TP-LINK AV1200 Gigabit Powerline Adapter full review
Powerline is an incredibly easy way to set-up your own speedy home network. Here we review the TP-LINK AV1200 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kit, which uses the latest fast Powerline chips to make it one of the fastest we’ve tested.
There are four models available: TL-PA8010KIT with one Ethernet port, TL-PA8010PKIT with one Ethernet port and pass-through sockets, and the TL-PA8030PKIT with three ports and pass-through, and the TL-WPA8630PKIT that includes extra Wi-Fi functionality). 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 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.
But 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.
TP-Link AV1200 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kits
Set up is a breeze on just about every Powerline we’ve tested, and TP-Link’s AV1200 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kit is no exception. It really is Plug & Play. No need to install software or configure your settings.
The latest Powerline adapters are being hailed as Gigabit as they have a theoretical maximum speed of 1,200Mbps. Slower 500Mbps and 200Mbps Powerline adapters are also available.
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 1,200Mbps Powerlines are unlikely to hit the theoretical max speed of the slowest.
All Powerlines are classed as either 200/500/1200Mbps but the fastest we’ve managed to get in areal-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 four models of the TP-Link AV1200 Gigabit Powerline Starter Kit, each containing two adapters. The starter kit, the TL-PA8010 KIT, is pictured above. It features one Gigabit Ethernet port per adapter, and costs £54.99 (US$69.99). We've seen this at Amazon UK for £45.49, and on Amazon.com for $59.99.
Pictured below is the £95.99 TL-8010P KIT (US$79.99), which is the same but with a handy pass-through socket on both adapters so you don't lose a wall socket after installation. This is much cheaper online from Amazon UK at £57, at the time of writing, and for $79.99 on Amazon.com.
The £89.99 (US$99.99) TL-PA8030P Kit (pictured below) has three Gigabit Ethernet ports on each adapter plus the pass-through sockets. At the time of writing this was selling on Amazon UK for £69.99, and on Amazon.com for $84.98.
Finally, the TL-WPA8630P KIt costs £124.99 (US$149.99) but includes not only the three Gigabit Ethernet ports and pass-through socket, but an additional wireless function on the second adapter that means you can create a new Wi-Fi hotspot in a room far from your Internet router – great for houses with weak Wi-Fi. Pictured below, this version's base unit has just the one Gigabit Ethernet port, which is acceptable as mostly you need just the one by the router. We have seen this on sale at Amazon for under £100, or on Amazon.com for US$149.99.
TP-Link AV1200 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 AV1200 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 AV1200 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 AV1200 Gigabit Powerline design and features
The TP-Link AV1200 Powerline Starter Kit is subtle in white but larger than many adapters as three of the models 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 port is at the top of the adapter, which is handy if your power sockets are close to the floorline.PA8010
If you have plenty of wall sockets then the TL-PA8010KIT, which doesn't have the pass-through sockets, is your cheapest option, but for £20 more (and check our prices below for the best online prices) you'll save sockets with the additional pass-throughs. We've seen this at Amazon UK for £45.49, and on Amazon.com for $59.99.
The £95.99 TL-PA8010P KIT version of the TP-Link AV1200 features just one Gigabit Ethernet port on each adapter, unlike some of the others that boast two or three. You could add an Ethernet switch for about £20 if you need more Ethernet connections but having more than one can be useful if you need to connect multiple devices to the Powerline. This is much cheaper online from Amazon UK at £57, at the time of writing, and for $79.99 on Amazon.com.
Better value is the £89.99 TL-PA8030P KIT (less than a tenner more in price) that has three Gigabit Ethernet ports, which you may well find is handier if you have multiple smart devices that demand fast Internet connections. At the time of writing this was selling on Amazon UK for £69.99, and on Amazon.com for $84.98.
Ther TL-WPA8630P KIT also 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. We have seen this on sale at Amazon for under £100, or on Amazon.com for US$149.99.
TP-LINK AV1200 Gigabit Powerline Adapter: Specs
- TL-PA8010PKIT: HomePlug AV2 standard compliant, high-speed data transfer rates of up to 1200 Mbps
- 1 x Gigabit port per adapter
- Integrated power socket. TL-PA8030PKIT: HomePlug AV2 standard compliant, high-speed data transfer rates of up to 1200 Mbps
- 3 x Gigabit port per adapter
- Integrated power socket