X
Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement | How we test routers

Netgear Powerline 1200 review: Top power line speed at a low cost

The Netgear Powerline 1200 is an excellent buy if you want to quickly extend your wired network. Here's CNET's full review.

Dong_Ngo.jpg
Dong Ngo
Dong_Ngo.jpg

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.

See full bio
5 min read

The Netgear Powerline 1200 kit (model PL1200-100PAS) won't deliver the on-paper (and honestly, quite mythical) top speed of 1,200Mbps advertised by Netgear. It won't even get close to that. However, that doesn't mean it's not fast. In my testing, it edged out the Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn to be the fastest power line kit to date. And at just $80 for a set of two adapters, it's also one of the cheapest.

The Good

The Netgear Powerline 1200 kit is affordable and delivers the connection speed many times that of a regular Ethernet connection. The adapter has an indicator light that helps you find the best wall socket to plug it in.

The Bad

The adapter is bulky and there's no way it can deliver the mythical advertised speed of 1,200Mbps.

The Bottom Line

The Netgear Powerline 1200 kit is the affordable answer to those needing a reliable, fast and convenient solution to extend their wired home network.

Similar to most power line adapters, the 1200 is easy to set up and is a convenient and reliable way to extend your wired network without the need to run network cables through your house. And apart from the relatively bulky design (a trait many power line adapters share), there's not much else to complain about.

The Powerline 1200 kit is an excellent buy for anyone looking to extend their network, but it's not the only option. To make sure you get the best deal for your needs, don't forget to also check out this list of top power line adapters.

netgearav1200powerlineadapter-4900-001.jpg

The Netger Powerline 1200 kit includes two identical adapters.

Josh Miller/CNET

Design and setup

The Powerline 1200 Adapter Kit includes two identical adapters (model PL1200S). The adapters have a snap-in design, looking like a three-prong power adapter for a small electronic device. This is a popular design for power line since it's very convenient to use; all you have to do is plug the adapter into the wall socket.

There's one caveat, however. The adapter is quite big, potentially blocking the adjacent wall sockets when in use. To make matters worse, the PL1200S doesn't feature a pass-through socket. Since power line adapters need to be plugged directly into a wall socket -- and not through a power strip or surge protector -- to work well, the PL1200S is not useful in places where there's only one power outlet.

(Note that Netgear also offers another version of the Powerline 1200 kit, model PLP1200-100PAS, that costs $10 more and includes two PLP1200S adapters. The PLP1200S adapter is about double the physical size of the PL1200S adapter, but includes a pass-through outlet. Other than that, the two adapters are essentially the same.)

The PL1200S has a Gigabit network port on one of its sides. Next to this port is a Security Button and a Reset button. The former is to create a secure connection between multiple adapters and the latter is to reset the adapter to the default factory setting.

The Powerline 1200 Adapter Kit includes a well-illustrated Quick Start guide but you won't need help setting it up at all. The process is very simple. First you hook up one of the adapters to your existing router (or switch) using a network cable (a short cable included with each adapter). Then connect a second adapter to an Ethernet-ready device, such as a computer, a printer or even a Wi-Fi access point. Then plug each adapter into a power socket and you're done. The adapters now use the electrical wiring in between the two sockets as a network cable.

Note that you only need a pair of power line adapters to create the first connection. After that you 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 get the amount of adapters equal to the amount of wired clients, plus one. Like most recent power line adapters, the Powerline 1200 lets you add up to 16 wired devices to an existing network using power line connections.

netgearav1200powerlineadapter-4900-001.jpg

The adapter features a Gigabit network port.

Josh Miller/CNET

Features

The Netgear Powerline 1200 kit features the latest HomePlug AV2 standard that's available in AV2 1200 and AV2 2000 versions, capable of delivering up to 1200Mbps and 2000Mbps, respectively. Truth be told, however, adapters supporting this new standard can only offer up to 1000Mbps. This is because they all use a Gigabit network port and fastest home routers also support Gigabit Ethernet, at most. In other words, no matter how fast the powerline standard is, for now, powerline adapter's speed is limited by the Gigabit network port. In real-world testing so far I haven't seen any power line adapters that can deliver close to the real speed of a Gigabit connection yet. This is also the case for the Powerline 1200 kit.

On top the PL1200S features status lights with helpful color-changing indicators. The power status light shines green when the adapter is plugged in, amber when it's in energy-saving mode and blinking green when the adapter is setting up security. The Pick-a-Plug LED helps you figure out the best wall socket to plug the remote adapter in: red means it can deliver 50Mbps or less, amber means between 50Mbps and 80Mbps and green means the adapter has the best power line signal.

You can turn on the PL1200S's security feature by pressing its Security button on each plugged-in adapter within 2 minutes from each other. Note that once the security is turned on, the adapter won't work anymore with power line adapters from other vendors; if you want add another PL1200S to the network, you will first need to reset all existing adapters to default settings (effectively turning off the security). In other words, you should only turn on the security feature if you use only PL1200S (or PLP1200S) adapters within the same network, and only once you have set them all up. The security feature 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. For a single-family home, there's no need to use this feature.

Performance

Netgear says that the Netgear Powerline 1200 kit can deliver up to 1,200Mbps connection speed; this is completely untrue. As mentioned above, since each adapter features a Gigabit network port, the most you can get out of this kit is 1,000Mbps. And that wasn't even the case in my testing.

However, overadvertising the connection speed is common in networking devices and the Powerline 1200 kit was indeed the fastest I've experienced in power line networking. In testing, the two adapters delivered a sustained speed of 386Mbps, which was almost 60Mbps faster than the runner-up, the Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn. Clearly this is getting very close to the speed of Gigabit Ethernet, and so much faster than a traditional 10/100 Ethernet connection.

CNET Labs' power line networking performance

Netgear Powerline 1200 386.32Comtrend G.hn Powerline Adapter 330.72ZyXel PLA5206K 304Trendnet TPL-408E 266.48Linksys PLEK500 249.6ZyXEL PLA4205 213.2Netgear XAV5501 160.8D-Link DHP-540 147.68D-Link DHP-501AV 141.2ActionTech PWR511K01 90.32ZyXEL PLA4231 90.3Trendnet TPL-406E 90TrendNet TPL-401E2K 79.2Netgear XAVNB2001 56.2D-Link DHP-1320 45.8Western Digital LiveWire 40Linksys PLK300 32.5Netgear XAV2001 22.9Plaster Network PLN3 22.6Reference 802.11N 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi 20
Note: Measured in megabits per second, longer bars mean better performance.

Conclusion

The Netgear Powerline 1200 kit has some of the fastest networking performance we've yet seen. At $80, the kit is a great investment for those looking to perform heavy networking tasks like backups or media streaming from a local NAS server. In fact, it's much more affordable than the slightly slower Comtrend PG-9172 G.hn that currently costs $70 for just one unit. Alternatively, though, the Trendnet TPL-408E2K kit costs just around $60. It's not as fast, but is perfectly suited for those with modest networking needs.

If you decide to take the plunge on the Netgear Powerline 1200 right now, you'll likely not be disappointed. Those in need of even faster power line performance, however, might want to wait for upcoming HomePlug AV2 2000Mbps adapters, that will likely has even closer to real Gigabit speed.

netgearav1200powerlineadapter-4900-001.jpg
8.3

Netgear Powerline 1200

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 9
Shopping laptop image
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping