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TP-Link TL-WPA7510 KIT review: a powerline kit that brings Wi-Fi everywhere

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The TP-Link TL-WPA7510 KIT is a Powerline / Wi-Fi kit. It is intended for people wishing to provide, by theoretical 1 Gb / s powerline, Wi-Fi 5 where it usually does not or badly. Two modules make up the TP-Link TL-WPA7510 kit. They communicate in CPL at 1 Gb/s theoretical. The TP-Link TL-WPA7510 KIT pack has two blocks. The objective is to provide a classic CPL unit which will communicate with a hybrid unit combining CPL and Wi-Fi. This makes it possible to better cover a home whose Wi-Fi network works poorly, or not at all, in certain places.

The disassembly of the hybrid unit did not allow us to determine the nature of the controller used. The chip is unfortunately hidden behind an inaccessible metal plate, the manufacturer having chosen to join the two printed circuits one dedicated to the power supply, the other to the communication block. Note, however, that the PCB of the communication block which therefore includes the controller is in contact with a thick metal plate acting as a heat sink.

The small block which communicates only in PLC is however more accessible. The single printed circuit comprising the power supply and the communicating part is also in contact with a heat dissipation plate. The controller is a Broadcom BCM60350 whose datasheet we were unable to obtain.

Dimensions and ergonomics
One of these blocks is particularly compact (ref. TL-PA7510), it is a PLC module operating at a theoretical speed of 1 Gb/s (HomePlug AV2 standard). If it can position itself body up or body down, the manufacturer has made the strange choice of placing the single network socket (Gigabit Ethernet) at the top of the device by default, the network cable will therefore go to the top.

The second module is a bit larger while still being more compact than any 2 Gb/s adapter on the market, for example. This time it is a hybrid module combining a theoretical 1 Gb/s PLC part and a Wi-Fi part supporting a maximum theoretical speed of 433 Mb/s in Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and 300 Mb/s in Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n). Here again, the device can be connected body up or body down and only one Gigabit network socket is present always with this positioning at the top of the device. By default, the network cable is plugged into the top of the device, a rather singular choice.

The commissioning is quite simple. Once the two blocks are connected, a simple press on the "Pair" button of each of the blocks allows them to be paired. Communication is then effective and two Wi-Fi networks (one on 2.4 GHz and the other on 5 GHz) are directly accessible, protected by a password written on the hybrid unit. It is obviously possible to go further by using the web configuration tool.

Fairly simple to learn, this administration interface allows you to change the name of Wi-Fi networks (SSID) or even modify their passwords. It is also possible to program Wi-Fi activation hours perfect for those who prefer to turn it off at night or even to set up a simple parental control system (time restriction). Finally, the Led lighting of all the blocks of the kit can be controlled by choosing to light the small diodes only on certain time slots, or to deactivate them entirely. Pressing the "Pair" button on each module allows the two units to be easily synchronized. The LEDs can be switched off by the user.

Besides operating in access point mode, TL-WPA7510 can also clone an existing Wi-Fi network. This function is not to be confused with a repeater function. Here, the TP-Link module will simply copy the name of the existing Wi-Fi network (SSID) and take over the password (this however requires a WPS compatible router). The goal is to have only one network visible throughout the home, the devices then connecting seamlessly to the strongest network. The Wi-Fi data exchanges via the TP-Link module then pass in powerline current to the second PLC module, for its part wired to the network of the box or router. The configuration interface is available from any browser by going to http://tplinkplc.net. This interface is clear and simple.

In our test house, this CPL kit actually speeds 160 Mb/s on average (19.9 Mb/s). At peak times, it can reach 260 Mb / s (32.5 Mb/s) when conditions are ideal. In our most complicated case, the speed increased to 121 Mb/s (or 15.2 Mb/s). These results are more in line with the positioning of the product, that is to say a theoretical throughput of 1 Gb/s and barely lower than those obtained on models with theoretical 1.2 Gb/s.

Wi-Fi throughput is in the same vein with up to 71 Mb/s (8.9 Mb/s) on the 2.4 GHz band (Wi-Fi 4) and even 235 Mb/s (29.4 MB/s) on the 5 GHz band (Wi-Fi 5). If we find faster, especially on the TP-Link TL-WPA8630P  and this is nevertheless consistent with the theoretical speed announced by the manufacturer, lower than on other models.

The power consumption is contained on the block providing carrier current only: 2.2 W during data exchanges, 1.9 W on standby and 1.6 W in deep inactivity. The Wi-Fi module is not necessarily much greener with 3.5 W during data exchanges, on standby or in deep inactivity. Fairly correct results which also make it possible to obtain blocks with moderate heating.

TP-Link offers with the TL-WPA7510 KIT an interesting solution for those who want to enjoy Wi-Fi in hard-to-reach places. The actual speeds are quite correct, both on the PLC part and on the Wi-Fi part. The commissioning is also quite simple even if we have very little network knowledge.

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