TP-Link AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi kit full review
The TP-Link AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi Kit (TL-WPA4230P) features all the bells and whistles you could want from a non-gigabit Powerline setup. Also read: The 14 best Powerline adapters 2014/2015
While Devolo has surged ahead with its gigabit Powerline in the form of the Devolo dLan 1200+ adapters TP-Link is sticking with the less-speedy but probably all you need 500Mbps systems that are becoming an increasingly popular way of creating fast home networks for smart TVs, games consoles and Sky+ and Tivo boxes that all are enhanced with a wired Ethernet network connection.
Setting up a Powerline home network is so easy it’s hard to believe. Just plug one adapter into the power socket near your Internet router, and attach adapter and router with one of the supplied Ethernet cables.
In the second room – where you need the fast connection that Wi-Fi just isn’t going to deliver – plus the other adapter into another wall socket near the devices that need to connect to a network. Then link these to the second adapter by Ethernet cables. Job done.
TP-Link’s AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi kit is a speedy Powerline system that can also add a Wi-Fi hotspot to that second room. This isn’t just a boost of your existing Wi-Fi service (if you have one). It’s a new Wi-Fi hotspot so it’s like adding another wireless router in the second room. It avoids all the signal drop-off you get through distance, walls, etc.
It also features an integrated passthrough power socket that allows an additional device or power bar to be connected to the adapter as though it were a normal wall socket – so in effect it doesn’t use up a valuable power socket.
There is also evidence that using the passthrough socket can shield the Powerline signal from some other electrical interference.
The TL-WPA4230P KIT is actually two separate adapters boxed as a starter kit. The base unit, which you plug into your internet router, is the TL-PA4020P, with two Ethernet ports.
The second adapter, which sits near your TV, Sky box etc, is the TL-WPA4230P, with three Ethernet ports and the Wi-Fi hotspot.
We like the number of Ethernet ports as a rising number of home-entertainment systems are lost without an Internet connection these days. Most Powerline adapters feature just the one Ethernet port.
The closest rival to the TP-Link AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi kit is Devolo’s dLan 500AV Wireless+ Starter Kit. This too has three Ethernet ports on the second adapter and a Wi-Fi function – although the base unit has just one, compared to the TP-Link’s two.
TP-Link AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi: speed tests
Both the TP-Link and Devolo scored well on our real-world speed tests.
As mentioned in our What is Powerline feature, you can forget about manufacturers’ claims of 500Mbps speeds. It’s much more like 70-100Mbps. But don’t worry as all the Powerline makers use these theoretical maximum speeds in their product names, and 60-100Mbps should be well enough even for streaming HD TV and movies.
Our first speed test checks out how fast the Powerlines can run in a less-than-real-world situation where the two adapters sit next to each other, but it's a decent benchmark to begin with. The TP-Link AV500 scored a near 100Mbps score, which is respectable.
In our real-world test where the second adapter is installed in a second room two floors away from the router and base unit. Here the TP-Link scored a modest but acceptable 65Mbps.
Finally we tested the signal strength of the new Wi-Fi hotspot. Here it managed 54Mbps, which is good considering it's not much slower than the wired speed.
The Devolo 500AV scored almost identical scores.
(If you want the very fastest speeds then check out the £159 Devolo 1200+, which cruised at 126Mbps, or its cheaper sibling the £99 Devolo 650, which notched up 88Mbps in the real-world test. All the scores of the best Powerlines listed here.
The Devolo adapters are quite a bit bigger than the TP-Link reviewed here, but work better in houses that have the power socket close to the floor or skirting boards as the Ethernet ports are located at the top.
The TP-Link has its ports at the bottom, so isn’t good for situations with low power sockets.
As the speeds are pretty similar this might be the only real deciding factor in choosing between the two systems – except for price, where the TP-Link is cheaper at £89.99 instead of £129.99. Check out the foot of this review for the latest, best prices.
TP-Link AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi kit: Specs
- 500Mbps Powerline adapters TL-WPA4230P & TL-PA4020P
- 10/100 Ethernet.