Well finally we have powerline adaptor that can beat the mighty Devolo 500Mbps adaptors in typical conditions. The Zyxel PLA 5205 managed a brilliant 11.6MB/sec equivalent to 93Mbps. This is nearly 25 per cent faster than the Devolo adaptors and more than 50 per cent faster than Zyxel's 500Mbps offering.
Sadly things didn't go quite as well in our power strip test where we plugged one PLA 5205 adaptor into a busy power strip with several other devices powered on. It only managed 4.8MB/sec compared to the Devolo's 8.6MB/sec, but it was still noticeably faster than the previous generation Zyxel adaptor. Finally, our maximum speed test saw the fastest result we've ever seen from a powerline adaptor at 21.8MB/sec. equivalent to 174Mbps, which was significantly faster than both other adaptors on test.
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We should stress though that neither of the latter two tests are likely scenarios the adaptors will find themselves in - you basically should never use a power strip with powerline adaptors as it dramatically reduces signal quality - the new features brought to the table with the PLA 5205 didn't seem to improve things much here. Also, you're clearly not going to be plugging two adaptors in next to each other so here, while the results are impressive, it's more akin to a synthetic test.
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Despite the poor speeds in the power strip test, the PLA 5205 was fast where it counted. In typical conditions, linking adaptors between rooms at opposite ends of a house, it was noticeably faster than the competition and now holds the record for the fastest speed we've seen in perfect conditions too. It's a shame that there are no power pass-through PLA 5200 series adaptors yet, but they are hopefully in the pipeline for those of you with single plug sockets near your PC and other devices.
We don't, however, recommend buying the PLA 5205 if you intend to use them in a power strip. The speed drop off is, as usual, pretty horrendous. If you are able to plug them straight into the wall, then they're our firm choice at the moment and are noticeably cheaper than Devolo's offerings too. The difference might only be 2-3MB/sec but when the best speeds we've been seeing are in the region of 10-15MB/sec, you're talking about a ~20% difference. The result is not only faster file transfers but that Powerline adaptors are just about keeping pace with the fastest broadband services too, which ultimately for many tasks is the bottleneck.