Evaluation Setup and Testing Methodology

G.hn's claims of being better than HomePlug AV2 in real-world scenarios was always something we had wanted to test out for ourselves. In order to evaluate the claims, we took out all the powerline adapters that had come in for review over the last four years and subjected all of them to the same iperf benchmarks under the same conditions across different power outlets in a residence. Prior to going into the details of the evaluation, let us take a look at the features of the different powerline adapters being considered today.

Comparative PLC Configurations
Aspect Comtrend PG-9172
Technology G.hn HomePlug AV2
Chipset Marvell 88LX3142 for G.hn Digital Baseband
Marvell 88LX2718 Analog Front End
Qualcomm Atheros QCA7500
Encryption 128-bit AES 128-bit AES
Performance 1200 Mbps (PHY) / 1000 Mbps 1000 Mbps (PHY) / 1033 Mbps
(AV2 MIMO Powerline 0 - 65 MHz Theoretical Max.)
Miscellaneous Features MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output)
G.hn / HPAV Co-existence Technology
MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output)
Dimensions 93mm x 59.6mm x 35mm 90mm x 60mm x 27mm
Weight 100g 95g
Retail Availability May 2015 December 2014
Current Street Price (Kit) USD 77 USD 83

All the testing was carried out in a 1800 sq. ft. single-level detached California residence built in the 1970s. The rough floorplan of the house, along with the testing locations, is presented below.

The evaluation of the adapters was done in an isolated network. A NUC with an Intel NIC (running Windows 10 Pro x64) was configured to act as a DHCP server, and placed at location 'M' (in red) in the above picture. The 'master node' powerline adapter was connected to it. Yet another NUC with an Intel NIC (running Windows 10 Pro x64) was connected to the other adapter in the network. The location of this NUC / adapter combination was varied for each adapter pair's evaluation run. We considered typical powerline adapter usage scenarios in deciding upon the locations for the testing (A - F in green in the picture above). All major rooms, including the garage, were covered.

The purpose of our benchmarking was not to tune the stream configuration for obtaining maximum possible bandwidth. Rather, we wanted to replay the same stream for multiple adapter sets in order to determine comparative performance. iperf with default parameters was used for benchmarking. On the 'server', we ran the following command:

TCP: iperf -s -B
UDP: iperf -s -u -B

The 'client' was connected to it using the following command:

TCP: iperf -c -P ${num_parallel_streams} -t 30
UDP: iperf -c -u -b ${curr_bw_to_test}m -t 30

The number of parallel streams were tested between 20 and 25 for the TCP case. The maximum obtained bandwidth was recorded. For the UDP case, we altered the bandwidth to test in order to arrive at the value that resulted in less than 1% packet loss during transmission. The roles of the server and client were then reversed, and the same benchmarks were processed.

Introduction and Usage Impressions HomePlug and G.hn Go Head to Head
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  • FATCamaro - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    There are curbside transformers that would completely mangle any data on the line for internet. I'm sure you've seen these buzzing boxes around you?
  • Manch - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    A long time ago there was research into using power lines for data transmission. The idea was to use the em field around the lines to carry the signal. Spurious signals can be picked up like this so why not intentionally use it to send/receive data.That research laid the ground work which turned into this tech.
  • GTVic - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    That is called native encryption.
  • willis936 - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    Phone lines have much better properties for signals. Also every house in America already has a phone line thanks to the Communications Act.
  • cigar3tte - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    But older homes are also that ones that don't have the proper wirings to support powerline networking.
  • Ninhalem - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    I used power line networking to great effect in a home built in 1892. Wiring is dependent on how good the builders were at the time. You can have modern home builders and electricians who shouldn't have been allowed to touch power tools. I find that most construction from the turn of the 20th century and in the 1930's was some of the best construction ever.
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    What is "Anectdotal Evidence" for $5000, Jerry.
  • Samus - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    LOL, are you denying his claim that pre-WWII construction was superior to modern construction quality?

    Having a major in architecture and having worked in construction, most modern residential homes are built to last 30-50 years. Materials and quality of construction. The only advantage is the homes are more efficient and have more creature comforts.

    In the 20's and 30's, that mentality didn't exist. Things were just built. Well.

    Prior to the 70's, the concept of "flipping" also didn't exist. Homes were built and bought to live in forever, much of the time planned to be passed down through the family. These days, almost half of homes are purchased for short term occupancy. aka, 'flipping.'

    Buying modern construction is scary, especially if you don't know what to look out for. I'd rather have a 100 year old used and abused home than a 10 year old cookie cutter that was built cheap and has already been through 3 clueless owners.
  • sor - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    I don't know. I've seen my fair share of knob and tube, insulation that has settled and compacted, moisture barrier issues, rot, insufficient foundations. Most homes that are that old have already had major work done or are piles of crap that either need to be stripped to the studs or they're just run down homes that people put up with because of cost. You can find the occasional well built home, but since building code and inspections were sparse it's a total crap shoot. Looking at the past thinking everything was well built is looking with Rose colored glasses.
  • eek2121 - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    Took the words right out of my mouth.

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