Synology’s original RT1900ac Wi-Fi router and its successor, the RT2600ac, were extremely popular. However, now the company has released the RT6600ax. It’s a — woo hoo! — Wi-Fi 6 router with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of US$299.99. Apple World Today got an advance unit for testing — and we were impressed.
It’s specifically designed to meet the demands for the massive rise in connected devices with three radios delivering a combined 6.6 Gbps of wireless throughput and a class leading operating system, Synology Router Manager (SRM).
About Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6is fast, but it’s not all about speed. However, when it comes to speed, Wi-Fi 6 blazes along at 9.6 Gbps. That’s up from 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5. However, both of those speeds are theoretical maximums that you’re unlikely to ever reach in real-world Wi-Fi use. And, as noted by The Verge, even if you could reach those speeds, it’s not clear that you’d need them. The typical download speed in the U.S. is just 72 Mbps. That’s less than 1% of the theoretical maximum speed.
Also, as noted by The Verge, Wi-Fi 6 introduces some new technologies to help mitigate the issues that come with putting dozens of Wi-Fi devices on a single network. It lets routers communicate with more devices at once, lets routers send data to multiple devices in the same broadcast, and lets Wi-Fi devices schedule check-ins with the router. Together, those features should keep connections strong even as more and more devices start demanding data. And Synology’s RT6600ax Wi-Fi 6 router takes advantage of all these features.
Setting up the RT6600ax
Setting up the RT6600ax is fairly simple. You connect your computer to the router. With the Wi-Fi SSID, password, and other technical detgails at hand (all can be found in the included Quick Start Guide), you can follow the set-up wizard for implementation.
Design of the RT6600ax
The RT6600ax looks pretty much like the RT2600ac. However, it has additional two antenna and improved ventilation. It looks sort of like some alien creature, which is why I miss the elegance of Apple’s late, lamented AirPort products.
The RT6600ax can be wall-mounted. As for the enhanced ventilation system, I’m guessing that a Wi-Fi 6 router like this one has a lot of processor heat to dissipate.
How fast is it?
However, looks aren’t everything, especially when it comes to the need for speed. According to Synology, the RT6600ax boasts a top speed on one of the 5GHz bands of up to 4804Mbps. That sounds about right. And, as best I can tell, the second 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands zip along at 1200Mbps and 600Mbps, respectively.
What sets the RT6600ax apart is that it’s — as far as I know — it’s the first router with a third, clean 160MHz Wi-Fi channel via the use of the 5.9GHz portion of the 5GHz band. This 5.9GHz part of the spectrum opens up new possibilities and makes the 5GHz band comparable to the new 6GHz band of Wi-Fi 6e, performance-wise, without the innate reduction in range.
Highlights of the RT6600ax include:
- Wi-Fi 6: As mentioned, this allows faster, more reliable Wi-Fi, even with many simultaneous connections thanks to better data encoding, beamforming, scheduling, and signal isolation.
- Tri-band with 5.9 GHz support: this optimizes connectivity with three separate radios, support for the new 5.9 GHz channels, and smart automatic switching between bands with Smart Connect.
- Configurable 2.5 GbE WAN/LAN port: this allows you to leverage a high-speed network interface for Multi-Gig internet connections, high-performance devices such as NAS, or to provide high-speed wireless backhaul.
- Powered by Synology Router Manager 1.3: this tool lets you easily handle network segmentation, network filtering, parental controls, and VPN server capabilities. Its DSM-inspired operating system that contains easy-to-use functionality that allows administrators to control and secure their network through an intuitive interface. (SRM 1.3 is currently only available on RT6600ax units. It will be available on the other Synology routers — the MR2200ac and RT2600ac — later this year.)
What’s more, the RT6600ax boasts impressive VPN server capabilities to enable simple, but secure remote access into your network. The free Synology VPN Plussolution includes a variety of connectivity options to fit different needs.