Friday, December 26, 2008

LINKSYS PLK200 PowerLine AV Ethernet Adapter Kit


- So I bought some of these for my parents this Christmas. They needed internet access for a set top box in a deadspot where wireless was spotty. So I decided to give these a try. I just set these up at there house and ran some tests with my laptop while I was there.
- These typical go for around $125 online. They seem to be a tad on the pricey side.
- Setting up required basically zero effort. Just plug the adapters in (one next to the router, one next to the device that needs network access) and the supplied ethernet cables (router <-> powerline adapter ----house electrical wiring ---- powerline adapter <-> internet device[add a switch if you need more ethernet ports on this end]). I didn't have to run the included install cd or anything. My laptop immediately got an ip address via dhcp.
- There seems to be 3 status lights: power, powerline (the adapters are talking to each other across the house electrical wiring), and ethernet (which flashes when there is traffic).
- So I grabbed my laptop and ran some performance tests.
baseline case: connected directly to the router via ethernet.
ping to maxpc tf2 server
C:\Windows\System32>ping -t 66.151.138.34

Pinging 66.151.138.34 with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=76ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=60ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=77ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=61ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=58ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=76ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=57ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=76ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=76ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=59ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=76ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=58ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=58ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=78ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=58ms TTL=113

Ping statistics for 66.151.138.34:
Packets: Sent = 15, Received = 15, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 57ms, Maximum = 78ms, Average = 66ms

Data transfer rate for real world 100 ethernet is usually around 70mb.

- both powerline adapters plugged directly into the wall socket from across the house. No power extensions/strips used.
C:\Windows\System32>ping -t 66.151.138.34

Pinging 66.151.138.34 with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=79ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=79ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=61ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=79ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=64ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=61ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=79ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=80ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=79ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=80ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=113

Ping statistics for 66.151.138.34:
Packets: Sent = 14, Received = 14, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 61ms, Maximum = 80ms, Average = 70ms

throughput was 30mbps measured by copying a large file across a network share using fastcopy and double checked with netpersec.

- powerline near router plugged directly into the wall, the one across the house connected to my laptop is on a 6ft power extension cord that ends in a 3 way split.
C:\Windows\System32>ping -t 66.151.138.34

Pinging 66.151.138.34 with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=81ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=61ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=79ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=80ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=63ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=80ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=64ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=78ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=78ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=79ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=61ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=80ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=62ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=61ms TTL=113
Reply from 66.151.138.34: bytes=32 time=79ms TTL=113

Ping statistics for 66.151.138.34:
Packets: Sent = 17, Received = 17, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 61ms, Maximum = 81ms, Average = 71ms

throughput was 20mbps.

- So basically ping is really good with these adapters with almost no impact at all. Throughput is pretty good but not great. You definitely want to avoid any power extension cords if at all possible.
- Since I just installed these I don't know how reliable they are.
- They do seem to produce quite a bit of heat.

No real conclusion yet but so far I'm liking them. They are a bit pricey for what they do, pretty niche, and super easy to setup. Bandwidth is good enough for our particular situation (atsc hd video is < 20mbps so in theory it should support streaming hd videos but I did NOT test this). If they are stable 24/7 for a long period of time (without need of power cycling the adapters or anything) then I would definitely recommend them if your particular situation requires a device like this.

UPDATE: 03/22/2009
- Upgraded the firmware to 3.3. It is suppose to help stability and increased my throughput to 47mbps. You have to install the utility from the same support site. It looks all kind of messed up at least in vista but it still works. I was able to see enough to still get around. Flash each box to 3.3. Trying to change the network password is about the most confusing thing in the world. At this point I'm still not sure if the change actually took place.

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