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.
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.
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.