Zyxel PLA4201 500mbps Powerline Adaptor Review

Written by Antony Leather

May 25, 2012 | 10:27

Tags: #500mbps-powerline-adaptor #best-powerline-adaptor #fastest-powerline-adaptor

Companies: #zyxel

Speed tests

We tested the Zyxel PLA4201's against Devolo pass-through 500Mbps and 200Mbps adaptors in two setups - a typical house setting with the two adaptors in different rooms and also with the adaptors closer to each other in nearby plug sockets. The latter is not a typical real-world scenario but it should give some idea of the maximum speed the adaptors are capable of given perfect conditions. We transferred a 300MB video file from one PC to another using a Gigabit router and recorded the transfer speed in MB/sec.

Transfer Speeds - Typical conditions

  • Devolo 500Mbps Pass-through
  • Zyxel PLA4201 500Mbps
  • Devolo 200Mbps Pass-through
  • 9.4
  • 8.5
  • 6.1
MB/sec - higher is better

Transfer Speeds - Perfect conditions

  • Devolo 500Mbps Pass-through
  • Zyxel PLA4201 500Mbps
  • Devolo 200Mbps Pass-through
  • 18.8
  • 9.8
  • 6.8
MB/sec - higher is better

We were pleasantly surprised with the Zyxel PLA4201's in typical conditions. They were nearly 40 per cent faster than the Devolo 200Mbps units with a transfer speed of 8.5MB/sec. However, the Devolo 500Mbps adaptors managed an even speedier 9.4MB/sec. While this is less than 1MB/sec difference, transferring 5GB of data will take nearly a minute longer with the PLA4201s.

Switching to our perfect conditions test, the Devolo 500Mbps units really strutted their stuff with a stonking speed of 18.8MBsec - 50Mbits faster than a 10/100 router would be able to deal with. Sadly, with the PLA4201's for some reason limited to 100Mbps, as opposed to 1Gbps with the Devolos, they only saw a boost to 9.8MB/sec. We can't get too hung up here though as this test isn't real world, unless maybe you have a new-build house with exceptional wiring and few high-draw devices.

Zyxel PLA4201 500mbps Powerline Adaptor Review Zyxel PLA4201 Speed tests and Conclusion
Click to enlarge


Given the price of the Zyxel PLA4201's it's difficult to knock them despite coming in slower than Devolo's 500Mbps offering. The latter come in at twice the price and even its standard non-pass-through adaptors are significantly more expensive. Whether the additional MB/sec is worth it will depend on your needs. In this case, we're talking about nearly 11 per cent speed difference.

Clearly this isn't going to impact on broadband speeds unless you're lucky enough to have something well in excess of 50Mbps. With plenty of people now using Virgin Media's 100Mbps service, though, this is too fast even for the Devolo 500Mbps units to handle, but if you can afford such a service you can probably afford to go for the Devolo 500Mbps units instead anyway.

If you're after a cheaper way to get some more pizazz from your home network, then the Zyxel PLA4201's are a relatively cheap way to do it and are even worth the upgrade from some of the best 200Mbps units on the market. While the documentation isn't amazing, their dinky size and hassle-free setup make them even more appealing,
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  • Speed
    35 / 40
  • Features
    18 / 25
  • Value
    32 / 35

Score guide
Where to buy

Overall 85%
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October 14 2021 | 15:04