With the internet becoming such a crucial part of our lives, and with streaming video getting so popular, we now need a good broadband connection in every part of the house. And although we all get WiFi from our ISP’s router, sometimes it’s just not enough – and we need something better.
This is where the devolo Magic 2 Wifi Next powerline adapter comes in. Instead of pulling Ethernet cables all over your house, it lets you connect devices to the internet via the powerlines that are already available in your walls. And, in addition, it creates WiFi coverage around the device itself – so your WiFi range improves dramatically.
The Magic 2 is a powerful device, with the very latest technologies, so it does its job very well – but does it justify the high price? In this review, after testing it for a few weeks, I take a look at the Magic 2’s features, how it performs, whether it’s easy to use – and whether it’s the right powerline adapter for YOU.
Quick Look – devolo Magic 2 WiFi next
What is it: An advanced powerline adapter which also creates a WiFi mesh network. It promises to work even in big (or thick) houses – but the advanced functionality comes at a (high) cost.
- Top wired transfer speeds of up to 2,400 Mbit/s using the newest G.hn technology
- Creates a strong Mesh WiFi network
- Devices include socket pass-through
- Easy firmware updates via the app
- Installation can get a bit fiddly
- Not compatible with previous models
Features and Specs
- Powerline speed: Up to 2,400 Mbps
- Powerline Standard: G.hn
- WiFi Speed: Up to 1,200
- WiFi Bands: 2.4GHz (Up to 300 Mbps), 5GHz (Up to 867 Mbps)
- Ethernet Ports: 2 Gigabit ports (1 on the LAN device which connects to the router)
- Security: WPA/WPA2/WPA3 Personal
- Extra Features: Access point steering, Multi-user Mimo, Airtime Fairness
The devolo Magic 2 WiFi next is the ultimate solution for both wired (via Powerline) and WiFi broadband expansion, even for very big houses. It’ll solve your internet connectivity issues – but the cost is going to be a deterrent for some.
Table of Contents
What Is A Powerline Adapter?
The internet comes to our home via the Internet Service Provider’s hub (which is usually a modem combined with a router). We can then connect Ethernet cables to the router, and directly connect nearby devices to the internet – or we can use WiFi, which the router spreads around the house.
But these two options have their limitations: Ethernet cables are only practical for devices that are physically close to the router (you CAN pull Ethernet cables all over your house and walls, but who wants to do that?), and WiFi range is limited, especially if you have a big house or very thick walls.
Powerline adapters are the third option: they use those wires that are already available inside your wall – the powerline cables – in order to create a wired broadband connection that runs between any two (or more) power sockets in your house.
It’s an excellent solution, especially when you want to connect something that needs a stable, fast wired connection: a desktop computer, a 4K Smart TV, etc’. But powerline adapters have their limitations as well:
First, they depend on the electrical wiring in your house, so old houses with problematic wiring might face issues, which you will only find out about once you actually connect your adapters.
Plus, the data signal degrades over long distances. So the bigger your house is, making the data connection travel between different floors will potentially lower the speed your devices are getting.
The devolo Magic 2: Combining Powerline and WiFi
Instead of relying just on the powerline adapter, the devolo Magic 2 has another trick up its sleeve – a WiFi mesh network range extender.
Standard WiFi range extenders take the WiFi signal coming out of your router, and amplify it, thus expanding its range. It’s useful, but you’re limited by the distance between your WiFi extenders – you need to place it close enough to the router (so it can pick up the existing WiFi signal), and then hope that it manages to “send” the WiFi to your desired areas in the house.
The devolo Magic 2, on the other hand, first uses its Powerline Adapter skills to pull the data stream directly from the router, via the powerline wires – and then, it creates a new WiFi network around the adapter itself.
So, for example, if your router is on the first floor, and you place the second devolo adapter on the third floor – it will create a WiFi network around it on the third floor, without needing to “pick up” the WiFi signal coming from the router on the first floor.
HomePlug VS G.hn
Most powerline adapters in the market today, still use the “HomePlug” standard, which has a maximum speed of 2000MBps (the data rates are always theoretical, and will always be slower than specified on the box – depending on the wires in your house and other variables).
The devolo Magic 2 uses a new standard, G.hn, which supports higher speeds – up to 2.4Gbps (again, that’s the theoretical maximum speed). The G.hn standard also promises a better range – so the distance between your powerline adapters can be greater.
The G.hn can make a real difference for the speeds you get from your adapters, assuming of course you have high-speed broadband to begin with.
It does have two disadvantages, though, which are evident with the Magic 2: it makes the device more expensive, and G.hn devices are not backwards compatible with HomePlug adapters, so you can’t mix and match older adapters with the new system.
The devolo Magic 2 has a few more tricks up its sleeve:
1. Multi-User MIMO, which improves the handling of multiple devices connected at the same time (so several devices can stream a 4K movie, for example, without one device ‘drinking up’ all the data juice).
2. Access Point Steering – Since the devolo kit is aware of all the devices connected to your WiFi network, it can intelligently decide which device needs a faster connection, and at what point. That way, the connection is balanced correctly among faster and slower devices.
3. Band Steering, which can automatically switch between the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands (5Ghz bands are faster, but their range is usually more limited – and 2.4Ghz can get crowded, because so many devices use it).
4. Airtime Fairness, can give faster devices a priority (in their access to the WiFi network), so they’re not slowed down by older, slower devices that might hog up the connection.
devolo Magic 2 2400: Which Kits Are Available?
The “devolo Magic 2” series comes in several different configurations, depending on your needs:
- The devolo Magic 2-2400 LAN Starter Kit: If you only need a wired connection, without WiFi, then this kit gives you one LAN adapter (which connects to your router), and one “satellite” adapter which you place in the other room, and then connect to other devices with an Ethernet cable.
- The devolo Magic 2–2400 WiFi next Starter Kit: The same powerline adapter and satellite combination, but this one also creates a WiFi mesh network around the satellite unit.
- The devolo Magic 2–2400 WiFi Whole Home Starter Kit: Powerline adapters with WiFi mesh network, this kit comes with one LAN adapter, and two satellite units (that create a WiFi mesh network), so you can connect different areas of your house.
They all come with “passthrough” sockets, so you don’t lose any sockets in your room (Though devolo also recommend you don’t connect anything to a socket that sits right next to the one you’re using).
Setting Up The devolo Magic 2 next WiFi Adapter
For this review, I tested the Magic 2 WiFi Whole Home Kit, which comes with one “base” LAN unit, and two powerline/WiFi “satellite” units.
Setting up should be fairly straightforward, but things can get a bit confusing, since you need to set the devices up in exactly the right order – and devolo’s Android app unfortunately did a good job of telling me exactly the wrong things to do (and the manual starts by telling you to install the app!)
First, you need to connect the two WiFi adapters to wall sockets and let them “talk” to each other. Once all the lights are solid, you THEN need to connect the base LAN unit, to the wall and to your router.
At that point – the app told me it can’t find the two WiFi units. So I disconnected everything and tried again. And the same thing happened again. So I did it all for the third time.
Eventually, I figured that the app was simply wrong – everything DID work as planned, but for some reason the app failed to register that. So I ignored it for the time being.
The last step is to create the WiFi “mesh” network. For that, you need to disconnect both WiFi adapters, and connect just one of them to a socket that’s close to your router. Then, using your router’s WPS function, you “connect” the two.
Finally, you can then take the two WiFi adapters, and connect them wherever you want around the house.
Granted, the installation is fairly easy – but if you do anything out of order, or if the app acts up like it did for me, things get real confusing real fast – but generally speaking, the whole process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
The WiFi mesh network created by devolo is separate to the one your router creates, with different credentials. You can then either tell your devices to start using THAT network instead of your router’s network, or – better yet – you can use the devolo’s app to “clone” your router’s network.
This gives the devolo WiFi network the same name and password as your router’s network – so your devices can simply “roam” between them without you having to set up or choose anything new on your device.
Using the Magic 2: Performance and Speed
The devolo Magic 2 series promises a lot – but does it deliver? In my testing, yes, and in a big way.
Sure, it offers a lot of bell and whistles, but the important bottom line is whether the internet connection is fast and stable around the home.
For reference, my testing was done in a mid-sized two-story house, with a D-Link EXO AC2600 router that already does a decent job of spreading the WiFi signal around.
But I did have a few WiFi dead-zones: places where the WiFi signal was still available, but speeds were slow (with a 200MBps broadband connection).
When I connected the first devolo Magic 2 adapter, it immediately increased the WiFi signal strength and speeds in the areas around it. I also used it to power a desktop’s internet connection, via an Ethernet cable, and speeds were almost at a maximum.
The real challenge, however, was… the bathroom. For some reason, it’s the “slowest” room in the house, probably because it doesn’t have a lot of inner walls, plus the type of thick wall panels that block the WiFi signal further.
Every router and WiFi range extender I used to date, couldn’t penetrate those pesky walls, and the best speed I managed to get was around 90Mbps – not bad, but still half than my maximum speed.
Then, I connected the second devolo adapter. Not in the bathroom itself, but in the bedroom, which is close. Then, finally – an improvement:
Granted, most of you won’t need a speed of more than 120Mbps (or even 90Mbps) in the bathroom – but this demonstrates the devolo Magic 2’s ability to overcome thick or unique walls, which is good news if you have an older build with massive walls (or just a really big house).
Using different devices at the same time was also something the devolo Magic 2 handled without a hitch – streaming a 4K movie on the Fire TV 4K stick, while downloading a file on the desktop computer, AND watching a full HD YouTube clip on a mobile phone – all at the same time – were met with no speed hiccups at all.
There were two minor issues I noticed while testing:
1. The adapters have two buttons with strong LED lights on them. That can be annoying if you put the adapter in your bedroom, for example – but thankfully, you can use devolo’s app to turn those lights off. (Most devices don’t have this option – please, everyone everywhere – add it!)
2. The devices, both the WiFi adapters and the base LAN unit, really overheat. The base unit reached an 89c temperature, and the adapters hovered around 70c. devolo say that’s normal for the devices to heat up – but I still find it a bit worrying, when an adapter can almost give you a skin burn.
All in all, performance was excellent – both with the wired powerline connection and the WiFi spread. There were almost no places in the house where I didn’t get close-to-top-speed (so around 190Mbps), though always remember, powerlines are finicky, so your mileage may vary.
The Bottom Line: Is The devolo Magic 2 WiFi next worth it?
The value for money question is obviously the biggest issue here. Generally speaking, this is the best internet solution for big houses (and if you have a huge house, or problematic walls, you can add additional adapter units).
You set it and forget it, and get a stable Ethernet connection and excellent WiFi ranges in every room.
So yes, this top performance comes at a cost – you can find decent Powerline Adapters, and even Powerline Adapters with WiFi, at considerably cheaper prices.
But if you want the best results without thinking too much, and are willing to pay the price (literally) – the devolo Magic 2 is your answer.
Note: The Magic 2 was supplied by the manufacturer for this review. As always, this did not influence my unbiased opinion of the product.