That’s changing with the RT6600ax, Synology’s first Wi-Fi 6 router. The RT6600ax is a tri-band router that’s now available for $299, and it ticks all the right boxes: it delivers reliable Wi-Fi performance throughout the house, the software has extensive customizability and a ton of features, and you can use it standalone or as a mesh system. Synology makes the best NAS for home, so of course you can use the RT6600ax as a full-fledged NAS server by connecting an external hard disk.I’ve used the RT6600ax in my home for just over four months now, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers you can buy today.
Synology RT6600ax: Pricing and availability
The RT6600ax was unveiled in December 2021, and was launched globally on May 11, 2022. The Wi-Fi 6 router is now available in the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and most markets in Europe.
You can get your hands on the RT6600ax in the U.S. for $299, and it will cost the equivalent of that figure in other global markets.
Synology RT6600ax: Hardware and connectivity
The RT6600ax is a 4×4 tri-band Wi-Fi ax (WiFi-6) router with six high-gain antennae and 2.5GbE wired connectivity. High-end home routers — particularly mesh systems — have attractive designs and stand out quite a bit, but Synology is playing it safe with a design that ensures the RT6600ax blends into the background.
The router has a traditional layout with the six non-removable antennae arrayed around the chassis, with four at the back and one on either side, and you’ll find LED indicators at the front for Wi-Fi connection, overall status, WAN port, and the four LAN ports.
The design is vented to allow for good airflow, and while the router is lacking flair, it has good build quality and all the connectivity options you want. You’ll find a WAN port, one LAN port with 2.5GbE connectivity and three with Gigabit networking, and there’s a USB 3.0 port that lets you connect an external drive.
A standout feature with Synology’s routers is dual WAN, so if you have two internet connections, you can use the same router for both lines. The RT6600ax retains this feature, with the 2.5GbE LAN port playing double duty as the secondary WAN port. This is a very useful feature and one that’s missing in most consumer routers, and I’m glad that the brand is continuing to offer it.
|5GHz-1 Wi-Fi||4×4 Wi-Fi ax, 4804Mbps, 20/40/80/160MHz channels|
|5GHz-2 Wi-Fi||2×2 Wi-Fi ax, 1200Mbps, 20/40/80/160MHz channels|
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi||2×2 Wi-Fi ax, 600Mbps, 20/40MHz channels|
|Chip||1.8GHz quad-core CPU|
|Storage||256MB flash storage|
|LAN||1 x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x Gigabit Ethernet|
|WAN||Dedicated Gigabit WAN, Secondary 2.5GbE WAN (uses LAN1 port)|
|Mesh||Yes, with other RT6600ax units|
|USB||1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 x 1|
|Dimensions||175 x 320 x 200mm, 3.5lb (1.6kg)|
As for the internal hardware itself, the RT6600ax includes a 1.8GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB of memory, and 256GB of flash storage for the web-based user interface. As this is a tri-band router, you get one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands.
The first 5GHz band has 4 x 4 MIMO and delivers a total bandwidth of up to 4804Mbps, the second 5GHz band does 2 x 2 MIMO and goes up to 1200Mbps, and the 2.4GHz channel hits 600Mbps.
The one feature that’s missing on this router is Link Aggregation, the ability to bridge two Ethernet ports to double the bandwidth. Given that a majority of consumers eyeing this router would also have a NAS server of some kind, the lack of Link Aggregation feels like an oversight.
Considering the router’s positioning, I would have liked to see a 10GbE port here for future-proofing — that would have made the RT6600ax stand out even more from its rivals.
Although the RT6600ax misses out on Wi-Fi 6e connectivity, you’re actually getting something much better here: compatibility with the 5.9GHz band. For decades, this portion of the 5GHz band — categorized under Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure 4 (UNII-4) — has been off-limits for consumer networking brands, but the FCC authorized it for home use back in 2020, and the RT6600ax is one of the very first routers to take advantage of the frequency.
Without going too much into the weeds here, the 5.9GHz band allows the RT6600ax to deliver 80MHz and 160MHz channels that are devoid of any interference, so you should see much better bandwidth that outmatches what’s possible with Wi-Fi 6e.
Because this frequency is just starting to see usage for consumer products, there aren’t any client devices that work on the 5.9GHz band, so I’ll update this post once I get my hands on a few phones that work with this spectrum.
Synology RT6600ax: Software features
A good router should fade away into the background — you shouldn’t have to constantly tinker with the router’s settings to get it to work. Thankfully, this is the case with the RT6600ax. Setting it up is about as straightforward as it gets: you can use a browser for initial configuration, or the excellent DS Router client on Android or iOS to find and set up the router for the first time.
DS Router has been overhauled for the RT6600ax, with the app now allowing you to set up the router and mesh configurations directly. It lets you configure port forwarding, VPN connections, and manage rules for traffic control. There’s also a nifty feature that lets you share details of your Wi-Fi network with a QR code — this is baked into Android by default, but if you’re on an older version of the OS, the feature comes in handy.
You can see real-time network statistics, number of devices connected, update the firmware, and configure Safe Access within DS Router, and for most users, it should be more than adequate for setting up and managing the RT6600ax. If you want to access all the available features, you’ll need to use the web-based UI.
I used Ubiquiti’s routers for the better portion of the last two years, starting out with the Alien and then switching to the excellent UDM Pro and USG Switch Pro 24 switch. The reason for going with Ubiquiti was the customizability; UniFi OS has extensive customization options that you don’t find in standard routers, and that made it an alluring choice for my use case.
The RT6600ax follows a similar path. Synology Router Manager (SRM) 1.3 is similar to the web-based DiskStation Manager OS that’s featured on the brand’s NAS servers, and it may just be one of the most feature-rich interfaces you’ll find in a router.
It comes with a dizzying array of features that are catered toward enthusiasts, and it delivers the best of both worlds: the UI itself is easy to navigate, so if you just want to set up the RT6600ax as a home router and don’t necessarily care about the advanced features, you can do that. But if you want to take advantage of everything the router offers, there’s plenty to like here.
New in SRM 1.3 is the ability to set up to five different VLANs, so if you have a lot of IoT gear in your home and don’t want it to be on the same Wi-Fi network, you can do that. The caveat here is that you’ll need to disable the Smart Connect feature — where the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios are merged together into a single SSID — to use VLANs.
802.1q VLAN tagging is also new, as well as the ability to set up One-way firewall rules to safeguard your network against potentially vulnerable devices.
Traffic Control is a useful feature that lets you monitor real-time usage statistics and get detailed daily or weekly data, giving you an overview of upload and download statistics for individual devices, and see what domains are driving the most amount of traffic.
Safe Access is the parental controls feature that’s baked into SRM, and like the rest of the interface, it has a robust feature-set and is highly configurable. You can set up usage limits for Wi-Fi access to individual devices, block access to sites, enable safe search across search engines, and much more.
One of the best use cases for the router is as a NAS server. Just connect an external drive, install the Media Server package, and you have a NAS that can effortlessly stream content to all devices on your home network. It is missing a lot of the additional features that you get on a full-fledged NAS, but for streaming locally-stored media, it is a nifty option.
Finally, you get a lot of add-on packages here, and the best part is that they’re all free. VPN Plus Server is a fantastic offering if you’re configuring a site-to-site VPN, and it is absolutely free.
There’s also Download Station, and a Threat Prevention service that works similarly to Ubiquiti’s IPS feature. Note that you’ll need to attach an external USB device to be able to download packages; Safe Access can be installed on the local flash storage, but that’s about it.
Synology RT6600ax: Real-world performance
I used the RT6600ax as my default router for most of 2022, and I’ve had zero issues in day-to-day use. One of the best features of the router is that it can be used standalone or in a mesh configuration.
I have a 1,960 sq. ft. home, and in my usage, I found that a single unit was adequate to deliver reliable Wi-Fi coverage. I also tested it in a mesh configuration with a second unit set up outside the master bedroom, and in this mode I was able to get significantly better bandwidth over 5GHz in the bedroom.
As this is a tri-band router, you can use one of the 5GHz bands as a wireless backhaul or one of the LAN ports on the router for a wired backhaul instead. Synology’s mesh solution is elegant in that it lets you choose whatever configuration you want, and you can add as many additional RT6600ax units as you need if you’re setting it up in an office environment.
For now, the mesh configuration for the router is limited to the RT6600ax, but the brand has confirmed that the older RT2600ac and MR2200ac can be used as mesh points with the RT6600ax sometime in the latter half of the year.
|Location||Ping||Down speed||Up speed|
|Living room (10 feet)||2ms||127Mbps||118Mbps|
|Kitchen (50 feet)||4ms||98Mbps||80Mbps|
|Bedroom (75 feet)||4ms||63Mbps||57Mbps|
The RT6600ax was in line with other Wi-Fi 6 routers I tested at 2.4GHz, delivering stable bandwidth and excellent range throughout the house. I usually see signal attenuation in the bedroom, but that wasn’t the case here.
|Location||Ping||Down speed||Up speed|
|Living room (10 feet)||2ms||862Mbps||823Mbps|
|Kitchen (50 feet)||4ms||578Mbps||544Mbps|
|Bedroom (75 feet)||6ms||353Mbps||280Mbps|
As for the primary 5GHz band, the RT6600ax is the fastest router I’ve tested to date. I used a Galaxy S22 Ultra, OnePlus 10 Pro, Mi Notebook Ultra, and iPad Air M1 for 5GHz testing, and regardless of the device used, the router managed to deliver close to the maximum available bandwidth.
And this is without testing the 5.9GHz frequency. As mentioned above, I got excellent range over 5GHz as well, and the router held its own during long-term usage. In the four months I used it, I didn’t see any downtime or glitches, and the router wasn’t even running stable firmware for most of the testing duration.
Basically, this is one of the fastest Wi-Fi 6 routers in the market today.
Synology RT6600ax: The competition
There’s no shortage of great options available if you’re looking for a Wi-Fi 6 router in 2022. ASUS’s RT-AX82U continues to be a reliable choice for its performance, design, and custom gaming features. It is also extensible via ASUS’s AiMesh solution, and at $229, you’re not paying as much. That said, the router is limited to Gigabit Ethernet, isn’t quite as fast as the RT6600ax, and you don’t get the 5.9GHz frequency.
The Nighthawk RAX120 is a solid choice as well, offering 5GbE wired connectivity and a unique design with eight internal antennae. The router is costlier than the RT6600ax, and while Netgear’s user interface is easy to use, you don’t get anywhere close to the same level of customizability.
Synology RT6600ax: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You want a Wi-Fi 6 router that delivers outstanding performance
- You’re looking for extensive configurability
- You need a router that doubles as a NAS server
- You need robust parental controls
You shouldn’t buy this if:
- You want 10GbE LAN ports
- You need Link Aggregation
If you’re using a Wi-Fi ac router and are considering making the switch to a Wi-Fi 6 solution or need a better router with more coverage, the RT6600ax is the ideal option for you. This is a high-end router that has a lot of configurability and extensibility, and you can always start off with one unit and add mesh points down the line if you feel like there are areas in your house where you’re not getting adequate coverage.
The RT6600ax nails the basics — it delivers fast Wi-Fi connectivity, has a lot of security features, easy-to-use parental controls, and it doubles as a NAS server if you want to stream content stored on an external hard disk to devices on your home network. In short, this is one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers you’ll find today, and for $299, it is a no-brainer.