The powerline adapters have gradually become more and more popular since they represent a reliable alternative to the Ethernet wiring. So, we tested the most and the less popular HomePlug and G.hn units and have compiled this list of the best powerline adapters on the market.
It’s very important to have a stable internet connection and this isn’t hard to achieve nowadays thanks to the really powerful routers that have affordable prices and will cover most homes. The new AC technology has really shown the great progress the wireless industry has made so far.
But sometimes, it’s not enough having a single router, especially if you have a large home, with thick walls and lots of interferences. In this scenario it’s inevitable that you will have wireless dead-zones, so what can you do?
We have discussed the possibility of using old or unused routers as access points, wireless repeaters or in bridge mode, but some options require Ethernet cables throughout your house, while others will halve the signal, leaving you to a basic, non-satisfactory internet connection.
Fortunately, there is another solution. You can use some of your room’s power outlets and expand your network with the help of powerline adapters. We have discussed in detail what are the powerline adapters and how do they work, but to summarize, you simply use the electricity cables inside your home to carry the internet signal and have a close-to-ethernet-cables performance.
|Netgear Powerline PL1200||D-Link DHP-701AV 2000||ZyXEL PLA5456KIT AV2000||Extollo LANSocket 1500|
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|TRENDnet TPL-420E2K 1200||Comtrend G.hn PG-9172||TP-Link TL-PA9020P AV2000||TP-LINK TL-PA8030P AV1200|
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|D-Link DHP-601AV 1000||Linksys PLEK500 AV2||TRENDnet AV500 TPL-408E2K||Asus PL-AC56 AV2 1200|
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Netgear Powerline PL1200
The Netgear Powerline 1200 is a very popular adapter, released at the beginning of 2015.
The kit consists of two powerline adapters, a Quick Start Guide and two Ethernet cables (6.5-foot long). You can connect a maximum of 16 adapters on a single network.
The Netgear PL1200 features a compact design, with a white plastic body, covered by a glossy finish. It’s not really stylish and it doesn’t really need to be as it will most likely end up covered by a piece of furniture or simply in a place where it won’t attract any attention.
The adapter uses a cheater plug (three-prong), it’s HomePlug AV2 compliant and a single unit measures 4.72×2.28×1.65 inches and weighs 0.40 lbs. Considering its size, the Netgear PL1200 is slightly bigger than other similarly priced adapter and could obstruct a top electricity socket.
Fortunately, you could get the Netgear Powerline PL1200-100PAS, which has an extra outlet built inside the case and provides a pass-through socket on each unit, so you don’t lose an electrical outlet in each room where you have connected a powerline adapter (but, for an additional cost). The PLP1200-100PAS is also significantly taller than the base PL1200 model.
The front of the adapter is home to the LED lights for Power, Ethernet and Powerline, which has a Pick and Plug feature. This feature helps you pick the best outlet where you will get the strongest signal, by displaying a specific LED colour. If the LED light is green you get the best performance (more than 80 Mbps), otherwise, if you get the amber light, the link rate is between 50 and 80 Mbps. Lastly, the red light means a link rate lower than 50 Mbps.
On the bottom of the device, rests a single Gigabit Ethernet port, a Factory Reset recessed button and a Security button.
Note: It is quite unfortunate that both the Netgear PL1200 and PLP1200-100PAS only feature a single Ethernet port, especially if you have more than one device close to each other (although you can purchase a extra multi-port Ethernet Switch).
Setup and Performance
As expected, the Netgear Powerline PL1200 is very easy to setup. The first thing you have to do is connect one unit to the router or switch by inserting an Ethernet cable into a LAN port on the router and the other to the Ethernet port on the adapter.
Afterwards, plug a second PL1200 unit into a socket next to the Ethernet-ready device you want to connect to and just like before, connect them using an Ethernet cable. Wait until the Power and Ethernet LEDs turn green and use the security button to secure your network (very important!). And you’re done, it’s that simple.
Note: Some adapters offer wireless access point capabilities, so you can connect wireless clients to the Powerline adapters. Netgear PL1200 or PLP1200-100PAS do not have this feature implemented.
In terms of performance, the Netgear Powerline 1200 won’t deliver the promised 1200 Mbps speed, which is measured in full-duplex (meaning both the transmit and receive speeds are counted together). Keeping this in mind, the adapter did really good.
In good to ideal conditions, meaning no microwaves, using the same circuit and at a close distance (about 10 feet), the adapter delivered up to 246 Mbps. But, in the real world (in a different room at around 30 feet and with some interferences) it didn’t get below 120 Mbps. But these speeds may vary and you may get a different result, depending on your wiring setup.
D-Link Powerline AV2 2000 (DHP-701AV)
The D-Link Powerline DHCP-701AV supports the latest AV2 2000 standard and was released at the end of 2014.
The kit includes two identical powerline adapters, a Quick Install Guide and two Ethernet cables. Similarly to Netgear PL1200, you can connect a maximum of 16 adapters using a single powerline network.
The D-Link DHCP-701AV features a small and compact case, with a white, glossy finish and a small black bar around the LED lights. A single unit measures 3.89×2.86×1.34 inches and weighs 0.3 lbs. Overall, it’s smaller and lighter than the Netgear PL1200 and, most likely, won’t block any adjacent power outlet.
Still, in case it does cover an extra outlet, unfortunately, there is no pass-through option for the DHCP-701AV adapter, the room in which is installed will have one less power socket.
The D-Link adapter is HomePlug Av2 compliant and uses a three-pong plug.
The front of the adapter is where you’ll find the LED lights for Power, Ethernet and Powerline. The Powerline LED light uses the same system as the Pick and Plug from the Netgear to help you choose the best outlet for the best connection. So, if the LED light is green, then the link rate is the best, if the LED light is amber, then the link rate is better and lastly, if the LED is red, then the link rate is good.
The bottom of the D-Link DHCP-701AV is home to the recessed Reset button (hold it for 10 seconds to reset the adapter to factory settings), a Simple Connect button (for security, it uses a 128-Bit AES encryption) and one Gigabit Ethernet Port.
Note: Since the adapter has only one Ethernet port and there is no version with multiple ports available, you will not be able to connect more than one Ethernet-ready devices (there are multi-port Ethernet Switches available on the market).
Setup and Performance
Setting up the D-Link Powerline DHCP-701AV doesn’t require more steps than the usual powerline adapter. You just have to connect the first adapter to a router or switch using one of the provided Ethernet cables (use the LAN ports) and then plug it into a nearby wall socket.
Next, connect the second adapter, also using an Ethernet cable to an Ethernet-ready device (PC, console, TV or a printer) and plug it into a electrical outlet. Now, you have to wait for the Power and Ethernet LED lights to turn green and afterwards, use the Simple Connect button to secure your network (press it for two seconds on one unit and then you have two minutes to press the same button on the other unit).
Note: You can also use the Quick Install Guide if you get in trouble.
The D-Link DHCP-701AV is advertised to be able to reach 2000 Mbps, which obviously won’t happen, first of all because it represents the receive and transmit rates counted together and second of all because it really depends on the wiring conditions. So, we won’t expect outrageous link rates.
Still, the adapter did pretty good and let’s not forget that it uses the Broadcom HomePlug AV2 MIMO chip, which should give it an edge over the competition.
In close to ideal conditions, keeping the adapters at about 10 feet apart and with less to no interferences, we measured up to 320 Mbps. Using not-so-ideal-conditions (a different room at around 30 feet, some interferences), it didn’t go below 180 Mbps. But keep in mind that the state of your electric wiring is a decisive factor and using a different circuit will deliver lower speeds.
ZyXEL PLA5456KIT AV2000 HomePlug AV2
The ZyXEL adapters are a bit peculiar, but not in the hardware sense, more about the manufacturer. Both this model and the previous (the PLA5405) are not certified by the HomePlug Alliance, even though both carry the AV label.
Obviously, this wasn’t a problem with the previous model and it won’t be with this one because there is interoperability with other HomePlug adapters (although ZyXEL makes no promises). Another thing you should know is that while the ZyXEL PLA5405 was based on QualComm chips, the newer PLA5456 is based on Broadcom chips, so they may not play well together.
Keeping this in mind, know that the kit includes two identical adapters, 56-inch Ethernet cables and a Quick Install Guide. You can add up to 16 devices on the same powerline network.
ZyXEL PLA5456KIT features the same white and glossy compact case we are accustomed with (it’s a very popular design since it’s very operational and convenient to use). A single unit measures 5.25×2.79×1.51 inches and weighs 0.5 lb, so it’s bulkier and heavier than the usual powerline adapter, but there is a reason for it, the PLA5405 has a built-in pass-through outlet.
This means that even if the unit obstructs an additional outlet, you still get to use that power socket for any other device, making it extremely convenient. But that’s not all, on the bottom of the adapter, next to the Encrypt/Reset button (providing a 128-bit AES encryption), there are two Ethernet ports. Having more than one Ethernet-ready devices nearby to connect to the adapter won’t be a problem any more.
Note: The ZyXEL adapter uses a three-pong plug (also known as a cheater plug).
On the front of the ZyXEL PLA5456, underneath the pass-through outlet, there are three LED lights for Power, Ethernet and Powerline. The Powerline LED shows you which is the best outlet to plug in your adapter so you get the best performance. If the LED is green, then you get the best link rates, otherwise, if it’s amber, it means you’re getting better link rates and if it’s red, you receive good link rates.
Setup and Performance
Setting up the ZyXEL PLA5456 is really easy and generic (the same steps for most adapters). First of all, you have to connect a unit to a router or a switch using an Ethernet cable (use the LAN ports) and then just plug it into the wall.
The same steps should be followed for the second unit, but this time connect it to one or two Ethernet-ready devices. Be careful that the included Ethernet cables are quite short (these cables aren’t really expensive). Next, in order to secure the network you should press and hold the Reset/Encrypt button for 2 seconds and press the same button on the second unit within 2 minutes.
The advertised speed of the ZyXEL PLA5456 is 1800 Mbps (full-duplex, combined received and transmit rates) and during our tests, it reached 802.11n comparable throughput (although lower than the advertised rates, obviously). Also, let’s not forget that the adapter uses a Broadcom based chip and the excellent MIMO technology.
So, in close to ideal conditions (on the same circuit, 10 feet apart and with less interferences), the PLA5456 delivered speeds up to 360 Mbps. In real-life conditions (at around 30 feet, different rooms and some interferences), the speed averaged at about 195 Mbps.
The ZyXEL PLA5456 performed really great and is a good addition to a home without CAT5/6 wiring.
Extollo LANSocket 1500 AV2 MIMO
The Extollo LANSocket 1500 was released at the middle of 2015 and is one of the fastest powerline adapters on the market.
The kit includes two identical LANSocket 1500, two five-feet Ethernet cables and a Quick Install Guide. You are allowed to connect 16 simultaneous units on the same powerline network.
The Extollo LANSocket 1500 features the common white case, with a blue logo and blue status icons on front. It lacks the glossy finish we found on other similar adapters, but, since it’s not a piece of technology you put in plain view (you tuck it in a hidden corner), it doesn’t really matter how attractive it really is.
Extollo uses a three-prong plug, it’s HomePlug AV2 MIMO compliant and a single unit measures 2.5×1.5×4.5 inches and weighs 0.5 lb. Depending on the type of wall sockets your house may have, it is possible that the powerline adapter may obstruct an additional outlet, but you don’t have to worry, because Extollo LANSocket 1500 has a built-in pass-through outlet (which has integrated filters for suppressing noise from attached electronic devices), so you won’t have to sacrifice a wall socket in the room where your adapter is installed.
Although it features a built-in socket, the adapter is quite compact, considering that similar Netgear adapters have double the size of Extollo 1500.
On the front of the adapter, underneath the pass-through outlet, there are three LED lights for Power, Ethernet and Powerline. As expected, the Powerline LED features three different colours which show you the best place to install the adapter. The green LED lights means the signal is excellent and you get speeds greater than 100 Mbps; the orange light means the signal is good and you’ll get speeds between 51 and 99 Mbps; the red LED light means you have a weak signal and you’ll get speeds lower than 50 Mbps and should consider a different outlet.
On the right side of the adapter you can find the Sync button (to reset to factory settings, hold the button for more than 15 seconds) and on the bottom, a single Ethernet port. Unfortunately, there is no variant that features more than one port, so you’ll need a different adapter for every Ethernet-ready device or to purchase a multi-port switch.
Setup and Performance
Since powerline adapters have simplicity as one of the main selling points, it’s expected that the setup process to be simple, and similarly to other powerline adapters, the Extollo LANSocket 1500 will not take you more than 5 minutes to setup.
The process is simple, you get one powerline unit, connect it via an Ethernet cable to a router or switch (don’t forget to use a LAN port), afterwards take the second Extollo adapter, connect it to an Ethernet-ready device and plug the adapters into a wall socket.
Now, you only have to secure the network (you don’t want your neighbours to have access to it). This is also a simple process, you have to press and hold the Sync button for 10 seconds to change the default NMK (Network Membership Key) to a new one. You will know the NMK has changed after the blinking LED will turn solid. repeat the same steps for the second unit.
Lastly, while both adapters are connected to a wall socket press the Sync button on the first unit for 3 seconds and afterwards press the same button on the second unit (you will have 2 minutes to do so). And you’re done.
Extollo LANSocket 1500 features both Beamforming and the 2×2 MIMO technology. The Beamforming tech creates two independent signal paths in order to optimally focus the transmission to and from client adapters (avoids low performing paths and takes advantage of channels with strong performance).
We tested the Extollo LANSocket 1500 in two different conditions, the first was a close-to-ideal scenario that can be accomplished if you know the wiring of your home, don’t put the second unit too far off and keep the interference to a minimum and a second scenario, where we disregarded everything we did in the first scenario.
So, in ideal conditions, with the units at around 10 feet apart (on the same circuit) we got a maximum of 375 Mbps. In less than ideal conditions (at more than 30 feet apart, with some interferences), we didn’t go below 200 Mbps.
This are really good speeds and the performance is really great, making the Extollo LANSocket 1500 one of the best performing powerline adapters on the market.
TRENDnet Power Line 1200 AV2 (TPL-420E2K)
TRENDnet TPL-420E2K was released at the beginning of 2015 and was one of the first adapters to feature the MIMO technology.
The kit includes two identical Power line adapters, two five-foot Ethernet cables and a Quick Install Guide. Similarly to other powerline adapters, you can simultaneously connect up to 16 adapters on a single network.
The TRENDnet TPL-420E2K features a compact white case, with a glossy finish, curved edges and a slight protruded area to the front right, near the LED lights. The adapter uses a three-prong plug and is HomePlug AV2 compliant.
Overall, the adapter isn’t really big, measuring 2.3 x 3.0 x 2.6 inches and weighing 0.2 lb, so it’s unlikely it will cover an extra outlet. But, if depending on the design of the wall sockets in your home, an extra outlet is still covered, there is a variant called the TPL-421E2K which has a built-in pass-through outlet, so you can still use that wall socket and connect other devices to it.
The front of the adapter is home to three rectangular LED lights that show the status of Power, Ethernet and Powerline. The Powerline LED also has the capability to show you where it’s the best place to connect the adapter, in order to get the fastest link rates. If the LED is green, you get the best speed performance, otherwise, if it’s amber, the link rates are better and if it’s red, the speed performance is good.
On the bottom of the TPL-420E2K you can find a Gigabit Network port, a Sync button and a recessed Reset button (which allows you to reset the adapter to default settings). If you have more than one Ethernet-ready devices close to each other, you will have to use a multi-port switch, because, so far there is no variant with more than one port on the adapter.
Setup and Performance
The setup is, as usual simple. First of all, you have to connect one adapter to a switch or router using the provided Ethernet cable and then into a wall socket. Next, connect a second unit to an Ethernet-ready device using the other provided cable and connect the adapter to a close-by wall socket.
Afterwards you have to sync and secure the adapters. To do that you will have to press the Sync button for 2 seconds on the first unit and then, you will have two minutes to press the Sync button on the second unit. And the setup is done.
Note: The TRENDnet TPL-420E2K adapters go automatically in stand-by mode, in order to reduce power usage, if there is no network traffic for more than 20 minutes. If the traffic is resumed it will automatically wake up, the process taking no more than 2 seconds.
Having two units 10 feet apart, on the same circuit, with less to no interferences, the TRENDnet TPL-420E2K went up to 185 Mbps. At around 30-35 feet, with some interferences, the adapter didn’t went below 75 Mbps.
The scores are not on par with other adapters, but the TPL-420E2K will still provide enough in order to stream high-resolution videos and even play games without worrying about latency.
Comtrend G.hn Powerline PG-9172
The Comtrend G.hn PG-9172 adapter is not really the same with any other powerline unit we have tested so far and that’s because it isn’t based on the HomePlug Powerline Communication standard, but on a new technology called G.hn.
The G.hn standard supports data transferring through electrical wires and also, through coaxial and telephone wires. The HomePlug adapters can only be used with electricity cables.
The kit includes the usual two identical powerline adapters, two Ethernet cables and a Quick Install Guide. Similarly to the HomePlug adapters, you can add a maximum of 16 adapters on a single G.hn network.
In terms of aspect there isn’t any major difference between the Comtrend G.hn PG-9172 and other adapters, you get the same rectangular white case, but without the glossy finish. It’s not going to win any design awards, but since it’s unlikely that you will put the adapter anywhere in the centre of attention, it doesn’t really matter.
Comtrend uses a three-prong plug, it measures 3.6×2.3×1.2 inches and weighs 0.55 lb. It’s not a particularly large device, but it’s not small either and, depending on the design of your power sockets, it may block adjacent outlets. Unfortunately, this model does not have any variant with a pass-through outlet, so you may have to sacrifice an outlet in the room where the adapter will be installed.
On the front of the adapter you will find three LED indicators for Coverage, Ethernet and Security. The Coverage LED can help you place the adapter in the perfect spot for the best speeds. So, if the LED is Green, you get a line rate greater than 40 Mbps, else, if the LED is orange you get speeds between 20 and 40 Mbps and if the LED is red, the speeds will be below 20 Mbps and you may need to find another outlet for a better performance.
On the bottom of the adapter rest the Config button (press it more than 10 seconds to return to factory settings) and a recessed Power Saving button (you have to press the button for two seconds using a paper clip to enter in power saving mode).
If you have more than one devices that need to be connected to the adapter, you will have to rely on a multi-port Ethernet switch, because there is no other adapter variant that has more than one Ethernet ports.
Setup and Performance
Setting up the Comtrend PG-9172 is no different than with any other powerline adapter. You have to connect the first unit to a router or a switch via an Ethernet cable (use the LAN port) and then plug in the adapter to a wall socket. Repeat the same process and connect the second adapter to an Ethernet-ready device.
Next, press the Config button and when the Security LED starts flashing a green light, press the Config button on the second adapter. After both adapters have a solid green LED, it means the network is secure and ready to use.
You can access the adapter interface using a browser. To do this you have to enter the device’s IP address in the browser (for example http://192.168.0.3) and when prompted, enter admin for Authentication password and betera for Factory Reset (if you want to return the adapter to factory settings).
The interface allows you to configure the IP (IPV4, IPV6 and mixed), the Ethernet (Power saving), Device (software and hardware information, as well as Security setup and firmware update), Multicast configuration, QoS configuration, VLAN, G.hn spectrum, Log file and Advanced (Broadcast suppression, Hardware Reset and Factory Reset).
We tested the adapter in good to ideal conditions, without interferences, in the same circuit and at no more than 10 feet apart and we got up to 270 Mbps. When at about 30 feet apart and with some interferences (mimicking real life scenarios) the speed didn’t go below 120 Mbps.
TP-Link TL-PA9020P AV2000 KIT
TP-Link TL-PA9020P is the latest powerline adapter from TP-Link and the first from this manufacturer to claim the AV2000 speed performance (surely, this are theoretical maximum speeds and the real throughput will be no more than a quarter).
The kit includes two AV2000 TL-PA9020P adapters, two 6.5-feet long RJ-45 Ethernet cables and a Quick Installation Guide. While the TP-Link TL-PA8030P AV1200 allowed up to 254 nodes on a single powerline network, I was surprised to see that the newer TL-PA9020P took a backwards step and only allowed a maximum of 8 nodes in one powerline network.
There are no major differences between the TL-PA9020P and its AV1200 predecessor. You get the same non-intrusive rectangular box with soft rounded corners, covered by a white glossy finish and with small patches of vent holes all around the edges of the adapter. The device remains a bit large (measuring 5.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 inches), but if it covers your double-wall socket, it has a built-in pass-through outlet that allows you to connect additional devices (useful if the room doesn’t have lots of power sockets).
Also, be aware that the pass-through outlet has a two-prong plug instead of three prongs, because the adapter covers the third hole.
Besides the pass-through socket, on the front of the TL-PA9020P there is a vertical array of three LED lights, responsible for Power (if it blinks once every second, it means that the device is in the process of pairing; if it blinks once every 3 seconds, then the Power Saving mode is on), Powerline (red means that the network is in poor conditions, so you could try another socket; yellow-green means that the network is stable and in good conditions) and Ethernet.
On the right side of the powerline adapter, there is a small Pair button (press and hold it for a second to join a secure powerline network or to set up the device; hold the button for about 8 seconds to leave an existing powerline network; hold the button for more than 15 seconds to reset the adapter) and on the bottom of the TL-PA9020P, there are two 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet ports. If two ports are not enough, you can always add Ethernet Switches and further expand your LAN network.
Note: You can check out our round-up of the best Ethernet Switches.
Setup and Performance
Setting up the TL-PA9020P involves plugging in the adapter into a wall-socket (directly into a wall and not using a multiple sockets device) and add an Ethernet cable to connect the adapter to your PC’s LAN port.
Afterwards, it is very important to secure your powerline network. The HomePlug AV standard uses the 128-bit AES encryption which allows a safe communication between your devices. The Pair button allows you to create a secured powerline connection between HomePlug AV devices, all you have to do is press the Pair button of the first adapter (the Power LED will flash) and within 2 minutes, press the pair button on the second powerline adapter (the Power LED of the second adapter will start flashing).
Now, wait for a minute for the two powerline adapters to connect and when the Power LEDs will stop flashing and display a solid light, the pairing has been made. Furthermore, TP-Link provides a small management utility that gives you an overview over the status of your powerline network and allows you to upgrade the firmware (there are also some basic QoS settings).
Testing these adapters in ideal conditions (same circuit, no interferences, no more than 10 feet between them), we measured a maximum throughput of 296 Mbps. After some additional devices were added to the circuit and some more space was put between the adapters (around 30 feet), we measured a maximum of 122 Mbps.
TP-LINK TL-PA8030P KIT AV1200
The TP-LINK TL-PA8030P is a capable powerline, was released in the autumn of 2015 and has some extra options that could make it one of the most desirable adapters on the market.
The kit includes two long, 6.5-foot Ethernet cables, a Quick Start Guide and two identical powerline adapters. While most adapters allow you to connect up to 16 adapters on a single network, the TL-PA8030P allows you to add up to 254 units on one powerline network.
The TP-LINK TL-PA8030P sports the common rectangular shape, with soft rounded corners and white glossy finish. A single unit measures 5.2×2.8×1.7 inches and weighs 0.55 lbs. This makes the adapter significantly large and because of the way it was designed (the ports are on top), it will most likely cover an adjacent outlet. Fortunately, the TL-PA8030P has a built-in pass-through outlet so you can still connect an additional device to that wall socket, if you need to.
Note: Using the pass-through outlet may eliminate some electrical noise (because it uses a narrower frequency range).
Similarly to a lot of adapters, the TP-LINK TL-PA8030P uses a three-prong plug and is HomePlug AV2 MIMO compliant.
The front of the adapter is home to three LED lights (just underneath the built-in socket) and are responsible for Power, Powerline and Ethernet. The Powerline LED will show you the best spot to connect the adapter by displaying yellow-green, where the signal is strong and the connection is in good conditions and will display red if the signal is poor, where it’s recommended to choose another outlet. If the Powerline LED is off it can mean that it’s not connected or it’s in Power Saving mode.
On the bottom of the adapter you will find three Ethernet ports and on the right side of the unit, there is the Pair button (which allows you to return to factory settings if pressed for more than 15 seconds). It was a wise decision from TP-Link to feature three ports, because if you had more than one Ethernet-ready devices, you would have been obligated to either use one adapter per device or purchase a multi-port Ethernet switch (both solutions would have been more expensive).
Setup and Performance
In order to setup the TL-PA8030P, you have to connect one unit to a router or a switch using the provided Ethernet cable (use a LAN port) and plug the unit into a wall socket. Afterwards repeat the same steps for the second unit to connect to the desired device (TV, Desktop computer, console or even another access point).
Next, in order to secure the network (using a 128-bit AES encryption), press and hold the Pair button for one second and then, you have 2 minutes to press the Pair button on the second unit.
The TP-LINK TL-PA8030P also comes with a Management Utility app that can be installed on a PC (you can download it from tp-link.com/en/support/download/ ).
After you’re done downloading and installing the utility, access the app. The interface has four sections, Status, Network, Advanced (QoS settings) and System (for Firmware update).
In order to test the adapter, we tried to emulate an ideal scenario, keeping the adapters close to each other, at around 10 feet, using the same circuit and maintaining the interferences to a minimum. This delivered a maximum speed of 180 Mbps.
To emulate a more realistic scenario, we added some interferences, put about 30 feet between the adapters and we measured no more than 75 Mbps. As you know, every home is unique and depending on the wiring setup, it is possible to get better or worse speed rates.
D-Link DHP-601AV PowerLine AV2 1000 version C
The original D-Link DHP-601AV was a bit older than the other adapters we have reviewed, being released in the autumn of the 2013, but it seems that D-Link released a more compact, refreshed version of the powerline kit.
The package includes two identical D-Link DHP-601AV PowerLine AV2 1000 Gigabit adapters, two Ethernet Cables and one Quick Install Guide. You should be able to connect up to 16 units on a single powerline network.
Design-wise, the DHP-601AV is nothing fancy, it features a rectangular white case with a glossy finish and soft rounded corners. The original adapter (from more than 2 years ago) has inspired the newer generation and the same design has been recycled and used with almost all new adapters. The current version is a lot more compact, it uses a two-prong plug (the newer instalments use a three prong plug) and it is HomePlug AV2 compliant. A single unit measures 2.125 x 2.75 x 1.00 inches inches and weighs 0.2 lb. This makes the DHP-601AV one of the lightest adapter on the market. Also because of its reduced size, it is unlikely it will obstruct any adjacent outlets. If it still happens, unfortunately, there is no variant that features a pass-through outlet, but like said, before, it’s quite unlikely.
On the front of the adapter rest three LED lights aligned vertically (on the middle, this time), responsible for Power, Powerline and Ethernet. As expected the Powerline LED will help you pick the best outlet in order to get the most out of your network. So, if the LED is green, the link rate is excellent, if it’s amber, the link rate is good, otherwise, if it’s red, the link rate is fair and you may need to find a better spot to get the maximum performance.
The bottom of the router is home to a Simple Connect button that doubles as a Reset button (hold it for ten seconds to return the adapter to factory settings) and a single Gigabit Ethernet port. If you have more than one device that needs to be connected to the adapter you may have to consider to either buy an multi-port switch or use one adapter per device, because the DHP-601AV does not feature a variant with more than one Ethernet ports.
Setup and Performance
To setup the D-Link DHP-601AV you just have to follow the same old routine. Connect one unit to a switch or router using the Ethernet cable provided (be careful because the cable is super short) and then plug into a wall socket. Next connect a second unit to an Ethernet-ready device and plug it into a nearby outlet.
Afterwards, in order to secure the network you have to press and hold the Simple Connect button for three seconds and the Power LED will start blinking. This means that the adapter created a new, randomly generated encryption key. To finish the setup you will have two minutes to press the Simple Connect button on the second unit.
You already know that you shouldn’t expect the adapter to deliver the written speed because it’s just a theoretical maximum allowed by the chip (also consider the full-duplex aspect). In reality, in ideal conditions (adapters are 10 feet apart, less to no interferences and the same circuit) you will get a maximum of 134 Mbps.
Emulating not-so-ideal conditions (30 feet apart, some interferences), the adapter scored up to 63 Mbps.
Note: D-Link DHP-601AV consumes a maximum of 3 watts.
Linksys Homeplug AV2 Powerline (PLEK500)
Linksys PLEK500 was released in 2013 and it was the first adapter kit that supported the latest HomePlug AV2 standard.
The kit includes two identical PLE500 single-port Powerline adapters, two five-foot Ethernet cables and a Quick Start Guide. You will be able to connect up to 16 adapters on a single powerline network.
Similarly to the D-Link DHP-601AV, although the Linksys PLEK500 was released almost three years ago, its appearance won’t give away it’s age, looking similar to the newer and more advanced adapters. That being said, the PLEK500 has a white case with rounded corners and a glossy finish.
Linksys PLEK500 uses a three-prong plug and is HomePlug AV2 compliant. One unit measures 4.0×2.0x2.83 inches and weighs 0.26 lb. This means that although quite lightweight, it may cover an additional outlet. Since there is no variant of the adapter that features a pass-through outlet, you may be constrained to sacrifice the wall socket in your room where your adapter will be connected.
The front of the adapter is home to three LED lights positioned vertically, responsible for Powerline, Ethernet and Power. The Powerline LED will help you choose the best place to connect your adapter so you get the best performance. If the Powerline LED is flashing fast a green light, it means you will get speeds more than 15 Mbps. Otherwise, if it flashes a yellow light, the link rate is lower than 15 Mbps and it may be advisable to choose another outlet or circuit.
On the bottom of the adapter rests the Ethernet port and a recessed Reset button (using a paper clip, you can return the adapter to factory settings if you press and hold for 10 seconds). Also, on the right side, you can find the HomePlug Simple Connect button for security (uses a using a 128-bit AES encryption).
Setup and Performance
In order to setup the Linksys PLEK500 you have to follow some simple steps. First of all connect an adapter to a router (or switch) using an Ethernet cable and then plug it into a wall socket. Next, connect another adapter to the preferred device and plug it into a nearby electrical outlet.
Afterwards, if you want a secure network you will have to press and hold the HomePlug Simple Connect button for a second to generate a new unique encryption and then you will have two minutes to press the same button on the second unit. And that’s it, your new network is ready to be used.
Linksys PLEK500 also has an Advanced Configuration application that can be downloaded from Linksys.com/support. The interface has three sections for Network Status, Security (configure the network key for each device) and Administrator (restart the adapter, restore to factory settings or upgrade the firmware).
The Linksys PLEK500 has a theoretical cap at 500 Mbps, which is way below what the AV2 adapters are capable of (see the above adapters), but for downloading large files, streaming video and Internet browsing, it should be fine.
In close to ideal conditions, meaning less interferences and a small distance between adapters, we recorded a maximum of 107 Mbps and in real life conditions, meaning a bigger distance between adapters and some interferences, the PLEK500 will deliver an average of 45 Mbps.
TRENDnet Powerline AV500 TPL-408E2K
The TRENDnet TPL-408E2K was released at the beginning of 2014, so it’s not really new, but it hasn’t lost much of its value.
The kit includes a Quick Installation Guide, a CD-ROM (Utility and User Guide), two 5-feet Ethernet cables and two identical powerline adapters. A maximum of 8 adapters can be connected to a single network.
The TRENDnet TPL-408E2K‘s case doesn’t look as minimalistic and elegant as some other adapters, instead you get a white, Lego-like appearance and a matte finish to repel fingerprints (not that you’re going to touch the device a lot).
The TPL-408E2K has a two-prong plug (while almost all recent ones have a three-prong plug) and is compliant with the HomePlug AV2 standard. The device is quite compact, measuring 3.4×2.2×2.0 inches and weighing 0.2 lb. Despite being rather small and lightweight it still may obstruct an additional socket.
Also, it doesn’t come with a pass-through outlet, so if it’s the only wall socket in the room, you may have to find a better spot where to connect the adapter.
On the front of the TPL-408E2K you can find three LED lights positioned horizontally, responsible for Network, Powerline and Power. As usual, the Powerline LED will display a certain colour, depending on the link rate strength to help you choose the best spot where to install the adapter. So, if the LED displays a green colour, you get the best performance, otherwise, if it’s amber, the link rate are better and if it’s red, the link rate is good.
The bottom of the adapter is home to a Sync button and one Gigabit Network port. On the side, there is a recessed Reset button (to return to factory settings insert a paper clip and hold it for 1 second – it will reset to the default private network name ‘HomePlug AV’).
Setup and Performance
Setting up the TRENDnet TPL-408E2K is easy and straight-forward. First, pick one unit and connect it to a router (or switch) using the provided Ethernet cable and afterwards, plug it into a wall socket. Next, repeat the same steps and connect a second adapter to the device of your choice.
Finally, you may want to secure your network. To do this, press and hold the Sync button for 2 seconds. Now, you will have 2 minutes to press the Sync button on the second adapter. And that’s it.
The TRENDnet TPL-408E2K can also be configured using the Powerline Utility app that you can install on your PC using the provided CD. After you install the app, by following the steps provided by the Wizard, you get access to the app interface.
Here, you can have a look at the PLC Network, with its specific sections: Map View (view the connected devices, add passwords and add new devices), Detailed View (info about the PC, adapters and the utility version), Device Setup (set Local Device, Private Network Name, Multicast Address and more), Advanced (upgrade firmware, QoS settings and Reset Device) and Options (Auto Scan interval) and finally, the About section.
Testing the TPL-408E2K in close-to-ideal conditions (10 feet distance between adapters, no interferences, same circuit) will deliver no more than 160 Mbps. In less-than-ideal conditions (more than 30 feet distance between adapters, some interferences) will deliver an average of 65 Mbps.
Asus PL-AC56 AV2 1200 KIT
Asus is one of the most popular manufacturers of electronic devices, its products including consumer-grade wireless routers, modems, laptops, computer hardware and more. Because of the high-speed AC1900+ routers, Asus also became well known in the networking world and that gave the company enough courage to enter the powerline field. That’s how the Asus PL-AC56 came into existence.
The PL-AC56 Kit includes a PL-AC56 Wireless AC1200 WiFi PowerLine extender, a PL-E56P HomePlug AV 1200Mbps PowerLine adapter, two Ethernet cables, the external antennas for the PL-AC56 and a Quick Start Guide.
Note: You can add up to 8 PL-AC56 powerline adapters on a single network.
The PL-AC56 kit is a bit different than the other powerline kits on the market. Sure, the PL-E56P features the same rectangular white box, rounded corners, with the distinctive factor being the diamond pattern on the front of the device (similar with the finish from the top of the Asus RT-AC68U). But, the interesting addition is the PL-AC56 extender, which is a lot larger than many powerline adapters (it measures 5.9 x 3.1 x 1.7 inches and weighs 1.7 pounds), so it will, without a doubt cover any adjacent wall socket. Thankfully, at least the PL-E56P has a pass-through outlet, so using the adapter will allow you to still connect another device to the same wall socket.
The PL-E56P powerline adapter (the smaller one) has three LED lights on the front for showing the status of the Powerline connection (if the LED blinks every 15 seconds, it means that the device is in Power-Saving mode), the Ethernet and the Power (if the LED is blinking every second, it means that the pairing process is in progress). On the bottom of the device, there is an Ethernet port, a recessed Reset button (you need to keep the button pressed for about 5 seconds to return the device to the factory default settings) and a Pair button (press and hold the button for a second to start the pairing process).
The PL-AC56 extender has four LED lights on the front for the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz WiFi network (if any of these two LEDs is blinking rapidly, it means that the extender is cloning the parent’s access point SSID and password, otherwise, if it blinks every second, then it is returning to factory default settings), the Powerline connection, the Ethernet and Power. Under the LED lights there’s a Clone button, useful for cloning the SSID and password from the parent AP. On the left side of the device, there are three buttons for Resetting to the factory default settings, switch the extender ON or Off and activate the Pairing process. On the bottom, there are three 10/100/1000M Ethernet ports to connect your wired clients (useful because it nullifies the need of a network switch).
Setup and Performance
Since we’re dealing with Plug-n-Play devices, it’s quite easy to setup the PL-AC56: plug the PL-E56P adapter into a wall socket, next to a router and use an Ethernet cable to connect to one of the router’s LAN port. Next, choose the place where you’ll plug the PL-AC56 extender (ideally, in the same circuit as the adapter) and, in order to secure the device, press the Pair button on the adapter and, afterwards, press the Pair button on the extender. Now, wait until the powerline LED lights up and that’s it, you now have a secured powerline network.
Additionally, Asus provides its users the possibility to configure the wireless settings using a web utility. To access the interface, go to http://ap.asus.com and, when prompted to insert the user name and password, enter admin for both.
The UI is simple and clean, having the same colour palette and structure as the other Asus routers interface. On the left, there’s the main menu, with three sections: Quick Internet Setup (check the connection, setup the Internet and the router), General (Network Map) and Advanced Settings (Wireless, LAN, Administration, System Log and Network Tools).
Since the PL-AC56 kit includes an AC extender, I am going to test the wired and wireless performance. First, I used the 2.4GHz radio band and, having the extender and adapter close to each other (at no more than 10 feet), I measured a maximum of 56Mbps. Afterwards, I increased the distance to 30 feet and the speed decreased to 22Mbps. Next, I switched to the 5Ghz radio band and, while the devices were close to each other, I measured a maximum of 187Mbps (a very good result for a powerline network) and, when there were 30 feet between the devices (with some interferences), the speed decreased to 94Mbps.
Lastly, I measured the wired performance of the powerline network and, at 10 feet, I measured a maximum of 258Mbps and, at 30 feet, the speed went down to 123Mbps.