We’ve been stuck with Gigabit Ethernet for the best part of 15 years already and I’m keen to jump on something faster. Very recently NBase-T has been officially ratified as 802.3bz, bringing 2.5/5Gbit/s speeds over standard CAT5e/6 cabling respectively. That's a big 5x performance increase of common Gigabit Ethernet! But as the ink isn't even dry on the certification stamp, don't expect to see 802.3bz products soon.
Instead, ASUS has made the jump to 10Gbit/s, delivering 10x the performance of Gigabit Ethernet. Normally limited to the enterprise and server market, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (802.3an) cost has been high. However, we know gamers and prosumers want the very fastest hardware – no one wants to wait! So demands for the additional bandwidth that 10 Gigabit networking provides will rise, especially due to things like SSDs continuing to drop in price/increase in speed, and gigabit fiber internet is already available so home Gigabit Ethernet is now a bottleneck to your very next upgrade.
Until now, pricing for 10 Gigabit switches started at around $800. That certainly isn’t expensive by corporate standards, but for the rest of us, it limits interest to the upper end of PC enthusiasts who must have the fastest-possible-of-everything. In the '4K-era' 10Gbit/s Ethernet is ideal for moving huge amounts of data without having to wait.
To meet the new bandwidth demand, ASUS has just launched the XG-U2008, an unmanaged 10G networking switch which is available for just $249.99. It's sleek brushed-aluminum style exterior houses a silent, fanless design that makes it perfect for the home. There's even an optional rack-mount kit that allows it to be installed in a standard 19-inch bay (for example, the IKEA RAST hack); potentially very useful for enthusiasts with a lot of kit wanting to keep things neat.
The XG-U2008 utilizes Marvell’s 88E6190X and 88X3220 PHY transceivers to offer two 10GBase-T ports and eight Gigabit ports, giving plenty of expansion. Each port automatically configures itself in WAN or LAN mode depending on the type of connection. At the front there are multicolored LEDs to indicate the connection status'.
The XG-U2008 is only part of the equation though as you'll need 10GbE network ports at either end of the chain as well. ASUS is steadily growing its 10G-compliant networking ecosystem so the XG-U2008 can be paired with a range of 10G-ready motherboards including the X99-E10G-WS and Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly motherboards both feature 10G Ethernet.
The Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly includes the ROG 10G Express add-in card. This adds 10GbE to gaming builds, which is attainable using under 50 meters of CAT6 cabling. For those with CAT5e or longer CAT6, it is also backward compatible with the 802.3bz specification, operating at 2.5Gbit/s and 5Gbit/s for up to 100 meters. This still gives an ample upgrade from basic Gigabit Ethernet.
Are you looking for faster-than-Gigabit at home? Let us know in the forums or Flipboard!