If you’ve done any amount of online gaming then you’ve likely encountered one constant: a more reliable connection trumps a slightly faster connection every time. Most online games really don’t use a ton of bandwidth, but they do require a very steady connection that WiFi can struggle to deliver. Unfortunately for most gamers, having a wired Ethernet connection just isn’t possible. Thankfully, powerline Ethernet adapters have matured to the point that they can approximate most of the benefits of traditional wired gaming without the need for massive cables strung across your house.
As a note: powerline Ethernet adapters are reliable, but they’re also subject to the wiring within your house. Depending on where you place them, they may or may not function, so be prepared to try several different outlets to find ones that play nice with your adapters.
Tenda PH6 Powerline Ethernet Adapter Kit
This set from Tenda is a nice compromise between speed, feature set, and price. At less than $50 you’re getting a two pack of gigabit capable powerline adapters, which is plenty of speed for anything outside of massive network transfers. These adapters also have a convenient plug pass-through so you’re not losing the outlet, and they come with a three-year warranty. Tenda also advertises electrical noise suppression as well, although testing that claim would take specialty equipment. Overall, a solid set of adapters to get you gaming without spending a lot of money.
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TP-Link TL-WPA4220 Kit
TP-Link is really the premiere brand when it comes to powerline Ethernet adapters. They’ve been putting them out for a number of years and often include features that competitors don’t get around to for some time. This kit provides a modest 600Mbps Ethernet over power, which is good for gaming but you might want to avoid major network transfers or remote desktop work. However, the real benefit of this set is the built-in WiFi extension that the larger adapter provides. Not only does it pair up with other models, in the event that you loop some gigabit capable adapters into your setup, but the WiFi extension provides a 300Mbps extension to your existing network. It’s not the fastest by any means, but if you’re still streaming at 1080p and wanting to get some gaming in then the flexibility it provides outweighs the slightly slower speeds.
Zyxel Powerline Starter Kit
These adapters from Zyxel look an awful lot like the majority of standard powerline adapters you’ll see online or at your local retailer, with one standout feature: they’re very fast. At 2400Mbps speeds these trounce most other adapters you’re going to find, all while still providing the same convenient powerline adapter feature set that you’d expect. They might be lacking in robust features like WiFi extension, but if you’re after pure speed then they’re the easy choice.
Tenda PH10 Powerline WiFi Adapter
Tenda continues to give TP-Link a run for their money with their PH10 adapter kit. It includes a dual band WiFi extender, just like some models of TP-Link adapter, but boasts full gigabit Ethernet adapters. The built-in WiFi extender simply clones your existing network to provide 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz extension in addition to its powerline capabilities. If you’re after a powerline adapter that includes a WiFi extender but aren’t willing to compromise on speed then it’s a good choice.
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NETGEAR is likely a name you’ve seen before if you’ve ever purchased or shopped for networking equipment. They’re a major player across the networking landscape, and their powerline adapters are rock solid. Their PLP2000 adapters provide up to 2000Mbps speeds, and dual ports on both ends means that on the receiving adapter you’ll be able to plug in two different devices. It’s a convenient, fast option from a company with a sizable legacy in the networking equipment world.
Speeds listed on these types of adapters are maximums, not the speeds you’re going to get in operation. Powerline adapters are susceptible to noise and interference so you may need to spend some time finding a set of electrical outlets that work for what you’re trying to set up. Avoid things like power strips and surge protectors for the fastest, most direct route for your traffic and do some testing to make sure things are running at acceptable speeds.
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