Synology SRM 1.3 Software Review Part I – Design & Control

Synology Router Manager (SRM) 1.3 Software Review

I think it would be fair to say that Synology is not a company primarily known for its routers, but more for their range of network-attached storage solutions. Nevertheless, with the release of the brand’s fourth Router (technically their 3rd generation) solution, they still manage to garner a tremendous amount of interest and attention. This is largely down to their routers arriving with one of the most user-friendly, fully-featured and polished outer software in the market, known as Synology Router Manager (SRM). Built with the same attitudes of design, user experience, safety and security, SRM is a great example of making the rather tech-savvy subject of network/internet management CONSIDERABLY easier to comprehend and engage with the methods presented by many mainstream router manufacturers (Netgear, ASUS, Fritz, etc), as well as giving the user many more features than a bog-standard internet service provider (ISP) router would. All this said, SRM (aside from regular security and database updates) does not have the system-wide software updates at the same regularity of Synology’s NAS software, DSM. In fact, despite SRM being released in 2016 (with the RT1900ac), we are only on SRM version 1.3. In that time we have seen 3 versions of Windows in mainstream use, a couple of big apple updates, DSM making its way through several versions and more. So, in today’s review, I want to take a close look at the strengths and weaknesses of SRM 1.3 and guide you on why Synology feel it justifies the lion’s share of the price tag of their fully-featured routers. Let’s begin.

Synology Router Manager 1.3 Review Chapters

SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, ALL Parts - HERE 
SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, Part 2, Safety & Security - HERE
SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, Part 3, Network Management - HERE
SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, Part 4, Safe Access - HERE
SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, Part 5, USB Storage Services & Conclusion - HERE 

Synology SRM 1.3 Review – Design, Control and GUI

The big thing about SRM that Synology make a real song and dance about is the ease of use of their software. If you are familiar with their NAS software and services, you will know that the brand has a client tool for PC and Mac that allows you to scan your local area network for devices. The tool, Synology Assistant is also used for finding the router on your network for the first time and as long as you are on the same wired network with the router OR are connected t other default wifi of your Synology router on day 1, it will appear and the setup and installation process is incredibly straight forward and you just need a web browser (like Chrome or Safari).

It’s also worth highlighting that you do not need to use a PC/Mac to set up the router either, as Synology provide a free mobile tool for iOS and Android that allows you to set up the router with ease, as well as allows control of almost all of SRM’S features and services.

Synology DS Router 2.0 for Mobile

Setting up SRM 1.3 and your router is very, VERY easy and although its not strictly ‘plug n play’ as your ISP router might be, SRM is a much more powerful and heavily featured tool, so a plugin and run setup would be hugely limiting in the grand scheme of things. You will be able to set up your router in around 4-5 minutes and the standard settings such as setting up wireless identities, user credentials and how you plan on setting up the device (eg connected to an existing router/modem or as your primary router) need to be addressed here. However, ALL of these settings can be changed at any time in the main SRM 1.3 web/phone user interface. It is also worth noting that the Admin account is disabled by default – something I hugely applaud!

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The design of the user interface between SRM 1.2 and SRM 1.3 has seen very little change between these two versions. There are additional software options/features added in 1.3 (such as the vLAN control and SSID creation tools, which I will touch on later) but the layout of the GUI, fonts, colour scheme and sizing remains largely unchanged. Some control options and general periodic admin tools have been moved around to new areas (eg in/out of the network center and control panel) and the responsiveness of the software, in general, feels much sharper, but this could also be the result of the almost double increase in hardware afforded to the RT6600ax over the RT2600ac in the 2-3 years between them. Regardless, SRM doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel, but it certainly adds a few handy spokes to the frame.

The general user interface SRM 1.3 is very slick, appearing as a slight cross of the MacOS desktop simplicity and the Android icon and menu arrangement. This user interface is what you will see when logging into the router via a web browser and, with options to create many, many users in the control centre (as well as for network controls when we get to the Safe Access feature later), this user interface wallpaper, text and default layout can be changed in a few ways in the control panel.

Alternatively, there is the user control option at the top right to change lots more user options (including rotational passwords, 2-Step authentication and more). The depth of these individual configuration options is still pretty light (as this is still quite a niche piece of equipment for those looking to deep-dive into it) but there are certainly many more configurations available to you in SRM than any other router software platform I have reviewed in the last few years.

The interface at a glance is very minimalist, but at the same time, it is going to be very easy for any novice/experienced IT user to navigate. With more routers on the market still adopting a 2000’s style of left-side-loaded breadcrumb options, SRM still continues to be a breath of fresh air in ver.1.3. That said, the system does lack any kind of easy/advanced switch when navigating. Not a massive deal, but later when we discuss network and security settings, the chewable/easy/simple menu style can only go so far.

Clicking the menu tap at the top left opens up the larger application panel and from here you can access pretty much every feature and function included in SRM 1.3. Options are all fairly intuitive and if you are looking for a particular feature, function or service of your Synology router, it will be in the option you would expect. However, sometimes that is not enough and there is every chance that you are looking for a specific on/off switch of a service, or direct access to a config option that is a little more nuanced than these few icons can direct you to. Eg would Firewall control come under Network Center? Network Tools? Control Panel?

In this case, SRM 1.3 has a very quick and easy to use search feature that is incredibly responsive to your search queries. You can even be pretty specific/vague in your search terms and this is much, MUCH faster to work through than ideally clicking through the main menu. You might be surprised to hear that this kind of system-wide router search functionality is pretty rare with most routers either providing a settings-only search function that needs quick precise heading-only search terms, or simply no search function at all.

The web GUI also shows you a quick breakdown of recent system events (good, bad or just regular things) that can be accessed easily from this dropdown. If you head into the alerts and notifications center, you can tailor many of these to be tied to direct email or pushed alerts to your phone/desktop as needed. Also, these notifications will also include occasional recommendations for your setup to improve the wider network as a whole.

In the event you experience difficulties navigating SRM 1.3, the system also includes a Help section that is actually surprisingly large, featuring graphics and diagrams and also sports a fast and responsive search functionality. Also, CRUCIALLY, it does not require the internet to provide it’s resources. It probably goes without saying that having a help section on a router that needs the internet to pull guides/recommended actions, especially if that issue is ‘I cannot connect with the internet’, is not going to be hugely useful. That said, you might be surprised just how many software/services i have seen that still have this innate contradiction in place!

Overall, I was always going to give SRM 1.3 high marks in its controls, user interface and design. Synology is a brand that CLEARLY knows the value of these things in their solutions and 20+ years of design in their NAS solution software has taught them a few useful things that are clearly visible here. Making network/internet management user-friendly is never going to be without it’s hurdles, but SRM 1.3 in design is as close as it gets right now in 2022/2023. Let’s discuss Safety and Security in SRM 1.3. Your router might well be the ONLY THING between you and the big and occasionally intrusive internet!

Synology Router Manager 1.3 Review Chapters

SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, ALL Parts - HERE 
SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, Part 2, Safety & Security - HERE
SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, Part 3, Network Management - HERE
SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, Part 4, Safe Access - HERE
SRM 1.3 Synology Router Software Review, Part 5, USB Storage Services & Conclusion - HERE 

You can watch the FULL review of the latest WiFi 6 Router from Synology, the RT6600ax, over on YouTube below:

Alternatively, you can watch my full review of Synology SRM 1.3 on this NAS in the video below:

 


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74 thoughts on “Synology SRM 1.3 Software Review Part I – Design & Control

  1. Great video … as usual. Based on your previous review of Synology’s RT6600ax, I recently bought one (yeah… tough to locate one in Spain) and have been THOUROUGHLY impressed. So my comments are really directed at both reviews. As I work my way through all the rich features of SRM 1.3, this deep dive has been wonderful and helped me close down a few missed security holes.

    While the RT6600ax didn’t provide as good of a range boost over my ISP’s LiveBox 6+ as I hoped nor did it fix the intermittent service problems I have (which Orange tech support keeps claiming is how and where I have the router it installed), the control and security of SRM has more than made up for it. It is the proverbial light years ahead of what Orange offers in their residential router.

    I know this is a review and comparison channel and less a “how to”. However, I’d love to see a more in-depth connection/setup/security video as I did have a little trouble trying to connect and set up the RT6600ax. Not Synology’s fault but the limitations introduced by my ISP and their router limitations. Initially, I was hoping I could connect it directly to the ONT but it seems I don’t have the technical wherewithal to figure that out. I hoped the LiveBox could be set up as a bridge, but that option is not immediately available. I then tried connecting to the LiveBox router and setting up as an Access Point. That sort of worked but was pissed that I couldn’t use all the features of SRM. I then tried connecting to the ISP’s router using the Wireless Router operating mode but, as to be expected, ran into double NAT issues. I finally had to set up a DMZ on my LiveBox and pointed it to the RT6600ax. This seems to work as I have not had problems so far. However, I am not yet sure if opening a DMZ is an inherent risk (I would love feedback on this option). However, one would assume using a router with firewall rules enabled in a DMZ is probably one of the safer options.

    So my next comment is with regards to the Threat Prevention feature of SRM. To see the attacks and where your vulnerabilities lie is both a blessing and a curse. Of course, with my ISP’s router, there is nothing of this reporting. I guess the average person just assumes and accepts that they are safe behind the router provided the ISP… and maybe they are. However, when you can actually see the types of “Malicious Events” available in the Threat Prevention app (e.g. Network Trojans, Attempted Information Leaks), where they are coming from, and the intensity/frequency, I am left a little shell shocked and worried. It is like watching the news… the more bad things you see happening around you, the more anxiety and fear you feel. If I just play naive and ignore that there are bad elements out there, as happens with your ISPs router, I can just live happily in my little bubble and not worry about bad things until there is a problem. So, a more deep dive on how to handle the threat reporting in SRM and steps you can take to harden your system would be much appreciated.

    So again, great video and if anyone has references, advice and help for points raised above, I would love to hear about it.
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  2. My new rt6600ax refuses to go above 100Mbps download, and suggests (via popup in SRM) it may be the cable. My older router (which this one is supposed to replace) is getting nearly 500Mbps download on my 16″ macbook pro m1 ultra, and my synology NAS is showing around 940Mbps on ethernet (again, on the older router). But on the new 6600, my NAS via ethernet is maxing at around 94Mbps 🙁 Any ideas? Very frustrating.
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  3. Hi there,
    Thanks a lot. So after your review i bought the RT6600ax. So now i need to upgrade my home network to manage and separate my iot network (home assistant, cam, aquara, shelly, etc.) from my home / work network. Can you help on guiding me to choose a switch (i guess it will be managed) and give so hints on configuration (both the router & the switch). Maybe i should add that today y network is build on the RT2600 plus 2 MR2200 because of concrete.
    Philippe
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  4. Does the dns package support local network dns entries? I currently use ddwrt and have local dns records configured for a few server IPs…that way my desktop and mobile clients can connect to files and emails using those fqdn names locally
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  5. Does the dns package support local network dns entries? I currently use ddwrt and have local dns records configured for a few server IPs…that way my desktop and mobile clients can connect to files and emails using those fqdn names locally
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  6. The biggest flaw in synology product line – its not complete. No switches. No PoE. this router show again cheap plastic 4 port ethernet on the back. There is no way to build even small size home network with just router. They should add two 12/24 port switches, with/without PoE and SFP support running the same software. together with NAS they can have a good solution
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  7. Ill agree to a Great rewiew, and you have mentioned a lot of things which are really helpfull (not for me) but for other sure.
    What i want to comment on, is your surprise that the RT6600ax comes with the SRM 1.3 and the older devices are still SRM 1.2, well this is what synology was presenting from the “Day One” when the RT6600 was presented by end of 2021 so no surprise for me here, the SRM 1.3 for the RT2600 and MR2200 will be or according to synology should be in June so we need to wait for this one as well.
    What im glad and really glad that the support for the MR2200 and the mesh is there, and also with another RT6600, which you cannot do with a RT2600 so a huge step forward i like, AAAANND well if you do a MESH then you will have TWO USB ???? Ports, the question is if the can be used but i think this is an alternative for those who will be having a MESH network.
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  8. Amazing review. Thanks a lot for your effort. It’s almost like we’re dealing with a Nas Station here. In terms of user experience anyway. I think if they added Plex, a lot of basic users wouldn’t have bought a Nas Station anymore, so I think is is a selling strategy here. Anyway, great review, I am considering buying an unit after watching your video. Well done mate! Keep up the good work!
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  9. Looks fantastic. As mentioned previously, I am using a net gear R9000 which to be fair has been working brilliantly. I flashed it with DDWRT recently using my iPad Pro, it took an absolute age to login but finally it worked. I am registered as a blind person but enjoy fiddling around with technology. I am waiting for your video next week for The router shootout vid but, am quite taken with the RTÉ 6600.
    Thank you for all of your videos they are very helpful
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  10. Synology does produce nice devices but it’s all fine when you have warranty. When it’s over and your device will stop working, synology won’t repair it even if you could just pair for the repair. They just dont give a f**k. Think twice before you buy an synology router.
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  11. This looks like an unboxing, not an actual review. You’re holding a device that is capable of sophisticated beam-forming, but we don’t have any speed tests / comparisons / ping results for a typical wood-frame house for example. I like the new features, but I was really into that I’d just set up a pfSense box, or a UDM pro. Why would I buy this thing instead of a cheaper WiFi6 AP/router? Why would I buy it instead of a UDM pro + AP? I had an ac2200 before and I returned it, because SRM is a far cry from DSM, and here they are cramming features into a device with just 1GB of RAM. If you’re saying that it strikes the perfect balance, I’d like to see come figures proving that. Otherwise the video should be titled either “unboxing” or “first impressions”.
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  12. When the videos get this long ( which I do very much appreciate ), I head straight to the conclusion. If you conclusion is positive, I generally go back to the beginning. That’s what I’m doing here. Your opinion at the end is exactly what some of us need. I currently have an RT2600ac but now I will buy a new 6600 model and use the 2600 as an access point in the upstairs of my home. Many thanks for all of the time that you put into these reviews.
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  13. That’s for a great review. Worth watching it all. Look forward to future videos on this router.

    Three questions; Do you think Synology will release a WiFi 6 upgrade to the MR2200ac? Maybe an MR6600ax?

    Also, can devices be assigned a frequency? Orbi takes control of that an many times connects 5GHz devices (like FireTV) to 2.4GHz when only in the next room. ????????‍♂️

    Lastly, I’m sure the answer is yes, but I didn’t see it covered, can you assign static IP’s or reserve IP’s for devices?

    Thanks again! I really love the ability to create a VLAN that merges with an SSID to isolate my IoT.
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  14. The usual lan limitation of all router you have only one 2.5gbe port. Now a router should have at least one 2.5 gbe (Better 5gbe as in Italy a phone company started to sell a FTTH 5gbe fiber connection at a good price in selected city) wan AND one 2.5 lan port (better 5gbe) and let a multi-g switch to manage the signal. Also it should manage analog phone otherwise we must pay for the router that provider offer
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  15. Very interesting review so thank you. You say you will be reviewing the Asus RT AX series….will you be doing this one?
    ASUS RT-AX89X 12-Stream AX6000 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax Router
    Cheers
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  16. Felicidades, es un buen ejemplo.
    250 sentadillas son unos 4.FO/L-J27g1 muchas y un buen ejercicio.
    5:25 Se deja ver que hay muy buenos resultados ????????

    Saludos desde la Cd.. de world ????????????
    los mortales abian apreciado tan hermosa mujer.
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  17. Hey
    Thanks so much for this very informative Video! 2 Questions though:
    1. Can you connect the router to a VPN, so your whole home internet traffic is secure? If so, what VPNs can be used?
    2. As some might know, wireguard is a very simple, fast and secure VPN solution. Is it possible to run wireguard as a server or as a client on this router? If there’s a option to install packages, really one should be able to potentially develop or manually install the option for wireguard as a client and perhaps even as a wireguard VPN server…..

    Many thanks!
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  18. Great review – thank you. Is there any way to limit the internet bandwidth available to a specific user / device or IP range? I usually allocate only 80% of the available internet bandwidth to make sure that no single user or device hogs all the bandwidth and that my downloads always have bandwidth available without impacting anyone else.
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  19. I have a Net Gear r9000 x10, do you think this rt6600 would be a good upgrade? R9000 has started dropping Wi-Fi and kicking me out of plex, on paper they seem to have similar specs, although net gear have tried to kill the router with firmware numerous times.
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  20. Just wondering. The new software disabled support for 4G dongle. But I noticed in your video around minute 31.45 that there is a mobile network section in the settings.

    I hope I can use my SIM with dongle. Been wanting to switch to Synology router for the longest time but couldn’t due to the poor support for SIM card.
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  21. Thanks for the thorough review but this is too little too late from Synology as an existing customer… I welcome SRM 1.3 VLAN and multiple SSID but these were promised and should have been out several years ago however they stalled SRM development to focus on DSM7. It has left a really sour taste in my mouth as I invested heavily with RT2600ac and 2x MR2200ac (along with multiple NAS) but have had to relegate the RT2600ac to just doing WiFi as an access point because of all bugs and the lack of development. I’m now using a PFsense router which is far more stable and has had better features, scalability and resilience for years. I’ll look at SRM 1.3 when it lands for my existing devices but when it is time to upgrade my mesh WiFi hardware I have no loyalty to Synology or confidence in their support for their network devices so i’ll be looking at other offerings.
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