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Performance

The AP had v1.00 firmware loaded on the AP. I didn't use the TPL-421E's utility to find out what flavor firmware it was running. Its serial number label, however, called out hardware version 1.02 and firmware 2.0.0.382. The APs' radios were set to channel 6 and 20 MHz bandwidth for 2.4 GHz and channel 40 and 80 MHz bandwidth for 5 GHz.

I started by measuring powerline throughput with the AP in the same Locations A, C and E used for powerline adapter testing (described here). You can learn all about the locations in How We Test Powerline Products.

I used a Dell XPS13 running Windows 10 Home 64 bit with a Dell Wireless 1820A Wi-Fi adapter as the test client. The 1820A is a 2x2 802.11ac adapter using a Broadcom BCM4350 client device. iperf3 was used to run traffic between a Windows 7 machine running iperf3 server connected to the TPL-421E powerline adapter and the test client. The powerline adapter was plugged into an outlet outside my office, which is not behind an AFCI breaker that I know reduces powerline throughput.

I first checked throughput with the test client connected via Ethernet (using an Anker Y-3461 USB 3.0 gigabit Ethernet adapter) and both server and client plugged into a gigabit switch, measuring 602 Mbps downlink (server to client) and 930 Mbps uplink.

The plot below compares downlink throughput for powerline, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connections at the three test locations. The baseline Wi-Fi measurements were taken with the client around 10 feet from the AP. Only the AP was moved for the Liv Rm and Kitchen measurements; XPS test client was in the same spot in the Kitchen for both. The intent was to see if trading off possible powerline throughput reduction vs. stronger Wi-Fi signal resulted in a better connection.

Throughput comparison - downlink

Throughput comparison - downlink

The results show the tradeoff didn't work well in the Liv Rm case, which had lower powerline throughput than the Kitchen. Moving the AP closer to the test client located in the Kitchen definitely improved both down and uplink throughput.

Throughput comparison - uplink

Throughput comparison - uplink

I should note the combination of TPL-430AP and TPL-421E powerline adapter had lower powerline performance than the TPL-421E pair measured back in 2015.

TRENDnet TPL-421E throughput- downlink

TRENDnet TPL-421E throughput- downlink

Here are those plots for comparison.

TRENDnet TPL-421E throughput- uplink

TRENDnet TPL-421E throughput- uplink

Closing Thoughts

So for around $120, TRENDnet's "WiFi Everywhere" kit was able to bring over 100 Mbps of Wi-Fi to one of my home's Wi-Fi deserts. I initially wasn't that impressed until I went back and looked at the alternatives.

The table brings together some of the hybrid Wi-Fi extenders I've tested over the years. I also included the just-tested NETGEAR EX8000 "Tri-band" extender that represents the state-of-the-art in pure Wi-Fi extenders.

Product Price Technology Kitchen Dead Spot Performance
NETGEAR EX8000 Nighthawk X6S Tri-Band WiFi Range Extender $230 AC1733 + AC1200 Wi-Fi extender 2.4 GHz: 77 - 117 Mbps
5 GHz: 127 - 195 Mbps
TRENDnet TPL-430APK WiFi Everywhere Powerline 1200 AV2 Wireless Kit $120 HomePlug AV2 1200 / AC1200 AP 2.4 GHz: 80 - 85 Mbps
5 GHz: 108 - 131 Mbps
Arris SBX-AC1200P SURFboard Wireless Network Extender with RipCurrent + Arris SBX-1000P Wired Network Extender with RipCurrent ~ $145
~$55
G.hn powerline / AC1200 AP 2.4 GHz: 65 - 74 Mbps
5 GHz: 90 - 104 Mbps
NETGEAR R7300DST Nighthawk DST Router & DST Adapter $100 - $200 HomePlug AV2 SISO / AC650 AP 2.4 GHz: 45 - 50 Mbps
5 GHz: 105 Mbps
D-Link DHP-W306AV PowerLine AV Wireless N Extender Discontinued HomePlug AV200 / N300 AP(2.4 GHz only) 2.4 GHz:~ 35 Mbps
Wi-Fi extension alternatives

The table lists the products in roughly the order of performance, with NETGEAR's EX8000 in top place, but not by much. TRENDnet's kit gives the NETGEAR a run for its money on performance and costs only around half as much.

With all the variables affecting both Wi-Fi and powerline performance that lurk in typical homes, it's hard to say which product will absolutely cure your Wi-Fi dead spot woes. But TRENDnet's combination of best-in-class HomePlug AV2 and AC1200 Wi-Fi is a recipe that looks like it will be hard to beat for the price.

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