Zyxel PLA6456 Review: A Bulky but Fast Powerline Kit

The Zyxel PLA6456 is available as a kit of two identical adapters.

The Zyxel PLA6456BBKIT powerline adapter kit is a quick way to extend your wired network from one end of your home to another, without running an actual network cable. It turns a couple of power sockets into two ends of a standard network connection.

The kit’s included two adapters are rather bulky. But in return, they feature a passthrough socket and sports the latest G.hn Wave-2 Powerline standard. And the connection between the two proved to be quite fast in my testing. So at around $90, they are worth the time and effort you save from wiring your home.

Zyxel PLA6456BBKIT G.hn 2400 Wave 2 Powerline Kit

7.9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

7.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Gigabit-class performance
  • Plug and play design
  • Pass-through socket

Cons

  • Bulky design
  • A bit pricey

Zyxel PLA6456: A bulky but practical design

The Zyxel PLA6456BBKIT includes two identical three-prong plug-in powerline adapters, model PLA6456. (Adapters made for the EU markets will come with designs compatible with local socket types.)

The adapter itself is quite large, measuring 4.45 x 2.51 x 1.65 in (113 x 64 x 42 mm ). So, when plugged in, it’ll probably block access to the adjacent receptacles. To make up for that, it has a passthrough socket on top. This design is especially helpful if you want to use the adapter at a place where there’s only one power outlet.

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Plug-n-play setup

Just plug the two adapters into two power adapters, and that’s it. They now will have a powerline connection between them. Now use two network cables to connect one adapter to your router (or switch) and the other to a wired device, like a printer or a desktop computer, and the device will be part of your home network.

Each PLA6456 has three status lights on top for Power, Powerline, and Ethernet. Power and Ethernet are apparent — they indicate if the adapter is plugged into power or a network device. The Powerline light changes its color to show the quality of the Powerline connection. Green means you get 80Mbps or faster; amber means something between 20 Mbps and 80 Mbps; red means slower than 20mbps.

Zyxel PLA6456’s detail photos

The Zyxel PLA6456 comes in simple packaging.
The Zyxel PLA6456 is available as a kit of two identical adapters.
The passthrough power socket allows the Zyxel PLA6456 to work a single socket outlet.
Despite having 2400 Mbps Powerline standard, the Zyxel PLA6456’s speed is limited by its Gigabit network port.
The Zyxel PLA6456 adapter includes a sync button that quickly enables encryption between adapters.

128-bit AES encryption

On the side, the PLA6456 adapter has a reset/sync button. You can press and hold this button for 10 seconds or longer to reset the adapter, or press and hold for two seconds on each adapter within two minutes, to establish a secure connection between them. The adapter features 128-bit AES encryption.

Out of the box, the two of the PLA6456BBKIT comes with encryption turned off. If you choose to turn the encryption on, you’ll need to do the same each time you add another adapter — you can use up to 14 together. Generally, encryption is only necessary if you use powerline adapters within a building where multiple homes share the same power wiring system.

Simple web interface

Other than the sync button, you can also turn on the encryption via the adapter’s web user interface. To get to this interface, you’ll need to point a browser to the PLA6456’s IP address, which you will need to figure out manually and use the PLA6456’s default password, which is FLYPIG2400.

The ZyXel PLA6456’s default password for its simple web user interface is FLYPIG2400.

The web interface also allows for a few other settings, including the ability to upgrade the adapter’s firmware.

Zyxel PLA6456’s specifications: G.hn Wave-2 Powerline but no multi-gig port

The PLA6456 adapter sports the latest has a G.hn Wave-2 Powerline standard that’s capable of delivering up to 2400 Mbps data rate using the electrical wiring.

But that’s only the theoretical speed, which is also irrelevant due to the adapter’s standard Gigabit network. At best, you’ll get 1Gbs out of the PLA6456BBKIT.

Zyxel PLA6456: Fast performance

The PLA6456BBKIT didn’t deliver full 1Gbps in my testing, but it was still the fastest powerline kit I’ve tested. With a distance of some 10 feet between the two adapters, I got the sustained speed of more than 530 Mbps or about half the speed of a wired Gigabit connection.

Generally, you need to plug powerline adapters directly into power sockets for them to work. I tried the PLA6456 units with power strips anyway, and they worked, but at a much slower speed of around 200 Mbps.

I also tried placing the adapter much further away around my home and generally got around 350 Mbps. So you can expect the speeds to be fast enough to deliver a respectable broadband connection in full.

Conclusion

When it comes to wired networking, it’s best to run network cables. However, when you can’t do that for one reason or another, a pair of powerline adapters is the second-best option. And the ZyXel PLA6456BBKIT is a decent buy among these second-best choices.

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12 thoughts on “Zyxel PLA6456 Review: A Bulky but Fast Powerline Kit”

  1. I sincerely apologize for my attitude earlier.

    Yep…sometimes you have to use PLAs to get by and I certainly did. I spent almost $400 on the four sets and figured “how many more times before I could pay for Ethernet”? Truthfully, this model has serious problems and I even updated the firmware on all 8 of them and still had the same issue. They’re now all put back in their boxes ready to go back to Amazon. I took my eight PLA5456s and plugged them in where they were before. Guess what…no problems again! Works great after sitting unplugged for a week.Gonna have a guy who did coax cabling for me come out in a couple weeks to do Ethernet. Kind of excited actually.

    Reply
    • No worries, Steve. I’ve only reviewed a pair at a time so what happened to you is quite interesting. Thanks for the input.

      Reply
  2. Excuse me Dong but I wrote a term paper for HomePlug for a Network+ class in 2013. I know a lot more than you give me credit for (probably more than you do) and I have more experience with these than you do unless you were using them before 2008. I don’t need an education.

    Reply
    • Didn’t mean to discount your knowledge, or compete with you in any way, Steve. I was just trying to help since you posted a question. Glad you figured it out.

      Reply
  3. After three days of grief and following the instructions religiously and getting horrible support from ZyXEL I’m refunding this junk with Amazon. The reason I say it’s junk is that if you plug in more than 4 of these it starts taking down your network. The PLA5456 was far more stable and did not do that. I had 4 separate PLA networks with those (8 adapters used) and no real issues. This product is JUNK because when I install the 3rd pair it started to take down my network and the 4th pair completely killed it. Despite the extremely poor tech support I received, I was able to figure out how to encrypt the adapters properly thought it made no difference whether I used the Encrypt/Reset button or manually named the PLA networks and setup a pairing password. The result was always the same. Bye bye!!! I’m putting a horrible review on Amazon and you know what? I’m going to spend $2,000 and put high quality Ethernet in my walls. MUCH LESS GRIEF!!!

    Reply
  4. Dong can you please send me an email with my post. I copied it but you have disabled copying anything on your website.

    Reply
  5. I’m of the opinion these probably work perfectly as long as you don’t dare try to create separate PLA networks. The minute I did that I have had nothing but grief with the adapters bringing down my entire network with massive loads of broadcast traffic. Someone at ZyXEL needs to write better instructions on how to add 2nd or more PLA networks and fix the issue with the adapters bringing down your entire home network when you add a 2nd one. The ‘dumb’ instructions I’m sure are great for most users because they just have you attach one PLA to the modem and then the rest to your end points so your entire network traffic is then forced to go through only one modem port, which is not ideal. When I was using the older PLA5456 I had four PLA networks set up and it worked perfectly. I thought replacing those with the PLA6456 would result in better performance but it’s actually WORSE. Despite the GUI interface on these it does not at all make it easier to setup separate pla networks. I spent an entire weekend and am quite frustrated. ZyXEL needs to make some improvements but for the time being I’m considering sending all four pairs of these back to Amazon. These have serious problems and it’s not user error.

    Reply
  6. The performance of this adapter seems to smoke the others. Any insight as to why? I’ve been disappointed by powerline adapter speed for many years. (1gig pair getting about 25mbps).

    Super excited if they figured out how to consistently get a few hundred mbps to different rooms (on different breakers).

    Reply
    • I’m sure the 2400Mbps Powerline standard helped, JD. Keep in mind that for the score posted in the review, I placed them within about 10 feet from each other. In my other anecdotal tests, the speeds varied. But yes, you can expect these to be faster than adapters of previous Powerline gens.

      Reply

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