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Which Networking Technology Is Right For Your Home?

Benchmark Results: Zap Tests, Across House

In our distance location, Gigabit Ethernet drops out of the mix. This is the test set we feel most people should study when deciding on which technology to adopt.

In general, you can see that our across-house distance has relatively little effect on the average performance of the MoCA and 5 GHz products, but powerline takes a considerable hit. Where you really see the difference is in the minimum performance tests. Looking at this, we don’t feel that Powerline AV is suitable for anything beyond a single HD video stream. Moreover, higher bit rates and noise from additional electrical devices on the circuit could sabotage even this ability. Meanwhile, MoCA and 5 GHz 802.11n can both easily accommodate one and probably two streams. MoCA might even get you to three if the bit rate stays at 20 Mbps or less.

The big tell-tale comes with the TCP distance results. Strangely, MoCA performs even better across the house than it does in the same room. The average speeds take a slight hit, but the minimum performance rises from 63.6 to 72.1 Mb/s, which seems incredible. Powerline doesn’t share in MoCA’s glory. Average and minimum performance drop almost in half. This matches observations this author has made with Logitech’s WiLife powerline-based surveillance cameras. Within a roughly 30-foot radius, performance is great, but 40 feet gets dicey and 50 feet is often too far to sustain a usable QVGA signal. This degradation can vary according to a number of factors, but powerline technology is clearly more susceptible than MoCA to distance problems. Now we know why MoCA costs twice as much, because in the real world you’re getting twice (or more) the performance.

Not least of all, note the 5 GHz results. Minimum throughput gets nailed below the belt, falling nearly to powerline levels, but average throughput stays respectable at nearly 70 Mbps. For file transfer-sorts of applications (rather than streaming media), this is perfectly acceptable. For wireless streaming to a NAS box safely tucked in the garage or a closet, for example, this might be an ideal solution.