Review: Netgear MCAB1001 MoCA Coax-Ethernet Adapter Kit

(Note: If you haven’t already, and are interested in some of the background of my needs and this testing, you should read my earlier review of powerline networking hardware)

So after the disappointment of the powerline networking experiment, I decided to give MoCA hardware a shot. If it performed as advertised, MoCA made sense in our house: There were already live cable drops in both the rooms in question, and the technology seemed far less jankier than powerline. So I ordered the Netgear MCAB1001 MoCA kit, which included two endpoints. This review will be much shorter than the last one.

I love this hardware. In fact, I really only have two gripes which I could think of:

  • The configuration utility is Windows only, and is basically required due to…
  • One of the endpoints was configured in “All Pass”, which lets MoCA overrun the frequencies used for television.  One of the reviewers on Amazon mentioned this as well, so I knew to look out for it.  Fortunately I was able to use the configuration utility in a virtual machine I already had lying around, so I wasn’t stuck.  But if you’re a non-Windows user, you’d be screwed as far as I can tell. (Update: See the comments for a non-windows way to accomplish this)

Installation of this hardware was as straightforward as the powerline hardware:  Hook up the endpoints and you’re live.  The endpoints even have a button which disables all of the front panel LEDs, which should be a feature on every piece of hardware.  Time to cut to the chase and get to the numbers:

milgrim$ time nc -v -v -n pbook 2222 < big-file.bin
Connection to pbook 2222 port [tcp/*] succeeded!
124.98 real         4.20 user        31.90 sys

(1,073,741,824 bytes) / (124.98 seconds) = 65.5464874 Mbps

Compared to the 15 Mbps I got from the powerline hardware, this was literally night and day.  And this was using the USB Ethernet adapter on my Air, so I doubt it’s fully flexing the bandwidth available.  Almost as important as the bandwidth (and the reason I sat on this review for awhile) is the reliability.  After I wrote the powerline review I learned that I was seeing all kinds of dropouts and failures.  But the MoCA hardware has been seemingly rock-solid. I’ve done many large data transfers over the link and seen no trouble whatsoever.

I’ve been so pleased with this gear, that I’ve considered getting a third endpoint to put in the basement and move some ‘headless’ hardware down there (cable modem, Slingbox, time capsule, etc), as it’d be really easy to run a Coax drop down there.  Actually, I think the only barrier to that right now is that all the power in the basement is on the common circuit of the house, so I’d have to install an outlet that comes off of our breaker panel.  Anyway, I’m rather pleased with this hardware, and if you have similar needs, you might want to give it a spin yourself.