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LAN & WAN Reviews

AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Starter Kit
At a glanceAV2-MIMO Powerline Performance
August 2015
ProductTP-LINK AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Starter Kit (TL-PA8030P-KIT)   [Website]
SummaryHomePlug AV2 MIMO Adapter set with 3 port Gigabit switch and pass through outlet based on QCA7500 chipset.
Pros• Built-in 3 port Gigabit switch
• Pass-through 16A power outlet
• Chart-topping performance
Cons• Blocks second outlet in U.S. duplex

Typical Price: $86  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

Powerline adapters can extend your Ethernet network via power wiring instead of running Category 5E / 6 cable. While you won't get the performance of Ethernet, the new breed of HomePlug AV2 MIMO adapters can provide ~ 450 Mbps of total throughput with multiple traffic sources. Powerline also tends to be more stable and have lower latency than many wireless connections.

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Starter Kit beauty shot

The TL-PA8030P is the only AV2-MIMO product with multiple (gigabit) Ethernet ports, three to be specific. This would allow connecting a Smart TV, gaming console and perhaps a wireless access point without an outboard switch. The TL-PA8030P also has a filtered 16 A passthrough power outlet, but that's not a unique feature.

Measuring 5.2×2.8×1.7 in. (131×72×42 mm), the adapter is bigger than other AV2-MIMO products we've tested. The composite image below shows the TL-PA8030P plugged into a standard U.S. duplex and that it blocks the upper power socket from being used with a grounded plug. NETGEAR's PLP1200 doesn't have this problem, nor does TRENDnet's TPL-421E.

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P plugged in (left) and blocking socket (right)

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P plugged in (left) and blocking socket (right)

The image below shows adapter callouts. Note the cooling vents on both sides of the unit as well as on the bottom.

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P callouts

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P callouts

And here is an image that describes the LED indications.

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P LED indications

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P LED indications

The User Guide says the adapter goes into power-saving mode after 5 minutes of Ethernet inactivity and powers up again when activity resumes. This was tested via the following procedure, which ran without a hitch. Note the description above of the power light blinking during power save is incorrect. Instead, all adapter lights shut off during power save.

  1. Plugged in two adapters, let them link up and started a long ping from the HomePlug connected machine to another machine on my Ethernet LAN.
  2. Unplugged the cable connecting one adapter to my LAN switch. Verified that ping showed no response.
  3. Waited until the Ethernet-unplugged adapter entered power-save.
  4. Plugged Ethernet back in and verified the adapter powered up and ping returns resumed within a few seconds.

Inside

As noted in the introduction, the TP-LINK TL-PA8030P is based on the Qualcomm QCA7500 HomePlug AV2 MIMO IC. We've reviewed three other AV2-MIMO products so far, the ZyXEL PLA5405Kit, TRENDnet TPL-3202E2K and NETGEAR PL1200 Powerline 1200. The fifth AV2-MIMO product, the D-Link DHP-701AV PowerLine AV2 2000, is based on Broadcom's BCM60500 chipset.

The photo below shows the TL-PA8030P removed from its case. While the other Qualcomm-based powerline adapters use an AR8035 Gigabit Ethernet chip, the TP-LINK uses a QCA8337 Gigabit switch to support the three Gigabit Ethernet ports.

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P inside

TP-LINK TL-PA8030P inside

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