Synology MR2200ac

The pop­u­lar NAS-maker’s third router adds mesh but loses some hard­ware fea­tures.

APC Australia - - Contents - Dan Gar­diner

Tai­wanese NAS­maker Synology has slowly been build­ing it­self a re­spectable rep­u­ta­tion in the router mar­ket, re­leas­ing three mod­els in as many years, with this tri-band, Qual­comm­pow­ered MR2200ac, the lat­est ad­di­tion to the fam­ily. Like its for­bears, the RT1900ac and RT2600ac, this is an­other highly-ca­pa­ble and fea­ture-packed unit where the real star is theOS. Sim­ply named ‘Synology Router Man­ager’ (or SRM), the lat­ter takes its cues from the com­pany’s NAS op­er­at­ing sys­tem, com­bin­ing a very easy-touse desk­top-like in­ter­face (which you ac­cess via web browser) with fea­tures that are fre­quently more ad­vanced than you get from long-es­tab­lished router man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The MR2200ac dif­fers from its pre­de­ces­sors in that it’s geared for mesh net­work­ing. Al­though it can work fine on its own as a stan­dard mo­dem-less broad­band router (al­beit a fairly sim­ple one, hard­ware wise — there’s only two Eth­er­net ports in the back, one of which can only be used for WAN con­nec­tions), Synology’s real in­ten­tion is for you to buy at least two of these and then pair them into a mesh net­work to seam­lessly ex­tend Wi-Fi to wher­ever you need it. If you want a more sub­stan­tial router for your main de­vice, Synology’s also en­abled this mesh func­tion­al­ity in the older RT2600ac via an OS up­date, so you can use it in con­junc­tion with one or more MR2200acs.

In­ter­nally, this new model runs a quad-core, 717MHz Qual­comm CPU and pairs that with 256MB of mem­ory and 4GB of onboard stor­age for in­stalling ad­di­tional op­tional apps. In the wire­less depart­ment, you’re get­ting 2x2 MIMO 802.11ac with two 867Mbps 5GHz ra­dios and one 400Mbps 2.4GHz ra­dio. In mesh mode, one of those 5GHz chan­nels be­comes a ded­i­cated backchan­nel for node-ton­ode com­mu­ni­ca­tion, mean­ing you shouldn’t get bot­tle­necks.

For this re­view, we tested with two MR2200acs and found wire­less per­for­mance was gen­er­ally first rate, reach­ing 60MB/s when con­nect­ing to the pri­mary node and, with the sec­ondary node two rooms and 10m away, we hit 25.7MB/s reads and 38MB/s writes ­— su­per com­pet­i­tive writes and good for reads.

Po­si­tion­ing mesh nodes can al­ways be tricky, but Synology’s ac­tu­ally made this eas­ier by in­clud­ing built-in speed test­ing in the router OS, as well as three-bar sta­tus lights that in­di­cate how strong a sec­ondary node’s sig­nal is back to the main one. On the down­side, the 1.2m power ca­ble is frankly a bit short, which lim­its your place­ment op­tions.

The big­gest new fea­ture, soft­ware wise, is a re­design of the SRM OS’s parental fea­tures, which are now best-in-class, let­ting you fil­ter con­tent us­ing a huge num­ber of pos­si­ble vari­ables and pre­sets (as well as man­ual cus­tomi­sa­tion) and even man­age in­ter­net time al­lowances on a per-user ba­sis — so it’ll track lit­tle Timmy’s web use on the tablet as well as the lap­top and tally a to­tal from the two.

This is an­other great­per­form­ing, high­ly­cus­tomis­able router from Synology that’s per­fect for those who want a lot of op­tions of how their net­work op­er­ates.

MESH WI-FI $220 | SYNOLOGY.COM

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