TP-LINK AV1300 Powerline Adapter full review
Powerline is an incredibly easy way to set-up your own speedy home network. Here we review the TP-LINK AV1300 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kit, which is one of the fastest we’ve tested.
There are two models available, both with a generous three Ethernet ports on the second-room adapter, and passthrough sockets on both. The TL-PA8033P KIT doesn't include the ability to create an extra Wi-Fi hotspot but the TL-WPA8631P KIT does.
Don't be scared off by the product names and numbers. TP-Link doesn't make this part easy, but the actual setup is a breeze, and all will be explained!
Why do you need a home network? Most of us nowadays have either a smart TV, Sky, Apple TV, PC or laptops, games consoles, or Tivo DVR. Or all of the above. These come with Ethernet ports on the back so you can get super-speedy wired Internet connections for catch-up TV, over-the-internet gameplay, or Web access. Read more on What is Powerline and read our Best Powerline Adapters round up.
Your Internet router/modem is usually in a different room to all these digital home entertainment devices. And who wants to stretch ugly Ethernet cables all over their house?
Plug one Powerline adapter into the wall socket near the router, and then connect the adapter to the router via Ethernet cable. Then take the other Powerline adapter and plug that into a power socket near the TV/Sky, Xbox etc. You can now connect these to the second adapter via another Ethernet cable. In between the two adapters, it’s your home’s electrical wiring that’s operating as the Ethernet cable.
Even better, if your home Wi-Fi is fading in certain rooms a distance from your wireless router, a Powerline that is Wi-Fi enabled can create a strong Wi-Fi hotspot in the room with the second Powerline adapter.
TP-Link AV1300 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kits
Set up is a breeze on just about every Powerline we’ve tested, and TP-Link’s AV1300 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kit is no exception. It really is Plug & Play. No need to install software or configure your settings.
The Powerline adapters are hailed as Gigabit as they have a theoretical maximum speed of 1,300Mbps. Slower 500Mbps and 200Mbps Powerline adapters are also available but less common. There are even faster speeds available but we have found that anything over 1,000Mbps should be sufficient for most home network needs.
In our tests the Gigabit Powerlines do indeed trump the older Powerlines, but not by doubling the speed.
Their “Multiple Input Multiple Output” (MIMO) functionality within HomePlug AV2 significantly improves data-transfer rates. It uses any two electrical wire lines within a three-wire network to boost performance.
And even the Gigabit 1,300Mbps Powerlines are unlikely to hit the theoretical max speed of the slowest.
Powerlines might be classed at 1,300Mbps but the fastest we’ve managed to get in a real-world environment is about 115Mbps. There are so many factors slowing down data transfers on electrical wiring that the reality is much less impressive than what’s printed on the box.
Don’t worry, this is plenty fast enough to boost your catch-up TV downloads. Just don't believe the promised speeds on the box – this is true of all Powerline products, so at least it's an even playing field.
There are two models of the TP-Link AV1300 Gigabit Powerline Starter Kit, each containing two adapters. The starter kit, the TL-PA8033P KIT, is pictured above. It features one Gigabit Ethernet port on the base adapter that connects to your router, and three Gigabit Ethernet ports on the second-room adapter. Handily both adapters feature passthrough sockets to save you from losing one at the wall socket when the adapters are plugged in. It costs £69.99 in the UK. We've seen this a little cheaper at Amazon.
Pictured below is the £114.99 TL-WPA8631P KIT (US$119.99), which is the same but with the ability to add a new, fast Wi-Fi hotspot in the second room. Again, this is cheaper at Amazon, at the time of writing, and for on Amazon.com.
TP-Link AV1300 Gigabit Powerline tests
We do two tests on Powerline. One is not very real-world but is tested in a house. We put both Powerlines on the same wall power socket and transfer a large file from one computer to another.
On this test, the TP-Link AV1300 equalled our previous top speed of 410Mbps, by transferring a 1GB file between PC and laptop in 20 seconds.
But a more realistic test is with the second Powerline adapter a couple of floors away from the first one that’s connected to the router.
In this tougher test the TP-Link AV1300 managed just over 100Mbps, which is only slightly slower than the other Gigabit Powerlines we have tested: the uglier but cheaper Solwise SmartLink 1200AV2 (107Mbps) and larger but more costly Devolo 1200 (104Mbps).
Every house is different so you may well get faster speeds than this, but we test all Powerlines in the same house for comparison purposes. Even then, speeds vary quite a lot depending on multiple factors. For example, Powerline speed is also heavily affected by what else is using your home writing at the time. Battery chargers and microwaves will noticeably slow Powerline speeds.
TP-Link AV1300 Gigabit Powerline design and features
The TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Starter Kit is subtle in white but larger than many adapters as they feature their own power socket on the front – which is helpful as it means you don’t give up a valuable socket by using these adapters. There is also evidence that using this Passthrough socket can eliminate some of the electrical noise mentioned above.
The Ethernet ports are at the top of the adapter, which is handy if your power sockets are close to the floor line.
The base adapter connects to your router and so requires only one Ethernet port. This is actually a unit called the TL-PA8010P but it's the adapter in the second room, with three Ethernet ports, that the starter kit takes its name from.
The best value multi-port adapter kit is the £69.99 TL-PA8033PKIT that has three Gigabit Ethernet ports, which you may well find is handier if you have multiple smart devices that demand fast Internet connections.
The TL-WPA8631P KIT features the ability to create an extra Wi-Fi hotspot in the second room, which usually boosts wireless speeds for your smartphones, laptops and tablets. In our real-world tests this new Wi-Fi hotspot linked at a 90Mbps speed, which is not so far off the wired speed and one of the best we've seen. It is more expensive though so only consider this if your house suffers from weak wireless connections.
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