If you want high-speed network access throughout your home and Wi-Fi isn’t cutting it, you’ve probably considered running Ethernet cables. But why not take advantage of the power lines you already have going everywhere?
Power line networking isn’t a new idea—it’s been around in primitive forms for decades. But the consumer standard known as HomePlug AV has been refining the technology significantly as of late, and today’s best adapters can give you speeds and latency good enough for 4K video streaming and low-latency games. It’s not as fast as Ethernet or the best Wi-Fi setups, but it’s relatively cheap and super-easy: just plug the adapters in and you’re good to go. Best of all (especially if you’re renting your living space), it requires no permanent rewiring or installation.
We’ve selected the best overall powerline network adapter, the best solution for those on a budget, and the best for people who want to expand both their hardline network and Wi-Fi at the same time. Note that the adapters below can’t replace the connection directly to your internet service provider: you’ll still need to plug at least one adapter into your home’s primary modem or a router.
The Best Overall: TP-Link AV2000 2-ports Gigabit Powerline Adapter Kit TL-PA9020P ($100)
Users and experts agree: TP-Link’s new AV2000 adapter is the best around. This updated version of a basic adapter uses the new AV2000 standard to get maximum data throughput on the electrical upline, downline, and ground, resulting in a theoretical maximum speed of two gigabits per second. Real-world use will be around half that (thanks to variables in your home’s electrical wiring), but anyone who isn’t using the absolute fastest fiber internet connection won’t notice anyway. This model includes double gigabit Ethernet connections…
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