Multi-gig networking has become a strange obsession for me, it is something I very rarely need to use, but I am willing to pay a disproportionate amount of money to get.
However, my willingness to spend money is always within reason, and spending several hundred on a multi-gig switch is not what I would call reasonable. It has to be one of the slowest pieces of technology ever to drop in price and become affordable to the consumer.
But things are moving in the right direction, slowly. Possibly spurred on by the increased speeds Wi-Fi 6 offers, with the potential to achieve multi-gig Wi-Fi, we have started to see new multi-gig products become more affordable.
I use the term multi-gig because as much as I would love to say 10GbE is getting affordable, the trend seems to be orientated to 2.5GbE. The most notable launch recently is the QNAP QSW-1105-5T with its 5x 2.5GbE ports which was on sale via Amazon for £108 so £21.60 per port.
The Asus XG-C100C is the cheapest 10GbE card which was recently just £80 on Amazon, however, you can now get the EDUP EP-9635 2.5GBase-T PCIe Network Adapter for just £29.99.
When I ordered the QNAP I came across a recent release from Zyxel, the XGS1010, unlike the QNAP, it is available to buy right now and costs £129.99. This then has:
- 2x 10G SFP+ Ultra Speed Uplink
- 10G/2.5G/1G Multi-Gigabit Ports Speed Support
- QoS for better traffic control
It is unmanaged, like the QNAP, and the SFP+ ports are not ideal for most home scenarios, but they are full 10GbE
This is identical to the XGS1010, but it is managed. There is no fancy cloud networking, it is LAN only, but it offers some significant benefits over the unmanaged option including:
- Port management with speed selection, flow control and loop detection/prevention
- IEEE 802.1Q VLAN
- Link Aggregation (MAS SA, DA, and SA+DA)
- Port Mirroring
- Port-based QoS (the unmanaged switch has QoS but it is pre-defined based on the port number)
- IGMP Snooping
- IEEE 802.3az EEE
- DHCP/static IP options
I am not the most experienced with link aggregation, but this switch works a little differently than my MikroTik, you only have 4 group options. With the first four ports being in LAG 1 then LAG 2-4 being in pairs of ports next to each other.
With me running a Blue Iris CCTV server, having the option to separate my network up into VLANs is a useful addition vs the unmanaged switch.
Both switches offer the same performance with the 10GbE ports offering around 900MB/s transfer speeds for large files when transferring via two NVMe drives.
The 2.5GbE port then caps at out around 280MB/s which in a lot of scenarios is as much as you need when transferring to mechanical drives.
The Netgear GS110MX is just £145; it is a 10 port unmanaged switch with two of the ports being full 10GbE which would make this the cheapest option if you want to connect two computers via a switch (rather than direct) using CAT5a/6a/7.
Alternatively, if running fibre isn’t out of the question the MikroTik 326-24G-2S+RM offers 24 ports managed in a fanless design with an additional 2x 10Gbps SFP+ ports or the MikroTik CRS305-1G-4S+IN for about £130 with 4x 10Gbps SFP+ and one POE gigabit ethernet. The problem with these is that you will then need SFP network cards, so you need to buy used Mellanox ConnectX cards if you want any home of it being affordable.
Then the QNAP QSW-1105-5T when it becomes available will likely be the best option for your average home user wanting to upgrade their network speeds.
At the time of writing the unmanaged XGS1010-12 is the most affordable option on the market I can find, it works as advertised and combining this with the super cheap EP-9635 NIC I was able to transfer files to and from my windows server at just under 280MB/s.
It also works with 10G SFP+ RJ45 copper transceivers, so there is the option to use CAT cable if needed, though these significantly raise your costs.
It runs hot, and those transceivers are even hotter, but I have not noticed any issues with performance. It is also silent, so there are no issues with placement.
With little to no direct competition at the moment, this is an excellent entry into multi-gig networking.
My opinion of the Zyxel XGS1210-12 is similar to the unmanaged switch. It works as advertised and there is little in the way of competition. At £50 more than the unmanaged option, it is perhaps a little higher than what I would personally be willing to spend on home networking, but things like VLAN and link aggregation are features that make the extra expense tempting.