Netgear XAV5101 Powerline Networking Adapter Review

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Gigahertz20

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Powerline networking is too inconsistent, I bought a bunch to network a friends house and they were terrible for speeds so they got returned. We bought a couple MoCA adapters and networked his house using the existing coax cable outlets, works great. I wish MoCA would have caught on more, they are a little expensive but totally work it. Just search for MoCA 2.0 on Amazon, you can get two bonded MoCA 2.0 adapters for around $190. The 2.0 version is suppose to be very fast.
 

rantoc

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Doing only bandwidth measurements don't paint the entire picture, latency is in many cases are even more important than the pure bandwidth (when speaking about faster connections)
 

malhussaini

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re:rmse17

Latency in my experience for powerline networks is 3-4 ms compared to less than 1 ms for ethernet.
 

az_fred

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I bought a pair of Netgear AV500 powerline adapters about a year ago. To my surprise they are working out wonderfully. One unit actually has built in WiFi to cover a dead spot in my house. I can consistently get over 30 Mbps over WiFi which is great for browsing and movies on my tablet. It works nearly all the time, with an occasional reset. The pair only cost about $70 at my local Fry's. It was much better than I thought it was going to be!
 

InvalidError

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Same room, floor or whatever else is of little importance. What matters is wiring distance and tidiness between the two adapters.

If both adapters are on the same breaker run (often but not always the case within a given room) and there are no dirty loads putting noise on it or EMI filters attenuating the signal, you get good performance. If the two adapters are on different breakers on the same phase at the breaker box, you get lower performance due to additional attenuation and wiring in-between. If the other adapter is on the other phase, you get worse attenuation still since only the signal traveling on the neutral reaches the other branches and further reduced performance.
 

truerock

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Is Matthew Matchen mentally unstable. How could he write an entire article about Powerline and not explain how home electrical wiring is done. Somehow he thinks that the distance between 2 electrical outlets is somehow relevant. Is Matchen completely braindead?
 

dragget

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We've now had two successive Powerline reviews. Both kits reviewed have been based on HomePlug equipment that is 3-4 years from the current state of the art. I have a set of HomePlug AV2 adapters that I've been using for 4 years now which are based on the same chipset as the units in the review. Personally, I'd prefer information on how the new MIMO stuff stacks up. Wouldn't it be more helpful to most of your readers to test and review newer products?
 

truerock

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The AV2-MIMO adapters typically run around 100Mbps in a worst case scenario (e.g. long run through a circuit breaker). The newer G.hn adapters (e.g. using Marvel chipsets) increase that to about 140Mbps.

I have no idea why anyone would waste their time testing obsolete Home AV adapters.
 

truerock

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http://www.homeplug.org/explore-homeplug/faq-consumers/#AV2a

I’ve read about AV2 for a while, how is AV2 MIMO better than existing HomePlug AV and AV2 products?
The short answer is improved quality of service (QOS) and coverage to all areas of the home. The existing HomePlug AV and AV2 products use 2 wires (hot and neutral) and can be referred to as “SISO” (for single-input / single output). AV2 MIMO with beam forming uses those 2 wires plus the ground to greatly increase the reliability of high-bandwidth service to all areas of the home by a factor 2 to 4 times as compared to earlier technology (MIMO stands for multiple-in / multiple out).
 

matchenm

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Same room, floor or whatever else is of little importance. What matters is wiring distance and tidiness between the two adapters.

If both adapters are on the same breaker run (often but not always the case within a given room) and there are no dirty loads putting noise on it or EMI filters attenuating the signal, you get good performance. If the two adapters are on different breakers on the same phase at the breaker box, you get lower performance due to additional attenuation and wiring in-between. If the other adapter is on the other phase, you get worse attenuation still since only the signal traveling on the neutral reaches the other branches and further reduced performance.
Hi InvalidError,

Great points! Check out the "How We Test" article where we describe those test factors, and let us know if we missed the ones you mentioned!

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/how-we-test-powerline-networking-adapters,4217.html

Regards,

Matt
 

matchenm

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Is Matthew Matchen mentally unstable. How could he write an entire article about Powerline and not explain how home electrical wiring is done. Somehow he thinks that the distance between 2 electrical outlets is somehow relevant. Is Matchen completely braindead?
Hi truerock!

Check out the How We Test article (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/how-we-test-powerline-networking-adapters,4217.html) where we provide more detail on the wiring layout and breaker considerations.

Hope that helps.

Regards,

Matt
 

InvalidError

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It isn't so much a matter of "not covered" as it is a matter of "not quantified" since you are using whatever your home wiring is. Ideally, you would use a rack with three or four separate 60' runs of 3x14, outlets every 10' on each to plug adapters into to create best-case scenarios (ex.: same room could be from 40' on L1 to 30' also on L1, longest distance through the breaker box between circuits on opposite phases would be 60' on L1 to 60' on L2), then add additional household loads at various taps (ex.: lamps with a few CFLs and LED lamps, surge suppression bars with EMI filters, PC supplies, etc.) into those two (or more) runs to replicate real-world conditions between two (or more) adapters.
 

matchenm

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Thanks for clarifying!

I agree that quantifying the runs would provide additional info on the limits of my applied testing. In this town home, the breaker is in the garage from which all wiring is run throughout the house. I did want to provide more detail for the linear length of each outlet-to-base run when writing the How We Test article, but I don't have the electrical plans. I suppose I could contact the builder and request a copy, so I'll see how difficult/time-intensive that will be to pursue and see if that info can be retconned.

I also thought about testing beyond just distance, to include load and vary using the adapters for gaming/streaming etc during heavy and light loads, but in the interest of time with respect to publication the initial focus was on (as you rightly said) unquantified distance.

I'll pass along your awesomely constructive feedback for future reviewing, and thank you for opining!

Regards,

Matt
 

matchenm

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Hi dragget,

We did review some HomePlug AV2 Powerline Adapters in our prior Round-Up: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/homeplug-av2-powerline-networking-adapters,4218.html, but they're from 2014. I recently tested some AV1200-class adapters (2016) where I saw between approximately 100 to 200 Mbps while testing. Not sure if/when that piece will make publication, but I agree that publishing testing on newer equipment is best!

Regards,

Matt
 

InvalidError

Titan
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If the older models are substantially discounted, there is still merit in covering it for those cases where you need to bring connectivity to a remote location and care more about low cost than performance. Ex.: my workbench's laptop would be fine with a 5Mbps connection if WiFi didn't reach or I didn't have Ethernet nearby since all I use it for is loading PDFs and other simple stuff like that, same goes with my living room PC which is mainly used for light web browsing and would be fine with anything over 5Mbps too.
 
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