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The essential guide to powerline ethernet adapters

Yardena Arar | Dec. 3, 2015
Powerline Ethernet adapters that use your home's electrical wiring are great supplements to Wi-Fi networks. We sort through the standards, HomePlug and, and review 12 models.

You can mix powerline and Wi-Fi devices, though, and most people do. You can also buy powerline-based Wi-Fi range extenders that create local wireless access points in rooms where your Wi-Fi signal can’t reach. Powerline is a fantastic solution when Wi-Fi alone doesn’t cut it, but Wi-Fi is much more convenient if for no other reason than Wi-Fi adapters are built into nearly every device (smartphones, laptops, tablets, media streamers). Plus, there’s the whole “no wires” thing; heck, even newer set-top boxes and DVRs have gone wireless.

So which powerline device is fastest?

It’s notable that HomePlug AV2 MIMO adapters took the first three places in this roundup: Extollo’s LANsocket 1500 edged out the D-Link DHP-701AV, with ZyXel’s PLA5405 finishing third. The only adapter in the roundup, Comtrend’s PG-9172 took fourth place.

Revised powerline adapters
Click on image to enlarge.

Unless you’re on a very tight budget, avoid older and cheaper powerline adapters. Their performance pales in comparison to the newer products. If your home has a limited number of electrical outlets, you might want to buy an adapter that has a power passthrough, even if you end up sacrificing a little performance in the process.

As for the standards battle, it wouldn’t be fair to declare a winner based on the performance of the only adapter I’ve tested; namely, Comtrend’s PG-9172. Having said that, the PG-9172 is less expensive than all the other adapters, and it was faster than Netgear’s PLP1200. On the other hand, the two remaining HomePlug AV MIMO adapters—D-Link’s DHP-701AV and ZyXel’s PLA5405—were faster still.


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