Inexpensive gigabit

In the past, gigabit networking (1000Mbps, or 1Gbps) over copper wiring appeared primarily in very large businesses due to its high costs. Last year, gigabit Ethernet controllers started showing up on PC motherboards, but gigabit switches suitable for smaller networks were expensive and hard to find. Now SMC has introduced attractively-priced five-port and eight-port 1Gbps network adapters and switches.

The SMC8505TX Auto-Sensing Gigabit Switch offers five 10/100/1000Mbps ports on a small-office network with Cat 5e cabling. I also used SMC’s EZ Card 1000 SMC9452TX network adapters ($62).

My informal tests showed average upload speeds of 80Mbps and download speeds of 92Mbps on this same network when I used 100Mbps network adapters and a compatible switch. With the gigabit network in place, upload speeds increased to 210Mbps and download speeds shot up to 240Mbps, a truly excellent showing. By comparison, the fastest wireless products that we’ve tested in the past topped out at 24Mbps. (The gigabit network’s impressive speeds fell dramatically when standard Cat 5 network cable was used, however.) Unfortunately, the cable ports are on the same side of the box as the LED indicators. This may be practical for rack-mounted systems, but it’s awkward if you’re used to desktop-type switches with ports on the rear.

SMC8505TX Auto-Sensing Gigabit Switch
Price: $223
Vendor: SMC Networks
Phone: (02) 8448 5800

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