Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 6 Powerline and Mesh Wi-Fi review

Devolo has updated its top-end Magic 2 WiFi Powerline family with a new Magic 2 WiFi 6 product that adds the latest and fastest Wi-Fi standard to the range.

Note that the WiFi 6 products won’t be available in the US until “mid 2022”. Until then, Americans should look to the Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 5 Next Starter Kit.

Like the rest of its WiFi range, the Magic 2 WiFi 6 features new technologies that can significantly increase wireless speeds in your home. 

Devolo’s latest range of home-network systems offers a combination of next-generation Powerline and advanced Mesh WiFi features, especially powerful for larger data-hungry homes.

Alone among Powerline providers, Devolo uses the latest chipsets and technologies to create the fastest home network.

Most homes today, whether a modern penthouse or a rural cottage, require a fast home network. The demands of streaming TV services such as Netflix, Amazon and Sky, online gaming through multiplayer consoles, online video calls, social media, home office, Alexa, and other data guzzlers, get ever greater.

Broadband is trying to keep up with super-fast services of over 350 megabits per second (Mbps). 

But as we move to 4K TVs (with 8K on the horizon), and with a set in more than one room, with everyone in the house always on their phones, pushing that data around the home is not easy. One room might be fine, but today we expect every room to be up to speed with our demands.

Our main recommendation to improve your home network is installing a Powerline network.

Powerline is an extremely easy-to-setup solution that uses the power cables in your home to carry data around the building. See What is Powerline?

With Powerline, you can add wired Ethernet ports in different rooms and also – with some specially equipped Powerline adapters – add powerful new Wi-Fi hotspots.

Another solution – useful for larger homes – is to install a Mesh Wi-Fi network, which lets you place wireless extenders around your home to boost wireless signals.

In a Mesh system, there’s a main router connected directly to the modem, and then extra modules (known as nodes) placed through the home (as many as your space requires). Mesh satellites communicate with each other and create a single wireless network, sharing the same SSID and password so your devices seamlessly connect and disconnect from individual nodes in the background as you move around.

Mesh Wi-Fi systems work well, but can be held back by Wi-Fi’s innate failings when it comes to distance from your router. See Best Mesh Wi-Fi Networks.

German manufacturer Devolo has been one of the pioneers of the Powerline industry for over 15 years and is a benchmark for speedy and stylishly designed adapters.

Its top-end product, Magic, takes Mesh Wi-Fi and adds Powerline as the backbone, therefore making the signals much stronger than from a traditional Mesh system.

There are over 10 models of Devolo Magic to choose from, and we untangle the choices for you in this review.

Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 6 in home

The technical stuff (skip if you feel queasy)

The weakness of Mesh is that the data backbone remains Wi-Fi, which, as we all know, gets weaker the further it is away from the original source (usually the router) and is further blocked by floors, ceilings, walls and even furniture.

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By using the physically wired Powerline to carry the signal around the home, Devolo claims that there is significantly less weakening of the signal, and therefore the faster downloads in each room.

In addition, Magic uses the second generation of G.hn Powerline chips (Gigabit Home Networking), which boasts data rates up to 2.4Gbps (gigabits per second).

In comparison, most other Powerline adapters are based on the HomePlug AV2 standard that has a maximum data rate of 1.2Gbps.

G.hn also has a greater range: 500 metres compared to AV2’s 400 metres.

With more homes being supplied with super-fast gigabit fibre, such advances are welcome – especially as the speeds quoted are maximum theoretical data rates rather than the real-world speeds you’ll actually get in your house.

G.hn will never reach its 2.4Gbps maximum, but it should be significantly faster in real-world environments than the older HomePlug AV2.

G.hn adapters are incompatible with HomePlug, but two different networks can co-exist in the same electrical circuit. However, to get the fastest speeds, it’s recommended not to mix G.hn and HomePlug products.

Many Powerline adapters offer the option of adding new Wi-Fi hotspots in your home, but only Devolo has added the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard on its very top-end models, but retains slightly cheaper Wi-Fi 5 models, too.

Wi-Fi 6 (also known by the less snappy title 802.11ax) can boost Wi-Fi speeds by up to 50%, by smartly cramming more data into one channel. Multi-user Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) and Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) are two of the most significant technical enhancements in WI-FI 6. Both are multiuser technologies that enable simultaneous bidirectional communication between an access point (AP) and end-users.

Wi-Fi 6 has even more up its sleeve. Target Wait Time helps devices conserve power, and prevents channel contention. And Basic Service Set (BSS) Coloring reduces interference due to congestion, ensuring consistent service to multiple connected devices in high-density environments.

All you need to know, though, is that Wi-Fi 6 is the fastest consumer Wi-Fi there is right now.

Wi-Fi 6 is, like all most other Wi-Fi standards, backwards compatible. WiFi 6 access points work with “older” Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4 end devices and access points (routers, repeaters, etc).

But to enjoy the full advantages of the new Wi-Fi 6 features (QAM 1024, OFDMA, TWT, BSS Coloring,…) the access point and the end devices must support Wi-Fi 6.

That said, if end-users install a Wi-Fi 6 network while having Wi-Fi 5/4/3 devices at home, they can be sure that it is future-proofed and also that the Wi-Fi speed and stability will increase.

Devolo Triple Magic Powerline Adapter home

Set-up is much easier than it sounds

That was the technical explanation. Don’t panic! Setting up a Powerline network is simple.

A typical starter kit comes with two Powerline adapters. One is the base unit that connects directly to your router via a supplied Ethernet cable and is plugged into a power socket nearby. The other Powerline adapter is plugged into a wall socket in the second room you need the fast access in – most likely a living room with smart TV, games console, etc. You can connect these devices to the second adapter via Ethernet cable and/or create a new Wi-Fi hotspot there (if the Powerline adapter boasts this function).

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If you have multiple devices that require a wired connection, look for a Powerline adapter with more than one Ethernet port. The Devolo solution is available in several versions, which we’ll list individually later. 

With Devolo Magic, once you’ve plugged in the first adapter, all other adapters that are plugged in within the next two minutes are automatically connected to each other – without you having to push a single button. During this pairing process, a unique security ID is exchanged between the devices, making the installation extra secure.

You don’t have to change the settings of your router – it’s plug & play and easier than installing most Mesh-WiFi systems, where you have to change the settings of your router.

Devolo Magic systems and pricing

There are five types of Magic (Magic 1 LAN, Magic 1 WiFi, Magic 2 LAN, Magic 2 WiFi 5, and Magic 2 WiFi 6), each with different configurations.

Magic 1’s maximum (theoretical) speed is 1,200Mbps. Devolo believes this is more than capable of providing a network fast enough for everyday home-office and browsing applications, plus HD streaming. Magic 1 is unavailable in the US.

Magic 2 has a max (again theoretical) speed of 2,400Mbps. This extra speed is recommended for UltraHD streaming and particularly busy data-download homes.

An adapter is labelled either just “LAN” (Local Area Network, or just plain wired network to you and me, with Gigabit Ethernet port) or “Wi-Fi” (which usually also includes two LAN Gigabit Ethernet ports) that can create a new wireless hotspot in the second room. The Wi-Fi adapters use either Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6. 

You can mix and match products, but make sure you have your fastest base unit connected directly to the router. If the router is connected to a Magic 1 adapter, then all units in the house will be restricted to that speed. If a Magic 2 adapter is connected to the router, then you can add Magic 1 and Magic 2 adapters, and each point is then fine at its own theoretical maximum.

Here are the main options for Starter Kits that include two adapters: one base adapter to connect to your router, and one second-room adapter to plug in near the smart devices you need to add wired access to and/or add a new Wi-Fi hotspot.

There are also Whole Home Kits that have the base adapter and two extra-room adapters.

The Magic 2 WiFi kits all have Mesh capabilities, but to create a full Mesh wireless network you should have a Wi-Fi adapter as your base, rather than a standard LAN adapter, so you can create a new wireless network without needing the router’s own. This will be especially true when the Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 6 kits become available early in 2022; see below for more details.

Devolo Magic 1 LAN Starter. Kit

Magic 1 LAN Starter Kit

• Max speed: 1,200Gbps
• One Gigabit Ethernet port on each adapter (both Magic 1 LAN)

The entry-level Magic 1 LAN Starter Kit product offers fast up to 1,200Mbps Powerline connections around the home but lacks the ability to create new Wi-Fi hotspots or a wireless Mesh network. Each adapter has one Gigabit Ethernet adapter for wired device connections. A Magic 1 LAN Starter Kit (with one base unit and one second-room adapter) costs £99.99. You can add extra single adapters for £54.99 each. 

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Devolo Magic 1 WiFi Starter Kit

Magic 1 WiFi Starter Kit

• Max speed: 1,200Gbps
• One Gigabit Ethernet port on base LAN adapter and two on the WiFi 5 adapter

As its name suggests, the Magic 1 WiFi Starter Kit adds wireless and Mesh functionality. The Wi-Fi adapter features two Gigabit Ethernet ports, so you can connect more than one data-hungry device in the second or third room. The Magic 1 WiFi Starter Kit costs £134.99; a three-pack Whole Home Kit set with two secondary Wi-Fi adapters costs £199.99. You can buy extra single Wi-Fi adapters for £69.99 each.

Devolo Magic 2 LAN Starter Kit

Magic 2 LAN Starter Kit

• Max speed: 2,400Gbps
• One Gigabit Ethernet port on each adapter (both Magic 2 LAN)

The Magic 2 LAN Starter Kit features the faster Powerline speed but no Wi-Fi hotspot. The Magic 2 LAN Starter Kit costs £129.99 or $134.99 for adapters with one Ethernet port. Extra one-port adapters cost £69.99 or $74.99.

Devolo Magic 2 LAN Triple Starter Kit

Magic 2 LAN Triple Starter Kit

• Max speed: 2,400Gbps
• One Gigabit Ethernet port on the base adapter and three ports on the second-room adapter. 

The three-port version of the Magic 2 LAN Starter Kit with triple Ethernet costs £139.99 or £144.99, with an extra single three-port adapter priced at £79.99 or $84.99. This is a good option if you have multiple devices that require a wired Internet connection, but there’s no extra wireless hotspot function.

Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 5 Next Starter Kit

Magic 2 WiFi 5 Next Starter Kit

• Max speed: 2,400Gbps
• One Gigabit Ethernet port on base LAN adapter and two on the WiFi 5 adapter

The Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 5 Next features the faster Powerline speeds plus the Wi-Fi hotspot and Mesh capability. The basic Magic 2 WiFi Next Starter Kit costs £174.99 or $184.99 for one base adapter (with one Gigabit Ethernet to connect to your router) and one second-room Wi-Fi Powerline adapter (with two Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect to your smart devices plus the Wi-Fi hotspot). The “Next” part of the name indicated new features from the original Magic 2 WiFi 5 kit that are now standard for Magic 2 WiFi models.

Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 5 Starter Kit

Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 5 Starter Kit

• Max speed: 2,400Gbps
• Two Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi 5 on both base adapter and the second-room adapter

The Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 5 is a full Mesh kit as it has two Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi hotspot on both the base and second-room adapter. It’s available as a £199.99 Magic 2 WiFi Next Starter Kit. This means you can ditch your router’s wireless signal if you want, but as your router is likely at least Wi-Fi 5 it won’t make much difference to speed.

An extra single Magic 2 WiFi adapter costs £114.99 or $124.99. You can add as many as you like, depending on the size of your home and networking needs, or buy the Whole Home Kit if you need three.

Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 5 Whole Home Kit

Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 5 Whole Home Kit

• Max speed: 2,400Gbps
• Two Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi 5 on the…

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