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D-Link DHP-540 PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch review: D-Link DHP-540 PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch

D-Link DHP-540 PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
5 min read

All switches need to be plugged into the wall to operate, so it's generally a good idea to make them also support power-line networking. That's exactly the case with the D-Link PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch (model DHP-540). This four-port Gigabit switch is the first we've seen that also offers support for Powerline AV 500, and in our testing it offered stellar performance. At a price of around $95, which is cheaper than many other regular Gigabit four-port switches, the DHP-540 is a steal.

D-Link PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch DHP-540 - bridge - none - desktop

D-Link DHP-540 PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch

The Good

The affordable <b>D-Link PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch DHP-540</b> is a versatile Gigabit switch that includes support for Powerline AV 500. It offers great performance.

The Bad

The D-Link PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch DHP-540 doesn't offer the option to turn off the power-line function.

The Bottom Line

Compact, good-looking, affordable, and fast, D-Link's PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch DHP-540 makes a great device that extends your network both via traditional cables and electrical wiring.

The only complaint we have for the device is the fact that it doesn't offer the option to turn off the power-line function to work just like any regular Gigabit switch. This means those who are unaware might unknowingly expose their network to outsiders who live in the same building. But for savvy people who are looking for a device with a combination of Gigabit and power-line networking, the DHP-540 makes an excellent buy. Make sure you get a Powerline AV 500 adapter, such as the D-Link DHP-500AV or the Netgear XAV5501 to use with it.

Design, setup, and features
The D-Link PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit switch is first and foremost a Gigabit switch and works just like one: it allows you to add another three Ethernet-ready devices to the network via network cables. However, its function doesn't stop there. When plugged into a power socket, it will automatically turn the electrical wiring of the house or building into a data cable of the same computer network it's connected to. Now all you have to do is plug a power-line adapter into another power socket in the same location to get connected.

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The idea of combining Ethernet and power line is not new and was first available with D-Link's DHP-1320 router. However, this is the first time we've seen this done with a switch. It's also the first that supports the Powerline AV 500 standard as the HDP-1320 supports the older HomePlug AV, which is much slower.

The DHP-540 looks quite good, and resembles a bathroom tile with its square shape. It's completely black and quite thick, since it has a built-in power adapter and a Powerline AV 500 chip. The device connects to the wall via an included standard power cable. You can use this cable or any other similar cable with the device.

As a power-line device, the HDP-540 works both ways. It can be used at the router to host three more devices via its Gigabit ports and be the first end of the power-line network. In this case, you can add more devices to the power-line network by adding more adapters at other power sockets around the house. Or, in case you already connect a Powerline AV 500 adapter at the router, you can use the DHP-540 at the far end outlet to add four more Ethernet-ready devices to the power-line network. And that's all there is to how the device is supposed to be set up.

Similar to the case of the D-Link DHP-501AV, the DHP-540 also comes with a Windows-based application, called D-Link HDP-540 Configuration Utility, which helps both with the setup process and managing the power-line connection.

Apart from the four Gigabit ports on the back, the DH-540 also comes with an on/off switch. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide the option to turn off its power-line function in case you just want to use it as a regular switch and make sure anybody living your building can't tap into your network by using another power-line adapter. The device does comes with a quick security button on top that helps create a secure power-line network when used with other D-Link power-line adapters, such as the DHP-500AV. When used with adapters of other vendors, however, it's recommended you use its software to change and apply the password manually.

The DHP-540 worked well in our tests and is compatible with other non-D-Link Powerline AV 500 adapters. When used as a regular switch, it offered Gigabit throughput speeds, like any other Gigabit switche. What really impressed us, however, was its power-line throughput speeds. Similar to D-Link's DHP-501AV and Netgear's XAV5501 adapters, which are the two we used for testing, the DHP-540 offers a sustained real-word transfer speed of 147.68Mbps. This is about 50 percent faster than the top speed of regular 10/100 Ethernet connections and much faster than most other power-line adapters we've tested. The TrendNet TPL-401E2K, for example, which is another Powerline AV 500-based adapter, scored 79.2Mbps.

Note that similar to wireless networking, power-line networking's performance varies based on the environment. This means depending on the condition of your home's electrical wiring, you might get different results than our numbers. Considering what we experienced, however, we believe that the D-Link PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch DHP-540 will be satisfactory for most of your power-line needs, and it makes a compact and good-looking Gigabit switch.

CNET Labs' power line adapter performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(Measured in megabits per second)  

Service and support
Similar to the case of the DHP-501AV, D-Link backs the PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch DHP-540 with a one-year warranty, which is rather short, though standard. At the company's Web site, you will find a wealth of support information including downloads, FAQs, and a searchable knowledge base. You can also seek help through the company's toll-free technical support phone line, which is available 24-7.

We loved the D-Link PowerLine AV 500 4-Port Gigabit Switch DHP-540 for its great performance and nice design. It'll make an excellent buy for savvy users who want a viable Wi-Fi alternative for their home and office network. Privacy-conscious consumers need to make sure to turn on the security for its power-line function, even when it's used as a regular switch, however.