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ZyXEL PowerLine Review – PLA5236 & PLA5206 V2

Building a LAN is often difficult. Network cable to lay is for many not in question and also with WiFi pushes quickly at borders. An efficient solution is the so-called PowerLine adapters, which serve the local power lines for network building. A well-known manufacturer of such PowerLine adapters is “ZyXEL”, whose PowerLine PLA5236 + PLA5206 V2 Kit we looked more closely for this review.

SPECIFICATIONS

ZyXEL PLA5236
Connections: 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45
WiFi: Dual Band AC
Standard: HomePlug AV2

PowerLine:
* Send: up to 1000 Mbps
* Receive: up to 1000 Mbps
* Range: 300 meters
* Encryption: 128-bit AES
* QoS: 4-level QoS, 8-level VLAN

WiFi:
* Speed ​​mode: up to 867 Mbps (5 GHz)
* Range mode: up to 400 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
* Mix mode: up to 200 Mbps (2.4 GHz) & 433 Mbps (5 GHz)
* Encryption: 64 / 128 bit WEP, WPA-PSK / WPA2-PSK
* Other: WPS, WMM

Size: 125 x 74 x 40 mm
Weight: 280g

ZyXEL PLA5206 V2 Connectors
: 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45
Standard: HomePlug AV2

PowerLine:
* Send: up to 1000 Mbps
* Receive: up to 1000 Mbps
* Range: 300 meters
* Encryption: 128-bit AES
* QoS: 4-level QoS
* Other: IGMP v1 / v2 / v3

Size: 93 x 63 x 30 mm
Weight: 120g

DELIVERY

1x PLA5236
1x PLA5206 V2
2x Quick Start Guide
2x network cable

Hardware

The operation of a PowerLine is simply explained. The adapters are plugged into a standard socket and connected via the network connection. The data is transferred between two or more PowerLine adapters, directly via the power cable.

The larger ” PLA5236″ adapter has two 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ45 sockets with auto MDI / MDI-X support. With the HomePlug AV2 specification , a two-sided PowerLine data throughput of up to one gigabit would be possible. For security the transfer 128-bit AES is encrypted. At the same time, the ZyXEL PLA5236 is a WLAN access point that supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi according to the dual-band AC standard. In the 5 GHz network, theoretical transmission rates of up to 867 Mbps, in 2.4 GHz with up to 400 Mbps, are possible. The encryption amounts to 64/128 bit WEP, WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK. The PLA5236 WPS is compatible for easy connection setup.

The second adapter, called “PLA5206 V2”, is designed for PowerLine use only. Also specified as HomePlug AV2 and equipped with two 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ45 sockets, this adapter also achieves a theoretically possible PowerLine transfer rate of one gigabit.

Field test

Design and processing

Both the PLA5206 V2 as well as the PLA5236 are excellently processed. There are criticisms, however, in design. With a size of 125 x 74 x 40 mm the PLA5236 is very large. Especially when used in a multi-wall socket, the housing of the PowerLine adapter projects into the plug-in area of ​​the adjacent sockets, which means that these can no longer be used. With dimensions of 93 x 63 x 30 mm, the PLA5206 V2 has a considerably more compact housing.

Commissioning

For easy start-up, both devices are delivered with a multilingual Quick Start Guide, which also includes German instructions. At the same time, a 1.5 meter network cable is included in the delivery.

The connection of two adapters is very simple and can also be carried out by the technical layman. To build a PowerLine, an adapter must be connected to the router, and the other adapter is connected to a device that wants to access the Internet. The connection between the adapters is fully automatic. If you want to encrypt the connection, you must press the “Encryption” button on both devices for 2 seconds.

Data throughput of the PowerLine

In order to measure the possible net data throughput of the PowerLine, we have opted for practice-oriented test environments. For this the PLA5206 V2 was connected to a GBit switch. The PLA5236 hung on the Gigabit LAN port of a fast notebook with powerful SSD. A 1GB file should be moved locally via a NAS.

Test environment 1: The PLA5236 and the PLA5206 V2 are connected via a single wall socket and are located at a distance of about 3 meters in the same room. The maximum data transfer rate was 30 MB/s.

Test environment 2: The PLA5236 and the PLA5206 V2 are connected via a single wall socket and are located on different floors at a distance of about 10 meters. The maximum data throughput rate was 19 MB/s.

Test environment 2: The PLA5236 and the PLA5206 V2 are connected via a single wall socket and are located on different floors, at a distance of approximately 18 meters. The maximum data throughput rate was only 5 MB/s.

For a stable connection and high data throughput, it is recommended to use the ZyXEL PowerLine adapters with a wall outlet instead of a multiple socket. The reason is that other devices that are connected to the multi- socket can interfere with the PowerLine signal. In the test, a multiple socket with additional connected devices proved to be not disadvantageous. The signal remained constant at the same data throughput rate. The signal quality can also be read directly via an LED indicator.

Access Point

The ZyXEL PLA5236 can also act as an access point. The access point can be configured via the so-called “ZyXEL Easy Setup” app, as well as it is possible to configure via the web interface of the adapter. To do this, you must connect to the adapter. The registration data are printed on the adapter. Dual-band AC allows both a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz network to be built. The PLA5236 convinced by a constant data throughput rate with good transmission range. The adapter can be managed via the “ZyXEL OneConnect” app and the local web interface, Which can also activate additional features such as QoS or a MAC filter.

Power consumption

The power consumption of the PLA5236 was between 8 watts and 11.5 watts. The average consumption was 10.5 watts. The PLA5206 V2 consumed between 5 watts and 8 watts , with the average consumption being 6.5 watts.

Power consumption

The ZyXEL PowerLine Kit is a convenient solution to expand a LAN or WLAN in just a few steps. It makes sense to make such a kit especially where there is no Ethernet connection or the wireless is hardly to be reached. One thing to note though is that if manufacturers of PowerLine products specify this with the theoretically possible Gigabit transmission rate, this indication is always associated with a bitter taste. In practice, PowerLine adapters are far from being theoretically possible. Transmission rates of approximately 35 MB / s correspond approximately to what is expected from a good PowerLine adapter in practice.
7.5
Good!

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