The Web interface is not perfect, however, since there's at least one minor caveat: while you can easily assign a fixed IP address to a connected client, once the IP is assigned, the client is now remembered by its MAC address, instead of its name. The MAC address is a string of numbers and letters, therefore it is very hard to know which client has which IP address when you have multiple clients on the IP reservation list. This shortcoming has been present in many other routers which share the same interface, and I was surprised Asus hasn't fixed this.
Apart from the router's settings, you can use the Web interface to manage the router's many features.
Unique and helpful features
The RT-AC3200 shares many helpful features collectively available in other Asus routers. The two main features, however, are the AiProtection and Adaptive QoS (quality of service).
AiProtection is powered by Trend Micro, and designed to protect the entire home network against viruses and malware from the Internet. Furthermore, if a client has already been infected, this feature will also stop it from sending out personal information. AiProtection worked quite well in my trial, even though it's hard to say if it can protect your home network completely. Also, when I turned this feature on all the way, certain settings or features of the router -- namely those prone to security risks, such as port-forwarding, UPnP, remote access and so on -- would stop working, too.
Adaptive QoS prioritizes the Internet bandwidth according to the type of traffic: Web surfing, gaming, video and audio streaming, VoIP/instant messaging, file transferring and other. You can use the mouse to arrange these categories by priority and the router will take care of the rest. You can also opt for the Traditional QoS where you need to define rules manually.
On top of that, there's also a function called "apps analysis" that allows for real-time monitoring of the Internet activity of any connected client as well as the total download and upload bandwidth being used. This is a very helpful tool if you want to find out which client or application is abusing the Internet connection.
The RT-AC3200 supports nine concurrent guest Wi-Fi networks (three on each band). By default, all of these networks are disabled but you can turn each on via a click. After that you can customize this network's name, schedule and even its security. A guest network allows connected clients to access the Internet but not other local resources, such as files or printers.
The router's two USB ports can be used for multiple purposes. They can host external hard drives, cellular modems or USB printers. When a hard drive is connected, you can share the data stored on it with local clients or remote clients over the Internet, and you can even set up syncing, native Time Machine backup support and PC-less downloads. Overall, the RT-AC3200 (along with other 802.11ac routers from Asus) has the most to offer by far in terms of what you can do with their built-in network storage feature.
And last but not least, the RT-AC3200 has a built-in PPTP VPN server that can host up to 10 remote clients and can even turn one of its LAN ports into a second WAN port in case you want to use the router with two Internet services (DSL and Cable) at the same time. These make it a good fit as a gateway for a small office.
All in all, the RT-AC3200 has the best feature set of all routers reviewed to date.
In terms of data rates, the RT-AC3200 is slated to be as fast as any other AC1900 router. This is because, as mentioned above, it is actually an AC1900 router when it comes to each individual connection. And the router performed well in testing.
On the 5GHz band, at the close range of 15 feet (4.6 meters), it registered the sustained real-world speed of 514Mbps; when I increased the distance to 100 feet the speed was reduced to 213Mbps. Overall, these were above the average on the chart.
The router's performance didn't change much when I used six 5GHz clients at the same time, a benefit of the second 5GHz band. However, in real-world usage, you'd rarely have that many clients performing heavy tasks at the same time. And in case you do, if all those clients pull data from the same source, such as streaming media from the same server, the throughput speed of the server itself would be the bottleneck of each individual connection. In short, as far as Wi-Fi speed is concern, it's unlikely that you will experience the difference the RT-AC3200 makes compared to good AC1900 router.
On the 2.4GHz band, the router scored 236Mbps at close range and just 66Mbps at 100 feet (30 meters) away. These were as fast as expected.
The RT-AC3200 had quite good range in my testing. It wasn't the longest range I've seen, but on par with other AC3200 routers, with an effective range of around 200 feet (60 meters). The router also passed my 48-hour stress test with no problems at all. During this time, it was set to transfer data constantly between multiple devices, both wired and wireless, all of different Wi-Fi standards and connected to all of its bands; none of the clients disconnected even once.
Note that I tested the router at CNET's offices, where there are plenty of walls and many Wi-Fi devices, including those from adjacent buildings, that are out of my control. Generally, walls shorten the reach of a Wi-Fi signal, and other Wi-Fi devices create interference. As with all Wi-Fi routers, your results may vary depending on where you live.
When coupled with a portable drive, the RT-AC3200 didn't blow me away with performance averaging slightly less than 30MBps via a Gigabit connection. This is by any means slow, but compared to other routers with the same feature it wasn't near the fastest either. Nonetheless, at this speed, the router can work well as a home NAS server, with enough bandwidth for media streaming as well as file sharing and backup. In fact, it's much faster than Apple's Time Machine.
As with other AC3200 routers, I can only recommended the Asus RT-AC3200 to a very small group of people. This is because its Wi-Fi performance, the main selling point of an AC3200 router, is no better than an AC1900 router in most cases, while the router itself is very expensive.
But I do like the new router's excellent feature set and ease of use. And there's not much to complain about its performance, either.
That said, if you can afford the price, the RT-AC3200 will work well. Just don't expect it to dramatically change your network's wireless speed if you're already using an 802.11ac router. But if you're one of those few with lots -- a dozen or more -- of 5GHz clients, or you just want to take advantage of the unique and helpful features, then the RT-AC3200 is made for you and will definitely make your life better.