The Powerline Network Adapter uses the existing home electircal wiring as a wired network cable. A wireless bridge is used to connect two LAN segments via a wireless link. The Powerline network Adapter is sold as a kit and offered by several companies. However, for this test, the Actiontec Powerline Network Adpater Kit (SKU # PWR511K01) is used to compare against a Linksys wireless N router that has had a DD-WRT firmware applied for added features, specifically the wireless bridge.
Prior to hooking up the Powerline Network Adapter, I used a free utility, LAN Speed Test (Lite) to test a 20 Mb file to a computer on the other end of an existing wireless bridge.
The Powerline Network Adapater boasts speeds up to 500 Mbps. There is nothing else on the box that would make one to believe otherwise. After opening the package, I noted that the two network cables provided are Cat 5 (maximum 100 Mbps) so I opted to use Cat 6 cables (maximum 1000 Mbps). Following the instructions by connecting the adapters directly to a wall recepticle (for simplicity), the connections were simple and only took a few minutes.
I then connected the computer to the powerline adapter network, bypassing the wireless bridge. From the same computer on the other end of the powerline adapter network, the LAN Speed Test (Lite) utility by Totusoft was executed. The results were Writing 5 Mbps and Reading 7 Mbps. (Ughh… the screenshot accidentally got overwritten).
These results were disappointing. What is even more disappointing is the deceptive “speeds up to 500 Mbps” statement on the box. Here is a benefit as written on the ActionTec site, “Fast networking speeds (up to 500 Mbps on powerline and up to 100 Mbps on Ethernet)”. How I read it, 100 Mbps is the fastest ethernet connection possible. The 500 Mbps is speed between the two adapters. The 100 Mbps ethernet connection to most Gigabit (1000 Mbps) router will drag the rest of the network down to 100 Mbps.
Conclusion, I returned the Actiontec Powerline Network Adpater Kit for a refund as it did not perform as anticipated or as the misleading and deceptive terminology on the box would lead one to believe. However, as a disclaimer, results may vary.