Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net ports, the RT2600ac has a switch for en­abling and dis­abling Wi-Fi, a nice clicky WPS but­ton and a sen­si­ble ar­range­ment of USB con­nec­tors

– a USB 2 one at the back for an al­wayscon­nected 4G don­gle or printer, and a more ac­ces­si­ble USB 3 port at the side for stor­age. Uniquely, there’s also an SDXC card slot at the front, of­fer­ing an easy way to get photos off a cam­era if your lap­top doesn’t have a built-in reader. And an Eject but­ton lets you en­sure stor­age de­vices are safely dis­mounted be­fore un­plug­ging them – a very nice touch.

On the sub­ject of stor­age de­vices, you won’t be sur­prised to learn that Synol­ogy’s router beats the rest hands down when it comes to

le-han­dling ca­pa­bil­i­ties, with en­tire pages of fea­tures trans­planted di­rectly from the com­pany’s NAS plat­form. For ex­am­ple, you’re not just able to cre­ate pass­word-pro­tected user ac­counts for ac­cess to con­nected USB drives: you can let users choose their own pass­words, en­force com­plex­ity rules and even in­sist on two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion. Or, you can use LDAP au­then­ti­ca­tion – or join a Win­dows do­main. And as well as ba­sic le shar­ing, you can en­able ser­vices such as Synol­ogy’s web por­tal is one of the best – it’s both slick and in­tu­itive We­bDAV and Ap­ple Time Ma­chine.

To fur­ther ex­pand the RT2600ac’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties, it’s also pos­si­ble to in­stall apps from the built-in Pack­age Cen­ter. Synol­ogy’s Cloud Sta­tion and Down­load Sta­tion add-ons are a few clicks away, if you want them, as is the DLNA stream­ing server. Other ser­vices are more busi­ness-like: a VPN server, a plugin for RA­DIUS au­then­ti­ca­tion, and Synol­ogy’s DNS server are all on of­fer.

For those de­ploy­ing the RT2600ac in a fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment, mean­while, there’s a solid set of parental con­trols. You can de ne a weekly in­ter­net ac­cess sched­ule for each de­vice on your net­work, op­tion­ally en­force safe search­ing and ap­ply web lter­ing with vary­ing de­grees of strict­ness across 20 site cat­e­gories.

While the RT2600ac ticks a lot of fea­ture boxes, its com­pact case and quar­tet of mod­estly sized aeri­als don’t ex­actly scream high­per­for­mance. In use, we found it couldn’t match the top speeds of big­ger, more ex­pen­sive ri­vals: con­nect­ing from the same room yielded a max­i­mum down­load rate of 22MB/sec – a clear step be­hind the 28MB/sec we got from the Linksys EA9500, and the lu­di­crous 30MB/sec of the enor­mous D-Link DIR-895L.

Yet the RT2600ac did im­press us with its con­sis­tency. Mov­ing up to the bed­room saw down­load speeds barely dip, to 21MB/sec, and even in the bath­room the Synol­ogy kept up 14MB/sec – on par with the more ex­pen­sive Net­gear Nighthawk X10, and faster than any­thing else on test. This a more pow­er­ful ra­dio than the head­line speed might sug­gest.

At $320 the Synol­ogy RT2600ac is also the cheap­est router on test here. If you’re look­ing for an of ce­friendly work­horse, the DrayTek Vig­or2762ac costs a rea­son­able $50 more – and if it’s pure per­for­mance you’re in­ter­ested in, the Linksys EA9500 has higher speeds and twice as many Eth­er­net ports, not to men­tion a sec­ond 5GHz ra­dio to keep things run­ning smoothly when your net­work gets busy. But if the RT2600ac’s fea­tures suit your needs, it’s a su­perb lit­tle router – and ev­ery time you open up the in­ter­face to check your net­work sta­tus or change a set­ting, you’ll be glad you chose it.

$320 • www.synol­

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