Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (2024)

You probably already know how a router can host several wired devices in a home network and simultaneously deliver Wi-Fi access to multiple wireless clients. That's generally how a Wi-Fi router works.

However, there are also "router NAS options" where a Wi-Fi machine can function as a mini server to provide storage for the entire network via a USB drive. In other words, add a good external drive, and your router will also work as a server for file-sharing, media streaming, and even more.

So, if you want to dabble into network-attached storage (NAS), a good USB-enabled Wi-Fi router is the best way to start before a real NAS server. To help you start, this post includes the performance chart of (almost) all USB-enabled routers available on the market and the five best representatives for this type of network-based file-sharing application.

Routers vs. NAS servers

In this post, we're talking about routers being used as network-attached storage servers, not actual dedicated NAS servers.

All routers will work with all real NAS servers in their respective roles. There's no such thing as "the best router for NAS", but those with multi-Gigabit ports generally can deliver higher bandwidth than those without when working with dedicated NAS servers of the same port grades.

Dong's note: I first published this post on October 29, 2020, and updated it on July 4, 2024, to add more options and relevant information.

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (1)

On general and network-attached storage (NAS)

  • Computer storage: Volume, disk, partition, file system, and more
  • Data and redundancy: Different levels of RAID
  • SSD vs. HDD: All you need to know
  • NAS server: What it is and how to access yours
  • Router USB port: How it into a NAS server or Time Capsule
  • Router-based NAS servers: The best mini NAS options
  • Synology NAS: Why it's great and how to set it up | Which server to get | DSM 7 hands-on review | Synology NAS and security
  • Synology Wi-Fi mesh: Home Wi-Fi turned pro
  • First takes and reviews: Synology DS223 | TerraMaster T6-423 | Synology DS723+ | Synology DS923+ | TerraMaster F2-233 | Synology DS1522+ | Synology DS1621+ | Synology DS1821+ | Synology DS620slim | Synology DS220+ | Synology DS1019+ | Synology DS419slim | Asus AS4002T | Synology DS1618+ | Synology DS218 + | TerraMaster F2-210

Table of Contents

Popular Wi-Fi router NAS options in numbers

Almost all Wi-Fi routers with a USB port can work as a mini NAS server, at least for simple file sharing. However, it's the actual performance that counts.

Below is the chart of NAS performance of popular home Wi-Fi routers I've tested, listed alphabetically.

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (2)Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (3)

I generally test all routers's NAS functions via wired connections using all port grades they have—Gigabit and Multi-Gig. However, to reduce the number of entries, the charts above only contain the multi-Gigabit numbers of those that have them.

As for storage devices, I've always used USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) or faster portable SSDs, which are much faster than the router's USB ports—most routers use USB 3.2 Gen 1 (a.k.a USB 3.0) with a 5Gbps max ceiling speed.

USB standard: Speed grades vs. connection types

Note that the scores on the chart are in megabytes per second (MB/s), not megabits (Mbps). (The latter is generally used for network connection speed.) Open the drawer below if you're new to digital data and connection speeds.

Digital storage and data transmission in brief

As you read this page, note that each character on the screen, including a space between two words, generally requires one byte of data.

The phrase "Dong Knows Tech," with no quotes, requires at least 15 bytes, and likely more since the formatting—such as capitalization and font—also needs extra storage space.

Byte—often in thousands or kilobytes (KB), millions or megabytes (MB), billions or gigabytes (GB), trillions or terabytes (TB)—is generally used to convey storage space to total data usage. For data transmission, we use bits.

One byte equals eight bits.

One million (1,000,000) bits = 1 Megabit (Mb).

Megabits per second (Mbps)—the number of megabits being manipulated in one second—is the standard unit for data transmission nowadays. Based on that, the following are common terms:

  • Fast Ethernet: A connection standard that can deliver up to 100Mbps.
  • Gigabit: That's short for Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and generally means transmission speeds in Gigabit per second (Gbps), currently the most popular wired connection standard. 1Gbps = 1000Mbps.
  • Gig+: A connection that's faster than 1Gbps but slower than 2Gbps. It often applies to 2x2 Wi-Fi 6/6E or broadband Internet speeds.
  • Multi-Gigabit: That's multiple Gigabits—a link that's 2Gbps or faster.
  • Multi-Gig: A new BASE-T wired connection standard that delivers 2.5GbE, 5Gbe, or 10GbE over CAT5e (or a higher grade) network cables, depending on the devices involved, and is also backward compatible with Fast Ethernet and Gigabit.

Multi-Gig explained: Faster-than-Gigabit and beyond.

Best Wi-Fi router NAS solutions: The top five options and their similar alternatives

This list is sorted according to my preference, with the most recommended on top—the numbers are their ranking.

Top 5 best routers as mini NAS servers

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (4)Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (5)Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (6)Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (7)Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (8)
NameAsus RT-BE96U's RatingTP-Link Archer GE800's RatingNetgear Nighthawk RS700S' RatingSynology RT6600ax's RatingLinksys AXE8400 Atlas Max's Rating
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Rating
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Design and Ease of Use

Value

Performance

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Design and Setup

Value

Performance

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Design and Ease of Use

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Performance

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These routers on Amazon!

1. RT-BE96U: Representing Asus’s NAS-ready routers

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The RT-BE96U is the latest Wi-Fi machine from Asus and the first of the networking vendors to feature Wi-Fi 7. It replaces the long-standing RT-AX89X on this list.

Like the predecessor, it has two 10Gbps ports—both are BSAE-T—which help deliver excellent network-attached storage performance when hosting a portable SSD.

Like all Asus routers, including the alternatives below, the RT-BE96U has all available eUSB-related features and applications, including local and cloud-based data sharing, a PC-less download feature, Time Machine backup, and much more.

The storage-based feature set is the same across all Asus routers released in the past decade. If you want to see how Asus routers compare with one another on the performance front, including network storage performance, check out this post.

Similarly excellent alternatives:

  • Asus RT-AX89X
  • Asus GT-AX11000 Pro
  • Asus GT-AXE16000
  • Asus GT-AXE11000
  • Asus RT-AX86U/Pro
  • Shopping link: Compare them on Amazon!

Asus RT-BE96U's Rating

8.5 out of 10

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (10)

Performance

9 out of 10

Features

9 out of 10

Design and Ease of Use

8 out of 10

Value

8 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 7 support; excellent performance; AiMesh-ready

Two 10Gbps Multi-Gig ports with excellent port flexibility; supports Dual-WAN and LAN/WAN Link Aggregations

No vendor required login account; run cool and quiet

Cons

Only two 10Gbps ports; Wi-Fi 7 is still in draft

Bulky design, not wall-mountable

Lots of unnecessary plastic wraps

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2. Archer GE800: Representing TP-Link’s NAS-ready routers

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The Archer GE800 is a big deal. For one, it's physically huge. Additionally, it is the first true gaming router from TP-Link. Most importantly, like other TP-Link's Wi-Fi 7 routers, it forgoes all Gigabit ports and only includes multi-Gigabit wired connections. That and a fast USB port translate into a robust network storage solution.

Other similar alternatives from TP-Link on the network storage front:

  • TP-Link Archer BE800
  • TP-Link Archer AXE300
  • TP-Link Deco BE85
  • TP-Link Deco BE95
  • TP-Link Archer BE900
  • Shopping link: Compare them on Amazon!

TP-Link Archer GE800's Rating

8 out of 10

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (12)

Performance

8 out of 10

Features

8 out of 10

Design and Setup

7 out of 10

Value

9 out of 10

Pros

Top-tier Tri-band Wi-Fi 7 specs with full multi-Gigabit to deliver excellent real-world performance

Robust web user interface with an excellent set of network features and Wi-Fi settings, including MLO and gaming-related features

Competitively priced; useful (optional) mobile app; EasyMesh-ready; cool-looking design

Cons

Bulky design with audible internal fan; runs hot; Wi-Fi throughputs could be comparatively a tad better

No AFC (at launch); online protection and advanced parental controls require subscriptions

Not wall-mountable

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3. Nighthawk RS700S: Representing Netgear USB-enabled routers

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (13)

The RS700S is Netgear's first standalone router with two 10Gbps ports—it's also the networking vendor's first Wi-Fi 7 router. That, plus the USB 3.0 ports, makes it an excellent mini NAS server for hosting a portable SSD.

Like most Netgear Nighthawk routers, the RS700S' network storage features include hosting a file server and a DLNA media streaming server.

You can share that locally or via FPT over the Internet. The router also supports local backup for Windows and Mac's Time Machine.

An alternative worth considering:

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S' Rating

8 out of 10

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (14)

Performance

9 out of 10

Features

7 out of 10

Design and Ease of Use

8 out of 10

Value

8 out of 10

Pros

Top-tier Tri-band specs with Wi-Fi 7 support

Two 10Gbps Multi-Gig ports

Robust web interface, helpful (optional) mobile app

Practical fan-less design; runs cool and quiet

Cons

Only two Multi-Gig ports; no standard Remote Management via Dynamic DNS

Online protection and Parental Controls require the Nighthawk mobile app and premium subscriptions

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4. RT6600ax: Representing Synology as a major NAS maker

The Synology RT6600ax isn't the fastest in NAS performance—though its performance is up there—but it has a comprehensive network storage feature similar to that of a Synology server.

This network feature persists in most Synology routers. If you only care about that, also consider the following alternatives:

Synology RT6600ax's Rating

9 out of 10

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (16)

Performance

9.5 out of 10

Features

9 out of 10

Design and Setup

8.5 out of 10

Value

9 out of 10

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi with support for 5.9GHz UNII-4 spectrum, mesh-ready

Robust, comprehensive, yet user-friendly SRM 1.3 firmware with excellent web interface and DS Router app

Lots of useful built-in settings and networking features, helpful add-on packages with accompanying mobile apps

Can work as a full-featured NAS server

Practical design, wall-mountable

Cons

Only one 2.5Gbps port

No Link Aggregation, awkward Multi-Gig WAN, rigid default WAN port

Only client-based QoS, 5.9GHz clients are scarce

Buy this Product

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5. MX8500: Representing Linksys

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (17)

The Linksys MX8500 is an interesting case—it's part of the AXE8400 Wi-Fi 6E mesh system.

As a standalone router, the MX8500 doesn't have a Multi-Gig LAN port. However, when working as a satellite in a mesh setup, its 5Gbps WAN now functions as a LAN. That, plus the super-fast 6GHz band, means you can get excellent NAS speed.

As with any Velop mesh set, you can use one external drive per MX8500 uint, meaning you can host more storage in a mesh setup.

Out of the box, Linksys doesn't officially support Time Machine backup, but you might be able to make it work with some tweaking.

Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max's Rating

7.1 out of 10

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (18)

Performance

8 out of 10

Features

7 out of 10

Ease of Use

7.5 out of 10

Value

6 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 6E-ready

Reliable performance, extensive coverage

5Gbps WAN port

Excellent NAS performance when hosting external storage device(s)

Separate SSID for each band

Cons

Expensive

Comparatively slow mesh Wi-Fi speeds in homes with walls

Limited Wi-Fi settings and features, mobile app coercion

No Multi-Gig LAN port at the primary router, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation

No setting backup and restore

Buy this Product

Buy it now on AmazonRead the in-depth review

The final thoughts

All of the routers above will work well as a mini NAS solution. Apart from them, any of the others mentioned in the charts at the beginning of the post will work, albeit with slower performance.

In any case, remember that you're using a router whose main function is to deliver network performance. The storage portion is not its primary function. If you're serious about network storage, consider a real NAS server.

Wi-Fi Router NAS: The Top 5 Best Options | Dong Knows Tech (2024)
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