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Netgear XAV5101

Netgear Powerline Nano 500 Ethernet-over-mains adaptor

Mains-line networking

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Wire oh wire

Like all powerline adaptors, the Netgear Nano gets warm in use, but not excessively so. They're cooler than my regular-size Devolo 200Mbps adaptors. The XAV5101 also consumes the oligatory half a Watt or less when it's not actively transmitting or receiving data.

My real-world testing of the XAV5101 involved pulling files down from a Nas box over the powerline link - the kind of thing most folk installing this kind of kit will do - and observing the measured throughput.

Netgear XAV5101 Powerline Nano 500

Doesn't run hot

Downloading from a WD MyBook Live network hard drive, connected by AFP, to my 15in MacBook Pro yielded a speed of 11.8MBps - 94.4Mbps. Of course this doesn't give the raw throughput - different data transfer protocols have higher or lower overheads; the same file copied over the same system but this time using SMB saw the time fall to 52Mbps, for instance. Moral: pick your protocols carefully.

The state of your home's wiring will have an effect too, so your mileage is going to vary. Here's how the new Netgear adaptors compare with the previous generation, to give you a guide to relative performance. Note that the Devolo product is a 200Mbps and so comes with a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port.

Netgear XAV5101 Powerline Nano 500

Download throughput in Megabits per Second (Mbps)
Longer lines are better

Using the iperf 2.0.5 bandwidth measure on the Vulture Central lab bench to fill the powerline pipe to capacity, I got a ten-run average one-way bandwidth of 182.1Mbps. These adaptors are clearly capable of getting much better performance than I got at home.

Netgear XAV5101 Powerline Nano 500

iperf average max bandwidth in Megabits per Second (Mbps)
Longer lines are better

Try as I might, I couldn't get the Netgear kit to interfere with either my DAB radio or the FM tranny I have in the kitchen. Well-behaving powerline adaptors are 'notched' to prevent them transmitting on used frequencies, and in all instances I've seen of powerline kit causing noise, the receivers have been placed near the adaptor.

Noisy adaptors there are, but I'm sceptical even these bad-behaved adaptors - notching does reduce performance - will be filling the ether with high-frequency noise will be sending police cars up the wrong street and causing aircraft to fall from the sky.

Verdict

Netgear's latest powerline adaptors deliver a decent performance, but it's their reduced size that's the real selling point here, ensuring they take up far less wall space than powerline Ethernet boxes of yore. They're clearly much faster than 200Mbps adaptors, though perhaps not sufficiently so to warrant replacing existing HomePlug AV kit. ®

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Netgear XAV5101

Netgear Powerline Nano 500 Ethernet-over-mains adaptor

Compact powerline adaptor with IEEE 1901 and HomePlug AV support.
Price: XAVB5101 two-adaptor starter pack: £100. RRP

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