So you have a games console that’s quite a way from the router, and you want the best connection possible to keep lag to a minimum? Wifi signals get more unreliable the further you are from the router and sometimes it’s not pretty or possible to run long ethernet cables all through the house. Are there any other alternatives if you want something stronger than wifi but cannot run an ethernet cable directly to your router?
In this situation a Powerline Adapter is the perfect solution, providing you with a strong reliable wired connection for gaming without having to run long ethernet cables all through your house. Powerline Adapters create a wired connection but the brilliant thing is that most of the wiring is hidden as it is the electrical wiring of your house. So they are an effective home networking solution that can deliver a good internet connection to wherever you want in the home. Let’s look in more detail at how they do this.
How do Powerline Adapters Work?
Powerline Adapters effectively create a home network between your router and whatever device you want to use by sending internet data through the electrical wiring of the house between a pair of plugs (adapters). It is a little known fact that copper wiring can transmit not just electricity but data as well and Powerline Adapters take advantage of this functionality to improve connectivity in the home.
Powerline Adapters tend to come as a kit of 2 plugs, with 2 small ethernet cables. You plug one adapter in near your router and connect using a small ethernet cable. You then plug the other adapter in near where you want to use a device such as a games console and connect that using the other small ethernet cable.
The two plugs then effectively pair up and communicate with each other using the electrical wiring of the house to send the data from your router to your device. So you have a wired internet connection without many (visible) wires! The electrical wiring of your house is doing most of the work. Using these adapters you can have a wired network anywhere you want in the house.
Powerline Adapters are very effective pieces of kit that can often deliver a signal almost as good as if you were plugged directly into the router itself. They can help you extract the most out of your internet connection by giving you the strongest possible connection even if you are some distance from the router. This can help out with the problems of weak wifi and so called “deadzones” in the house where the signal and connection quality can drop and affect internet usage.
TheTP Link Nano TL-PA4010 Kit model is an entry level, best selling no nonsense powerline adapter model with just one ethernet port and no passthrough. Click here to view on Amazon. It will provide a solid, wired ethernet connection to your router using the existing electrical wiring of your house. See our Powerline Adapters page for more models, with passthrough plug sockets and more ethernet ports. Our Product Comparison Table compares all the wired and wireless powerline adapter models at a glance by feature and functionality.
How Can Powerline Adapters Help Gamers Solve a Problem?
As we have gone into in another article, network latency or ping is the number one concern for gamers who are hoping to game without lag. Latency is a separate issue from bandwidth; the latter determines how much data can be transferred on an internet connection whereas latency determines how fast data can be sent on a network.
Beyond a bare minimum, download and upload speeds (bandwidth) are actually not that important for online gaming. See this video for an excellent demonstration of how even a 5 megabytes per second download and 1 megabytes per second upload speed is still more than enough to game online with Fortnite or any other game.
It is the latency that is most important for online gamers to be able to play smoothly. How fast data can be sent and received on their internet connection is crucial to online play progressing smoothly without “jumps” or lag. And latency is minimised by having as strong and reliable a connection as possible between your games console and your router.
The difference between bandwidth and latency cannot be emphasised enough as just having a “fast” internet connection is not enough to ensure you will game without lag. When people talk about having “fast” internet in this sense, they usually mean high download and upload speeds. But what they really need for online gaming is low latency, as this is possible only if their console’s connection to the router is as solid as possible. See our full article on the subject in the links below.
This is where Powerline Adapters can come in as a handy alternative to wifi, which can become unreliable the further you get away from your router. Of course it may be possible to run long ethernet cables direcly from your router to your console, along walls or up stairs or through ceilings, but not everyone wants to or is able to do this.
Ethernet is generally acknowledged preferable to using wifi when gaming online as it gives the most reliable connection, but it is not always possible to do this in all houses. See our article linked below on why wired connections are always better than wireless ones for online gaming.
A Powerline Adapter is an excellent solution to this problem as it gives you a strong reliable wired internet connection without having to run long ethernet cables up stairs or through windows or drill holes in walls or ceilings. The only visible wiring is the two short ethernet cables you use to connect the adapters to the router and device you are using.
Powerline Adapters are almost always plug and play so there is no other setup or DIY work involved. Once plugged in they usually pair up automatically without any configuration needed and you have a wired internet connection wherever you want. As well as delivering a more solid internet connection they also deliver a more secure connection than wifi as data being sent along power lines cannot be hacked in the same way that wifi can.
Powerline Adapter Explained in 2 Minutes
Choosing the Right Product
If you have decided you want to use Powerline networking as a solution for online gaming, you then need to decide which model to get based on your needs. We have posted a full article on the subject and also link to a Quick Product Comparison Table, but we will run through the main points here. Powerline Adapters vary in price according to 4 main features:
- Number of Ethernet Ports
- Passthrough plug socket – yes or no.
- Wifi functionality added on (Wifi Booster).
- Data transfer speeds.
Number of ethernet ports is pretty self explanatory. If you have more than one device you want a wired connection for at the receiving end then you will need a model with multiple ethernet ports. The TP Link Powerline Adapter range has models with one or two ethernet ports so you can connect PCs, set top boxes and other devices as well as your games console if you want to. For three or more ports you will need the more expensive Wifi Booster models.
The passthrough feature is very useful if you do not want to lose the plug sockets you are using the adapters for. Powerline Adapters with passthrough have an integrated plug socket in the front so you can plug a device into the adapter itself as it is plugged in the wall. So you can still use the plug socket for another device as well as for home networking. Adapters with a passthrough feature are a little more expensive than ones without.
If you want wireless functionality as well as wired on the receiving end then you will need to go for one of their Wifi Booster models. These are basically Powerline Adapters with at least one ethernet port, but also with wifi functionality added on so you can have a cloned and boosted wifi access point in your room as well as a wired connection.
These cost more but are great if you want to also connect iPhones, tablets, laptops and other devices wirelessly as well as use the ethernet port for a games console. For households where a lot of devices are connecting to a router though it is recommended that online gamers customise Quality of Service settings on their router to make sure their gaming traffic is dealt with first and keep latency to a minimum. See our article on the subject.
Data transfer speeds are also a differentiating feature in Powerline Adapter models, but probably not something gamers should worry too much about as even the most basic Powerline Adapters offer a 500-600 megabits per second transfer rate, which is already faster than almost all internet packages anyway. Gigabit models with transfer speeds up to 1000 megabits per second are available for those lucky enough to have a fibre to the home internet connection capable of those speeds in the first place.
Also as we have mentioned, “speed” in the sense of bandwidth (download and upload speeds) is not really the speed that online gamers need; it is more the speed of having a low latency solid internet connection that gamers need. Powerline Adapters definitely offer an advantage over wifi to gamers on this front, as well as delivering strong bandwidth for downloading games, patches etc.
Summary – A Great Alternative to Wifi
For gamers struggling with lag on a wifi connection, Powerline Adapters are a no brainer to try in improving the solidity of their internet connection. They deliver a strong wired internet connection to anywhere in a home with no need for long ethernet cables, no complicated setup and no need to knock holes in walls or ceilings.
As well as delivering good bandwidth for other activities like downloading files and video streaming, they can also offer the low latency that gamers really need, as a wired connection is almost always going to be more solid and reliable than a wireless one, even with the development of stronger wifi routers in recent years.
If Powerline networking is something you want to try then we have separate pages on Powerline Adapters and Wifi Boosters so you can check out the different products available and select the right one based on features, functionality and data transfer speeds you want.
See also our Product Comparison Table, which compares all the TP Link products, both wired and wireless, side by side so you can pick the exact model you need based on the criteria we laid out above.
See also our Gamers Section for links to accessories and some of the latest releases.