How well does it work - Powerline
Setup is, indeed, a cinch. We had both the Powerline and WiFi aspects up and running within a few minutes. Testing out the capability of the Powerline segment first, we attached a laptop to the base adapter and a PC to the larger plug. Both were equipped with Gigabyte Ethernet capability. The first test measured the transfer performance of the TP-Link kit when both adapters were in the same room - a best-case scenario.
Our testing showed that the kit achieved an 85Mbps read speed and 81Mbps write speed when transferring a 2GB file. This is a far cry from the potential 500Mbps stated on the box, but is consistent with real-world usage seen on similar devices. Moving the larger adapter 35 feet away and separated from the base via a floor, the same test's throughput dropped to 57Mbps read and 52Mbps write.
The salient point to note here is that the speeds are barely enough to sate a regular broadband connection. Anyone with 100Mbps, for example, will find the Powerline kit stunting the potential of their line. Appreciating this, a better course of action would be to use a WiFi adapter for a desktop PC, connected to an 802.11ac router. Doing just this with an 802.11ac client connected to the 5GHz band of a BT Home Hub 5 router offered 138Mbps read and 101Mbps write - or about 2x the Powerline's performance.
You might assume it's not worth investing in a kit of this ilk if the WiFi signal is reasonable, but do bear in mind that WiFi is prone to interference. Ever lost your Call of Duty high score because the wife has turned on the microwave and killed your WiFi connection? Then Powerline, while potentially not as quick, could be more stable.
How well does it work - WiFi extender
We then change testing by moving a laptop to the very corner of a larger-than-average home but leave the WPA4530 receiver in the original position. The premise is to see how well the extended WiFi performance compares to accessing the BT Home Hub 5 directly. The same transfer tests were undertaken. Connected to the Home Hub 5 directly, speeds averaged 96Mbps read and 88Mbps write.
Accessing the cloned WiFi from the TP-Link receiver, which sat two-thirds of the total distance away from the router, increased the transfers to 127Mbps read and 96Mbps write. The WiFi extender portion of the kit becomes a valid value-add if, and only if, the current WiFi setup in your home or office is substandard in the very extremities of the property.
The speed and range advances in home and small-office WiFi, made possible by widespread use of the 802.11ac standard, have put Powerline kits in an awkward position. Most kits are trumped with respect to pure performance and naturally require multiple adapters if servicing a few rooms. Manufacturers of such kits, such as TP-Link, have increased the functionality of Powerline by adding multiple ports and, as is the case here, additional WiFi coverage from the receiver.
Our testing with the TP-Link WPA4530 kit shows that it's the multi-port usage and WiFi extender function that add value, and it becomes a valid alternative to a multi-port AC bridge in properties where wireless coverage is spotty. We believe that TP-Link's £70 kit makes most sense in homes where the extant WiFi hasn't yet been upgraded to the latest standard. Easy as pie to setup and seamless in operation, this TP-Link kit is a bridge between best-in-class WiFi and running cables all around the home.
Super-easy to setup
Three-port on receiver
Excellent build quality
The TP-Link AV500 Powerline ac Wi-Fi Kit is available to purchase from Scan Computers.
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