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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
Good speed at close range
Easy setup process
Powerline has benefits
Sleek device designs
Limited Wi-Fi range
Extra thing to plug in near router
Powerline connectivity can help bring Wi-Fi to hard-to-reach corners of your home, but don’t expect much Wi-Fi range from the TP-Link AV1300.
Unlike most Wi-Fi extenders that are a single device—which repeats your Wi-Fi signal from your router to extend the coverage range—the TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender (TL-WPA8630 KIT) actually comes with two rounded rectangular devices, both of which plug into wall outlets. And no, it’s not a full mesh networking kit like Google Nest Wi-Fi.
The “Powerline” part of the name is the clue: TP-Link’s Wi-Fi extender takes a unique approach, with one device connecting to your router via an Ethernet cable and then transmitting the signal through your home’s power wiring. The other device then takes that signal and repeats the router’s Wi-Fi network wherever you plug in the receiver.
It’s an approach with benefits, assuming your home’s wiring is up to snuff, but I also found that the repeated Wi-Fi network had a disappointingly limited range. The end result is a Wi-Fi extender that works well in some very specific scenarios but underwhelms compared to some other options on the market. I tested the TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender for several days in my house across an array of scenarios.
As mentioned, the TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender of two pieces: both are white and rectangular, and both plug directly into a wall outlet. The adapter—the one that hooks into your router—is smaller and lighter, with no antennas and just a single Ethernet port on the bottom.
TP-Link’s Wi-Fi extender takes a unique approach, with one device connecting to your router via an Ethernet cable and then transmitting the signal through your home’s power wiring.
The receiving unit is larger all around and definitely heavier, plus it has two rotatable antennas along the sides. Along the bottom are three Gigabit Ethernet ports for plugging in wired devices such as game consoles and computers. Both devices have a pairing button for setting up the powerline connection, plus the receiver has a button for disabling the LED lights and another for Wi-Fi functions (copying settings from your router or turning off the Wi-Fi).
Setting up the TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender is largely a plug-and-play process. You’ll begin by plugging the adapter directly into a wall outlet near your router and then use one of the two included Ethernet cables to connect it to the router’s LAN port. Once the lights turn green on the adapter, plug the extender into a wall outlet that is on the same electrical circuit as the adapter. If the little house icon on the extender also turns green, then you’re up and running with the powerline internet.
You’ll still need to get your router’s Wi-Fi info copied over, however. If your router has a WPS button, then you can press that and then press the Wi-Fi button on the extender to automatically copy the info. If that’s not an option or if you have trouble, then you can manually enter the same information via the tpPLC mobile or computer app, as well as the web interface. In either case, you’ll have a seamless Wi-Fi network within range of the router and extender, with no need to manually switch between networks based on location or signal strength.
The TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender can handle maximum theoretical speeds of 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz network and 867Mbps on the 5GHz network, with MIMO (multi-in, multi-out) and beamforming technology used to provide improved performance across numerous devices.
In testing, the product does a solid job of replicating the speed and consistency of the router’s Wi-Fi network when in close range to the extender. Testing in my home office, which sees reduced reception (especially on the 5GHz band), I measured 68Mbps download from the router’s 2.4GHz network and 60Mbps from the 5GHz network. Firing up the extender, that increased on all counts: 73Mbps on 2.4GHz, 76Mbps on 5GHz, and 75Mbps via one of the extender’s powerline Ethernet ports.
On another day, the disparity between the bands was wider and inconsistent too. I saw 49Mbps on the router’s 2.4GHz network and 121Mbps on the 5GHz network, but then 52Mbps on the extender’s 2.4GHz band, 94Mbps on its 5GHz band, and 90Mbps via Ethernet.
It does a solid job of replicating the speed and consistency of the router’s Wi-Fi network when in close range to the extender.
I did multiple distance tests in my lengthy backyard at approximate distance intervals of 25, 50, and 75 feet, with just one wall between the extender and outside. The results were significantly weaker than any other Wi-Fi extender I’ve tested, including TPLink’s own $30 RE22 (non-powerline) model.
That 49Mbps close-range download result on the extender’s 2.4GHz network dropped down to 28Mbps at just 25 feet, and then 11Mbps at 50 feet and back up to 16Mbps at 75 feet. Upload speeds were all over the place during distance testing, as well. Meanwhile, the 94Mbps 5GHz result also dove down to 28Mbps at 25 feet, then 20Mbps at 50 feet and 14Mbps at 75 feet.
It wasn’t a one-time occurrence. Repeating the test on another day, a 73Mbps result on the extender’s 2.4GHz network at close range dropped to 24Mbps at 25 feet, 12Mbps at 50 feet, and just 4Mbps at 75 feet. The 5GHz band went from 76Mbps at close range to 65Mbps at 25 feet, then 35Mbps at 50 feet and 15Mbps at 75 feet.
The TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender performed well in close proximity, and gaming performance was smooth in Rocket League across both wireless bands and the Ethernet connection. However, you’re unlikely to get a strong signal beyond a room or two from the location of the extender.
I’ve tested several Wi-Fi extenders that are currently on the market using the same router, internet connection, laptop, and extender location, and this one showed the largest performance dip during distance testing.
You’re unlikely to get a strong signal beyond a room or two from the location of the extender.
At $120, the TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender falls in the middle of the pack amongst current extenders—between cheaper plug-in models and larger, pricier devices with greater speed capabilities, extended range, and perhaps Wi-Fi 6 compatibility. If you’re looking for a powerline device that can deliver Wi-Fi reception to a particular room or rooms that are typically dead zones, then it might be worthwhile. However, if a larger range is more important than powerline connectivity, then this isn’t the right device for you.
If a larger range is more important than powerline connectivity, then this isn’t the right device for you.
Netgear’s Nighthawk EX7300 (see on Amazon) plug-in Wi-Fi extender is one of the best all-around devices on the market, delivering the excellent range and strong 5GHz speeds for about $130-150. It doesn’t use powerline connectivity, but it performed extremely well in testing and delivered strong speeds and a great extended range. At this approximate price point, it’s surely the better option for the average buyer.
A surprisingly underpowered extender despite its dual functionality.
While the powerline connectivity is appealing and thankfully dead simple to set up, the weak wireless range of the TP-Link AV1300 Powerline Wi-Fi Range Extender really stunts the appeal of this extender. It’s difficult to recommend, given stronger competition around this price point, unless you’re set on using a powerline connection to improve connectivity in one or two particular rooms with rough reception from your router.