Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Devolo Magic 1 WiFi review: Perfect for the Wi-Fi-unfriendly home and now reduced to £97

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
127
inc VAT

The most versatile powerline networking kit we've ever encountered – and it also packs a performance punch

Pros 
Very easy to set up
Versatile
Packs a performance punch
Cons 
Netgear Nighthawk X6S performs better for a similar price
Advertisement

AMAZON SPRING SALE: £33 slashed off the Devolo Magic 1-1200

For anyone struggling to get Wi-Fi to reach the furthest extent of their homes, the Devolo Magic Wi-Fi systems are a brilliant solution, using the magic of powerline G.hn networking combined with Wi-Fi to deliver solid, fast connectivity wherever you need it most. At £97 and £33 off the RRP, this is the lowest price we've ever seen on the Magic 1, too.
Amazon
Was £133
Now £97

Devolo’s Magic WiFi kit promises “mesh WLAN without limits” – but it’s not the familiar sort of mesh system in which multiple nodes communicate wirelessly. Rather, its two stations use powerline networking to connect remote clients to your router: the mesh aspect simply means that you can add multiple access points to create a mesh-style topology.

The approach has its advantages. While top speeds can rarely compete with a strong wireless signal, the connection isn’t troubled by things such as radiators and walls, meaning it’s ideal for extending your wireless network into areas that may otherwise be unable to receive a stable signal.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the very best Wi-Fi extenders

Devolo Magic 1 WiFi review: Setup and configuration

It’s also very easy to set up. Simply connect the base station to your router using the supplied Ethernet cable, plug the wireless access point into a socket located somewhere else in your home, connect using the supplied credentials and you’re away.

There’s a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports at the bottom of the access point, so wired clients can plug in and go with absolutely zero configuration. And both units have convenient mains passthrough sockets on the front, although their chunky design means you might have difficulty situating them alongside anything larger than a regular plug.

Devolo Magic 1 WiFi review: App and features

If you want to get a bit more hands-on, the management side of things comes in two halves. The Devolo Cockpit app gives you a graphical map of your extender network: with this basic kit that’s just a straight line between the two units, but the live readout of the connection speed between them is very handy if you want to experiment with placing the access point in different sockets around your home, or test the impact of plugging the extender into a mains extension rather than directly into a wall socket.

The Cockpit app also provides links to each unit’s web portal, where the respective configuration options live. It may take a moment to get your head around the two separate management interfaces (accessed via separate IP addresses), and it doesn’t really help that the interfaces are somewhat inconsistent, with small differences in page layouts and terminology – for example, the AP interface has a settings tab called “Powerline”, while the corresponding tab in the base unit interface is called “PLC”.

Still, it doesn’t take long to master. With a few clicks you can combine your 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks under a single name, split them into separate networks or choose to use only one band or the other. For seamless roaming, the Wi-Fi Clone feature can automatically duplicate the Wi-Fi name and credentials of your router, so you don’t need to reconfigure your client devices and never have to think about whether you’re connected to the main network or the extended one.

You can also set up a secondary guest network, allowing visitors to get onto the internet but not to access local resources, and apply an operation schedule so that (for example) the extended network is only available during office hours. Perhaps surprisingly, there’s no way to block specific clients from connecting, but if you need to blacklist a particular device, you can always do it on your router.

Devolo Magic 1 WiFi review: Performance

So much for features: how does it perform?

It’s no surprise that real-world transfers don’t come close to the advertised maximum of 867Mbits/sec, but the Magic kit delivered very strong download rates to almost every part of my home – equivalent to around 100Mbits/sec. Even in the hard-to-reach utility room it gave me a consistent, if not lightning-fast, reception.

That also held true on the 2.4GHz band, so you don’t need to worry about older devices being left out in the cold. If it weren’t for the Netgear Nighthawk X6S's pesky tri-band extenders, the Magic would walk away with top marks for performance amongst its competitors.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, you might be tempted to step up to the £174 Magic 2 WiFi kit, which includes a second access point. This lets you cover more rooms, with less distance between your wireless devices and the nearest AP – which, in theory, should help everything whizz along.

In practice, though, I found that adding a second node to the network more or less halved my upload and download rates, which was presumably due to increased contention. It’s a potential way to extend the reach of your network, but not its speed.

Devolo Magic 1 WiFi review: Verdict

At £127, the Magic 1 pack costs very nearly the same as the Netgear Nighthawk X6S wireless repeater, and it’s certainly worth checking out that alternative before investing.

If your home isn’t Wi-Fi-friendly, though, then powerline networking could well be the way to go – and the Devolo Magic is the best-performing and most versatile kit we’ve tried.

Key specifications
TypePowerline AP
External antennae0
Power consumption (idle, measured)Base: 3.1W; AP: 4.1W
Configuration interfaceWeb portal; app for Windows, macOS, Linux
Quoted maximum 2.4GHz wireless speed300Mbits/sec
Quoted maximum 5GHz wireless speed867Mbits/sec
EthernetBase: Gigabit; AP: 2 x Gigabit
DimensionsBase: 66 x 42 x 133mm; AP: 76 x 50 x 152mm (WDH)
Price£127 (inc VAT)