TP-LINK AV1200 Powerline Starter Kit Review

Lightning fast speeds and an HD streamer's dream!

by Greg Hook
Tech Review

58

Highly Recommended
TP-LINK AV1200 Powerline Starter Kit Review
SRP: £82.00

What is the TP-LINK AV1200?

Here at AVForums, we are firmly of the belief that Powerline Adapters are one of those products that, whilst not particularly exciting, are very much an essential device for today's modern network connected home. With 500Mbps rated adapters available for under £30, right up to all singing and dancing 1200Mbps rated AV Pass through and WiFi adapters approaching £160 there are devices to suit all budgets and all requirements.

We've reviewed several of the current crop of 1200Mbps and 650Mbps rated adapters of late, with the Devolo dLAN 1200+ Starter Kit standing out as one of the best so far. Missing from AVForums reviews since 2013 are the offerings from TP-LINK, but thankfully we have now got our hands on their latest Powerline Adapter set. The TL-PA8010P KIT is a 1200Mbps rated pair of Adapters offering AV Pass through and a single Gigabit Ethernet port per adapter. Coming in at just £82 currently, this looks a very good prospect, especially when compared to the identically specified Devolo set which is a lot more expensive at £115. The Devolo set saw excellent speeds topping out at 339Mbps, read on to see how this cheaper set from TP-LINK fares.....

Design & Connections

Whilst not an item you are likely to have on display the TP-LINK PA8010P KIT is still fairly attractive. With an all-white, hard plastic build and a modern rounded design it won't stand out too much or look too unsightly. Our only issue, which we have had with most Powerline Adapters, is that the Ethernet port is on the top which makes it slightly difficult if you are one that likes to have as little cable on show as possible. We aren't sure why the various manufacturers keep putting the ports on the top, but hopefully this will be changed soon.

Both Powerline Adapters in the kit are identical, with a single Gigabit Ethernet port per adapter (a three port version, the TL-8030P KIT is due for release very soon) and the excellent AV Pass through feature. If funds permit we'd recommend this every time as it saves losing a power socket. The adapters are also small enough to fit in a double wall socket or even a four way extension without obscuring the adjacent sockets. Using them in four way extensions is never recommended by the various manufacturers but we've never had a problem with any of the adapters we have tested.

The LED lights are this time found on the side of the device, which is a slight improvement as it keeps them out of the way. We have three LEDs, the Power LED indicating if the device is on or pairing, the Powerline LED which will illuminate Green or Red depending on the speed of the network and the Ethernet LED which simply illuminates when you have a device connected to the port. It's a basic system but does everything you need on devices such as this.

TP-LINK AV1200

Is it easy to install?

Powerline Adapters continue to be one of the easiest and quickest devices we've ever come across to setup and install. The installation process is simple and quick taking no more than a minute or two. You simply plug one adapter into socket near your router, plug in the Ethernet cable to it, then plug the second adapter in a socket wherever you like. Press the pair button on each device and within a minute or less the pairing is finished and your Powerline Network is setup and fully operational. No software configuration is needed or any other setting up.

The adapters are all HomePlug compliant, so adding additional adapters will cause no problems and is a simple as pressing the pair button on the main adapter and again on your new adapter. We have also tested several different manufacturers devices together on the same network such as TP-LINK, Netgear and Devolo. You can mix and match all of their adapters, they all paired and connected quickly and with no problems at all.

How did we test it?

Powerline Adapters are open to huge variances in performance due to many factors such as your house wiring, other equipment plugged in and distances between adapters. Our testing process has been designed to create repeatable tests in the same location to compare different adapters against each other.

The testing is carried out in a standard 4 bed detached house. The router is a BT HomeHub5 (located on the ground floor), connected via Gigabit Ethernet to both a PC and one of the TP-LINK AV1200 Adapters at one end, then with a laptop via Gigabit Ethernet to the other TP-LINK Adapter at the other end. We use a program called LANSpeedTest by Totusoft which is a simple but powerful tool for measuring Local Area Network (LAN) speeds. It does this by building a file in memory, then transfers it both ways (without effects of windows file caching) while keeping track of the time, and then does the calculations for you. This gives us the results of transferring files from our main PC to the Laptop via the Powerline Adapters.

We test in four different locations of the home. (the distances are straight line estimated, not wiring lengths)

1. 2mtrs between adapters, ground floor, same ring main.
2. 9mtrs between adapters, ground floor, same ring main.
3. 5mtrs between adapters, 1st floor, same ring main.
4. 15mtrs from the main adapter in the garage, not the same ring main, a single spur from the main consumer unit.

Our tests are as follows:
1. 2 x 1GB files simultaneously transferred.
2. 2 x 100MB files simultaneously transferred.
3. 2 x 1GB files successively transferred.
4. 10 x 100MB files successively transferred.
5. 100 x 5MB files successively transferred.
6. 1000 x 10KB files successively transferred.
7. 1000 x 1MB files successively transferred.

The simultaneous test results shown are the maximum throughput speed, whilst the successive tests results are shown as an average speed.

TP-LINK AV1200

TP-LINK AV1200 Performance

TP-LINK AV1200

From these results you can see the two top speeds are a superb peak throughput of 407.79Mbps and the highest average of 283.67Mbps, both from our location 1 test. Even testing in location 4 which is our garage that is not even on the same wiring circuit, we still received an excellent top speed of 174.77Mbps. We are still amazed at the speeds we get in our old garage, assured in the knowledge that, if needs be, it can be turned into a man cave with high speed network access readily available!

With all Powerline Adapters you need to be aware of how the speeds quoted will possibly translate to your actual real world use. The quoted speeds are always the best possible link rate in laboratory conditions and the link rate includes both up and down streams, so in the case here with the 'up to' 1200Mbps speeds, that immediately becomes 600Mbps as the very best you will receive. You then also need to be aware that some of the older adapters only have Fast Ethernet ports which are limited to 100Mbps. Thankfully we have not seen that for a while and the current crop all now seem to have Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Whilst the speeds above are an improvement on our last review of the 1200Mbps Devolo set that saw top throughput speeds of 339Mbps and an average of 271Mbps, you can clearly see they are nowhere near the 1200Mbps quoted speeds nor did our maximum of 408Mbps get near the theoretical maximum of 600Mbps. But don't read too much into our slight negativity there as the results with this TP-LINK set were fantastic and by some distance the very fastest Powerline Adapters we have reviewed to date. 408Mbps throughput and 284Mbps average speed is plenty fast enough for multiple HD (or even 4K) streams. With the 40 year old wiring in our test location, we keep thinking with each review we have reached the maximum our internal wiring can accommodate, but the TP-LINK set has pushed that envelope even further still.

As with the Devolo 1200 adapters, the TP-LINK TL-8010P KIT uses the latest HomePlug AV2 Technology which supports 2x2 MIMO which makes use of all three of the neutral, ground and live wires to offer faster speeds and more stable connections. This definitely rings true with the superb speeds seen during our testing.

TP-LINK AV1200 - Software

No software is ever needed to use these Powerline Adapters, but if you fancy delving into the system more, TP-LINK provide a free basic utility software available from their website. This allows you to change the name of the adapters, see the network speed, update firmware and change security options.

TP-LINK AV1200

Conclusion

The Good

  • Superb 400Mbps+ Speeds
  • Great value
  • Effortless installation
  • Quick setup

The Bad

  • You won't get 1200Mbps, ever
  • Top mounted Ethernet port

TP-LINK AV1200 Powerline Starter Kit Review

Is it worth buying?

Very much so. By some distance these adapters gave us the fastest speeds we have ever recorded. With a maximum throughput of 408Mbps and average of 284Mbps they can comfortable cater for multiple HD streams, even 4K if you have ventured into that arena. Even the most technophobe of users could use these devices with the usual effortless installation and very quick setup again present. No issues or dropouts were encountered during our testing.

What are the alternatives?

At just £82 for a 1200Mbps rated adapter with AV Passthrough this TP-LINK set offers superb value for money. The nearest competitor is most likely Netgear's PLP1200 available for around the same price with Devolo's offering available for considerably more at £115.

There are much cheaper alternatives if you are looking for a simple Powerline adapter set, but none that will offer the AV Passthrough, Gigabit Ethernet ports and the 1200Mbps HomePlug AV2 technology. Based on all of the above we have no reservations at all in awarding the TP-LINK AV1200 Powerline Starter Kit our AVForums Highly Recommended Award.

Scores

Build Quality

.
9

Connectivity

.
.
8

Ease of Use

10

Video Quality

10

Connection Speed

10

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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