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My MoCA 2.0 Actiontec ECB6200 Review - finally a good alternative to gigabit ethernet

traderjay

Senior member
Sep 24, 2015
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Where WIFI and powerline networking just can’t cut it.
I’ve recently moved to a new location and the builder was nice to enough to place CAT5 outlet in every room leading to a central location into the electrical room which greatly helps with future network expansions.

Unfortunately there was no CAT5 outlet in the living room which is where my HTPC, IPTV box (cut the cord many years ago) and Xiaomi TV box reside and the only option is to either use wireless, powerline networking or MoCA. My HTPC is used to play uncompressed videos and the viewing of my large (1.2TB) collection of family and travel photos over my FreeNAS server. A fast network performance is quintessential for a smooth user experience especially my other two devices (IPTV box and Xiaomi TV box) are also very bandwidth intensive.

When I first moved into the new house late last year, MoCA 2.0 adapters were not widely available for sale as they are undergoing final certifications and I had to first settle for wireless with very unsatisfactory result. My HTPC, IPTV box and Xiaomi TV box support 802.11n and 802.11c but with many WIFI devices operating in proximity and loading large amount uncompressed files proved to be a very painful and sluggish experience. My WIFI network at home is very robust utilizing two Meraki MR18 in mesh mode but they are still not suited for latency sensitive and bandwidth intensive applications like HD media playback/streaming. Powerline networking is completely out of the question because there are no available sockets in the electrical room. Even with available outlet, there is no way to estimate the performance since they are on a different floor and there are too many unknown variables at play. Running additional Ethernet cables is also unfeasible because my basement is finished and it will cost thousands of dollars to break apart the walls and fish additional cables.



Below is my network topology:


With a Coax outlet nearby, MOCA networking is the best alternative to achieve a wired near-Ethernet experience. I first had to settle for Actiontec’s MoCA 1.1 adapters (ECB2500C) that delivered the full advertised speed of 100 mbps while I eagerly await for the release of MoCA 2.0 adapters. After a few months of waiting, they finally became available last week through B&H and I immediately ordered a pair of ECB6200 with free shipping to Canada. These adapters came in a neatly packaged OEM brown box and even includes a pair of high quality Coax cable:





The adapters themselves are very well built and is encased in a matte plastic shell (thank goodness it’s not glossy). The Ethernet and coax port feels sturdy and exhibit zero flex when attaching cables. There are two LEDs on the front showing power and Coax connectivity.







Picture below shows the ECB6200 installed in their respective locations:




 
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traderjay

Senior member
Sep 24, 2015
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Benchmarking
There is an active thread in the snbforums.com and a helpful member pinotphile has posted a firmware update for the ECB6200 that addresses several performance issues - http://www.snbforums.com/threads/moca-2-0-actiontech-ecb6000.26415/page-7

After applying the update and installing the ECB6200, I performed several benchmark tests to appreciate the performance improvement of MoCA 2.0 technology. Below are the system specs for the HTPC and my FreeNAS Server and both systems can fully saturate a gigabit link:

HTPC

CPU: Intel Core i5 3570K
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-V LK
RAM: 8GB GSKill DDR3
Video Card: AMD Radeon HD 7730
Storage:
OS – 60 GB OCZ Vertex 3 Agility
Media – 3TB Seagate 7200.14

FreeNAS Server:
CPU: Intel XEON E3 1265L V3
Motherboard: Supermicro X10SAE
RAM: 16GB DDR3 with ECC
Storage Pool:
6 X 3TB HGST 7K4000 Ultrastar in RAIDZ2

Benchmark Result:
LAN Speed Test (Lite):
This benchmark creates a dummy file on a target network drive and test the file read and write speed.

SEND(TX):




RECEIVE(RX):



Response Time:
3 ms

File Copy to Server (TX):
Copying a 4GB Media file to network drive




File Copy from Server (RX):
Receiving a 4GB Media file to network drive


Conclusion:

The MoCA 2.0 ECB6200 delivers almost 8 FOLD performance increase over the MoCA 1.1 solutions and handily beats WIFI and powerline solutions in RECEIVE (RX) speed. I need to investigate why the SEND (TX) speed is limited to around 170 mbps to 200 mbps and will keep an eye on the forum for updates and possible new firmware that further improves the adapter performance. It might also be caused by my equipment configuration both on the switch and NIC. If I power cycle the adapters, my RECEIVE (RX) speed jumps back to 500 mbps to 700 mbps so we'll see if the future firmware will address this issue.

With MoCA 2.0, it is as close as you can get to gigabit wired performance without the need of running additional Ethernet cablings. After more than a week of testing and normal usage, the performance is solid and 100% reliable. Most homes are pre-wired with Coax cables and MoCA 2.0 is the most reliable solution to provide stable and consistent networking performance throughout the house compared to powerline or WIFI.


Image Sources for the Network Topology Diagram:
Receiver - www.pioneerelectronics.com
IP TV Box – http://www.gospell.com/photo/pl9223458-android_iptv_dvb_s2_set_top_box_hdmi_high_definition_digital_tv_box.jpg
Xiami TV Box - http://cdn.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/xiaomi_box_0-580x384.jpg
HTPC – http://i251.photobucket.com/albums/gg296/quest1888/hfxclassic.jpg
Gigabit Switch – http://www.zdtronic.com/images/3C16794.jpg
3Com Switch - http://www.tamayatech.com/ProductImages/3/3COM-3CR1725091.jpg
Sophos UTM – http://www.goknows.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/utm100-120.png
Modem - http://cdn.toptenreviews.com/rev/site/cms/category_headers/575-h_main-w.png
FreeNAS Server - http://d.goodlad.net/assets/images/articles/home_file_server/server.jpg
 
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kevnich2

Platinum Member
Apr 10, 2004
2,465
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as in can I set up 3 or is it 1 to 1.
It's a layer 2 bridge is all that it is, so so you need minimum of two - one connecting to your router to connect your coax and ethernet together and then additional devices wherever you need ethernet where there's only coax. So if you have three individual devices that need ethernet, you will need four devices.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
86,111
9,951
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It's a layer 2 bridge is all that it is, so so you need minimum of two - one connecting to your router to connect your coax and ethernet together and then additional devices wherever you need ethernet where there's only coax. So if you have three individual devices that need ethernet, you will need four devices.
so 1 to 1, I suspected that was the case, but just needed to confirm.
 

Engineer

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
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I just noticed that the OP's review made the front of SmallNetBuilder.com. Nice! :)
 

imagoon

Diamond Member
Feb 19, 2003
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I would be more interested in seeing what happens when there is more than 2 devices. Stepping back to a 1980's shared coax Ethernet network sounds like a latency and performance killer.
 

traderjay

Senior member
Sep 24, 2015
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I just noticed that the OP's review made the front of SmallNetBuilder.com. Nice! :)
Hey thanks for pointing this out and I am glad SNB picked up on my review and hopefully more consumers become aware of MoCA.



I would be more interested in seeing what happens when there is more than 2 devices. Stepping back to a 1980's shared coax Ethernet network sounds like a latency and performance killer.
I am getting an ping of 3 ms from the client to the server so its not ethernet latency but much better than wireless or powerline :)
 

imagoon

Diamond Member
Feb 19, 2003
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Hey thanks for pointing this out and I am glad SNB picked up on my review and hopefully more consumers become aware of MoCA.





I am getting an ping of 3 ms from the client to the server so its not ethernet latency but much better than wireless or powerline :)
What I mean is what does the third device see (say pinging google) while a large file upload is going from workstation to server.
 

traderjay

Senior member
Sep 24, 2015
219
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What I mean is what does the third device see (say pinging google) while a large file upload is going from workstation to server.
I can help with this test. So should I upload a large file from the HTPC to the server and then ping the HTPC from another computer on the network?
 

imagoon

Diamond Member
Feb 19, 2003
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I can help with this test. So should I upload a large file from the HTPC to the server and then ping the HTPC from another computer on the network?
Yes, push a large file (in order to get the 2 devices going as fast/full as possible) then ping the Internet (things like google 8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4) and the HTPC and the Workstation. I am mostly interested how they handle high load and possible MOCA saturation. I am assuming at this point there would be 3 or more MOCA adapters in the network.
 

traderjay

Senior member
Sep 24, 2015
219
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Yes, push a large file (in order to get the 2 devices going as fast/full as possible) then ping the Internet (things like google 8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4) and the HTPC and the Workstation. I am mostly interested how they handle high load and possible MOCA saturation. I am assuming at this point there would be 3 or more MOCA adapters in the network.
Unfortunately I only have two adapters so I'll just transfer a large file from the HTPC to the server and then ping some websites while doing that from the HTPC.
 

krishkal

Junior Member
Jul 5, 2016
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Hi, Traderjay! It's been a few months. Any updates? Did you ever get to the bottom of the degradation problem? Or figure out the reason for the asymmetric performance?
 

traderjay

Senior member
Sep 24, 2015
219
165
116
A long overdue update on this thread. I've experienced ZERO performance degradation or connectivity issues with this MoCA adapter since installation with the new firmware.
 

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