The RT1900ac is a Wi-Fi router that thinks it’s a network attached storage (NAS) server. The fact that it’s the first router from Synology — a company that’s been known for making NAS devices — probably has something to do with it.
When hosting an external hard drive connected to its USB 3.0 port, the RT1900ac is indeed a formidable storage server in itself. And in testing, as either a Wi-Fi router or a NAS server, the device was excellent, for the most part edging out more expensive competitors, such as the Asus RT-AC68U, or the Netgear R7000. It’s not perfect, however, with a relatively short range on the 5GHz band and achieving only average network storage data rates. But at the current cost of just $150, it’s the least expensive AC1900 router.
That said, if you want a router that both delivers excellent Wi-Fi performance and can also work as a host for Time Machine backup, file sharing, media streaming and pretty much anything else you can do with a typical NAS drive, the RT1900AC is an excellent buy.
For more options on excellent home network routers, check out CNET’s list of best 802.11AC routers.
As the name suggests, the RT1900AC is an AC1900 router. (Read more about Wi-Fi standards here.) It has a top on-paper speed of 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. On the inside, it’s powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor and 256MB of DDR3 memory. The router has more powerful spec than the Asus RT-AC68U (which runs a dual-core 800MHz predecessor) but weaker than the Linksys WRT1900ACs (dual-core 1.3GHz.)
The router has one USB 3.0 port and one SD card slot on its left side. You can use these ports to host an external hard drive and an SD card to take advantage of the router’s storage feature. Using a storage device allows you to add even more features to the router. (More on this below.) And though it’s designed to lie flat, the router can also be mounted on a wall.
What makes the RT1900ac stand out from other AC1900 routers is its Linux-based operating system (also known as the firmware) called Synology Router Manager (SRM). This firmware is a variation of Synology’s Disk Station Manger (DSM) operating system used for all of its NAS servers. That said, if you’ve used a Synology NAS server before, you’ll find the interface of the RT1900ac extremely familiar.
And even if you’ve never used a Synology product, the SRM is easy to figure out. The router’s interface, accessible via a browser, is very similar to that of a traditional desktop operating system, like Windows or Mac OS. In fact it’s the most comprehensive interface for a router I’ve seen with items tied together and organized in an intuitive way.