Manufacturers of powerline adapters advertise a fast network directly from the wall socket. We explain for whom the purchase might be worthwhile, which Internet problems cannot be solved with it and show which are the best powerline adapters for gaming.
Regardless of whether you are downloading your next game, are in a League of Legends match, or the session is delayed by an update – if the Internet does not play along, frustration is inevitable. Many network hardware manufacturers address this problem and offer possible solutions, which often come in the form of their own products.
Powerline adapters sound very attractive in this context, since they conveniently handle the data traffic via the existing power lines in your home. On top of that, some models can even provide a WLAN signal and thus also supply areas with network that your router alone may not be able to cover to your complete satisfaction.
However, the literal question of price is whether or to what extent your individual home network and gaming experience would benefit at all from powerline technology. That depends first and foremost on the necessary framework conditions and your needs.
Why do I need a Powerline Adapter for gaming?
Gaming is fun! Smart home is the promise of a future with a better quality of life. But this fun and this future need one thing above all: power lines. But what can be done if the home is not prepared for this? The subsequent laying of LAN cables is time-consuming and expensive, and WLAN has the disadvantage that it is not always stable for gaming. In this case, the power lines that are available everywhere can be used simply and easily for data transmission.
However, buying powerline adapters is not only worthwhile if the goal is a fully networked home and a stable gaming experience. In many homes, the broadband connection is installed in the basement, the smart TV with Internet access is in the living room on the first floor, and the study is in the attic.
With two or more powerline adapters, any data signal from a modem can be routed through the home via the power grid without the need for additional installations. Transmission speeds are now in the range of fast fiber optic lines: a real 200-300 Mbps. This makes it easy to game from anywhere and operate a central NAS server that stores the music and video collection for the entire family and makes it available to everyone at the same time.
Powerline adapters are easy to use and cost-effective in continuous operation. They save the tangle of cables lying around computer connections or time-consuming installation work. Compared to pure WLAN networks, they have the advantage that they can easily supply the entire home with Internet, no matter how many rooms and steel-concrete walls are in between.
How do Powerline adapters work?
The basic principle is very simple. You need a set of at least two powerline adapters for data transmission to work. One of them is plugged into a power outlet near your router and then connected to it via a LAN cable. Depending on how many adapters you have left, you can place them in other rooms where you need an Internet connection for gaming or other purposes.
Receiving devices like your consoles are then connected to the network either wirelessly or via LAN cable, depending on whether your Powerline adapters support WLAN. Note, however, that a WLAN connection between adapter and console may negatively affect your ping and bandwidth – more on this later.
How can I connect a Powerline Adapter?
Commissioning a powerline adapter is very simple and often much faster than setting up a WLAN network. If you take care to avoid sources of electrical interference, you can supply your home with Internet in just a few steps and access the performance promised by the powerline adapter.
The first adapter is inserted into a socket near the router and connected to the modem via LAN cable. The second adapter is placed in the room where the Internet is needed and the terminal device is again supplied with data via LAN cable – done! The data connection is established and there are only two steps left, which are for security or comfort.
The data is transmitted unencrypted up to this point and can be accessed by anyone with access to the same power grid. Therefore, secured operation is recommended for any powerline adapter: a secure, encrypted connection is established between the two adapters using pairing. Each adapter has a pairing button. The button on the first adapter starts the process and the button on the second adapter should be pressed within 2 min to complete the pairing.
The second step concerns the installation of an additional WLAN. Very many powerline adapters are offered with an integrated WLAN module. The purpose of this is that the Internet is conveniently available in another room. Powerline adapter tests show, that the combined systems with Powerline and WLAN also perform very well.
What do I need to consider when buying a Powerline Adapter?
Due to the many exciting possibilities offered by a networked home today, the range of powerline adapters has also increased, as they offer a practical, simple and inexpensive chance to regulate data exchange in one’s own home. Whatever the requirements, these are the criteria anyone intending to buy a powerline adapter should pay attention to.
Range and Bandwidth
300 meters can be reached by a data transmission using adapters and powerlines. Some manufacturers offer systems that can send data up to 400 meters. This is especially important for users who have to cover longer distances or supply many users with an Internet router. If more than four adapters are used, it is also advisable to go for the highest available bandwidth, which is currently 2,000 Mbps. Since each adapter produces its own data overhead, the available bandwidth is reduced with each additional user, so there should be enough available from the start.
The optimum performance and most convenient Internet supply for larger residential units is provided by powerline adapters with integrated WLAN: The individual rooms or floors are supplied via adapters and Internet is available via WLAN. This eliminates the need for annoying cables lying around. However, if you only want to connect a router to a computer further away, you should rather buy powerline adapters that do not have a WLAN module: The setup is easier and the devices are cheaper.
Adapter with Wall Socket
Adapters are used directly with a wall socket. However, if you also need the plug slots for other power consumers, you should take a look at a powerline adapter where the adapter is equipped with an integrated power plug. The consumer power is automatically disconnected from the data signal, which means that the consumers connected here do not have a negative impact on the bandwidth.
Pay attention to the delivery contents. Every Powerline adapter test report recommends that an adapter set consists of at least two pieces: In order for the powerline to be used for data transmission, there needs to be one adapter at the router and one at the target. Of course, when it comes to the delivery contents, there are other niceties that a manufacturer can put in a product package: Enough LAN cables in sufficient length.
What is the Best Powerline Adapter for Gaming?
For whom is a Powerline Adapter suitable?
Are the Internet problems neither with the game servers nor with your provider and is your WLAN too weak despite optimizations? Then it might actually be worth spending money and considering hardware solutions. In the following section, we have therefore listed the advantages and disadvantages of powerline adapters for you.
- In contrast to a WLAN connection, you don’t have to worry about interference from radio signals with powerline adapters.
- Under good conditions, powerline adapters are a better alternative to WLAN repeaters. The latter halve the possible bandwidth in most cases and also cause significantly higher latencies, which is bad for gaming.
- The convenience factor of powerline adapter could also be a big plus for many gamers. Wherever there is a power outlet, you also have a potential Internet connection. Hardly any cables are used, and thick walls or ceilings that could weaken a wireless signal are no obstacle.
- Powerline adapter also benefits from a high data throughput – at least in theory. How much bandwidth is actually available to you depends on how good the hardware of the adapters is, how much distance the signal has to cover, and how good the condition of your power grid is in general.
- As mentioned before, the effectiveness of a powerline adapter depends on the condition of your power grid. The complexity of the power path and the quality of the installed cables can be the biggest potential source of errors. Especially the power grids of old houses could be your undoing.
- You should also pay attention to how much distance the signal has to cover from adapter to adapter (router to end device) and how many other devices are sucking on the same line. Household appliances that require a lot of power can be a particular source of interference. But small devices can also make life difficult for you.
Whether powerline adapters are suitable as a solution for gaming depends on whether your power line provides the right conditions. On the other hand, the cause of your gaming problems should of course also lie with the home network and not with external factors, over which you have little or no influence in case of doubt.
For the sake of both the environment and your wallet, we therefore recommend that you get the most out of your home network as a first step. Even small tweaks like switching to the 5 gigahertz band can sometimes offer big performance leaps – this is especially helpful in large apartment buildings.
If all else fails and you are forced to buy new hardware, powerline adapters or WLAN access points can be attractive additions to your home network and your gaming experience. Provided that the conditions are right, powerline adapters can score points primarily because of their convenience factor.
FAQs for Powerline Adapters for Gaming
Can powerline adapters also be used for gaming?
Yes, this is not a problem at all. As long as the maximum bandwidth of the available Internet reaches the powerline adapter, this solution is also much better than gaming via WLAN, since the connection does not drop out, unlike with wireless access, and is also less susceptible to interference. The ping is not worse with an optimal connection between the powerline adapters than if you use a LAN cable directly to the router.
Are Powerline Adapters fast enough for Gaming?
Even though the manufacturers advertise their devices with data rates of up to 2,400 megabits per second (Mbps), the plugs did not even come close to that. The fastest adapter with Homeplug AV achieved speeds of up to 475 Mbps in the test. Adapters that use the G.hn standard achieved a fast 693 Mbps. In practice, however, the top values from the test are hardly achievable because several factors slow down the powerline adapters considerably depending on the living situation. One problem is the distance: If the data has to cover a long distance on the power line, the speed suffers. For gaming this is good enough.
Are all Adapters compatible with each other?
In fact, not all adapters are compatible. Most of them use the Homeplug AV or AV2 standard. Devices from different manufacturers and tempo classes can be connected to each other, but slower adapters slow down faster ones in the process. Adapters can be operated in parallel as two separate networks, but they then interfere with each other so that they do not reach their full speed.
What is the maximum number of Powerline Adapters I can operate?
Theoretically, 100 adapters and more can communicate with each other in a network. In practice, however, there is hardly any bandwidth left in this case that can be used for actual data transmission. Each additional powerline adapter requires a portion of the transmission power for communication management. Powerline adapter tests show that up to 10 adapters can work together in a network at the same time without any problems.
How can I determine the real bandwidth of a Powerline Network?
The software packages that some manufacturers offer for free download for their products can help here. The maintenance tools provide quick and clear information about which transmission speeds are actually achieved. This reveals whether there are hidden sources of interference and whether there is a need for optimization.
How do I connect an additional Powerline Adapter to an existing Powerline Network?
As soon as a new adapter is plugged in, it is part of the powerline network and can exchange data. It only needs the encryption password, which it gets via pairing – either by means of the pairing button on the adapter or via the management software on the computer.
What can interfere with a Powerline Connection?
Ideally, you should use a socket directly on the wall for a stable connection. LED and other power-saving lamps have comparatively high resistances. These can ensure that a powerline connection in the same circuit no longer provides the maximum bandwidth. A powerline connection across several fuse boxes is also usually very susceptible to interference or can only be set up very poorly. In addition, the newer the electrical system in the house, the better the powerline adapters work.