Linksys PLEK400 Powerline Networking Kit - Installation, Setup and More

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


As I referred to previously, installation of the Linksys PLEK400 Powerline Networking kit is a snap.  It comes pre-configured and synchronized to each other so that all you have to do is plug each of them into the wall and then plug the network cables into your devices.  In order to connect to your network, you'll need to plug one into your router or switch and the other one into your device.

Within seconds, they synchronize and I had green lights all across the board.  On the devices themselves, there are three lights on each.  The bottom one lit up immediately as it indicates power to the unit.  The second light shows connection to the Ethernet cable as it connects to the device.  The top LED indicates a connection to the Powerline network.  If all lights are green, you're good to go.  The green Powerline LED will blink as you send and receive data - as does the Ethernet LED.  If the main power LED flashes... you have some issues.

Linksys says that you will need at least two of these in order to complete your HomePlug network, but they don't have any current information on the product page or in the FAQ for the maximum number of devices that can plug into your HomePlug network.  We'll just have to use our imaginations and say "less than 254". 

I don't often read instruction manual when it comes to testing products - or using products that I buy.  I'm a "Let's see how easy this is to use" kind of guy, so I plugged the PLEK400 before I read anything much on the box of the website.  I have a little more experience with HomePlug and Powerline products now than when I reviewed the Trendnet TPL-307E2K kit.  As such, I realize that companies inflate their performance numbers to make things look better than they are, so I fully expected it to be a 100 Mbps port.

The PLEK400 clearly states on the box that it is a 200Mbps device, and I wondered how on earth they can get 200Mbps performance over a 100Mbps wired Ethernet port.  I'll make this short.  They can't.  Just as with the Trendnet unit we reviewed a while back, the information states that the devices come with 100Mbps jacks.  Any consumer buying the product would see the 200Mbps sticker and expect to get that performance.  Right off the bat, I discovered that the best I can do is half of that - but after looking around - this is sadly typical of Powerline products.


Test Setup:

On a wired 100Mbps connection, we often get 94Mbps - with a 6% overhead of inefficiency.  Wireless networks, on the other hand typically get around 30%-40% of rated throughput so it will be interesting to see what kind of throughput we get on this 100Mbps Powerline kit.

We ran performance number from this hardware over three different ranges.  The "Short Range" setup was done in the same room - here in my office at BCCHQ South.  The medium range was done in the same building, but the network was required to span a couple of floors.  When it comes to long range testing, we actually moved the connected device to another building almost 200 meters away.  This is pretty extreme and shows the benefit of a Powerline kit and how it can operate without line of site.

On the next page we'll jump into testing before we wrap up with our final thoughts.