TP-Link AV2000 Powerline Starter Kit review

The TP-Link AV2000 2-Port Gigabit PassThrough Powerline Starter Kit (TL-PA9020P KIT and TL-PA9020 KIT) is one of the fastest set of Powerline adapters we’ve tested. See our Best Powerline Adapters round up.

At £99 (see the bottom of this review for the latest online prices) we think it represents excellent value. There are cheaper Powerline adapters out there but none of these match the AV2000 for speed and features.

Powerline is a simple plug-and-play technology that will transform your home network so that you can near-replicate Internet router speeds in more than one room of your house. For more details see What is Powerline?

You simply plug one adapter into a wall power socket near your Internet router, and connect adapter and router via the supplied Ethernet cable.

Then in the second room where you require fast, wired Internet access – say for your smart TVSky+ and Virgin Tivo set-top box PVRs or Apple TV, PC or laptops, games consoles and even smart thermostats – you plug the second Powerline adapter into a wall socket, and then connect the devices via more Ethernet cable. (Most starter kits come with two Ethernet cables.) Se also: Best TV Media Streamers.

It’s that simple. No software downloads or scratching your head at obscure instruction manuals.

In essence Powerline is a method for carrying data – including audio and video – over standard electrical cables in the home, rather than stringing ugly Ethernet cables all over your house.

Powerline speed myths

Let’s get this out of the way at the beginning. While Powerline adapters come in a speed range of between 200Mbps and 1,200Mbps you will not actually achieve such speeds in real life. These are the theoretical maximum speeds promised by the processors, and there are way too many environmental factors that slow this by an order of magnitude.

All Powerline manufacturers (TP-Link, Devolo, D-Link, Solwise, Netgear, and TrendNet included) stick to the theoretical max speeds but none can actually meet the promises.

That doesn’t mean Powerlines are useless, just that you shouldn’t expect the stated speeds. In general the 500Mbps Powerlines are faster than the 200Mbps, and the 1,200Mbps adapters are faster than the 500Mbps – so use the speeds as a gauge of speed between models.

TP-Link TL-PA9020P Kit Powerline starter kit

TP-Link AV2000 Powerline review: Speed

We thought Powerline speeds had reached a plateau for a while with the release of 1,200Mbps adapters but now TP-Link is claiming a 2,000Mbps maximum. TP-Link still offers its AV1200 Powerline adapters, starting at £55. On top of the speed boost the AV2000 boasts more ports and a passthrough compared to the entry-level AV1200 model.

It uses the same 2x2 MIMO with beamforming technology as the 1,200Mbps Powerlines so the faster speed must be due to the wider data bandwidth (86MHz) it enjoys over the 1,200Mbps adapter' 67MHz.

AV2 MIMO utilizes all three wires in an electrical cable, transmitting data on any two pairs. It improves speed and longer distances between adapters.

At PC Advisor we use real-world tests to determine Powerline speeds. Much is dependent on the building it is tested in, and we suspect our house slightly plays down possible speeds, but having one test environment means we can compare different makes and models of Powerline adapter.

So how does the TP-Link AV2000 perform?

In our first Room Test we check speeds when both adapters are in the same room – which is not how you use Powerline! We use this to test its top speed and The AV2000 did very well, scoring 432Mbps by transferring a 1GB file in 19 seconds.

When we positioned the second adapter in a room two floors down and about 30 metres apart speeds naturally dropped. This time the AV2000 scored 117Mbps ­ way below the 2,000Mbps on the box but still the fastest we’ve seen from a Powerline.

Remember that you might see faster (or slower) speeds in your home, but the AV2000 stands as the fastest we’ve tested so far.

TP-Link AV2000 Powerline starter kit

TP-Link AV2000 Powerline review: Features

The TL-PA9020P KIT version (pictured above) of the TP-Link AV2000 features a pass-through socket (basically, another socket on the adapter that means you can add another plug to it) on each adapter, which is great for not taking up your valuable wall power sockets in both rooms.

There is also a TL-PA9020 KIT version (pictured below) that doesn't have the pass-through sockets. At £89.99 it's £10 cheaper than the TL-PA9020P KIT (the last P stands for pass-through) but we'd pay the extra tenner for the saved power socket. (Also, at the time of writing you could buy the pass-through version £5 cheaper than the supposedly less expensive model (click these links for the most up-to-date Amazon prices, or check at the top and bottom of this review).

TP-Link TL-PA9020 Kit Powerline

Each adapter boasts two Gigabit Ethernet ports – older 500Mbps Powerlines used slower-grade 10/100 Ethernet ports that limited any transfer speed to 100Mbps.

Having two ports is great if you have more than one smart device that requires a wired connection for top speed. Many of us have three or more such gadgets, and there are Powerline adapters that include up to three ports. Alternatively you can buy an Ethernet Switch that will include five or more ports that you can attach to the Powerline adapter.

Some Powerlines can also create an extra Wi-Fi hotspot in the second room – handy if the Wi-Fi in your house is particularly weak. The AV2000 doesn’t have this wireless booster function. Check out our Best Powerline round up for alternatives that do.

The AV2000 seats its ports at the top, which is useful if your power sockets are close to the floor, as it gives the cables more space.

TP-Link AV2000 2-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline: Specs

  • 2,000Mbps claimed
  • two Gigabit Ethernet ports per adapter (2 in kit)
  • pass-through sockets on each adapter.
  • 2,000Mbps claimed
  • two Gigabit Ethernet ports per adapter (2 in kit)
  • pass-through sockets on each adapter.

SHOULD I BUY TP-LINK AV2000 2-PORT GIGABIT PASSTHROUGH POWERLINE?

We were impressed by the real-world performance of the TP-Link AV2000, which scored as high as we’ve seen in our tests. The inclusion of pass-through sockets on the TL-PA9020P KIT version and two Gigabit Ethernet ports per adapter (on both the TL-PA9020P KIT and TL-PA9020 KIT) are also welcomed. There’s no extra Wi-Fi hotspot function but if your house Wi-Fi is acceptable this isn’t the worst omission. If you want a fast Powerline starter kit with more than one Ethernet port plus pass-through this is highly recommended, and is at decent price too.