Synology’s first Wi-Fi 6 router and its first router in years, the RT6600ax, is finally here. I know because I have a couple with me right now. Yes, the large hand with well-trimmed fingernails you’ll note in the photos below is mine.
To put things in perspective, this is the only new Synology router after the MR2200ac that came out in 2018. Since then, I’ve been bugging the known NAS maker its new Wi-Fi hardware to no avail.
At one point in early 2021, I gave up and assumed that the company had decided to quietly get out of the networking business to focus solely on network-attached storage, despite its successful Wi-Fi 5 solutions. And that would make sense — its NAS servers are excellent.
But the RT6600ax is indeed here, and it’s quite exciting. You’ll learn more in this post, including when you can get one yourself. Expect a full review relatively soon.
Dong’s note: I first published this post on December 2, 2021, when the RT6600ax was announced, and updated it on May 4, 2022, with more information when I got a hold of the actual hardware. You can expect the in-depth review by mid-May.
Synology RT6600ax Wi-Fi 6 Router: The beginning of a new chapter
Even though kind of late to the game — There has been a lot of buzz about Wi-Fi 7 — Synology manages to pack some novelty within the RT6600ax, enough for it to edge out existing Wi-Fi 6 counterparts.
But at the very least, it’s safe to say the new router is all-new compared to its older Wi-Fi 5 cousins, namely the MR2200ac, RT2600ac, and RT1900ac, inside and out.
Synology RT6600ax: Hardware specifications
|Name||Synology RT6600ax Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 Router|
|Wi-Fi Technology||Tri-band AX6600|
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 AX: Up to 600Mbps
|5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs|| 4X4 AX: Up to 4804 Mbps
|5GHz-2 Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 AX: Up to 1200 Mbps
|Mesh-ready||Yes (Synology Mesh)|
|Gigabit Port||3x LAN,
|Multi-Gig Port||1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN|
|USB||1x USB 3.0|
|Firmware Version||SRM 1.3|
|Mobile App||Android and iOS: DS router, VPN Plus, DS cloud, DS file,
Android-only: DS Get (Download)
|Processing Power||1.8 GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM|
|Built-in Online Protection||Yes
(Synology Security Advisor)
|16.9 x 12.6 x 7.9 in
(175 x 320 x 200 mm)
|Release Date||May 2022|
First router with the 5.9GHz band support
According to Synology, the RT6600ax is a Tri-band 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 router with a top speed on one of the 5GHz bands of up to 4804Mbps. Consequently, we have the 2nd 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands at 1200Mbps and 600Mbps, respectively.
These specs are not new but sure put the new router among semi high-end Tri-band devices, like the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 or the TP-Link Archer GX90.
However, what sets the RT6600ax apart is that it’s one of the first, if not the first, to sport a third and clean 160MHz Wi-Fi channel via the use of the newly available 5.9GHz portion of the 5GHz band.
For decades, this controversial portion of the 5GHz spectrum was reserved for other applications. But in late 2020, FCC approved it for Wi-Fi and then made it available for unlicensed use earlier this year.
Without this 5.9GHz portion, both existing 160MHz channels on the 5GHz frequency band need to include at least one DFS sub-channel, which shares airspace with radar signals and can cause intermittent disconnections.
Technically, existing clients, such as the Intel AX2xx, could support this wireless portion right away or via driver updates, but we only know when supported broadcasters are available.
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. Hint: It can be better.
Right off the bat, this clean 160MHz channel will be perfect in a wireless mesh configuration where it works as the backhaul. And yes, the RT6600ax is mesh-ready.
Like the case of the MR2200ac and RT2600ac, the new RT6600ax also features Synology Mesh, where you can use multiple units to form a robust Wi-Fi system, the only one to genuinely rival Asus’s AiMesh.
Initially, you’ll need multiple RT6600ax units for the mesh feature to work, but Synology says it’ll consider the support for mixed-mode to include older Wi-Fi 5 routers (which currently can work in a mesh of their own).
What’s more, the RT6600ax is also the first router from Synology that features a 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig port to host a Gig+ broadband connection or function as the wired backhaul — similar to the case of the Asus RT-AX86U and others on this list. (I wish it had more than one Multi-Gig port!)
And then, it has some significant software improvements, too.
First router to get SRM 1.3
The firmware is a big part of a router’s capability, and the RT6600ax comes with the latest version of Synology Router Manager (SRM), version 1.3.
SRM is based on Synology’s flagship Diskstation Manager (DSM), which recently got a major upgrade to version 7, and is easily one of the most, if not the most comprehensive firmware for Wi-Fi routers.
Generally, SRM has a robust web interface akin to that of a native operating system — it has a Desktop area, a Taskbar, a Control Panel, etc. Most importantly, it has a Package Center where you can add more functions to the router via add-on apps.
Up to now, previous Synology routers use SRM 1.2, which itself is already quite impressive.
Version 1.3 now supports 802.1q VLAN tagging allowing for more business-related applications. On top of that, Synology says SRM 1.3 also significantly increases the performance, up to 92% in the specific model.
As a router firmware/operating system, SRM 1.3 has a lot, but Synology promises at least the following:
- Multiple networks and SSIDs: You can create up to 5 networks and SSIDs and distribute them to all endpoints across different networks to achieve network isolation and customize firewall rules, Internet access policies, QoS rules, and other settings according to the purpose of each endpoint.
- Mesh Wi-Fi configuration: Additional Wi-Fi points automatically broadcast all SSIDs associated with their respective network.
- Safe Access: Built-in online protection and Parental Controls for the entire network based on Internet access rules.
- VPN Plus: Users can decide which network remote devices should connect to, using firewall rules to control whether they are allowed to access servers in other.
Synology says, initially, SRM 1.3 will arrive first with the RT6600ax, but it’ll be made available via free upgrades to the existing Wi-Fi 5 routers within 2022.
Synology RT6600ax: A few extra photos
New Synology DS Router app
Together with the RT600ax, Synology also overhauled its DS Router app to version 2.0.
Synology says the new version now has more in-depth access to a router’s function and features, and it’s also faster, even when you use it on the go.
Specifically, users can now configure Internet connections and manage VPN connections directly from the mobile phone. What’s more, essential functions like port-forwarding, multiple SSID management, and traffic control are also included within the app.
Finally, the app also has other improvements in user interface and accessibility.
Synology says its RT6600ax Wi-Fi 6 router will be available for purchase later this month, with the actual pricing to be disclosed then.
My educated guess is that it’ll be more expensive than the RT2600ac, which still costs $200, though not by a huge amount.
Check back next week for the full review and final information. In the meantime, you might see periodical updates on this post.