Synology RT6600ax: a feature rich Wi-Fi 6 router (review)


Let’s face it, routers aren’t exactly the most exciting piece of tech, but investing in a quality one can be the difference between having a good experience with your connected devices to a frustrating one. 

Synology is best known for its network attached storage (NAS) products, however, the Taiwanese company has been steadily expanding into network routers. The 6600ax represents their flagship offering, replacing the RT2600ac that came before. 

The RT6600ax has with all the bells and whistles you would expect from a premium router including the speed and reliability of Wi-Fi 6, multi-gig network ports and mesh network capability. It also comes with features that you don’t typically find on a consumer router such as support for the 5.9GHz band, sophisticated and free network security with a built-in professional grade VPN client as well as a remarkably robust parental control system. 

The RT6600ax is powered by the super slick and powerful Synology Router Manager (SRM) version 1.3, which is a major leap over the basic and oftentimes ugly software that normally come with routers. 

So has Synology knocked it out of the park?

The RT6600ax exterior design is more business than consumer

Design and features 

Design wise, the RT6600ax isn’t going to stand out with its boring grey exterior. The large enclosure is dominated by ventilation grilles and six non-removable antennas protruding around the edges of the unit to let you know that it means business. 

Unlike its predecessor, the 6600ax is flat on the underside, meaning you can easily mount it flat on the wall. 

On the front are seven status LED lights for LAN, WAN and Wi-Fi activity while the right-side plays host to WPS button and Wi-Fi On/Off button. On the rear, you’ll find three 1Gb LAN ports, a single 2.5Gb WAN/LAN port, a 1Gb WAN port, a USB-A 3.2 port as well as reset and power buttons. 

Having only one 2.5Gb LAN and USB 3.0 port is disappointing for a premium router especially when you consider that its predecessor had two USB ports and an SD card reader as well. Synology does at least offer a great deal of flexibility in how the ports can be used with the ability to assign the 2.5Gb LAN as a WAN port if you’re in the unlikely scenario of having access to greater than a gigabit internet connection speeds. 

The USB port can be used to connect a SIM dongle or a smartphone in tether mode, which can be assigned as either the main internet source or as a secondary backup connection for use in a failover setup. Or you can connect an external drive that the router turns into a full fledged NAS for file backups and media streaming. Sadly, you can’t use a USB to LAN adapter to convert the USB port into an extra LAN port, which is a real shame as a USB 3.0 port technically has the bandwidth to handle ethernet speeds of up to 2.5Gbps. 

The RT6600ax is a tri-band AX6600 router. That means it’s capable of data transfer speeds of up to 4,800Mbps on one of the 5GHz bands and 1,200Mbps on a second 5GHz band in addition to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band for a total theoretical maximum of 6,600Mbps. The RT6600ax is the first consumer router to support the 5.9GHz band for Wi-Fi use, which enables the router to access a third 160MHz high bandwidth channel that is free from radar signal interference. 

Unfortunately, Australia has yet to open up the frequency range needed for 5.9GHz Wi-Fi to work at that high bandwidth so it’s not really a selling point here that it would be in other territories. 

Under the hood, the router is powered by a quad-core CPU running at 1.8GHz and 1GB of DDR3 memory. 

RT6600ax has a 1x WAN, 1x 2.5Gbps LAN, 3x Gigabit LAN and 1x USB 3.0 port

Setup and management 

Setup is incredibly straightforward and pretty much plug and play. If you have an NBN connection that requires a modem such as fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) or basement (FTTB), simply set your existing modem into bridge mode and run an ethernet cable into the WAN port of the RT6600ax. 

Or if you have a full fibre connection such as fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), plug the ethernet cable directly from your NBN connection box directly into the WAN port of the RT6600ax. 

From there you can either use Synology’s fully featured DS router app (available for iOS and Android) to initiate the setup process or access Synology’s excellent SRM web interface on a PC. 

SRM rocks a slick desktop OS-like interface that should feel familiar to anyone who has used Windows or macOS before with icons that guide you through the various management screens. SRM is what really sets the RT6600ax apart from its competitors with a feature rich software experience that is intuitive and easy to use.

Whether it’s setting up a dual WAN with failover support or creating distinct wireless and wired networks with VLAN tagging, the interface smartly guides you through the process allowing you to get it done within a few clicks. This makes managing the router and taking advantage of its features inviting for networking novices while also giving more seasoned pros more options to tinker with should they choose to dig in. 

Synology’s SRM is in a league of its own with a slick and powerful operating system for managing its routers

Parental controls and VPN support

My favourite feature is Safe Access, which houses the most complete parental controls and web filtering I’ve seen on a consumer router to date. Safe Access allows you to filter out inappropriate content not only at the device level but at a user level so you can quickly set up a profile for each child and assign the relevant devices they own on the network to each profile. 

From there you can use the built in child filter to automatically block inappropriate content on the web but also through services like YouTube. You can even set up custom block webpages and a request access system so if the filter incorrectly blocks a page or site that your child needs access to, they can send you a request directly from the blocked page. 

The traffic reporting of what sites and services are being accessed and by whom is also comprehensive and you can easily limit internet access to a couple of hours a day or to specific time periods with a dynamic schedule.  

When you consider that most prosumer routers have either rudimentary parental controls or charge a subscription fee, Synology is delivering a lot of extra value here that parents in particular will appreciate. 

My other favourite feature is the ability to turn the router into a VPN server and the included VPN Plus licence means you can remotely and securely connect to your home network at no additional cost. 

Synology offers a selection of additional apps through its app store the company calls ‘Package Centre’. The app selection isn’t as vast as the one found on the company’s NAS devices but there are a couple of key ones such as ‘Download Station’ which allows you to manage and download files from anywhere directly to the router’s external drive. 

Another useful one is the ‘Threat Prevention’ app, which is a comprehensive online protection app that detects threats in real-time and blocks them based on user-defined policies. It’s a handy tool for those wanting to keep tabs on their network’s security.

My main qualm with SRM is that the automatic device recognition where the router attempts to identify the names of the devices on the network isn’t the best though admittedly it has been steadily improving with recent firmware updates. Also a large number of features and apps on the router require a USB drive to be plugged in for it to work such as for storing traffic reporting logs. However, given that there’s only one USB port on the router, which some might like to dedicate to a backup mobile internet connection, it would’ve been nice to have seen Synology extend external drive support to LAN-connected storage. 

Synology’s DS Router mobile app offers an extensive network management experience while on the go

Synology Mesh

The RT6600ax can be configured as a mesh router so you can expand the Wi-Fi network by simply adding another RT6600ax or Synology’s older MR2200ac/MR2600ac routers as additional satellite nodes to blanket your entire home and eliminate dead spots. 

Unlike the purpose built mesh systems available from other brands such as Eero and Orbi, there’s no satellite-only hardware. However, it does mean you get the same bells and whistles of the primary router available on the satellite nodes. In other words you get all the features, settings and customisability of Synology’s standalone router throughout the home. This makes Synology’s mesh system comparable to Asus’s AiMesh when it comes to features, performance and flexibility. 

I tested Synology’s mesh system with two RT6600ax units and irrespective of whether I was using a wired or wireless backhaul (the connection method used between the main router and satellite router), I found it to perform consistently faster and more reliably than the other mesh systems I’ve tried. 

The RT6600ax comes mesh-ready with the ability to use either another unit or older Synology routers as satellite nodes


The RT6600ax delivered stellar transfer speeds and range. I didn’t have any Wi-Fi 6 routers on hand to test the RT6600ax against so I mainly used my D-Link 4320L, which is a premium triband Wi-Fi 5 router. The 4320L also has the same amount of external antennas as the RT6600ax. While Wi-Fi speeds will vary depending on the layout of your home, the comparison should at least give you some idea of the performance jump you can expect.

The main benefit of Wi-Fi 6 is the improvement in short range speeds, delivering greater bandwidth on the 5GHz network bands, allowing you to connect more devices at a faster rate. 

This rang true in testing with the RT6600ax being considerably faster than the 4320L, handing in 920Mbps in our file transfer test within the same room using a Wi-Fi 6 enabled laptop. Range was noticeably improved too with the RT6600ax sustaining transfer speeds of 70Mbps almost 30 metres away out in my backyard where I couldn’t ever get a reliable signal with the 4320L. 

Living in a household with a family of five, it’s not uncommon to have 20 devices connected at any one time. The number of connected devices racks up quickly once you factor in periphery devices like printers, smart appliances and lights. As a result, I would experience dropouts on at least a weekly basis. 

The RT6600ax connection on the other hand, was rock solid and I didn’t experience any dropouts in the one month that I spent testing the unit. 

GadgetGuy’s take 

Synology’s RT6600ax is an excellent Wi-Fi 6 router. It boasts an impressive feature set backed up by a slick but powerful network management software that makes the router interfaces of more established brands look downright outdated. 

The comprehensive parental control and website filtering tools alone should put the RT6600ax at the top of the router list for any households with kids. The fact that you can effectively turn the router into a full featured NAS device by simply plugging in an external drive is icing on the cake. 

The inclusion of just a sole 2.5Gbps LAN is a frustrating limitation particularly in a market where we’re starting to see premium routers ship with a suite of multi-gig ports. Similarly, the one USB 3.0 port onboard means you can’t have a mobile internet connection and an external drive connected at the same time. 

Still, Synology’s robust feature set and software chops put the RT6600ax at the front of the pack as far as premium Wi-Fi 6 routers go.

Synology RT6600ax
The RT6600ax might have a limited number of LAN and USB ports but stellar speeds and a robust feature set coupled with industry leading router management software put the RT6600ax at the top of the pack as far as premium Wi-Fi 6 routers go.
Value for money
Ease of use
Fast and reliable Wi-Fi speeds with excellent range
Class leading router management software in SRM
Full featured mobile app
Doubles as a full-fledged NAS
WAN/LAN failover support includes smartphone tethering or SIM modem
Comprehensive parental controls and VPN support
Mesh-ready with support for wireless or wired backhaul
Limited port selection with only one 2.5Gbps LAN and USB 3.0 port
5.9GHz band not useful in Australia