TP-Link Powerline AC Wi-Fi Kit: A fix for slow Wi-Fi (review)

We all take fast, reliable Wi-Fi for granted. People expect to have pages load in the blink of an eye and if the dreaded buffering symbol pops up even for a second, you can bet that people will be moaning about how terrible the Wi-Fi is. The first sentence that most of my friends will utter when coming over is “bro, what’s your Wi-Fi password?” Wi-Fi has a huge impact on our lives. How else am I supposed to freely browse Reddit all night without the risk of using up all my data.

I recently moved into a townhouse that is four stories tall. My room is on the top floor, while the router is on the second. You can imagine my dismay when watching a Netflix show becomes staring at the buffering icon for five minutes. The first thing I did the next day was get a Powerline AC Wi-Fi Kit from TP-Link. I was not disappointed.

Specifications

  • Up to 1200 Mbps AC Wi-FI Speed
  • Dual Band with 2.4 GHz (300 MBps) and 5 GHz (867 Mbps)
  • HomePlug AV2 with AV1200 Powerline speed
  • 1x Gigabit Port (TL-PA8010P)
  • 3X Gigabit Ports (TL-WPA8630P)
  • Outlet Passthrough
  • tpPLC mobile app
  • Suppports up to 16 powerline devices on the same powerline network
  • PLC connects up to 1000 ft of electrical wiring

There is a lot of technical jargon in the specifications so I’ll try to break the features down as simply as possible.

What does dual band mean?

Dual band means that it can support Wi-Fi network connections in 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz. The values 2.4 and 5.0 represent frequency bands. The major differences lie in range and bandwidth. 2.4 GHz has better range due to being a lower frequency. This means that it can travel through walls and reach a further distance. However, most devices use 2.4 GHz connections, which can cause high traffic leading to slower Wi-Fi speed. Think of the 2.4 GHz connection as a water pipe. If people are making holes in the pipe to connect to the water (connecting to 2.4 GHz), the water will flow a lot slower (slower internet speeds). 5.0 GHz is a higher frequency that has a shorter range, but with faster speeds.

How does the Wi-Fi extender work?

The Powerline AC Wi-Fi Kit comes with two devices. There is an adapter that connects to your wireless router and an extender that you can put wherever you desire. The extender comes with three Ethernet ports connect bandwidth intensive devices such as game consoles, smart TVs, or media receivers.

The Powerline Wi-Fi kit works by using the electrical wiring in your home to transmit an internet signal. This is done by plugging the adapter into a wall socket and connecting via Ethernet cable to your wireless router. The extender will receive the network signal through the power lines to provide you faster internet speeds, despite being far away from the wireless router. This method is not as fast as directly connecting using an Ethernet cable. Regardless, it is much more convenient not having to snake a 60-foot Ethernet cord across the house.

What do the icons mean?

There are five icons show on the Wi-Fi extender. The first icon is the power icon. If you see it blinking, that means the pairing is in process. The second icon is the Powerline icon, which will be yellow-green if the signal is good and red if the signal is bad. The third icon is the Ethernet icon, which shows whether an Ethernet port if connected. The fourth and fifth icon are the 2.4 GHz icon and 5.0 GHz respectively. These icons represent whether the corresponding wireless network is enabled or not.

Usage

There are two ways of setting up your TP-Link Powerline Wi-Fi kit. You can either configure it manually or copy your wireless router settings. The manual way is a bit more complex, but comes with the feature of setting your own Wi-Fi name and password. I chose this option because I’m selfish and didn’t want to share my precious Wi-Fi with my roommates. Copying your router settings is much easier, but will only work on wireless routers that support WPS. This is a simple check. Just look at the back of your router and it should say “WPS” if it is supported. If you choose this option, the password and name for your extender will be the same as your wireless router.

There is also an app listed below that allows you to setup using your smartphone.

tpPLC
tpPLC
Developer: TP-LINK
Price: Free
tpPLC
tpPLC
Price: Free

TP-Link offers a great YouTube tutorial that is perfect for visual people who don’t want to read a manual. If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, click here for the full manual.

You’re not going to notice how amazing this technology is until you’re in a room that has terrible Wi-Fi connection. Saying “my Wi-Fi is so slow” is a bit subjective so I decided to test my download and upload speeds on speedof.me and testmy.net. Here are the speeds below before I installed a Wi-Fi extender.

That is some seriously slow Wi-Fi speeds. My download speeds were 0.75 Mbps on speedof.me and 1.4 Mbps on testmy.net. The upload speeds were just as dismal at 0.23 Mbps and 0.509 Mbps. This made watching Netflix impossible. My favorite part about the test is that my internet is 90% slower than my city average. Now here is the download and upload speeds after installing the TP-Link Powerline Wi-Fi Kit

Talk about a game-changer! Now my download speeds are 192% faster than my city’s average. The difference is night and day in my experience. I went from waiting 30 seconds to open up Reddit to watching hours of Netflix without a single dreaded buffer icon popping up. I’m also able to directly connect my PC into the Ethernet port of my extender so I can get my gaming fix. I’ve had absolutely no problems playing games like League of Legends and Overwatch.

Three Ethernet ports

Overall

The TP-Link Powerline AC Wi-Fi Kit is a game-changer. It’s not everyday I come across a technology that makes such a profound difference in my life. It’s a similar feeling to figuring out that installing a SSD into my 2010 MacBook Pro will make it run faster than it was brand new. I went from pretty much no Wi-Fi to what I consider blazing fast.

The TP-Link Powerline AC Wi-Fi Kit is a bit pricey at $109.99 on Amazon. In my opinion, this Wi-Fi extender was worth every single penny. I would gladly pay double this to never have to deal with slow internet speeds. Along with the rest of the general population, Wi-Fi is a necessity in my life because I need it to work from home and write in my spare time. This product is perfect for anyone with a big house that has areas of spotty internet connection. Don’t let poor Wi-Fi speeds prevent you from binge-watching old Game of Thrones episodes in anticipation of the new season.

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