POST A COMMENT

53 Comments

Back to Article

  • claytontullos - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I have a netgear XAV1004 -200 system set up for my ps3.

    When the main unit is on the same breaker as the receiver I get around 35Mb/s. When I had the unit setup a few breakers away I received around 3.1Mb/s. Making the change as made all the difference in the world as I could not stream HD content before.

    You really have to take these 200Mb claims as a joke... my gigabit switch tells me the main unit is connected to it at 100Mb/s... You'd expect if it was truly capable of 200Mbs/ speed it would connect at the gigabit level.
    Reply
  • bersl2 - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Maybe it only implements Fast Ethernet, and marketing is adding Tx and Rx bandwidth together. Reply
  • fireboy92k - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    It's 100 Mbps full duplex (just like fast ethernet), hence the claim of 200 Mbps as you stat.

    See answer 10 at http://support.netgear.com/app/answers/detail/a_id...
    Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Thanks for writing, claytontullos. The '200 Mbps' (or for that matter, '500 Mbps') claims of the powerline folks are analogous to the '54 Mbps' and above claims of the Wi-Fi folks...or for that matter the '100 Mbps' and '1 Gbps' claims of the wired Ethernet folks. The peak theoretical PHY rate (or even close to it) is rarely if ever achievable in real-life usage environments, due to protocol overhead, distance- and otherwise-derived attenuation, destructive interference from other 'transmitters' in the same frequency bands, etc...

    p.s...'200 Mbps' powerline networking adapters usually if not always contain 100 Mbps wired Ethernet transceivers. 'Nuff said ;-) Note, however, that the XAV5001 '500 Mbps' adapters contain GbE transceivers...therefore making it important that I mated them to Endpoint systems (my MacBook and MacBook Pro) which ALSO have GbE capabilities
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I wouldn't lump the 100Mbps and 1Gbps Ethernet stuff in with the WiFi and Powerline networking. I routinely hit >100MBps transfer rates on my GbE setup, and basically peg any 100Mbps connections at 98% of their maximum throughput (around 12.3MBps). And that's using HDDs. Transferring files from an SSD-based system to another SSD over GbE, I can hit around 120MBps. Fastest I've ever managed on WiFi is around 30MBps with a "450Mbps" connection -- or around 53% of the theoretical rate. Reply
  • Per Hansson - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Yea, I agree, don't talk down Ethernet like that
    I have a 100mbps internet connection and I can routinely hit 12MB/sec transfer speeds...

    I've also used those "Gigabit" Powerline networking devices and they managed an astonishing 5mbps throughput, while at the same time killing my FM reception on my radio, even the cars radio was interferred with when I tried it out to my garage (throughput was then ca 1mbps, somewhat shy of the 1000mbps claim...)
    Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Ok, ok, ok...so maybe I was a little harsh on wired Ethernet...;-) In this regard, a compare-and-contrast is perhaps of some value. Wired Ethernet is a media specifically designed to carry network packets. The AC power grid, on the other hand, or the atmosphere, in both cases with who-knows-what attenuators and spectrum contenders in-between transmitter and receiver...

    And even with wired Ethernet, protocol overhead (TCP's handshaking scheme, for example...this is why I REALY wished I could have gotten some meaningful UDP data in this study) will retard the effective transfer rate, even if the media and the transceivers on either end are up to the task. And speaking of the receiver, a slow NAS (for example) does a good job of putting the brakes on things, too...
    Reply
  • el1x - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    As far as i am aware its 100Mbps Full Duplex and the marketing states the Tx & Rx together as bersl2 has said.
    Any chance of looking at the NetComm range of powerline? The NP202, 203, 204 & 206.
    I have a set of the NP204's not only are they a solid reliable unit they have AC passthrough so i don't lose a power point.
    Reply
  • jigglywiggly - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    The problem with this is that it isn't that much better than wifi, lol. Reply
  • akedia - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    My apartment is long, narrow, and fully of radiators. It's also over a century old, and power outlets are distressingly sparse and often tucked half-behind the radiators. Right now I have to have coax strung across half my apartment to get from the bizarre place the cable for my internet connection enters the wall to the only outlet in a good enough position to have my WiFi adapter plugged in and get a signal that's still only serviceable throughout half of my apartment. In a perfect environment, yeah, powerline and WiFi are comparable in performance. In reality, though, there are real advantages and disadvantages to each that can dramatically affect their relative utility. Lots of radiators... only one breaker. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Have you tried getting a better router and/or perhaps a better wireless card for your laptop? Reply
  • akedia - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I have a current generation Airport Extreme, which is generally regarded as one of the best wireless routers available, and the built-in WiFi antenna in my Mac mini is not upgradable, as far as I know. My roommate's laptop is an HP dm1z, also not upgradable, and my Droid X is stuck with the antenna it shipped with as well. It's not my hardware, it's my environment. WiFi has limitations, like it or not. Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Different tools for different tasks, jigglywiggly. Powerline can make a pretty good 'backbone' technology if, as I state in the article, you want to 'dispense with burrowing through dirty, spider- and snake-infested crawlspaces and drilling holes in walls and floors in order to route Cat5e cable around'. Wi-Fi conversely can be effective across intra-room and few-room spans...and with mobile devices. Reply
  • Paedric - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the article first, that's something I've been interested in for quite some time.

    However, I have a question; you tested it in a "perfect" environment by disabling interfering devices, to test the potential of the system, but what happen if it is not the case?
    Is the performance hit really noticeable?

    I don't want to rout a cable across the whole house, but I'm not really keen on turning off the fridge, lights, and unplugging devices every time I want to connect to the internet.
    Reply
  • Denithor - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I have the TRENDnet TPL-303E2K Powerline AV Adapter Kit installed in my home, connecting my wireless router in the living room to my office computer about 50 or 60 feet away. Couldn't get a solid enough wireless signal in the office for any kind of gaming, hooked up this kit and within literally 2 minutes was playing everything just fine.

    There's no need to unplug or turn off anything. It just works...
    Reply
  • gariig - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I bought my parents the same TRENDnet that Denithor has (crazy coincidence) because their wireless router and extra computer are on the other side of a ~2000 SQ FT house. Works flawlessly for normal computer usage (e-mail, Youtube, etc) and printer sharing. I don't know how well it works for large file transfers but I'd imagine you'll at least get 100 mbps Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    It depends. That's the only meaningful answer I can offer. That's why, after much gnashing of teeth and back-and-forth waffling, I decided to do my testing with everything turned off and disconnected. Otherwise, if (say) I had an especially noisy refrigerator motor, my results might have unfairly undershot some alternative typical-refrigerator reality. Obviously, my data wasn't the absolute best case...as I mentioned, I stuck with DHCP address assignments for the two Endpoints, instead of hard-wiring static IP addresses, and I concurrently ran all available powerline networking adapters although only three were in active use at any point in time, and I chose outlets out of functional meaningfulness to me, intentionally ignoring whether or not they spanned multiple breakers, or jumped across phases, in the process. But I also don't think it would have been right to turn on all potential interference sources, then do the tests.

    With that said, I regularly sling ~20 Mbps Windows Media Center streams (HD ATSC recordings) around my LAN, including through powerline spans, with no problem.
    Reply
  • leexgx - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    just would of been nice if you had done an short test with stuff on to see how it is handled them (just 1 page short tests) as you did it with every thing off

    you could of had an laptop with you to monitor each power plug speeds when stuff came on, last power plugs I used the speeds stated seem close to bandwidth useable (-50 ish % for overhead)

    I found power plugs to be very reliable and how they handle packet loss as well most of the time (last time I played with them)
    Reply
  • Joe Martin - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Does it work for streaming video or not? Very hard to read article. Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    It's impossible for me to provide a simple answer to such a question without either undershooting or overshooting the spectrum of possible realities. First off, there's the bandwidth potential of any two powerline nodes in YOUR particular setup to consider...only you can measure and ascertain that. Then you've gotta determine what you mean by 'streaming video'...are we talking about a 20 Mbps encapsulated MPEG-2 (ATSC) HD stream coming from a Windows Media Center server, for example, or a heavily compressed sub-1 Mbps H.264 standard-definition video stream? Protocol? Etc... Reply
  • Arbie - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Yes, it is hard to read. I wasn't going to comment on that until I saw your remark. The style is verbose, with too many words behind every thought, whether or not it's important. "Burrowing through dirty, spider- and snake-infested crawlspaces"? C'mon, that sounds like a 7th grade composition. You've got a good subject and all the smarts; don't mess it up. Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I have a Western Digital Powerline that plugs into the router in my basement, with the other outlet at my TV on the second floor. It works great for streaming video, and it also has 4 ports, so I've hooked up my DirectTV box, BlueRay player, and WD live player, and I still have a spare port for a new internet-enabled TV. Overall, a very good solution for $89 or so. Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Quick aside, speaking of WD Livewire...the company's Outlet has a refurb two-adapter kit for $59.99 right now...http://dealnews.com/Refurb-Western-Digital-Livewir... Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    They work well enough in my opinion. As mentioned I only use these as a last resort after physical location/wireless etc. options have failed. Reply
  • abkfenris - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    ... is the house. Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    TIL that Anandtech editors' houses are as unique as the editors :)

    Great article!
    Reply
  • edved - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I've been using the AV 307's for about 3-4 months now and they're great. I'm streaming huge data, HD video and uncompressed audio without a hiccup. Literally plug and play, this is the best way to go! I've now got my Panny Tv, Blu ray player, WDLive, Onkyo 509 all piped-in thanks to the 307's!

    Can't recommend it enough.

    my2cents.
    Reply
  • casteve - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    These $50 powerline adapters are just one LAN connection away from expensive electronics. Since you can't connect them directly to a surge protector, what internal protection do they have for the LAN? Reply
  • edved - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I paid over $100 for mine, but wasn't ready to start "Burrowing through dirty, spider- and snake-infested crawlspaces"! Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I had some Logitech security cameras last year, which came with separate powerline adapters; they claimed to have built-in surge suppressors, but no KV or other ratings were specified.

    I put them on some APC surge suppressors, and they worked for several days and then lost the connection, so I had to move them off the APCs.
    Reply
  • metageek - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    So, what happens if a power surge comes in through the outlet? Do these things include surge suppression, or is that surge going to travel out over the Ethernet cable and fry your computer? Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    They have built-in power surge features. These are mainly used to keep the network signal clean, but they also protect the device. Reply
  • metageek - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Thanks. Reply
  • ranster - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I've been using Linksys PLE200s in my home for a long time now. I got the first pair (sold as a PLK200) for like $140, then later Sears had a sale online for $90, a good deal at the time, so I got another pair. I picked up a third pair off ebay for $14 since only one worked, but not an issue to add on just one. Lastly, I got a new PLK when Circuit City was going out of business, for a mighty good price. I have five of the seven in use, and the Linksys utility shows throughput from ~60Mbit to ~130 Mbit, depending on which PLE and its location in the house.

    I might check into the newest standard since they are said to interoperate with the HomePlug AV standard that PLE200s use.
    Reply
  • durinbug - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I've been interested in powerline networking for the last couple of years, and I appreciate the attempt to do a thorough investigation of the technology, but the results just don't turn out to be useful.

    I've been considering connecting my PS3 in the living room with the router (and desktop) in my office. Right now I use 802.11g (since the PS3 doesn't support n), which nets me a connection speed that ranges from ~10-15 mbps (a laptop also on G in the same location gets 30-40 mbps - the PS3 wireless adapter really seems to be craptastic). This is sufficient for playing games, but can be a major headache for streaming video.

    While the throughput data you present here suggests that powerline networking might be an improvement, it doesn't really help make that decision. At an apparent average of about 30-40 mbps that you got, it wouldn't take a whole lot of interference to bring it down to the speeds I'm seeing already.

    That said, I understand why you wanted to show the "best case" - I just wish you had also shown the "normal use" case so we might have some idea of the potential speed reduction we might see. I have numerous compact fluorescent lights, refrigerator, etc. (plus living room and office are on separate breakers, don't know about phases) - so even after reading your article I am no closer to knowing whether powerline networking will work for me. So after all the work of writing the article, the take-away seems to be "this is what I got; I have no idea what performance you will see."
    Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Dear durinbug, I appreciate the feedback. The fundamental issue that a reviewer such as myself always struggles with in a situation iike this (or Wi-Fi or phoneline or coax, for that matter...any non-networking-optimized interconnect media) is what is 'normal'. Note that my testing (for unfortunate reasons that I discuss in the article) was TCP-only, whereas your streaming situation would likely use UDP instead. From my past experience with powerline products, you would likely experience a 50%-to-100% performance improvement in average UDP transfer rate versus the TCP numbers that I published. Every technology subsequent to first-generation HomePlug 1.0 has focused the bulk of its development and implementation attention on UDP (for likely obvious reasons) Reply
  • demonbug - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    I appreciate the response, and wanted to reiterate that I really do appreciate the in-depth information and test results you provided. It would just be nice to get some sense of the impact on performance things like running the refrigerator or CFLs might have, even if your case doesn't represent the "normal". There is enough variability in throughput as it is, even with the semi-idealized setup (lights off, etc), that I'm a little concerned about maintaining throughput with such sources of interference present.

    Your mentioning that you generally see 50%-100% faster UDP transfer rates makes me hopeful that it actually would be a significant improvement over what I have now (and save me from trying to run cat5 through an exterior wall, which looks to be no fun at all), so I just might have to go and pick a couple up.
    Reply
  • dennishodge - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Now that the Sonos Bridge is only $50, went Sonos and bought an extra Bridge just to plug my laser printer into. I used to have powerline ethernet but the devices were flaky and eventually the last pair died. Each Sonos component has 1-2 10/100 switches. I haven't done a speed test, but the latency is superb. I even have an old wifi router plugged into a Sonos amp in one end of the house to extend my wifi coverage for weak devices like cell phones.

    It would be cool to trial two $50 bridges vs. powerline ethernet :-)

    - Dennis
    Reply
  • EarthwormJim - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    It seems to me for about the same cost as some of these high speed powerline networking setups, you could just hire an electrician to wire some ethernet jacks throughout your house. Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Dear EarthwormJim, the hourly labor rate for electricians must be much lower where you live than where I do ;-) Your comment also prompts me to make a related point...retrofitting an existing structure for Cat5e by "burrowing through dirty, spider- and snake-infested crawlspaces" underneath floors (of which I have repeated past personal experience, back where I used to live in Sacramento CA) isn't even an option for a basement- and crawlspace-less residence built directly on a concrete slab... Reply
  • EarthwormJim - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    You can typically follow other wiring in the house when retrofitting, like telephone wiring or coaxial wiring.

    Competition is probably high in my area, I often see several advertised specials from electricians specifically for cat 5 wiring.
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    If you have (wall-to-wall) carpet, it's very easy to lift up the carpet a little and run cat5 under it... I ran a 100' drop in about 15mins.

    Also, you can get baseboard or crown molding which are gapped or routed (cut out) for wires to be hidden in.
    e.g.
    http://www.curbly.com/Chrisjob/posts/3618-Hide-you...
    http://www.wiretracks.com/prod-cm.html
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Also, my alarm guy does cat5 drops through the attic for $30 each, which is a real bargain. He drops them behind curtains, etc., instead of through the walls to a wall box. Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Dear bobbozzo, thanks for writing. You do realize, thought, that the feasibility and availability of such wiring options (far from their implementation) are way beyond the comprehension of the consumer masses...right? Versus going down to a nearby consumer electronics store, buying a couple of adapters, and plugging them into power outlets? If consumer electronics manufacturers targeted only the readers (and editors ;-) ) of AnandTech, they'd be able to get away with far less consumer-friendly offerings, because the bleeding-edge early adopters here would figure 'em out anyway. But the potential customer market would be a fraction of the size, as a result. Reply
  • bjacobson - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    can you review it, too? Reply
  • bdipert - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    Glad you all seem to dig my digs. I do, too ;-) Reply
  • bigpow - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    As someone who actually makes a living testing powerline comm, I find your article to be refreshing. Had to close my eyes and bite my tongue, going through the HW section, LOL, but everything after that is quite informative. Reply
  • fausto412 - Thursday, September 01, 2011 - link

    i've been interested in this to run my home network and hookup my PC to the net over wireless..i also have 2 to 3 TIVO's i would love to network over faster speeds than wireless which would allow me to transfer shows real time between boxes.

    anybody able to speak to the capability of these setups in the real world?
    Reply
  • froob - Friday, September 02, 2011 - link

    Did you run any latency tests on these units? I'm interested to know how suitable Powerline networking would be for an Xbox 360 / PS3 etc. Reply
  • bdipert - Friday, September 02, 2011 - link

    Dear froob,
    Yes, IxChariot logs a number of statistics, including latency, packet drop percentage, etc, I didn't explicitly create a table for latency, but you can find the data in the full report files I've archived here (as published in the 'TCP Testing Results' section of the article):

    http://images.anandtech.com/doci/4695/PowerlineBen...
    Reply
  • fkoehler - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link


    Seriously, as a networking guy who's been following this since well before 2004, this has to be one of the worst article I've ever read on the subject.
    And equally as annoying is that its on AT and the goofy tone and copy/pasta of chunks of text.
    All you appear to have done is repeat rote basics regarding powerline networking, most of which has been written before numerous times.
    I fail to see anything useful, new, or even interesting in this article.

    Hey, maybe AT can pay me to write about Cisco IOS or Routers, and I'll paste large swathes of text into my article just to dumbfound the readers and appear techy/edgy....

    I wouldn't call you a Luddite, just a p-ss poor writer with obvious feelings of technical superiority. Considering your stupid comment re: Ethernet, I have the same level of faith in anything else you comment on.

    The majority of this article could have been compressed into 2-3 Introductory paragraphs. Everyone even moderately interested in the technology has known there are only 2 players in this market.

    I guess AT is doing the old TomsHardware thing and going for rehashed quantity over quality.
    Reply
  • EddieCFS - Friday, November 09, 2012 - link

    Problem : Boutique Hotel 4 floors,10 rooms per floor . No additional cabling allowed .
    Is it possible to have four networks ; one per floor ? . How do you "isolate " network from each other if sharing a common CB ?. ( Requirement is up to 10Mbps per room )
    Reply
  • Maxx11 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Hello ,

    I know this thread is kinda old, but I will ask regardless...
    I have two older Panasonic HD-PLC PA100 units. Are these new units you tested in article better -- is it worth upgrade ? Are there even better units available now ?

    Also, are these tested units better than Panasonic HD-PLC when used between breakers with different phase power ? (my experience has been they are almost useless in this situation, which may account for more than half the normal cases)

    Thanks for any info...

    Maxx
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now