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Synology Router RT1900ac Reviewed

Synology RT1900ac Wireless Router

Synology RT1900ac Wireless Router

The first thing people usually think of when they hear Synology is Network Attached Storage (NAS) and that’s about to change. Synology have taken what’s current in wireless technology and merged it what they know from writing NAS operating systems to bring us the Synology Router RT1900ac.

Aimed squarely at those users that like to have more control over their network environments, the RT1900ac ushers in a fresh new perspective on how router management software should function. As the name implies, the RT1900ac is a Wireless AC1900 class router delivering up to a combined bandwidth of 1900Mbps (600Mbps @ 2.4GHz + 1300Mbps @ 5GHz).

This wireless high-speed router is aimed for homes and offices looking for reliable and fast wireless connectivity. Let’s look into the device in a little more detail.

How the RT1900ac compares to other Wireless-AC based routers:
Synology RT1900acTP-Link Touch P5Dlink Taipan
ChipsetAC1900AC1900AC3200
External Ports4 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports
1 x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port
1 x USB 3.0 (5V, 1.5A power output)
1 x SD card reader (SDXC UHS-I, SDHC)
4 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports
1 x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port
1 x USB 3.0 Port + 1 x USB 2.0 Port
1 x ADSL / VDSL WAN port
4 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN ports (configurable as WAN)
1 x USB 3.0 Port + 1 x USB 2.0 Port
ButtonsPower On/Off Button
Reset Button
WPS
USB/SD Eject
Wi-Fi On/Off
Power On/Off Button
Reset Button
Power On/Off Button
Reset Button
WPS
LEDsStatus
WLAN 2.4GHz 
WLAN 5GHz
WAN
LAN 1 - 4
n/a - has touch screen insteadPower
USB
WLAN 2.4GHz 
WLAN 5GHz
DSL
Internet
Touch Screenn/aScreen Type: Capacitive
Screen Size: 4.3 inch
Screen Resolution: 128 ppi
n/a
Wireless StandardsIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi
IEEE 802.11ac/n/a 5GHz
IEEE 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz + 256QAM
IEEE 802.11ac
IEEE 802.11n
IEEE 802.11g
IEEE 802.11b
IEEE 802.11a
IEEE 802.3
IEEE 802.3u
Wireless SpeedsUp to 1300Mbps @ 5GHz 
Up to 600Mbps @ 2.4GHz
Up to 1300Mbps @ 5GHz 
Up to 600Mbps @ 2.4GHz
Up to 1300Mbps @ 5GHz x 2
Up to 600Mbps @ 2.4GHz
BeamformingYesYesYes
Antenna3 x 3 MIMO Omni-directional high-gain dipole (2.4GHz / 5GHz)3 dual band detachable antennas6 dual band detachable antennas
Wireless SecurityWEP, WPA/WPA2-Personal, WPA/WPA2-Enterprise64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA-PSK2 encryptionsWPA & WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) PIN
Guest Network1 x 2.4GHz guest network
1 x 5GHz guest network
1 x 2.4GHz guest network
1 x 5GHz guest network
Guest zone
DHCPServer, Client, DHCP Client List, Address ReservationServer, Client, DHCP Client List, Address ReservationServer, Client, DHCP Client List, Address Reservation
QoSApplication layer (L7) quality of service (QoS)WMM, Bandwidth ControlTraffic Prioritization
Port ForwardingYesYesYes
Dynamic DNSSynology QuickConnect & Dynamic DNS (DDNS)DynDns, NO-IPDynDns
VPN Pass-ThroughVPN server/client (PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec)
VPN pass-through (PPTP, IPSec, L2TP)
PPTP, L2TP, IPSecVPN passthrough/multi-session PPTP/L2TP/IPSec
USB SharingYesYesYes
Dimensions206mm (L) x 160mm (W) x 66mm (H) (without antenna)284mm (L) x 157mm (W) x 52mm (H)373mm (L) x 241mm (W) x 157mm (H)

Using SSH we also quickly confirmed the specifications.

SynologyRouter> head -5 /proc/meminfo
 MemTotal: 236100 kB
 MemFree: 44832 kB
 Buffers: 5464 kB
 Cached: 119016 kB
 SwapCached: 20 kB
 SynologyRouter>
SynologyRouter> head -5 /proc/cpuinfo ; echo ; uname -a ; echo
 Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 0 (v7l)
 processor : 0
 BogoMIPS : 1993.93

processor : 1

Linux SynologyRouter 3.6.11+ #5766 SMP Tue Sep 1 12:58:54 CST 2015 armv7l GNU/Linux synology_northstarplus_rt1900ac

Software

Synology have taken all the great things they have done with Disk Station Manager (DSM) and have managed to pack them into the RT1900ac router in the form of Synology Router Manager (SRM). From when you first connect to SRM to configure the RT1900ac to every time you log in to do something you can see how much DSM has influenced the software.

The Network Center is the management hub of SRM and is where you adjust the majority of settings including:

  • Operation modes of the RT1900ac
    • Wireless Router – function as a router providing wireless connectivity
    • Wireless Access Point – operate in bridge mode and providing wireless connectivity for clients and passing management tasks (e.g. DHCP) onto the modem/router
    • Wireless Client – works similar to a wireless range extender which also provides ethernet ports at the other end
  • Setup 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wireless networks
  • Setup 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz guest wireless networks
  • Manage the network (DHCP, port forwarding, etc….)
  • Configure and manage remote access
  • Parental and traffic control with scheduling features
  • Network trouble shooting (ping and traceroute)
  • and plenty more….

Just like the Synology range of NAS products, the RT1900ac also comes with a Package Center which looks identical to what we’ve seen on the NAS.

Package Center similar to what we've seen on the Synology NAS devices

Package Center similar to what we’ve seen on the Synology NAS devices

Wireless Performance

I tested the signal strength from 4 different locations:

  • Same floor next room separated by a void
  • Same floor opposite end of house
  • One floor above
  • Outside
Signal strength of the RT1900ac across a range of locations

Signal strength of the RT1900ac across a range of locations

Signal strength from same floor, next door room

Signal strength from same floor, next door room

Single strength, same floor opposite corner

Single strength, same floor opposite corner

Signal strength, same floor but from outside

Signal strength, same floor but from outside

Signal strength from the upstairs room

Signal strength from the upstairs room

Using an Intel NUC with an Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 PCIe half mini card, I connected to the RT1900ac’s 5Ghz network from another room (seperated by a wall, a void and another wall) to perform some file copy tests.

At first, the speeds I was getting was far less than expected and after investigating the issue, it appears as if the auto channel selection is not grabbing the correct one with most available bandwidth.

File copy under Windows 10 with auto channel selection was far less than expected

File copy under Windows 10 with auto channel selection was far less than expected

The following configuration changes are recommended by Synology for optimum performance:

Synology recommended changes for Wireless

Synology recommended changes for Wireless

A pity that the auto detect doesn’t work well with channel selection but after making the changes, significant performance increases were noted. The speeds are not the full 1300Mbps we should see with an Wireless-AC router as the test was performed in a more realistic environment away from the room housing the router.

Manually selecting the channel showed significant improvement over speeds

Manually selecting the channel showed significant improvement over speeds

Final Thoughts

In a market that is already crowded with similar products from other manufacturers such as D-Link, TP-Link and Netgear to name a few, I wasn’t sure how the Synology Router RT1900ac would fare. Any doubts disappeared the first moment I logged into the router and started to navigate through the Synology Router Manager.  You are greeted with an elegantly designed interface that takes a lot of the frustration away from the configuration and management process. The added real-time reporting functionality makes it an absolute dream to easily highlight any potential issues on the network.

Much like its NAS siblings, a Package Center is available to download additional applications to add further functionality to the router such as a media or VPN server. The media server, as an example, enables you to distribute video files through your network via a connected USB storage device.

Within our environment, the RT1900ac performed reasonably well compared to other similar routers we have tested in the past. It gave good coverage with no dropouts but I did experience some initial speed issues with file transfers that were overcome with some setting tweaks. Overall, I found this unit to be quite good.

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