Gigabit networking is an improvement over existing 100Mbps networking infrastructure and, based on our tests, it offers transfer rates that are approximately twice as fast. While many home users may not necessarily need a switch for their network, users with more than a handful of PCs and small business users will appreciate the extra speed that a switch can provide as opposed to a network hub. Simply speaking, a network switch has the advantage over a hub because it can identify a data packet’s origin and destination. A hub can not, so must broadcast to all ports in the hope that it will find the recipient, thereby slowing down the network.
This particular hub from SMC can work with 10/100 network cards, too, and indicator lights on the front of the unit will advise the speed of the network.
We tested this switch with SMC EZ Card gigabit network cards over a two-PC network with 1.22GB of data and recorded a time of 2 min 46 sec. In comparison, on a 100Mbps network the same amount of data transferred in 4 min 8 sec. You will need to use Cat6 cabling for the best results in a gigabit network, which is slightly more costly than usual Cat5 cables.
Windows XP installation was quite straightforward and (as mentioned in the review last month of the SMC8505TX Auto-Sensing Gigabit Switch, page 32) the only drawback to the switch is the fact that the status lights and the network ports are all on the front.
In brief: SMC SMC8508T 8-port Auto-Sensing Switch
This eight-port SMC gigabit switch is well priced and designed to bring affordable gigabit networking to the home user and small business. Perfect for environments where more than a handful of PCs are in use.
Vendor: SMC Networks
Phone: (02) 8448 5800