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[Update for 2022] This article is about two years old, during which time quite a few new switches hit the market. I updated this article with some great low-cost 2.5GbE options, and we’re even starting to see some affordable 10GbE options. I also added some POE switches.
10GBASE-T was defined in 2006, I’m not sure when switches and NICs were available, but they’ve been around for years. While most technologies become affordable to consumers in a short period of time, 10GbE has been slow to drop in price.
To sum up, the first iPhone was launched on June 29, 2007; a year later, the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1, the first Android phone, followed. Back then, most of us were still using Nokia, and the iconic Nokia N95 was launched in 2007.
Wi-Fi 6 is driving demand for multi-gigabit
Things seem to be changing very slowly. As Wi-Fi 6 evolves, we see many access points, consumer routers, and mesh systems integrating multi-gigabit ports.
In 2022, we start to see more Wi-Fi 6E hardware, most of which will be 2.5GbE or higher, as the 6Ghz band operating at 160Mhz channel width should easily exceed gigabit speeds. Wi-Fi 7 is also coming, which will bring further speed improvements, potentially exceeding 2500Mbps throughput.
Content creators need multi-gigabit network connections
Consumer networking needs have also changed. Being a content creator has become a ubiquitous profession, and the constant drive for the best has led many to produce content in 4K or higher resolutions.This all requires a lot of documentation leading many people to invest NAS storage or server, but is limited to around 120MB/s on gigabit, which can be frustrating for very large files.
In the past few years, more motherboards with native multi-gigabit ports have also been introduced. They usually come with a hefty premium, but they tend to target the aforementioned content creators who already spend a lot on their gear.
With the introduction of the Intel LGA 1700, most B660 and Z690 motherboards have 2.5GbE.
Multigigabit copper RJ45 switch
Switches are the last thing to drop in price, but there have been some recent announcements that multi-gigabit is getting cheaper. Specifically, the new 2.5gbps switch has become very affordable, it’s not ideal, but at 280MB/s you can easily max out the speed of a single spinning HDD.
Switches that provide 10 Gb connectivity are still very expensive. If you don’t mind SFP, you can save a lot, and some switches offer a combination of the two, giving you the option to put a server or PC all in one room to use SFP, and then use your existing copper Ethernet for other devices.
In 2022, TRENDnet introduces several affordable unmanaged 10GbE switches:
- Trend Network TEG-S750
- Trend Network TEG-S762 (comment here)
- 4 2.5G RJ-45 ports
- 2 10G RJ-45 ports
There are currently no UK suppliers, but you can buy and import them from Amazon US.
Then the Netgear GS110MX is the cheapest 10GbE option I can find, with only 2 10GbE ports, then an additional 8 gigabit ports.you can start £146 on Amazon.
Ubiquiti Unifi 16 XG is a just under £500, you get 4 10GbE RJ45 ports followed by 12 10-Gigabit fiber SFP+ ports. It’s one of the best value options you can buy, but £500 is too much for most users.
In 2021, we’re starting to see quite a few really affordable 2.5GbE switches. I’ve reviewed a lot, and if you’re comfortable with 5 to 8 port unmanaged switches, they’re a good deal.
2.5GbE POE switch
Multi-gigabit POE switches used to be rare, but with the development of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, more access points have 2.5GbE or higher ports and thus benefit from switches of equal capability. So there are more and more options, but at the time of writing, many of them seem to be in short supply.
I have previously recommended:
- TP-Link TL-SG3210XHP-M2
- Netgear MS510TXPP
- Netgear MS510TXUP
All of them are out of stock on Amazon and Broadbandbuyer. Scan states that the Netgear MS510TXPP ETA is November 2022!
I personally use the excellent EnGenius ECS2512FPbut at nearly £1000, it hardly makes the list of cheapest multigigabit switches.
Ubiquiti seems to be the best option for the current stock available. The Ubiquiti Switch Enterprise 8 PoE is an 8-port 2.5GbE POE switch with 2x10G SFP+ for €550/£472. It can only deliver 120W, very low-end, but enough to drive a few access points ( U6-LR The maximum power consumption is only 16.5W).
If you’re doing a large commercial installation (or wiring your entire home) then the USW-Enterprise-48-PoE seems like a good value for money at €1835/£1600 giving you 48 ports of 2.5GbE and a total 720W PoE supply ,
10GbE POE switch
These are rarer and more expensive.
The Zyxel XS1930-12HP is the only option I know of, and at just under £1000, it’s half-affordable. It has eight 10GbE RJ45 Ethernet PoE++ ports followed by two 10GbE RJ45 Ethernet ports and two 10GbE SFP+ ports.
There are more and more affordable multi-gigabit switches. In particular, if you’re comfortable with unmanaged switches, there are plenty of options. You also no longer need to rely on SFP to get 10GbE cost-effectively.
[Original Post 30th July 2020]
[Updated on 20th June 2022] Added several new switches for 2.5GbE, 10GbE, and added two new POE classes.
Last updated on June 19, 2022 / Affiliate Links / Image from Amazon Product Advertising API