We have already covered how Powerline Adapters are an excellent next best solution for gaming if you cannot run an ethernet cable directly to your router. There are some review sites that compare and contrast different powerline adapters for gaming, but is there a specific make and model of adapter that we would specifically recommend for gaming?
We look at the issue a little differently from other sites, which often focus on the transfer speeds of powerline adapters as a selling feature. As we have covered elsewhere, latency or the solidity of a connection that is more important than pure bandwidth for gaming, and all modern powerline adapters do pretty much an equally good job on that. Which specific powerline adapter you should get depends on what specific needs you have. Lets look at these factors in more detail below.
Quick Summary: Factors to Look For when selecting a Powerline Adapter:
- Number of ethernet ports
- Transfer speeds if also downloading or streaming (not hugely important for gaming)
- Passthrough (integrated plug socket)
- Wireless Connectivity (Wifi Booster) if also wanting to connect tablets, phones, laptops etc at receving end
Latency is the Crucial Factor For Gaming
Let us first explain why we think current review articles on powerline adapters for gaming are coming at the issue from the wrong angle. In short, we believe they are focusing too much on the wrong issue, that of transfer or download speeds, when it is actually latency or ping that is the crucial issue for gamers.
In short this basically means it is not so much how much data (bandwidth) can be transferred to your games console, but how fast it can be transferred (latency), that is the crucial factor in determining whether you can game online without lag.
On this score there really is nothing to choose from between the main powerline adapter brands, whether it be the TP Link, Netgear, Devolo or DLink brands. In fairness it has not been tested that much as reviewers tend to fixate on download speeds rather than ping when testing the adapters, when we would argue that the latter not the former is the most important for gamers.
Nevertheless from anecdotal and personal experience, all modern models of each of the main powerline adapter brands do an equally solid job in deliver a good connection between your console and your router. Whilst their speeds in terms of bandwidth (the amount of data) do vary in tests, beyond a bare minimum bandwidth is actually not that important for online gaming.
See this video for example for an excellent demonstration of the point we are making. The video concerns Quality of Service settings but at the start the author conducts a test to show you that even restricting his bandwidth deliberately to 5 mbps download and 1mbps upload, that is still more than enough to play Fornite online with no problems.
Choose Your Powerline Adapter Based on Your Needs
Given that latency is the crucial factor to consider for online gaming, and all main brand powerline adapters appear to deliver an equally solid connection in that sense, we would argue that you focus more on the specific features you need for your adapter and not the specific brand, as there is nothing really to choose between them on the metrics that matter.
On this site we focus on the TP Link brand, as it is generally the biggest and best known brand. However, that doesn’t mean other brands of powerline adapter won’t do an equally good job for gamers. All major brands are available on Amazon so there is no issue on choice; it is just choosing an adapter that has the specific features you need for your situation. Lets look at these features now.
Powerline Adapter reviews tend to focus on bandwidth but this is not so important to gaming; it is however important if you do other things like downloading and streaming on your internet connection
Transfer Speeds May Be Important If You also Stream and Download
The transfer speed of a Powerline Adapter, whilst not massively important for gaming, may be important if you use your games console for other things like streaming movies or sports, watching Youtube, or you prefer to download your games and DLC digitally. Some game patches can also be quite large files that a “faster” powerline adapter may help to download more quickly.
To put this in perspective though, even entry level powerline adapters usually have a theoretical maximum transfer speed of up to 200-500 mbps, which is faster than almost all internet packages anyway. So there is no point in necessarily paying for a gigabit adapter if your internet package isn’t also gigabit (1000 mbps).
There is some conjecture that gigabit adapters may help extract a little more speed out of an internet connection than a lower range adapter, but the difference is not likely to be large. A gigabit adapter is good if you have a full Fibre to the Home (FTTH) internet package which can handle gigabit speeds; availability of these is limited but slowly growing.
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 full review of the product and our Powerline Adapters page. Our Product Comparison Table compares all the wired and wireless powerline adapter models at a glance by feature and functionality.
Multiple Ports and Passthrough Plug Socket if You Have Multiple Wired Devices You Want to Connect
If you want a strong wired connection at the receiving end for more than one device not just your games console, go for an adapter that has multiple ethernet ports so you can connect other devices like set top boxes, PCs and so on so they can also benefit from a wired connection to the router.
This is good if you have other devices that use a lot of bandwidth for things such as Netflix streming, Catch up TV and downloading large files. Be aware though that the total throughput potential or “max speed” of the powerline (eg. 500mbps) will be shared out across the number of ethernet ports on the adapter.
For the TP Link range, the wired powerline adapters tend to go up to two ethernet ports. If you need three ports for wired connection then you will have to go for one of the wireless powerline adapters, which we will cover below.
A related feature is the Passthrough or integrated plug socket on the front, which you will need if you have several devices that are plugged in and don’t want to lose the plug socket you are using the adapter for. Bottom level models don’t have the passthrough feature but mid and high level models do.
Go For a Wireless Powerline Adapter to also Connect Tablets, iPhones and Laptops
If you also plan to connect smaller portable devices at the receiving end like tablets, phones and laptops, as well as your games console, go for a wireless powerline adapter or wifi booster, as they are more expensive but also have wireless capability as well as ethernet ports.
Go for a wireless powerline adapter if you also want to connect portable devices by wifi as well as a wired console connection at the receiving end
They work by producing a cloned wireless access point at the receiving end, so you can have a strong wireless signal to connect other devices as well as one or more ethernet ports to connect your wired devices to. You can use the ethernet ports for your games console and other bandwidth using devices and the wifi booster for portable and general browsing devices.
Wireless Powerline Adapters
See our Wireless Powerline Adapters page for links to these and other models.
These wireless models are more expensive but obviously offer more convenience and flexibility than purely wired powerline adapters. They can be useful for boosting and extending wifi coverage to remote parts of a house as well as providing a wired access point for gamers.
We would suggest that gamers focus more on the features they need as a whole from their powerline adapter in their situation rather than focus on “speeds” in the sense of bandwidth of the different brands as this is only one factor and not the most important one for gaming alone.
We would suggest looking through the different models for features like number of ethernet ports, passthrough and wifi capability as well as transfer speeds if necessary and pick the model that would best suit them in wider sense, as most gamers don’t just use their internet for gaming but also have other uses that need to be taken into account.
For TP Link models we have a Product Comparison Table to allow you to do this, which puts all the adapters side by side so you can get the exact model you need by features and functionality.
Click here for Tenda Powerline Adapters
Click here for Netgear Powerline Adapter
See also our Gamers Section for links to accessories and some of the latest releases.