Linksys PLEK400 Powerline Networking Kit - Performance and Final Thoughts

Article Index
Linksys PLEK400 Powerline Networking Kit
Features and Specifications
Installation, Setup and More
Performance and Final Thoughts

Network Performance:

As far as performance goes, we fired up iperf to do a little benchmarking on this HomePlug Powerline kit.  Iperf results show bandwidth that the network is actually capable of.  In the real world, we rarely see networking performance on wireless and Powerline hardware meet the specifications, but that's where we are able to take out the limitations of file transfers and see what the hardware is capable of.  We use iperf with confidence as it shows how good the network hardware actually is and if it can perform anywhere close to its rated specs.

iPerf Single Thread Performance

 

iPerf Multi-Thread Performance

 

As this is now our second Powerline kit we've reviewed, we are able to compare it to the Trendnet TPL-307E2K kit.  We used the exact same wall receptacles at the same ranges with the same networking hardware.  This is a fair 1:1 comparison and as you can see in the charts above, the performance of the Linksys kit is quite dismal.  While the range of the Trendnet kit was impressive, the range of the Linksys PLEK400 was not.  The LED indicators on the Linksys unit don't indicate signal strength, so we just have to assume that things have a good connection.  After checking the speeds with iPerf and running ping tests, we discover that the Linksys kit is not great - at all.

Using a multi-threaded iPerf instance we managed to squeeze out an average of just over 30 Mbps with a ping of 4ms within the same room.  At this speed we are seeing about 15% of the rated performance of the device - and this is under ideal conditions.  Even if we give the kit the benefit of the doubt and call it 100Mbps, we only get 30% of the rated performance and we should see a lot more than that.  In fact, the Trendnet kit performs almost twice as good.

As the range increases, the performance gets worse, and at medium range - we get less than 10Mbps - considerably less than 200Mbps and about 80% slower than the Trendnet kit at that range.  Once we reach the maximum range, the PLEK400 is unusable.  

 

Final Thoughts:

The PLEK400 from Linksys promises a lot with their advertising, but fails miserably to deliver the claimed performance - not just by technical limitations, but by physical hardware insufficiency as well.  As does Trendnet, they cripple the product immediately by limiting the Ethernet port to 100Mbps so it cannot reach the 200Mbps speeds advertised on the box.  Perhaps the chipset inside the device is capable of more than 100Mbps, but when they limit the input side of things, I seriously doubt it.

The build quality of this kit seems pretty solid.  I has a nice durable feel to it but the fact that it hogs a wall outlet gives preference to other kits that allow a pass-through connection to power.

The included cables were appreciated and are just the right length to hook to the device that you've plugged the power into.  In some cases, a longer cable might be nice, but for most instances and typical uses of this kit, the cables work well.

Thankfully, installation is a snap.  It's simple, straightforward, non-complicated and fast.  You couldn't really ask for an easier product to install, setup and use.

The performance of this kit is downright horrible.  There is nothing good to say about it at all, sadly.  Even at super short range, the performance is pathetic, and if you are transferring a single file, you won't even see 20Mbps and 5 year old 802.11g will outperform this at almost any range.

At a range where the Trendnet kit we looked at recently still pinged 100% without packet loss and delivered 3Mbps, the Linksys PLEK400 kit dropped almost 50% of the packets and transferred at a dismal 0.2Mbps.  This isn't much better than dial-up over a 28.8kbps modem.

In my experience, there is no price point at which this kit becomes attractive.  The performance and range are too weak to be compelling and my advice is to shop for another product.

 

Pros:

  • Super simple to install and setup
  • No wireless interference 

 

Cons:

  • Not 200Mbps
  • Only have 100Mbps ports
  • Performance drops rapidly as range increases
  • Unusable at long range
  • Drops packets
  • Poor performance at any range

 

BCCRating

If Linksys plans to stay involved in HomePlug networking, they really need to step up their game as this product fails to impress on any front.