Networking, News

10 Great 10G Networking Products for Prosumers

Previously, 10G networks – offering data transfer speeds up to 10 gigabits per second – have been the domain of the enterprise. Despite the 10GBASE-T standard emerging back in 2006, the price of compatible switches and adapters meant that anyone seeking to upgrade their Gigabit kit would be facing at least a $2000 bill.

However, affordable 10G kit is now trickling down into the consumer realm. It’s still an investment – make no mistake – but we’re now at the point that gamers and data hoarders considering a networking refresh should take a serious look at 10G.

If you’re in that group, here’s a rundown of ten excellent prospects to get your 10G network up and running.

1. ASUS XG-U2008 10G Network Switch
With the cheapest business-class network switch weighing in around $800, connecting PCs, NAS devices and storage servers to a 10G network is an expensive business. Until now. The ASUS XG-U2008 10G network switch is priced for prosumers at just $249. At that price, there are compromises for sure – the device is unmanaged (so is plug and play, without any fancy network management features) and offers just two 10G ports alongside a further eight that run at Gigabit speeds.

With the cheapest business-class network switch weighing in around $800, connecting PCs, NAS devices and storage servers to a 10G network is an expensive business. Until now. The ASUS XG-U2008 10G network switch is priced for prosumers at just $249. At that price, there are compromises for sure – the device is unmanaged (so is plug and play, without any fancy network management features) and offers just two 10G ports alongside a further eight that run at Gigabit speeds.

 

ASUS-XG-D2008Handily, the switch automatically configures each port depending on the device connected and the twin 10G ports include LED indicators that tells you what speed the connected cable supports. An optional 10″ rack mount kit allows you to co-locate the switch in an AV or server cabinet.

At $249, the ASUS XG-U2008 offers incredible value, ensuring 10G networking is a realistic prospect for consumers.

2. NETGEAR ProSAFE 8-Port 10-Gigabit Ethernet Smart Managed Switch (XS708T-100NES)

If two ports aren’t going to cut it in your home network, then you’ll need to invest in a higher end switch that will offer 8 ports. The NETGEAR ProSAFE 8-Port 10-Gigabit Ethernet Smart Managed Switch (XS708T-100NES) is possibly your best option, priced at $949.99 (now you see why that ASUS switch is such good value).
prosafe-10g
Alongside those 8 10G ports, you’ll also benefit from a swathe of business-class features that you’ll find on managed switches. They include VLAN, QoS, IGMP and MLD snooping, IPv4 & IPv6 Static Routing, Link Aggregation and ACLs that allow you to segment and secure your network.Alongside those 8 10G ports, you’ll also benefit from a swathe of business-class features that you’ll find on managed switches. They include VLAN, QoS, IGMP and MLD snooping, IPv4 & IPv6 Static Routing, Link Aggregation and ACLs that allow you to segment and secure your network.
 

3. Startech Cat 6a Ethernet Cables

Of course, laying out a 10G network isn’t just about network switches and PCIe adapters. You’re going to need to ensure your network cabling is also up to scratch and for most, that’ll mean replacing Cat 5e Ethernet cables with the faster Cat 6a standard. Cat 5e works really well for Gigabit speeds, but for anything faster, Cat 6a (or Cat 7, see below) is where it’s at.Cat-6a-cable.jpgYou may be aware that between Cat 5e and Cat 6a, there’s another standard – Cat 6. This will support 10G speeds but note that maximum speeds are only supported up to 55 meters. Cat 6a doubles data transmission bandwidth, from 250 to 500 MHz, meaning that you’ll be able to run cable up to 100 meters or so. They’re also usually shielded, so should perform well. On the flipside, you’ll find Cat 6a cables are a little more expensive than Cat 6 cables (a premium of around 20% or so) but I think they’re worth the investment unless you’re on a strict budget.You may well have a favourite cable manufacturer – I’ve picked out Startech as their kit is usually great quality and won’t break the bank. They offer Cat 6a cables in lengths of 0.3m (a foot) up to 10.7m (35 feet) in black, blue or grey. They’re snagless and shielded with a wire gauge of 25 AWG.No doubt, if you did around Amazon or eBay, you’ll find cheaper unbranded or generic options. Your mileage here, with regard to quality, may vary – be sure to go with a product that has a good amount of positive reviews.

4. Cable Matters Cat6a Ethernet Cable (100 foot reel)

If you’re wiring up a whole house, or part of your house, then buying longer reels of Ethernet cable is going to be more cost efficient than using shorter, pre-made cables. Of course, that means you’ll have all of the fun of terminating the cable with wall plates and RJ-45 connectors (see below) but once you get the hang of it, terminating Ethernet cables is really straightforward.

Cat-6a-cable-100feet.jpgA quick search on Amazon finds this 100 foot reel of Cat 6a cable from Cable Matters that is reviewed really well. It’s priced at just $24.99 (at the time of writing) with a 200 foot reel priced at just $44.99. Again, the cable is shielded with a guage of 26 AWG. Need more? Well the same company offers a 1000 ft reel for $249.99.

5. AmazonBasics Cat 7 Cable

While you’ll readily find Cat 7 cables available on the market today, you probably find that Cat 6a is more than sufficient to meet the needs and speeds of 10G networks. The Cat 7 “standard” is not officially recognised by the TIA/EIA but is designed with even stricter specifications for crosstalk and system noise, via enhanced cable shielding and other methods.

cat8

As you’d expect, Cat 7 cables are pricier than Cat 6a but with minimal additional benefits in terms of speed or drop length. However, those wiring up a whole house for Ethernet may well be happy investing in the “best” cable available. Before splashing too much cash, however, you can check out the difference with Amazon’s reasonably cheap CAT 7 cables. They’re available in runs of 3 feet ($6.99) up to 25 feet ($16.99) which isn’t a lot to spend on an experiment.

6. Startech 10G PCIe Network Card (ST10000SPEX)startech-10g-pcieYou have your switch and your cables sorted out. You now need something to plug them into! Startech’s ST10000SPEX 10G Network Card adapter slots into a spare PCIe slot on your PC’s motherboard. Priced at $248.99 (at the time of writing) it’s certainly a good value option. It’s built on a Tehuti Networks controller, which may not please every network admin out there (I generally lean towards Intel chipsets, personally) but in terms of bang for the buck, it’s hard to complain.

7. Intel X540-T2 Converged Network Adapter

If you’re a stickler for Intel chipsets driving the bits around your network, you’ll need to spend a fair amount more than the Startech model on the Intel X540-T2 Converged Network Adapter (or one of the OEM variants rocking the same chipset).

 

intel-10g

Expect at pay at least $400 or so for the adapter card from a mainstream vendor, or once again, if you dig around you can find marketplace vendors on eBay and Amazon selling OEM cards for much less – again be wary and check those seller reviews.The additional outlay will get you twin Ethernet ports – great for failover support and, reportedly, a little less latency than experienced with Realtek-powered cards.

8. QNAP TS-831X 8-Bay NAS

One of the most useful tasks for a 10G network is moving data to or from a centralised storage device, such as a NAS. Higher-end NAS devices with 10G adapters are becoming increasingly common and the QNAP TS-831X is a great example.ts-831xIt’s an 8-bay NAS supporting 8 or 16 GB RAM ($899 or $999 respectively) and is powered by an ARM Cortex-A15 processor – not the highest spec CPU in the QNAP NAS range, but good enough.With a swathe of first and third-party apps available from QNAP’s app respository, the TS-831X makes for a fabulous prosumer or small business NAS.

9. ASUSTOR AS7008TNAS

Those of the Synology NAS persuasion have a little less choice overall, with regard to 10G – options are available but, at the time of writing, they’re either due a replacement model or are very expensive. So, we turn to ASUSTOR’s AS7008T for competition with QNAP.

as7008t
This 8-bay NAS doesn’t ship with an integrated 10G adapter, but can be upgraded during installation (see below). Priced around $1400, it’s definitely not a budget model, but it’s powered by an Intel Core i3 CPU which provides plenty of horsepower for media transcoding and other advanced NAS features.

10. ASUSTOR 10 Gb Dual Port Network Expansion Card/QNAP 10G Network Cards

Upgrading an ASUSTOR or QNAP NAS for 10G networking is very straightforward (as long as it’s a compatible model). ASUSTOR’s 10 Gb Dual Port Network Expansion Card is priced at $499 and provides twin 10G capable Ethernet sockets. It’s supported on a number of ASUSTOR NAS models, including the AS7008T / AS7010T / AS7009RD / AS7012RD / AS7009RDX and AS7012RDX.qnap-dual-portOver in the QNAP camp, the choice is even more comprehensive. QNAP offers a range of 10G networking accessories that start at just $138 for the single port 10 Gigabit SFP+ Network PCIe Expansion Card, up to $399 for the dual port variant.As always, be sure to check the manufacturer’s website to ensure the card you select is compatible with your NAS.

As you can see, while 10G networking still requires somewhat of an investment to elevate your data transfer speeds to the next level, manufacturers are introducing an increasing amount of kit with prosumer-level performance and pricing to match. If you’re wiring up you home with Ethernet cables, it’s well worth ensuring that you select cabling that will future-proof your network. For media, photography and video enthusiasts and other creative types, the time is right to start thinking about at your next network upgrade.

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Terry Walsh is the founder of We Got Served. He started the community in February 2007 with a mission to help families, tech enthusiasts everywhere figure out the technology needed to run the modern home and small business. He's the author of a number of guides to Windows, Windows Server and OS X Server and runs his own successful publishing business. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, Terry has been awarded Microsoft's prestigious Most Valuable Professional Award each year since 2008 for his work on We Got Served.
  • Nir Sever

    In fact, the Startech card at number 6 as well as all the single port cards shipped by QNAP and Synology at number 10 are based on a Tehuti Networks controller, not Realtek. In fact, every true single port 10GbE PCIe card or Thunderbolt adapter shipping today being 10GBase-T, NBASE-T or SFP+ is based on a Tehuti Networks controller

    • Hey Nir – thanks for taking the time to provide this feedback – it’s really appreciated. I saw that the QNAP cards were based on the Tehuti Networks controller – slipped up on the Startech card! Thanks for the correction – will update the article now.

  • hmm… first of all thanks for the great knowledge you shared terry, very informative and encouraging also…

    • Thanks Jon – don’t leave us hanging….! 🙂

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