|At a Glance|
|Product||- Actiontec 500 Mbps Powerline Network Adapter Kit (PWR500)
- TRENDnet 500 Mbps Compact Powerline AV Adapter Kit (TPL-406E2K)
|Summary||500 Mbps powerline adapters based on new Qualcomm Atheros chipset|
|Pros||• Throughput exceeds other 500 Mbps adapters as distances increase
• Very budget friendly
|Cons||• 10/100 Ethernet port
• Can't reach > 100 Mbps total throughput that adapters with Gigabit Ethernet can
• Not available as single adapters
You might be looking at the cons and wondering how an adapter can be classified as 500 Mbps when it has a only 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port. If you're confused, you're not alone. It appears that powerline marketeers are taking the same approach as their wireless brethren and promoting link-rate throughput numbers far in excess of what products actually deliver in real-world use.
Claiming that a product is "500 Mbps" when it has only a 100 Mbps Ethernet port is like N wireless gear claiming 300 Mbps when they have 10/100 ports or the new draft 802.11ac gear claiming 1300 Mbps while having only Gigabit ports.
But I digress. We know from looking at the performance charts for powerline adapters that actual throughput is nowhere near the advertised throughput anyway. So let's take a closer look at these new adapters and then see how they compare to some of their 500 Mbps competitors.
I first checked the HomePlug Certified Products database for both products and found neither was listed. But on Actiontec's datasheet, I saw the adapter listed as HomePlug certified, so decided to clarify the status with Actiontec. I was told the chipset in the adapter is Homeplug certified, but the adapter itself is still going though the process of certification and they expect it to be certified soon. So Actiontec has gotten ahead of itself on claiming that its adapter is HomePlug Certified.
Unlike other 500 Mbps powerline adapters, and more like the 200 Mbps powerline adapters, the Ethernet ports on both products are 10/100, not Gigabit. The 10/100 port is a design tradeoff Qualcomm Atheros (QCA) made to get everything into the AR7420 chip as you can see in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Qualcomm Atheros 7420 specs
You can see that the integrated 10/100 controller helps reduce the footprint of the adapters. One adapter from the Actiontec PWR500 and TRENDnet TPL-406E2K kits are shown on the left next to the NETGEAR XAVB5101 that replaces the older XAVB5001.
Figure 2: Adapter comparison size, left to right, Actiontec PWR500, TRENDnet TPL-406E2K, NETGEAR XAVB5101, NETGEAR XAVB5001
As far as LEDs go, on the TRENDnet we have Power, Powerline Connection and Ethernet. Powerline Connection provides a four state indication of Best (Green), Better (Amber), Good (Red), or No Connection (Off). On the Actiontec we have Power, Link, and Ethernet. Link only appears to give a solid green when connected, regardless of connection quality. This can be seen in Figure 2 below.
Figure 3: Actiontec documentation on LK light
The AR7420 specs above provide an indication of what we are going to see inside. Obviously we see the Atheros AR7420-AL3C chip in both adapters. Within that chip are the memory, a three-port capable Ethernet switch, and all the other goodies. The little companion chip you see in each picture above the AR7420 is the AR1540 Line Driver IC, which handles analog interface duties.
Figure 4: Inside shot - Actiontec left, TRENDnet right
Related Items:Actiontec announces HomePlug AV kit
NETGEAR XAVB5101 Powerline Nano 500 Set Reviewed
Cisco Linksys PLE400 and PLS400 Powerline AV Adapters Reviewed
TRENDnet To Ship 500 Mbps Powerline Adapters
Belkin Announces First "Gigabit" Powerline Adapter
Average user rating from: 4 user(s)
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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 :||2.5||Performance :||2.3||Reliability :||1.8|
Workinhg OK for me so far
July 03, 2013
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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.
February 17, 2013
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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.
October 07, 2012
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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.
Very hot, not performance wise.
September 24, 2012
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Purchased two Actiontec kits (4 adapters) and after being plugged in for 20 mins. one adapted quit with a burnt smell. One kit down. It works, but nowhere near expectations. Plugging adapters side by side on the same electrical circuit yields nothing better than a red connection. Started looking for a replacement product right away, as this product feels very unstable and runs very hot.