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.
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.
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. For more, read our explainer on what is Wi-Fi 6.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
• 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
• Max speed: 2,400Gbps• Two Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi 5 on the base adapter and the second- and third-room adapters
To get the full benefit of Mesh (and if you have a larger home) then the Multiroom Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi Next 5 Whole Home Kit is a three-pack (with the base unit and two extra room adapters; all with two Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi hotspot) priced at £274.99.
Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 6 Starter Kit
• Max speed: 2,400Gbps• One Gigabit Ethernet port on base LAN adapter and two on the WiFi 6 adapter
The latest Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 6 Starter Kit features 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 super-fast Wi-Fi 6 hotspot), priced at £199.99 for the Magic 2 WiFi 6 Starter Kit or £349.99 for the Whole Home Kit with one base adapter and two Wi-Fi adapters.
The WiFi 6 models will be available in the US towards the middle of 2022.
Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 6 Starter Kit
• Max speed: 2,400Gbps• Two Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi 6 on both base adapter and the second-room adapter
The current Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 6 Starter and Whole Home Kits are meant to extend your Wi-Fi. The upcoming Mesh WiFi 6 Starter and Whole Home Kits are perfect to replace the Wi-Fi of the router. To have a 100% fully integrated, native Wi-Fi network, which works perfectly together, you should go for the upcoming Mesh WiFi 6 Kits.
Coming soon, early in 2022, the Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 6 Starter Kit (£299.99) will have two Ethernet ports and fast Wi-Fi 6 hotspot on both the base and second-room adapter.
Devolo Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 6 Whole Home Kit
• Max speed: 2,400Gbps• Two Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi 6 on the base adapter and the second- and third-room adapters
A £449.99 Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 6 Whole Home Kit will have three of the same in one pack when it is available early in 2022. This is the ultimate Mesh Wi-Fi kit for larger homes.
Not cheap but offers a lot
This might seem expensive but if it noticeably speeds up your home network then it’s a one-off payment worth making.
While it seems pricey compared to other Powerline kits, it’s not so far off other Mesh systems. The closest comparison is TP-Link’s £349 Deco X60, which also uses Powerline (based on the older HomePlug standard) as the Mesh backbone for a three-pack like the Whole Home Magic 2 Mesh WiFi.
One of our favourite Mesh systems (the Linksys Velop Dual Band) costs £219 for the three-pack but doesn’t have the benefit of the Powerline backbone.
The Google WiFi Mesh system costs £329 for the three-pack, so the Devolo Magic 2 Multiroom isn’t the most expensive.
All the Magic adapters boast a pass-through power socket, which means you don’t lose a plug point when it’s installed.
Devolo Magic LAN features
Lacking the ability to add extra Wi-Fi hotspots or create Mesh Wi-Fi networks, the more basic LAN versions of Magic are more like conventional Powerline kits. Plug one adapter into a socket near your router, wire it to the router via Ethernet cable. Get the second adapter, and plug that into a power socket near the device you want to improve the data speed to (say, your smart TV), and then connect that adapter to the device via another Ethernet cable.
It’s like having one long cable from your broadband router to your smart TV; see illustration above.
Devolo Magic WiFi features
With the WiFi versions of Magic you get to either add a second Wi-Fi hotspot (of similar speed to what you’d get standing next to the router) in another room far away.
On top of this is the Mesh functionality that can create the fastest-possible wireless network in your home. Devolo’s Magic WiFi kits feature the latest Mesh technologies but for best results look for the Magic 2 “Mesh WiFi” kits that have Wi-Fi (either 5 or 6) on the base adapter that plugs into your router as well as on the extra-room adapters.
Magic WiFi systems feature “Fast Roaming” – also known as IEEE 802.11r or client steering – that works so that all wireless clients, such as smartphones and tablets, are always connected to the strongest Wi-Fi hotspot. When you move from room to room with your mobile device, it will discover and connect with the fastest hotspot.
Access Point Steering improves on Fast Roaming technology by determining which wireless devices require the fastest connection. Older devices aren’t always Fast Roaming compliant and allowing the device to choose the access point could slow down other devices on the network.
Access Point Steering, on the other hand, lets the Wi-Fi access point decide which devices need to hand over at the most appropriate time. This improves overall performance because the system knows about all the devices in the home, rather than one device deciding what it needs in isolation.
Integrated “Band Steering” further ensures that all Wi-Fi clients are automatically assigned to the best wireless channel and the optimum frequency.
“Config Sync” allows the router‘s WiFi configuration data to be transferred with ease to all WiFi access points (using a single SSID).
An “Airtime Fairness” feature processes the requests of faster wireless clients at a higher priority, preventing older devices – which may require more time for a download – from creating WiFi bottlenecks.
Devolo uses MU-MIMO in its new products. MU-MIMO stands for multi-user, multiple input, multiple output, and is a wireless technology supported by routers and endpoint devices.
This allows the Wi-Fi access point to deliver up to four streams to four different devices, or clients.
The Wi-Fi maximum speeds are the same for the old Magic 2 WiFi and later Magic 2 WiFi Next. The new “Next” WiFi chipset, however, has more computing capacity, which should mean the Wi-Fi speeds will be higher (by up to 30%).
As mentioned earlier, you should buy the latest Wi-Fi 6 kits to future-proof your home’s wireless network – even if not all your devices are Wi-Fi 6 ready, they will be eventually and a Powerline system doesn’t need replacing every couple of years like most technology.
Devolo Magic Powerline speed tests
As with all our Powerline and Mesh reviews, we test in a real-world environment – in this case, a three-story Victorian townhouse. Remember that no one home is identical to another, so you may get faster or slower results than we do. But rest assured that in comparing different system we should have a decent idea of which comes out as the top performer.
We tested the Magic 2 system with Wi-Fi 5. With its maximum speed of 2,400Mbps we expected great things, although in the knowledge that such theoretical speed claims (by all networking manufacturers, not just Devolo) won’t be reached in our imperfect homes, with their troublesome walls, ceilings and other electrical devices causing noise and data barriers.
First, we tested the Powerline connection at its fastest, by placing one adapter in the same room as the base Powerline adapter that is connected to the router.
In our real-world test environment, we achieved an impressive speed of 456Mbps – our fastest in all Powerline tests we’ve performed so far in this test environment.
Next, when tested in a more realistic setup with the second adapter in a room two floors away, speed predictably dropped – here to 119Mbps. (Remember that you might well get much faster than this in your own home, and we have seen reports that switching off Sonos speakers greatly improved speed, which we will check on soon.)
This was actually a little slower than previous tests we had run using TP-Link’s AV1000 Powerline Adapter Starter Kit (TL-WPA7510), where we nudged closer to 130Mbps, but the difference is minimal really and could easily be explained by the time of day when we ran the tests. That said, the Magic’s G.hn Powerline chips didn’t blast past the older HomePlug standard as much as we had expected and that makes us wonder whether the 2,400Mbps potential is really going to make much difference in the wild.
Our third test was on the Wi-Fi performance in the second room (far from the original wireless router). In a non-Mesh trial, we achieved 104Mbps, which isn’t so far off the wired speed and noticeably faster than our previous fastest Powerline Wi-Fi (90Mbps from Devolo’s own 1200+ Starter Kit).
So, the Devolo Magic 2 WiFi 5 Kit performed about as well as our previous fastest Powerline winner and a little faster using its new Wi-Fi hotspot. We will update this review when we have tested the latest Magic 2 WiFi 6 models, which we expect to give much-boosted wireless performance.
Magic 2 WiFi Mesh tests
Later, we tested the Magic 2 WiFi 5 in our Mesh test environment, and this is where you can see that speeds in different places will differ wildly. We didn’t test wired Powerline connections here, just the Wi-Fi strength in the Mesh system.
The Mesh Wi-Fi side of things works well, although Devolo could put a little more effort into making its app and manual more helpful for first-time users. The Multiroom kit that we tested contained three adaptors – a LAN (base) adaptor for connecting to our existing router, and two Wi-Fi Powerline adaptors that you can place in other rooms.
However, the three adaptors all look very similar, and the manual doesn’t make it clear which adaptor should be connected to the router and which ones go into your other rooms. And, while trying to set up our new wifi network, the Devolo app on our tablet told us to ‘press the PLC button’ – without actually telling us to where find that button on the adaptors.
But, once we got past those initial hiccups, the Wi-Fi and Mesh networking features provided impressive performance.
With one of the Magic 2 Wi-Fi adaptors in a nearby hallway and the second adaptor in our office, we found that we were able to get a consistent Wi-Fi speed of around 700Mbps from both adaptors – outpacing a number of conventional Mesh systems that we’ve reviewed recently, and allowing us to move around freely with our laptop at last.
And, of course, if you’re still having problems with your Wi-Fi signal then the Magic 2 WiFi adaptors also provide two Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired connections (as well as that handy pass-through option for using your mains power socket too).
And while the Devolo app does have a few rough edges, it also provides a number of useful features as well. By default, the dual-band Wi-Fi adaptors create a single network that combines the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, but the app also allows you to split those into two separate networks if you want to, as well as providing a ‘clone’ option that allows the new Devolo network to use the same Wi-Fi name and password as your existing network.
The app’s parental controls could be more extensive though. There is an option to create a schedule that limits Internet access to specific times of day, but some rival Mesh devices also allow you to create more varied schedules and profiles that cater for children of different ages in your family.
However, there’s no doubt that the Devolo Magic 2 kit provides good performance for both wired and Wi-Fi connections, and that its versatile combination of Powerline and Wi-Fi networking can be extremely useful for larger homes that normally struggle to get a good Wi-Fi signal.
Devolo Magic vs TP-Link Deco P7
The Magic WiFi’s closest rival would be the TP-Link’s Deco P7, which also combines Mesh networking with Powerline connectivity. However, the P7 costs around £250 for a two-piece kit. The Magic 2 WiFi 5 Whole Home Kit costs £275, but provides a three-piece kit that lets you use its LAN/Powerline adaptor to connect to your existing router, and two separate Wi-Fi adaptors that you can place in other rooms – along with the useful mains pass-through socket option.
Admittedly, most homes won’t need a high-end kit such as this, but for larger homes that have trouble getting good Wi-Fi the versatility and performance of the Magic 2 WiFi Next will be ideal – and, of course, there’s also the option of the less-expensive (£169) two-piece Starter Kit for smaller homes.
We’re looking forward to the Magic 2 Mesh WiFi 6 models becoming available.
Mesh or just Powerline
As Mesh is really aimed at homes that require more than one extra wireless hotspot, smaller or average-sized properties might be better off just using standard Powerline adapters – with one extra Wi-Fi hotspot if required. Check for your Wi-Fi weak areas and where you need better wireless connections.
The Devolo Magic 1 WiFi 5 Kit costs from £135 for the Starter Kit with one base unit and one second-room Wi-Fi Powerline adapter with Wi-Fi.
For £85 the non-Mesh TP-Link TL-WPA7510KIT (two adapters, each with one Gigabit Ethernet port, one with Wi-Fi) offers comparable speeds (in our tests). With Magic, you are still a price premium for the more sophisticated Mesh features. Check out our roundup of the best Powerline starter kits to see our recommendations.
Where the Magic 1 and 2 win doesn’t appear to be straight-line Powerline performance, but they do make a reaal difference in homes that require more than one extra Wi-Fi hotspot, where the more advanced Mesh features should shine.
(Additional reporting by Cliff Joseph.)
The Devolo Magic 2 WiFi kits are best suited for larger homes that require more than one extra Wi-Fi hotspot. Here, the top-end Mesh features (Fast Roaming, Access Point Steering, MU-MIMO, Band Steering, Config Sync, and Airtime Fairness) should ensure you get the fastest WiFi possible wherever you are in the house.
And the forthcoming Mesh WiFi 6 kits could be real game-changers for your wireless home network.
With Powerline, Mesh, pass-through sockets and two Ethernet ports, the Magic 2 is loaded with features.
Considering its top-of-the-range Powerline and Mesh features it compares well with similar Mesh systems on price.
Smaller houses can probably make do with just the one extra Wi-Fi hotspot, and there are cheaper Powerline Wi-Fi kits available that will do much the same job.