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LAN & WAN Reviews

AV600 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kit
At a glanceAV2-SISO Powerline Performance
June 2015
ProductTP-LINK AV600 Gigabit Powerline Adapter Starter Kit (TL-PA6010KIT)   [Website]
SummaryCompact "600 Mbps" HomePlug AV2-SISO adapter kit based on Qualcomm Atheros QCA7450 / AR1540 chipset
Pros• Very high throughput
• Gigabit port
• Very compact
Cons• Utility doesn't detect other flavor adapters
AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter Starter Kit
At a glance
ProductTP-LINK AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter Starter Kit (TL-PA4010KIT)   [Website]
SummaryHomePlug AV500 Adapter set with 10/100 port in compact form factor based on QCA AR7420 / AR1540 chipset.
Pros• Very inexpensive
• Very compact
Cons• Utility doesn't detect other flavor adapters
• 10/100 Ethernet

Introduction

Our last Homeplug review of Linksys' PLE500 and ZyXEL's PLA5205 was our first look at Homeplug AV2-500 designs using Qualcomm Atheros' (QCA) QCA7450 / AR1540 HomePlug AV2 chipset. Whether the label on the box says "500 Mbps" or "600 Mbps", I generally have considered products using this SISO chipset equivalent to previous-generation Homeplug "AV 500" products. But based on the results of this review, I may have to reconsider that position.

The two objects of our attention this time are two TP-LINK powerline adapter sets. The TL-PA4010KIT at around $40 is a top-seller on Amazon, most likely due to its low price. The TL-PA6010KIT is about twice as expensive, which seems a lot to pay for stepping up to a Gigabit port vs. the 10/100 on the TL-PA4010. But QCA7450 / AR1540 based adapters seem to all carry a higher price tag than the older AV500 type.

The photo of the two adapters below shows they have the same footprint, but different thicknesses. If the PA6010 had to be bigger, TP-LINK chose the right dimension to grow it in. Outlet placement is near enough to the top edge on both so that neither will block the second socket in a standard duplex wall outlet. It is shocking how small these adapters are. Both really do have a footprint smaller than a credit card.

TP-LINK TL-PA4010 & TL-PA6010

TP-LINK TL-PA4010 & TL-PA6010

The photo below shows both adapters have non-polarized two-prong plugs, making installation more flexible than for adapters with three prongs. The serial number labels show both adapters operate over a 100 - 240 VAC range.

TP-LINK TL-PA4010 & TL-PA6010 plug side

TP-LINK TL-PA4010 & TL-PA6010 plug side

The indicators and buttons are the essentially the same for both products, with minor differences in physical placement. The Green / Amber / Red connection quality feature found on other current-generation adapters is not supported on either of these. That's ok by me; I haven't found it to be very helpful anyway.

TP-LINK TL-PA4010 & TL-PA6010 ports and indicators

TP-LINK TL-PA4010 & TL-PA6010 ports and indicators

Note that TP-LINK also sells individual TL-PA4010 adapters, but the TL-PA6010 comes only in a kit of two.

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