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TP-LINK AV200 Powerline Adapter Starter Kit Review

Test Setup & Equipment
Router: TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND
Powerline Adapters: TP-LINK TL-PA211

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.0GHz
RAM: 1GB DDR2 PC2-5300
OS: Windows XP Pro SP3 (32bit)
NIC: Marvell Yukon 88E8055 PCIe Gigabit (onboard) (Cat5e)

CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 3.20GHz
RAM: 8GB Mushkin Enhanced Blackline DDR3 1600
OS: Windows 7 Pro (64bit)
NIC: Realtek PCIe GBE (onboard) (Cat6)

Media Players:

  • Xbox 360
  • PlayStation 3

The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were both directly connected to the TL-PA211 adapter with Cat5e cable.

For throughput tests I used LAN Speed Test. I sent 10MB chunks of data 10 times. This process was repeated 5 times and I took the average of the 5 tests to get the final throughput average.

Most of my testing involved stability tests or in other words, how long will the adapters work without a hiccup. So I streamed a lot of HD videos including Netflix, music from SHOUTcast, and left IRC open. For streaming videos, I used my Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and laptop. I tested each independently, and the TL-PA211 worked perfectly with all of them. No stops, stutters, or any signs of a bad connection. I listened to SHOUTcast and left IRC open on my laptop. Once again, no hiccups or disconnects. The TP-PA211 passed all stability tests without a problem.

After the stability tests, I moved onto file transfers, which also worked perfectly as you’d expect. At this point, I still wanted to test the TL-PA211 a bit more.  I decided to try the TL-PA211 in outlets all around my house and measure throughput. The first testing point was my garage. The garage is disconnected from the house, but there’s power in there so it was a perfect candidate. I plugged in the TL-PA211 and it instantly synched up with the other adapter inside the house. I started up the throughput test and achieved 66.25Mbps. Then I moved to the patio, living room, bedroom, back of the house, basically any place with a power outlet, the average throughput was always about 66Mbps. This might be a bit slower than what you’d expect from a 200Mbps powerline adapter. However, the interface on the adapter is only 100Mbps, so 200Mbps is full duplex (100Mbps up and down). Then you might think, well 66Mbps is far from 100Mbps. You are right about that, however, there’s still overhead on the powerlines. Think of it like a wireless network. Just because you’re connected at 300Mbps on a wireless network doesn’t mean you’re going to get anywhere near that speed. The thing I really liked about the powerline adapters is they are consistent. No matter where I decide to plug them in at, I could expect to get around 66Mbps. Remember, 66Mbps was the average. It peaked at 72Mbps. Utilizing 72% of its theoretical throughput is not bad at all. Wireless networks rarely see that type of utilization. Also, distance isn’t a factor with the TL-PA211. In the back of my house behind about 10 walls, wireless signal is impossible. Although the TL-PA211 instantly synched up and operated at its trusty 66Mbps. This type of reliability is something traditional wireless networks just can’t replicate.