NBN speeds are 12/2, 25/15, 50/30 and 100/60Mbps (theoretical download/upload off-peak speeds – 100Mbps = 12.5MBps). Netflix state an HD stream uses about 5Mbps and a 4K uses about 25Mbps. Music is less – from 96-320kbps – 43-144MB per hour.

But, to be very fair there is a lot of load balancing, time slicing, packetizing, and magic going on to give the routers the best possible speeds under all loads.

Review: Synology MR2200AC router

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Synology MR2200AC

What is it?

An AC2200 tri-band router with 2.4GH (400Mbps) and 2x 5GHz (867+867Mbps) in router mode. It does not have an A/VDSL modem – just a WAN port.

It uses a Qualcomm IPQ4019, 717MHz processor with 8MB RAM, 245MB storage, 2 x 2 antenna and +MU-MIMO. Power is from a 12V/2A adapter that will fit a standard width power point. Ten points for that – too many power adaptors take up adjoining slots.

Synology also touts its SRM (Synology Router Management 1.2) software with optional packages like VPN server, DNS server, security and a parental control Safe Access package. SRM uses Linux, and it is easy to use.

Synology MR2200AC

Given our experience with routers, we would say its fine for a typical 60-80m2 one-bedroom apartment with ten or so Wi-Fi/Ethernet devices. To use a motoring analogy, it is a four-cylinder car so don’t try and tow a caravan.

But, you can add extra Synology MR2200AC routers and use one of the 5GHz bands as a mesh backchannel between them. This can extend the range and offer some internet access. Extra routers use the same SSID and password for seamless roaming

You can also use two or more of these to mesh with a more powerful Synology RT2600AC router (more like a six-cylinder car). It has 4x Ethernet Ports, Dual WAN Ports, eight antennae, bandwidth aggregation and HT160 support – think of it as about half the speed of an AC5300 router but able to do so much more than the MR2200AC router.

Synology MR2200AC coverage

Synology MR2200AC claims coverage of 185m2 which is a circular area of about 13.6 x 13.6 metres. While Synology is not lying the practicality is that

  • Few homes are dinner plate-shaped! Our experience is 60-80m2 over one level.
  • Wi-Fi strength reduces over distance and also by around 50% (of what it was) each time it goes through a wall, window, cupboard, plant/flowers, and other obstructions.
  • Wi-Fi is half-duplex, so the maximum one-way speed is half the MBps
  • Each smart device has an antenna ‘gain’ dBi measurement. Portable devices have lower gain so even though they may be within the range of a signal they may not have the power to receive or transmit in return
  • Finally, every device on a Wi-Fi band shares the same bandwidth pool. If you have a lot of active devices you may only get a trickle (usually time/packet slicing), hence my recommendation for using the Ethernet LAN for everything you can.

Next are the satellite routers.

As they are the same Synology MR2200AC, they cover 185m2 – in theory a total of 370m2. The reality is that they need a strong overlapping signal to get an effective backchannel. In our tests we found 7-10 metres away gave three/two band signal strength respectively. What that means is effective non-overlapping square metre coverage is around 160-250m2.

  • But, if using a Gigabit Ethernet cable or Powerline they start with 1000Mbps full-duplex backchannel (both ways) each to share. It also removes the issue of placement.
  • If using he Tri-band Wi-Fi 5GHz backchannel they have a maximum of 866Mbps to share but remember that Wi-Fi is half-duplex so its 433Mbps maximum
  • The reality is that device speeds are no more than the backchannel can achieve at that location. If the satellite is 20m away (equal to three rooms away and one band signal), it may only get 50-100Mbps half-duplex.
  • If you have two or three satellites, each gets half or a third of that total bandwidth again. To be fair, this only becomes an issue if there is a bandwidth hog on a satellite like streaming video or games – never rely on satellites for use in media rooms!

Setup

Main router

  • Download the Synology DS Router app for iOS or Android (you can also access the web-interface 192.168.1.1 via a browser)
  • Plug in the main router to the NBN or ADSL Gateway using an Ethernet cable between Gateway LAN and Synology WAN port.
  • Power up the Synology
  • The app walks you through setting up an Admin login and password as well as a Wi-Fi login.
  • After a few minutes, the Three bar indicator goes green, and you are good to go.
  • The main router has two Ethernet Ports – WAN and LAN for connection to other Ethernet devices like a multi-port hub or switch.
Synology MR2200AC

Satellite

The satellite is just another MR2200AC router set to Access Point mode. Top points to Synology for that – it makes sense to have all that CPU power even if it is a little costlier than a dumb access point.

  • Load the app
  • Look for Access point
  • The rest is automatic
  • After the three green bars appear you can power it down and move it to where you think it needs to be. You can also replace the Wi-Fi backchannel with an Ethernet Cable (either directly or using PowerLine adaptors) for a faster full-duplex backchannel.
Synology MR2200AC

Tests

Using our D-Link DLR-895 AC5300 reference router and a Samsung Galaxy Note9 with a high gain antenna capable of HT160 speeds (over the 5Gbps, 866Gbps limit)

Distance/link speed D-Link AC5300 Synology MR220AC Main router Synology Satellite using Tri-band backchannel (2 bar strength)
1 metre 1.275Gbps solid (5GHz) 750-866Mbps 750-780Mbps* (5GHz)
10 metres line of sight 580-750Mbps (5GHz) 340-480Mbps 225-275Mbps* (5GHz)
10 metres (two rooms away) 170-340Mbps (occasional 2.4GHz) 68-117Mbps 34-70Mbps* (2.4Ghz)

* Our analytics software show the satellite connecting at 340Mbps to the main router. So, real upload/download link speeds are at best half those shown. This can be misleading – you think you have 866Mbps. When using AV2 2000 Gigabit Ethernet Powerline the backchannel was more than 800Mbps full-duplex.

Best use

The satellites need to be within 7-10 metres line-of-site of the master to get reasonable backchannel speeds.