THE POPULAR NAS-MAKER’S THIRD ROUTER ADDS MESH BUT LOSES SOME HARDWARE FEATURES.
TAIWANESE NAS-MAKER SYNOLOGY has slowly been building itself a respectable reputation in the router market, releasing three models in as many years, with this tri-band, Qualcomm-powered 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-to-use desktop-like interface (which you access via web browser) with features that are frequently more advanced than you get from longestablished 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 modemless broadband router (albeit a fairly simple one, hardware wise – there’s only two Ethernet ports in 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 is switched to become a dedicated backchannel for node-to-node 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 for 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 on the MR2200ac’s 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 great-performing, highlycustomisable router from Synology that’s perfect for those who want a lot of options of how their network operates.