Test Results And Conclusion
Comparison Powerline Networking Adapters
We tested the Linksys PLEK-500 using the system configurations and procedures outlined in our How We Test article. Here's how the Linksys PLEK-500 performs:
According to traditional thoughts of signal degradation, the two gigabyte folder results follow the logic that the farther away the Powerline adapters are, the worse they perform. We then switched from testing a simple file copy via file shares to benchmarking throughput using Passmark's PerformanceTest 8 utility.
When using the PerformanceTest software, results were best the closer the Powerline adapters were to each other. While the graph above shows the absolute peak value observed through the testing period of three minutes, the graph below shows that the average throughput stayed relatively close to peak values.
In The Mix
Now let's compare how well Linksys stands up to the top three performers in our Powerline adapter round-up. First, the 2GB folder transfer:
Measured against the top three performers of our recent round-up in the Same Room test, the Linksys PLEK-500 falls just below ZyXEL's PLA5215 in aggregate numbers.
Linksys again appears under the top three when extending the length of the test from two outlets in the same room to two outlets on the same floor.
For the next test, I placed an adapter on the second floor, keeping the other on the first floor.
Linksys trails behind the top three yet again, and the trend continues in the next test of the first floor to the basement.
Saving the best for last, Linksys pulls ahead into the bronze position in the second floor to basement test.
Next, we switch our testing software over to PassMark's PerformanceTest8 and repeat the tests from the same positions to see how Linksys' PLEK-500 compares to the top three in each test from our prior round-up.
While not too far behind third place, Linksys' PLEK-500 finishes below our top three performers in the same room test.
In the same floor test, however, Linksys falls further behind the top three.
When testing from the second floor to the first floor, Linksys not only performs below the top three, but overall ends up the worst performance I observed in any test, even comparing Linksys' own numbers. Not sure what happened there.
In testing performance from the first floor to the basement, Linksys again falls short of breaking into the top three.
As if it had something to prove at this point, Linksys' PLEK-500 adapters edge their way into third place in the final test.
All of these tests show the peak values observed, but the averages yield the same finishing order. In short, Linksys takes a lower spot than the top three performers. Also, in the UDP tests, Linksys' PLEK-500 adapters completely flooded the switch I was using, invalidating the results of any UDP tests. Basically, there was too much packet loss.
Newegg lists the Linksys PLEK-500 kit for $100, and although it was one of the lower-performing Powerline adapters in our testing, its throughput remained above 55 Mb/s in every benchmark. Also, having the ability to upgrade the firmware through Linksys' advanced configuration utility might be a good thing if a future upgrade increases performance.
Overall, the PLEK-500 is a solid set of Powerline adapters worth considering if you can get them for less than competing devices, which are typically faster.
Matthew Matchen is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @matchemm