Synology MR2200ac review: Not your average mesh WiFi system!
Synology MR2200ac is the second Synology networking device that we have tested, and we are impressed. It is clear to us that this company knows how to deliver excellent networking devices to the consumer market, with top-notch security, privacy built-in, as well as advanced controls for the users those who need them. Synology MR2200ac is not just another mesh WiFi system. Its looks are rather dull, but its performance is anything but average. Read this review and see whether Synology MR2200ac is going to be your favorite mesh WiFi system:
Synology MR2200ac: Who is it good for?
Where To Buy
The Synology MR2200ac mesh router is an excellent choice for the following types of users:
- Users who want the best security for their smart home
- People who want to remote control their mesh WiFi system from a mobile app
- Users who want the best possible privacy
- People who desire advanced firmware that offers complete control and many features
- Users who want a fast USB 3.0 port on their mesh systems
- Parents who desire excellent parental controls to protect their children when online
Pros and cons
There are many great things about the Synology MR2200ac mesh router:
- Stunning performance on the 2.4 GHz WiFi band
- It includes a fast USB 3.0 port. You do not see that on other mesh WiFi systems
- A mobile app that is friendly, and easy to use
- The best proactive approach to firmware updates in the industry
- Advanced options and features that allow users to personalize their mesh WiFi fully
- Can be remotely controlled from anywhere on the internet
- Excellent Help documentation
- Excellent security tools and parental controls
- Synology uses two-factor authentication to protect user accounts and network devices
There are a few downsides to consider too:
- It is not able to fully utilize 1 Gbps internet connections
- The Synology Router Manager (SRM) is available only English
- It is sold in individual units, and creating a mesh can be expensive
Synology MR2200ac is by no means cheap. Also, it is not beautiful, and its packaging is the most boring we have seen in the consumer market. All that does not matter because it is marketing fluff. What matters is what Synology MR2200ac has to offer to its users. That is best-in-class security, privacy, and advanced controls. Also, its performance on the 2.4 GHz wireless band is stellar. If you want to build your mesh WiFi system, you cannot go wrong with Synology MR2200ac. It is one of the best choices you can make, and we highly recommend it to all our readers.
Unboxing the Synology MR2200ac mesh WiFi system
The packaging used for Synology MR2200ac is basic and dull. All you get is a simple box with a sticker on the top, that shows a picture of the device, and some of its characteristics.
Inside the box, you find the Synology MR2200ac unit, the power adapter, a network cable, the warranty, and the quick installation guide. Synology MR2200ac is sold only in individual units, and you need to purchase as many as you need to create your mesh WiFi system. If you buy only one unit, you can use it as a regular wireless router.
The packaging used for Synology MR2200ac is surprisingly dull. However, inside the package, you get everything you need to get up and running in minutes.
Hardware specifications and design
The Synology MR2200ac looks low-key, and it will not win any beauty awards. It has a ventilated black casing that is designed to be placed on flat surfaces. It cannot be mounted on walls. It looks and feels rather sturdy. There are only three LEDs on it. The top two signal the status of the WiFi, and the bottom LED signals the status of the Synology MR2200ac. If everything is working well, all three should be lit up, like in the picture below.
The hardware inside the Synology MR2200ac is powerful: it has a quad-core Qualcomm Dakota IPQ4019 processor, running at 717 MHz, 256 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of storage space for the firmware. Being a new mesh router, Synology MR2200ac offers support for the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard and 2x2 MU-MIMO wireless transfers. Synology MR2200ac is a tri-band wireless device, with a theoretical maximum bandwidth split as follows: 400 Mbps for the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency, and 867 Mbps for each of the two 5 GHz wireless bands that it emits on.
On the back side of the mesh router, you find large ventilation grids, a sticker with details about the product you bought, one USB 3.0 port, the WPS button, the WiFi button, one LAN port, one WAN port, the Power jack, the Power button, and the Reset button.
The size of each Synology MR2200ac is 6 x 7.8 x 2.5 inches or 154 x 199 x 65 mm, and it weighs 0.99 pounds or 0.45 kg. You can find all the official specifications of this mesh router, on the following page: Synology Mesh Router MR2200ac Specs.
Setting up and using the Synology MR2200ac mesh router
You can create a mesh network using multiple Synology MR2200ac mesh routers, or an existing Synology RT2600ac wireless router to which you add one or more Synology MR2200ac stations. In the second situation, you might be tempted to first configure the Synology MR2200ac as the central hub in your mesh, and add the Synology RT2600ac as a node in the mesh system. Do not do that as it does not work. When setting up Synology MR2200ac as your main station in the mesh, you can only add other Synology MR2200ac stations.
If you already use a Synology RT2600ac wireless router, keep it as the master station, and add Synology MR2200ac as a secondary node. Configuring the mesh can be done using the DS Router mobile app for Android and iOS or the web interface offered by Synology's Router Manager (SRM).
If you mix a Synology RT2600ac router with a Synology MR2200ac mesh node, you must ensure that you have the latest SRM firmware on both, so that the process works smoothly. We did that, and the setup process was quick and painless no matter whether we used the DS Router mobile app or Synology's Router Manager (SRM).
During the initial setup process, you give your internet connection details, set up the WiFi and the access to your mesh system. At the end of the setup, you can also choose whether you want to enable the remote management of your network, by using a Quickconnect ID and a Synology account. One positive aspect about this feature is that your account is connected with two-step verification, making it harder for unwanted parties to remotely change your network settings.
Synology's Router Manager (SRM) is not basic router firmware, but a custom version of Linux. It is a highly customizable operating system, with top-notch security and advanced personalization. We love the modular approach used by Synology. The SRM comes with all the basics required for the mesh router to broadcast and manage the network. There are no bundled extras, and this ensures optimized resource management and the fact that you get the best possible performance out of the box. If you want extra features like VPN server, DNS server, or security and parental controls, you install additional packages that are maintained and updated separately from the operating system. Each module has its shortcut. Click on it, and you see the available settings and information. All the settings are well explained, and anyone can configure how the mesh router works. Everything looks good, and even though you get access to lots of configuration options, the whole experience does not feel intimidating.
However, if you feel that it is too much to work with the Synology's Router Manager (SRM), the DS Router mobile app offers the perfect mix of simplicity and basic controls.
Getting back to SRM, we loved using the security tools that you can activate on it. The security advisor is excellent, and so is the protection you get. It is one of the best consumer systems to secure a smart-home. Very few companies can offer something that is similar in effectiveness, and most do not offer real security tools.
One of the few downsides of the Synology Router Manager is the fact that it is available only in English. However, Synology does offer separate user guides and installation manuals in twenty languages, in their Download Center.
We appreciate Synology's proactive approach to firmware updates. It does not matter whether you administer Synology MR2200ac from your smartphone with the DS Router mobile app or from the web user interface, you can set the SRM not only to check for firmware updates automatically but also to install them at a specific hour, without your intervention. To make things even better, you can set SRM to automatically install only the important updates, like those that fix security problems, and skip feature updates until they are demonstrated as stable.
This is the best possible approach to firmware updates, and we hope that other manufacturers are going to copy it.
After we were done setting up the mesh system, we connected several devices to the network: two desktop PCs, two laptops, one tablet, several smartphones, an Xbox One console, several smart plugs, one smart bulb, and a wireless printer. They all connected with ease, and we had no problems in streaming media over the network, or in sharing files and folders.
When transferring data through the network, we also looked at the variability of network transfers. Below you can see how a network transfer was performed when we used the 5 GHz wireless network, on a laptop, in a room that was separated from the central Synology station by one wall. We received a fast average speed and some variability that was similar to other mesh systems.
When we moved to a room separated by two walls from the main Synology hub, the average speed dropped, and the variability increased a bit. However, the speed never fell close to zero, which is what we expected from this mesh router.
Similar trends were noticed when using the WiFi on the 2.4 GHz band.
The user experience offered by Synology MR2200ac is worthy of a premium wireless mesh router. Users get all the features they need, and the overall performance is at the level you expect. Synology's approach to firmware updates is the best in the industry, and more manufacturers should embrace it.
If you want to know more about the real-world performance offered by Synology MR2200ac, go to the next page of this review.