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Wireless Reviews

Maximum Wireless Throughput

Since throughput vs. attenuation plots are now done with a 2x2 STA, we use the Ixia Veriwave that can emulate up to 4x4 ac devices. The results posted are an average of 10 one minute test runs. This benchmark is fully described in the Revision 9 test process description. We're again comparing the same four 4x4 AC routers.

Note! The Veriwave does not support the 1024-QAM modulation required to reach maximum AC3100 / AC5300 link rates of 1000 Mbps in 2.4 GHz and 2167 Mbps in 5 GHz.. Our tests reflect maximum 4x4 link rates of 600 Mbps for 2.4 GHz and 1733 Mbps for 5 GHz.

2.4 GHz results show all four products with very similar performance, but in two groups. It's interesting that the NETGEAR and Synology are in the lower group for downlink, but upper group for uplink.

Maximum Wireless Throughput comparison - 2.4 GHz

Maximum Wireless Throughput comparison - 2.4 GHz

5 GHz maximum throughput shows more of a performance spread in both directions. The Synology has the lowest 4x4 throughput with 851 Mbps for downlink, but the highest for uplink at 876 Mbps.

Maximum Wireless Throughput comparison - 5 GHz

Maximum Wireless Throughput comparison - 5 GHz

I often find that products will not run this test at maximum MCS (link) rates. But the Synology did, connecting at VHT (802.11ac) MCS9 for 5 GHz and HT (802.11n) MCS31 for 2.4 GHz.

MU-MIMO

Seems like it's been forever since I've run the Veriwave MU-MIMO throughput tests. Either products were Broadcom based, which have yet to run well with the Veriwave setup, or they didn't have connectorized antennas, like NETGEAR's R9000. At any rate, the RT2600ac set up easily and ran our MU-MIMO scaling benchmark without muss or fuss. If you need a refresher on our MU-MIMO test method, it's described here.

The first bar chart shows average MU-MIMO throughput for 1 to 16 STAs for the Synology, NETGEAR R7800 and Linksys EA9500. The NETGEAR has the highest average throughput, but the Synology doesn't too too badly at 493 Mbps, which is closer to the NETGEAR's 580 Mbps than the Linksys' 319.

MU-MIMO Average Throughput comparison

MU-MIMO Average Throughput comparison

SU (single user) MIMO tests show how efficent routers are at serving multiple STAs. Ideally, total throughput should be divided among active STAs, with none lost. This benchmark is also good for showing MU-MIMO routers that are likely to misbehave when dealing with multiple non MU-MIMO clients. All three routers do pretty well in this test.

SU-MIMO Average Throughput comparison

SU-MIMO Average Throughput comparison

The MU, SU Throughput Difference shows how much total throughput gain is achieved using MU-MIMO. The NETGEAR does the best, Linksys the worst and the Synology at 145 Mbps closer to the NETGEAR at 233 Mbps than to the Linksys at 6 Mbps.

Average MU, SU Throughput difference

Average MU, SU Throughput difference

Plotting the MU,SU Difference shows both the NETGEAR and Synology MU gain peaking at 3 STAs—as it should—then declining as more STAs are added. Linksys MU-MIMO gain also peaks at 3 STAs, but with much lower total throughput gain. Like the NETGEAR R7800, the RT2600ac is another example of a MU-MIMO router likely to do what it is supposed to do if you connect multiple MU-MIMO devices,.

MU, SU Throughput difference

MU, SU Throughput difference

Read this if you'd like an explanation of what happens with more than 3 MU-MIMO STAs.

Closing Thoughts

We have only two AC2600 class routers tested with the V9 process, the NETGEAR R7800 and Synology RT2600ac. Nonetheless, I'm sure Synology will be happy to see the RT2600ac tied with the NETGEAR for #1 rank in AC2600 routers.

SmallNetBuilder Ranked #1

The Ranker Performance Summary comparison of the two routers shows some of the sub-rankings the same, but the differences balanced out to yield the same #1 rank score.

Ranker Performance Summary comparison

Ranker Performance Summary comparison

Our RT1900ac review concluded that it had a nice feature set that could be enhanced by a relatively small set of add-on packages. But its performance didn't stack up well against other products in its class for wireless performance.

However, instead of admitting defeat and leaving the highly-competitive Wi-Fi router market, Synology dug in and came up with a much better product in the RT2600ac. Synology not only improved performance, but also expanded features in areas near and dear to router geeks' hearts. And despite the change in processor platforms from Broadcom to Qualcomm, Synology showed its commitment to its installed base by bringing the new features to both platforms.

Although the RT2600ac is Synology's best router yet, it's only the company's second offering in an industry with both well-established competitors and innovative newcomers. While the RT2600ac is an achievement to be proud of, the company still has a long way to go to show it is in Wi-Fi for the long haul. Bigger storage companies have taken a run at the Wi-Fi router market, WD most notably, and decided it was more of a distraction than an asset. Time will tell whether Synology reaches the same conclusion.

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