SmallNetBuilder

Follow SmallNetBuilder
Follow SmallNetBuilder on TwitterConnect On Facebook Google+Get the SmallNetBuilder RSS Feed
You are here: LAN & WAN LAN & WAN Reviews Actiontec PWR500 and TRENDnet TPL-406E2K Powerline Adapters Reviewed - Admin, Performance, Closing Thoughts

Actiontec PWR500 and TRENDnet TPL-406E2K Powerline Adapters Reviewed - Admin, Performance, Closing Thoughts

Print E-mail
<< Prev - Page 2 of 2 - Next

Admin

Like all HomePlug AV devices, the PWR500 and TPL-406E2K ship with 128 bit AES encryption enabled, using the same default key so you can just plug and play. They also both have buttons that can be used to set a different security code. Setting the code works like setting up a Wi-Fi WPS connection. You press the button on one device until a LED starts blinking. You then have two minutes to press the button on a second adapter to complete the setting.

You can also usually change the security code using a utility program. Actiontec doesn't include one, but TRENDnet includes the same Windows-based utility it provides on its other 200 Mbps and 500 Mbps HomePlug adapters.

TRENDnet powerline utility

Figure 5: TRENDnet powerline utility

Performance

We tested all the adapters at three locations in the SNB home using the standard powerline procedure. Figure 6 shows average uplink throughput for all three test locations and Figure 7 shows downlink. The performance charts have been filtered to show only 500 Mbps adapters.

Average uplink throughput

Figure 6: Average uplink throughput

When looking at average throughput (which includes all locations), both adapters have numbers lower in uplink compared to other 500 Mbps adapters. Part of this could probably be blamed on their 10/100 Ethernet port vs the Gigabit ports of the others, although all results (excluding the NETGEAR XAVB5101) are well within the limits of a half duplex 10/100 connection.

Throughput numbers seem a little closer in downlink, with the two adapters actually besting the now-discontinued NETGEAR XAVB5001.

Average downlink throughput

Figure 7: Average downlink throughput

The four-stream test is where the two new 500 Mbps adapters really have lower numbers, however. Figure 8 below shows how they compare to the other 500 Mbps adapters running two sets of simultaneous up/downlink tests in Location A (same outlet). Remember that a 100 Mbps port has 200 Mbps of total throughput in Full Duplex mode.

Four stream simultaneous througput in the same room

Figure 8: Four stream simultaneous througput in the same room

The results look worse than they probably are in real-world use, because they are taken with both adapters plugged into the same outlet—hardly what would happen in actual use. But what do results look like when the adapters get some distance between them?

The throughput vs. location plots in Figures 9 and 10, which include the TRENDnet TPL-401E2K and the NETGEAR XAVB5101 for comparison, show that as the adapters move apart, throughput differences decrease dramatically.

Uplink throughput vs. location

Figure 9: Uplink throughput vs. location

Location C uplink shows the Gigabit-ported adapter do a bit better than the Actiontec and TRENDNet adapters. But Location E downlink shows the opposite result.

Uplink throughput vs. location

Figure 10: Downlink throughput vs. location

You can use the customizable Powerline Charts to explore further.

Closing Thoughts

If you are going to plug either of these adapters into the same outlet (or perhaps different outlets in the same room), you might not get throughput as high as you could get from 500 Mbps powerline AV adapters using Gigabit Ethernet ports. Because of the way powerline works, however, you might have to be running multiple network activities, like copying large files and streaming HD video, to get actually get the benefit of the higher throughput.

However, the tiny 10/100 Mbps-ported adapters start to shine once you get some distance between them. In many cases, you may not be able to see any appreciable difference, except in your wallet. At around $50 for the Actiontec and $71 for the TRENDnet these two diminutive adapters are the most economical powerline kits you can buy. And remember, those prices both get you two adapters.




Related Items:

Actiontec announces HomePlug AV kit
NETGEAR XAVB5101 Powerline Nano 500 Set Reviewed
TRENDnet Gigabit Powerline Adapters Slip
Cisco Linksys PLE400 and PLS400 Powerline AV Adapters Reviewed
TRENDnet To Ship 500 Mbps Powerline Adapters

User reviews

View all user reviews

Average user rating from: 6 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

User Rating    [Back to Top]
Overall: 
 
2.2 Features :
 
2.7 Performance :
 
2.2 Reliability :
 
1.8
 
Ratings (the higher the better)
Features*
 
Performance*
 
Reliability*
 
Comments*
    Please enter the security code.
 
 

OK for low bandwidth use

Overall rating: 
 
2.3
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
3.0
Reviewed by Mike
September 17, 2014
Report this review
 

I got the TRENDnet TPL-406E2K Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter Kit on 09/15/2014 for a specific use. I have a Gb switch with two HD Homerun tuner boxes, two Windows PCs, and internet router connected. The Windows PCs used primarily for Windows Media Center and Netflix, with a bit of light web browsing thrown in. Everything except one PC is in one room, and I had been running a 50'+ Cat6 cable to one of the PCs, and the Nano kit was purchased to eliminate that.

Each HD Homerun contains three tuners, which can provide three simultaneous HD streams into the switch. Each PC is configured to use three specific tuners, so no more than that volume of traffic would be routed to one PC.

Initially I was pleased with the results.. the PC was receiving a good signal from the tuner, and I watched an entire evening of baseball with no glitches.

What I failed to take into account was that only one of three tuners available to that PC was in use, and the tuners in the other PC were not used at all. Turns out the signal starts to get shaky when two programs are being watched or recorded on the Powerline connected PC. What I didn't expect is that even when programs are being watch or recorded on the OTHER PC, the Powerline connections start to spaz. Now, this is an unmanaged switch, so I think all the devices see the same high volume of traffic, but only the Powerline devices are overwhelmed.

A managed switch could help by preventing the Powerline devices from seeing traffic destined for the other PC. However, since the Powerline devices could not even handle the traffic for two tuners, I have to go back to Cat6.

Don't have an opinion on reliability rating since I took them out of service after a couple days.

 

Nor Reliable

Overall rating: 
 
2.3
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Ryan
March 04, 2014
Report this review
 

Works fine when I am home alone but once someone else connects to the internet I lose all internet access

 

Workinhg OK for me so far

Overall rating: 
 
4.3
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
4.0
Reviewed by JB
July 03, 2013
Report this review
 

I just wanted to put at least one good review on here ... I am actually using the PWR514 (which comes with a built-in 4-port hub on one of the adapters. Setup was numbingly simple (plug it in both ends and go) and the link lights immediately went green. No issues connecting from the basement router to a second floor bedroom.

I don't have a good way of testing the overall throughput, but this Actiontec did solve gaming issues that I was having with my previous wireless (N and G) networks.

 

Actiontec PWR500

Overall rating: 
 
1.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Joe
February 17, 2013
Report this review
 

Worked the first time but then it wouldn't link any more. The LK doesn't come on at all not even when the units are plugged into the same outlet. Tried resetting but still no luck. Wish I would have read these reviews before purchasing.

 

AVOID

Overall rating: 
 
1.0
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Rich
October 07, 2012
Report this review
 

Extremely unstable product with zero product support. The product only comes with a Quick Setup Guide which refers you to the website for more info. The only info on the website is a softcopy of the Quick Setup Guide. Product has trouble syncing even when plugged into outlets on the same outlet box. Avoid this product.

 
 
View all user reviews