Sitecom 500 Mbps homeplug Ethernet review -
Setup and Experiences
Setup of the network really... it's so easy. You do not even need to install the drivers. One plug was patched into a broadband switch/router courtesy of the auto-uplink feature, and the other was connected straight into a PC's Ethernet port. Once a network connection has been established three LEDs pop up. They'll blink when there's is network activity.
There are some restrictions on how you should connect Homeplugs. They must be connected directly to a wall socket, not through a power-extension strip. For best results they must also be on the same mains ring/fuse line, which shouldn't be a problem for most homes but might be an issue in the workplace.
We'll actually test performance of the device on:
- Same ring/fuse line/group
- Different ring/fuse line/group
This is very important and might be overlooked when purchasing this product. As the homeplug works by sending the information through the existing electrical wiring in the property you should only use them on the same mains ring.
The 500Mbps is, of course, the theoretical maximum that the adapter is capable of pumping out raw data. Allowing for error correction and other control traffic, you're looking at a best-case scenario of ~100Mbps. It gets worse though, in the real word, the typical throughput lies somewhere between 50Mbps and 70Mbps, depending on the state of your mains wiring and equipment plugged in. As you can understand, our office is cluttered with electrical components.
How realistic are those numbers then? Well here's our setup (Gigabit connectivity on all devices):
- PC connected to Switch (Switch connected to Router).
- One Sitecom power adapter connected to the switch.
- Second PC connected to a Sitecom adapter at several locations in the office.
The first thing we notice is that once we connect our PCs to the Sitecom homeplug ... they all bind in nicely as a 1000 MBit/s connection. For a 500 Mbit/s we feel that is a good call to make.
Now we measure available bandwidth in three setups.
- Setup 1 -- We use the Sitecom adapters in the same room, same fuse line/ring.
- Setup 2 -- We use the Sitecom adapters in two separate rooms, two fuse lines/rings.
- Setup 3 -- We use the Sitecom adapters in two separate rooms far away from each other with the second fuse line/ring being connected to a kitchen with active peripherals working like a freezer and microwave oven.
Here are the results measured.
Now as you can see, if you remain in the very same power group/ring the results are actually good but nowhere even close to 500 Mbps. This however is enough bandwidth for internet, HD streaming and even typical file-transfers as that averages out at roughly 12 Megabyte/sec with excellent PING times and thus latency.
Transferring a 203MB file through a ram disk towards a SATA3 SSD on another PC over the homeplugs. We really expected a little more then this.
BUT .. it's the same fused ring, same room ... and that's not what this should be about. The minute you go over a secondary fuse/ring the performance drops down real fast. Hence setup 2 when we take the computer to another room.
The results really cave in as at best we now see roughly 67 Mbit/sec = 8 Megabyte/sec. Still, for internet and online gaming it's pretty good, with still excellent PING times. Transferring / streaming HD content would not be an issue.
In setup 3 we make things really difficult. We move the PC to the kitchen on yet another further away fuse line/group/ring. Here we also enable the microwave, and the fridge was active at the time of measurement. This definitely had an adverse impact on performance as we ended up with roughly 34 Mbit/sec of bandwidth = 4.25 MB/sec.
So in our worst case scenario we do still have 34 Mbit/sec available. And really, if you use these devices for internet... it's still fine. Anything other than that would not be recommended.
The Sitecom Powerline Ethernet adapters allow you to use your mains electricity circuit to transfer data, this way you can extend your network to wherever you have a free plug socket. The product we test today comes from Sitecom, their 500 Mbps plus Homeplug. The kit provides a connection of up to 500Mbits/sec. Divide that by 8 bits and you'd in theory would be able to see transfer speeds of 62.5 Megabyte per second. In practice, however we tested the maximum net data rate is much MUCH lower, 60~100 Mbits/sec - still that is faster than Wi-Fi and sufficient fenough or streaming high-definition video from say your PC with network shares to, for instance, your HTPC.
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