Performance

Synology are used to providing performance networking products, but how does their first wireless router compare?

We Got Served tests network throughput using PerformanceTest’s Networking Test. This involves us connecting a “server” PC to the router with a wired Gigabit Ethernet connection and then connecting a second “client” PC to the router. First we connect the client with an Ethernet cable, then a 5 GHz wireless connection and finally a 2.4 GHz wireless connection. An ASUS AC-USB56 network adapter is used for the wireless client connections – it’s one of the fastest 802.11ac USB adapters available on the market today. In our wireless tests, the PC is situated close to the router to understand its best performance. For each test, data is sent between the client and server PCs and an average speed is calculated.

The Ethernet network throughput shows reveals the RT1900ac is a capable performer, managing to clock up a throughput speed of 934.7 Mbps. This is something that we might have expected from Synology, with their NAS devices always providing speedy wired access.

synology-rt1900ac-ethernet

The wireless 5GHz performance was more of a challenge, with the RT1900 clocking up a close-range speed of 422.7 Mbps. This puts it in league with the other AC1900 routers, but the Linksys WRT1900AC still leads the pack. 

synology-rt1900ac-5Ghz

The 2.4GHz performance was impressive, clocking up 140 Mbps just shy of our leaders.

synology-rt1900ac-2-4Ghz

Speed at a distance from the router was comparable to other 1900ac routers (Netgear R7000, TP Link Archer D9), but did not perform as well as the Linksys WRT1900AC.

Finally we tested how the Synology RT1900ac performed as a NAS. We connected a USB 3.0 drive and ran our NAS performance benchmark that gave a write speed of 49.41 MB/s and a read speed of 59.81 MB/s. I was slightly disappointed with this result, while it will be entirely fine for most tasks including backup and media playback, I had hoped Synology’s NAS heritage would translate into NAS-like speeds from their router.

Overall, the Synology RT1900ac offers capable Wi-Fi, and NAS performance, but is not the absolute fastest device in our tests.

Summary

Synology’s RT1900ac is a bit of a TARDIS, with the small and unexciting shell concealing an expansive and powerful core. It offers solid performance and it’s killer feature is the slick and attractive interface with expandable apps. Personally, I spend very little time in my current router’s interface, after the initial setup I rarely return unless there are problems to deal with.  Synology could change this, offering a lightweight home server that can manage downloads, network user authentication, security, file storage, and VPN access. However, until Synology or community efforts produce more apps, you are left with just the potential for more that the five initial apps.

The question that remains unanswered is whether Synology has done enough to become a player in the home router market. Is the RT1900ac good enough to buy it over an established brand such as Linksys/Dlink/ASUS/TP-Link/Netgear?

The router market is certainly becoming more competitive, and we are seeing real innovation in this space. Synology are obviously aware of this and have created a great router, but there are still some devices with better specs out there. Linksys has sported eSATA ports on their WRT1900ac, Asus doubles down on speed with the RT-AC5300 , and Google have a 13-antenna setup for maximising coverage.

Maybe we are getting to a point when specifications don’t matter so much. AC1900 is super speedy compared to Wireless-N, and it works well enough for the vast majority of households. I think the next front on the router battlefield will be the smart router, the router that does more than just connect wireless devices to the internet. If this is the case, Synology have made a great opening salvo with the RT1900ac, and the other sides would be wise to pay attention.