D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 (DHP-701AV) review: Slightly faster than its competitors, but significantly more expensive
The D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Extender Kit (model DHP-701AV) is a bit of a disappointment. Supporting the latest PowerLine AV2 2000 standard, the kit promises to deliver up to 2,000Mbps, but in our testing, its real-world speed maxes out at just about 400Mbps.
To be fair, at that speed, the DHP-701AV is currently the fastest power-line kit on the market, edging out the Netgear PL1200-100PAS by about 10Mbps. But at some $160, the D-link is about double the Netgear's price, too. Furthermore, the two included adapters are bulky, making it difficult to find a suitable wall socket to plug into.
With that in mind, I wouldn't recommend getting the DHP-701AV kit until its price comes down. While it's still a fast and convenient way to extend your wired network without running network cables, it's not a better deal than the Netgear PL1200-100PAS, which is only a tad slower but easier to use with any wall socket. Or you can check out this list of top power-line adapters for one that fits your budget and needs more closely.
Design and setup
I was very excited to get my hands on D-Link's PowerLine DHP-701AV power-line adapter kit but was immediately taken aback upon opening the box. As it turned out, the two included adapters (model DHP-700AV) are much larger than the photo printed on the box suggests. Measuring 3.89 x 2.86 x 1.34 inches, the DHP-700AV is about 50 percent larger than the Netgear PL1200S and is the largest power-line adapter I've seen that doesn't feature a pass-though socket.
The size is important, because the adapter uses a popular snap-in design, resembling a three-prong power adapter for an electronic device. Thus, the larger it is, the more likely it will block adjacent wall sockets when in use, and the harder it will be to find a good spot to plug it in. Since power-line adapters need to be plugged directly into the wall to work well, be prepared to sacrifice one or two power outlets nearby should you choose to use this DHP-700AV adapter.
But that's the only problem you might have when setting up the DHP-701AV kit. Like all power-line adapters, it is easy to set up. First, you hook up one of the adapters to your existing router using a network cable (a short cable included with each adapter). Then connect a second adapter to a device that has a network port, such as a desktop computer, a printer, a game console or even a Wi-Fi access point. Then plug each adapter into a power socket and you're done. The adapters turn the electrical wiring in between them into a network cable.
If the above doesn't seem simple enough, there's a Quick Install Guide included with a clear, step-by-step instruction.
Note that you need only two power-line adapters to create the first connection. After that, you'll just need another adapter for each additional device that you want to add to the power-line network. So generally, the rule of power-line networking is you buy the number of adapters equal to the number of wired clients you want to connect, plus one. Like most recent power-line adapters, the D-Link kit lets you add up to 16 wired devices to an existing network. It's also compatible with other existing power-line adapters, but for top speed it's recommended that you use adapters of the same speed standard.
The DHP-700AV adapter has a Gigabit network port on one side, capping out at 1,000Mbps, which is why there's no way the kit can deliver the 2,000Mbps D-Link claims.
The logic behind D-Link's claim, however, is because the adapter features the latest top-tier Powerline AV2 2000 standard. On the paper, this standard has a cap speed of 2,000Mbps. In real-world testing, however, I've never seen any power-line adapter that could get even close to the speed of a Gigabit connection. This is also the case of this D-Link kit -- more on this below.
Next to the Gigabit port, the DHP-700AV has a Simple Connect Button and a recessed Reset button. The former is what creates a secure connection between the adapters, while the latter will restore the adapter's settings to the factory defaults. Making the connection secure is only necessary if you live in a multiple-home building where others can tap into your home network by using a power-line adapter of their own. Keep in mind that once the security is turned on, the adapter won't work with power-line adapters from other vendors.
On top, the DHP-700AV has three little LED status lights for the power, the power-line network and the Ethernet connection. The power-line LED changes its color to red, amber, or green, indicating the quality of the power-line link as OK, good or excellent, respectively. If there's no signal or the signal is really bad, the light won't turn on at all.
Considering its support for the HomePlug AV2 2000, I was hoping that the DHP-701AV would deliver close to a real Gigabit connection speed. This didn't turn out to be the case.
I tested the kit in optimal conditions, in a new building with two sockets just about 10 feet from each other, and the kit registered the sustained speed of close to 400Mbps. By comparison, that was about 10Mbps faster than the Netgear PL1200-100PAS, which supports the slower Powerline AV2 1200 standard. Considering its price is nearly double that of its Netgear counterpart, I found the gain in the performance inadequate, not to mention a little disappointing.
Still, though, the DHP-701AV kit is currently the fastest power-line adapter kit I've seen to date, and it's much speedier than a traditional Ethernet (10/100) connection. Note that the speed of a power-line connection depends a lot on the condition of the home's electrical wiring. If you live in an old home, you will likely experience slower performance.
Despite being the fastest power-line kit on the market, the D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Extender Kit (DHP-701AV) can't live up to its 2,000Mbps claim. The little gain in performance you get over a cheaper model isn't worth the $160 price tag. On top of that, the large physical size of the included adapters make them much less convenient to use compared with other models.
That said, the Netgear Powerline 1200 kit that's only 10Mbps slower than the D-Link kit and costs just $80 is a much better deal. If you want to go even cheaper, the Trendnet TPL-408E2K kit, which is not as fast as either of the others but is perfectly suited for those with modest networking needs, costs around $60.