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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  • kamm2 - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    Yeah, 99.99% chance a home built in 1892 with good wiring does not have 1892 wiring. If it was even built with any wiring.
  • extide - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    While I agree with most of what you say, the words 'Occupancy' and 'Flipping' should never be used in the same sentence when talking about homes...
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - link

    I would think it would just be easier to use wireless in an older home. With most people having laptops , phones, ipads, etc.. your going to be on wireless most of the time anyways. You can get repeaters easily enough. My home was built in 1999, with ethernet cables wired across the whole house, but it turns out a lot of the connections are not convenient, so I still use mostly wireless.

    I did use a powerline adapter for one connection, and found it was a bit finicky, and wouldn't work between all plugs (and I'm sure my wiring is fine).
  • mgrier - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    Definitely. It would rock for a streaming box but I guess those tend to be small USB-powered and use wireless. I'd prefer to have a real outlet needed and avoid cluttering my wifi with video.
  • Murloc - Thursday, May 5, 2016 - link

    because the power network in houses is a mess or unknown to the owner and something always ends up not working.
    Wireless is just a better solution for most people and applications and even that isn't hassle-free.
  • fazalmajid - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    I am getting spotty performance on a pair of PLA-5405 I use to bridge upper and lower floors in my 1936 house with electrical wiring upgraded in 2006 (odd layout makes Cat5/6unpractical, plaster and lath construction is highly effective at blocking WiFi). I ordered a pair of these and a pair of HomePlug AV2000 Extollo Lansocket 1500 that outperform them in other reviews. G.hn proponents claim it has better noise resistance, I'd like to put that to the test.
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    You seem to use the terms "HomeGrid" and "G.hn" interchangeably without ever explaining that they're the same thing. That was very confusing, as for most of the first page of the article, I thought you were talking about three different standards.
  • Valantar - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    I agree. It took me all of the first page to understand that G.hn and HomeGrid were the same thing. No clear link between the two names, and no mention in the introduction. What do the two names mean? Is one a standards organization, while the other is the name of their tech? If so, which is which? And why have two names at all?
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    I think adding a single word would solve the problem. Change this:

    However, despite silicon getting demonstrated at various trade shows, G.hn was unable to get a retail product out for a long time.

    To this:

    However, despite silicon getting demonstrated at various trade shows, HomeGrid's G.hn was unable to get a retail product out for a long time.
  • grazapin - Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - link

    Yeah that first paragraph drops the names HomePlug, HomeGrid, G.hn and Comtrend with no explanation of how they relate to each other. I picked up most of it from context, but how G.hn fit in was not clear for most of the article. In fact, the only explanation that jumps out at me now is in the very last paragraph: "HomeGrid / G.hn"

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