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TP-LINK AV1200 TL-PA8030P Gigabit Powerline Starter Kit Review

TP-LINK AV1200 TL-PA8030P Gigabit Powerline Starter Kit Review
TP-LINK's PA8030 is one of the higher priced powerline networking solutions, but does it offer top tier features? Let's find out.
By: Tyler Bernath | Powerline in Networking | Posted: Sep 30, 2015 5:25 pm
TweakTown Rating: 89%Manufacturer: TP-LINK

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Powerline connectivity is one of the most recent technologies that has enabled consumers to expand their networks into every corner of the home. It no longer matters how far or how great of a signal you can achieve from your wireless router when you can simply plug in a Powerline adapter and use your home's electrical wiring to energize your network.

 

In the past few years, we have watched as Powerline technology has grown from its infancy into a viable high-speed solution for today's home networks. With the latest specification, we now have AV1200 devices capable of supporting media streaming, online gaming, and networked storage. The PA8030P is the latest kit to fall under this description from TP-LINK.

 

This solution is compliant with the HomePlug AV2 standard and features a Powerline speed of 1200Mbps across three built-in Gigabit Ethernet ports and also houses a pass-through power receptacle. The TP-LINK PA8030 achieves its performance by utilizing a 2x2 MIMO setup via Line-Neutral Line-Ground, allowing it to take advantage of beamforming thus long distance connectivity.

 

Packaging for the 8030 kit carries an image of both adapters to the right while we have a few bits of marketing information to the left.

 

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Upon opening the packaging, it was nice to see each of the adapters placed in their respective cradles keeping them secure during transport.

 

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The scope of delivery for this AV1200 kit included the adapters, two Ethernet cables, and a quick start guide.

 

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To start things off, we will get the size out of the way. To the right in the image above, we have a standard Powerline adapter in the TRENDnet TPL408 and to the left the new TP-LINK solution. It's quite apparent the TP-LINK is about twice the size, but it does add in some useful features in that large footprint.

 

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Getting back to the 8030, the front of this unit adds a pass through receptacle to negate its overall size and any plugs it may deem unusable. We also find three LEDs across the front for power, sync, and connectivity.

 

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Moving our camera down to the bottom edge of the adapter, we spotted three gigabit Ethernet ports to maximize the performance of the 8030.

 

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Here you can see the pair (sync) button.

 

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Measuring performance of Powerline adapters can be tricky, in that the results I find with my home will not always reflect what each consumer will find. Each home is wired differently with any number of variables that can effect performance. For my testing, I use a forty-foot stretch of my home with newish wiring. Looking at our network throughput chart, I found the 8030 kit from TP-LINK to be quite good all the way up to about thirty feet, after which performance did drop off pretty significantly. Peak rates came in between 370 and 410 Mbps for most of the test.

 

For anyone that has used TP-LINK products in the past, you know they consistently put out high-quality solutions that fit the needs of their consumers. With the PA8030P kit, that same trend continues with solid build quality in both materials and workmanship. All the plastics used are high grade and fit together perfectly, and while this kit does carry a rather large footprint, TP-LINK has included several features we have yet to see in a Powerline solution. For starters, a nice addition was the three port gigabit connectivity on both ends enabling multiple devices to be connected. And another was the pass-through power receptacle that supports up to 16A, enough for many high drain devices.

 

In addition to this, the TP-LINK PA8030 kit is capable of connecting 254 nodes in a single Powerline network. The performance of this kit was on par with previous AV1200 solutions, where we managed a peak throughput of 410Mbps out to thirty feet with a pretty nasty drop off in performance after. However, this kit is certainly our highest overall performing Powerline solution to date with the Netgear and TRENDnet solutions we tested falling off in performance sooner.

 

As of writing, the MSRP for the TP-LINK PA8030 kit sits at $99.99 with a one-year warranty.

 

 

 

Tyler's Test System Specifications

 

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance95%
Quality including Design and Build90%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging85%
Value for Money87%
Overall TweakTown Rating89%

The Bottom Line: TP-LINK's TL-PA8030 may not be the most budget-friendly solution, but for those that need it, the performance and features are top notch.

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