If the router is not powerful enough to supply the entire house with WiFi, then you have to support it a little. Repeaters (WiFi amplifiers) are often used here: They forward the data between the end device and router via WiFi and thus increase the range of the wireless connection. But they too have weaknesses: If the distances are too great and if the reinforced concrete walls are too thick, they reach their limits. Powerline adapters don’t care about walls and ceilings, because they circumvent these problems by using the power line for data transmission. As the powerline adapter test shows, this technology is not perfect either.
How does Powerline work?
A powerline set consists of at least two adapters. One is connected to the router via LAN cable and lands next to it in the socket. Additional adapters can be plugged into any socket in the house. There they establish a connection to the first adapter and exchange the data over the power line. Depending on the model, the adapters not only have LAN sockets but also radio via WLAN, for example, to supply notebooks or tablets with the Internet.
Are all adapters compatible with each other?
No. Most adapters use the standard AV HomePlug. Devices from different manufacturers and speed classes can be connected to one another, but slower adapters then slow down faster adapters. The Devolo devices of the Magic series use the latest chips from the G.hn standard instead of Homeplug AV. Although this ensures a higher speed, it makes the adapter incompatible with home plugs – which also include Devolo’s older dLAN devices. G.hn and Homeplug adapters can be operated in parallel as two separate networks, but they then interfere with each other so that they do not reach their full speed.
Magic 2 WiFi Starter Kit
- to offer
- Magic 2 WiFi Starter Kit
- Rapid powerline speed
- Good WiFi performance
- Sparse parental controls
- Does not work with older adapters
How fast is the powerline?
Even if the manufacturers advertise their devices with data rates of up to 2,400 megabits per second (Mbps) – in the test the connectors did not even begin to manage that. The fastest adapter with Homeplug AV (TP-Link TL-WPA8630P) achieved speeds of up to 467 Mbps. The Devolo Magic 2 WiFi achieved a rapid 686 Mbps thanks to the new G.hn chips. The new top model Magic 2 WiFi Next achieved an even higher average across all measurement points and raised the bar even higher. Annoying: The Devolo Magic 1 WiFi and Magic 1 WiFi Mini have G.hn chips, but Devolo uses a LAN connection with 100 Mbps. If you have a faster Internet connection, you cannot fully exploit its potential via LAN.
In practice, however, the top values from the test can hardly be achieved, because depending on the living situation, several factors slow down the powerline adapter tremendously. One problem is the distance: when the data has to travel a long distance on the power line, the speed suffers. And if there are still many devices plugged in on the line, a VDSL 100 connection can sometimes no longer be exhausted. In the test, for example, two smartphone power supplies, two desk lamps and a router reduced the speed by up to 60 percent.
Who has the best WiFi?
When it comes to powerline speeds, the AVM FritzPowerline 1260E doesn’t quite come close to the top models from Devolo, TP-Link and D-Link. In the WLAN, however, the adapter from the FritzBox manufacturer flexes its muscles: The 1260E managed up to 646 Mbps via WLAN-ac (5 gigahertz frequency band). Even at the most distant measuring point, 261 Mbps arrived. For comparison: the slightly older Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac achieved 325 Mbps at close range and 116 Mbps at the last measuring point.
In the old n-standard (2.4 gigahertz), TP-Link has the edge with data rates of up to 297 Mbps. The Wi-Fi speed of the expensive Devolo Magic 2 WiFi is decent, but not at the top level. The Magic 2 WiFi Next did better here. The cheaper Devolo dLAN 550+ WiFi and Magic 1 WiFi Mini, on the other hand, only transmit in the overcrowded 2.4 gigahertz band – if you have a reasonably up-to-date smartphone, notebook or tablet, you should get an adapter that also supports the 5 gigahertz Tape uses.
High speed is not only a question of the chips installed, the functions for WLAN optimization also play a role. The most important: band steering. The adapter automatically pushes the end device to the currently faster frequency band. Most devices from AVM and Devolo can do this, while the tested devices from Asus, TP-Link and D-Link have to fit here.
What is Mesh?
In a mesh network, the adapters are particularly closely interlocked, which opens up new functions. The most important: If the user moves around the house with a smartphone, for example, the adapters ideally pass the mobile phone on to the optimal access point without noticeable interruption of the connection. With adapters without mesh technology, it can happen that the smartphone under the roof is still connected to the WLAN of the adapter on the ground floor with a correspondingly moderate signal – although an adapter with a better network is plugged into the socket in the attic.
AVM uses the Mesh Access Point Steering function, while Devolo uses fast roaming for almost all devices. In the latter case, the connection change depends more on the decision of the terminal. Devolo Magic devices can be used for Fast Roaming ex works; an update is already available for older dLAN adapters. The AVM FritzPowerline 1260E has learned Access Point Steering with the operating system version Fritz OS 7.10. The version FritzOS 7.20 has improved the function again. In addition to fast roaming, the Devolo Magic 2 WiFi Next also masters access point steering.