[Update for 2022] This post was roughly two years old, and quite a few new switches have come to the market during this time. I have updated the post with some excellent low-cost 2.5GbE options, and we are even starting to see some affordable 10GbE options. I also added some POE switches.
10GBASE-T was defined back in 2006, I am not sure when switches and network cards became available, but they have been around for years. While most technology becomes affordable for the consumer in a short period of time, 10GbE has been glacially slow to drop in price.
To put it into context, the first iPhone launched on 29th June 2007; this was followed up a year later with the first Android phone, the HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1. Back then, most of us were still using Nokia, and the iconic Nokia N95 was launched in 2007.
Wi-Fi 6 is driving the need for multi-gigabit
Things appear to be changing very slowly. With the growth of Wi-Fi 6, we saw many access points and consumer routers and mesh systems integrate multi-gig ports.
In 2022, we are starting to see more Wi-Fi 6E hardware, and most of these will feature 2.5GbE or higher because the 6Ghz band running at 160Mhz channel width should easily exceed gigabit speeds. Wi-Fi 7 is also around the corner, and that will bring further speed gains, with the potential to exceed 2500Mbps throughput.
Content creators need multi-gigabit network connections
There has been a shift in consumer networking needs too. Being a content creator has become a ubiquitous profession, and the constant drive to be the best has led many to produce their content in 4K or higher. This all requires huge files leading many to invest in NAS storage or servers but being limited to around 120MB/s over gigabit can be frustrating with very large files.
For the past couple of years, there have been more motherboards launched with native multi-gigabit ports too. They often come with a high premium, but they tend to be targeted at the above content creators who already spend a lot on their gear.
With the launch of the Intel LGA 1700, the majority of B660 and Z690 motherboards have 2.5GbE.
Muti-gigabit copper RJ45 switches
Switches are the last thing to drop in price, but recently there have been a few launches that would indicate that multi-gigabit is getting cheaper. Specifically, new 2.5gbps switches have become very affordable, it is not ideal, but at 280MB/s, you can easily max out the speeds of a single spinning HDD.
|TRENDNET - ACCESSORIES 6-PORT 10G SWITCH||£197.50||Buy on Amazon|
|NETGEAR 10-Port Gigabit/10G Ethernet Unmanaged Switch...||£175.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Ubiquiti Networks US-16-XG UniFi-Switch, US 16 XG, 12 x 10...||143 Reviews||Buy on Amazon|
|Zyxel 8-Port Multi-Gig + 2 10G Fiber NebulaFlex Smart...||£465.00||Buy on Amazon|
Switches offering 10-gigabit connections are still painfully expensive. If you don’t mind SFP, you can save a lot, and some switches offer the combination of the two giving you the option to have servers or PCs all in one room on SFP then existing copper ethernet for the other devices.
In 2022, TRENDnet came out with a couple of quite affordable unmanaged 10GbE switches:
- TRENDnet TEG-S750
- 5 x 10G RJ-45 ports
- TRENDnet TEG-S762 (Reviewed Here)
- 4 x 2.5G RJ-45 ports
- 2 x 10G RJ-45 ports
There are currently no UK suppliers, but you can buy and import them from Amazon US.
- TEG-S762: $229.99
- TEG-S750: $329.99 – Not currently in stock
Then Netgear GS110MX is the cheapest 10GbE option I can find with just 2 10GbE ports then an additional 8 Gigabit ports. You can buy it from Amazon for £146.
The Ubiquiti Unifi 16 XG is a touch shy of £500, and you get 4 x 10GbE RJ45 ports then 12 x 10-Gigabit fibre SFP+ ports. It is one of the best value options you can buy, but at £500, it is too expensive for most users.
The Zyxel XS1930-10 NebulaFlex could be a bit better value at around £400 but with 8 x 10GbE RJ45 ports, then 2x 10-Gigabit fibre SFP+ ports.
In 2021, we started to see quite a few genuinely affordable 2.5GbE switches. I have reviewed quite a few, and if you are happy with a 5 to 8-port unmanaged switch, then they are a bargain.
- Zyxel MG-108 8-port
- Zyxel MG-105 5-port
- QNAP QSW-1105-5T 5-port
- TRENDnet TEG-S350 5-port
- TRENDnet TEG-S380 8-port
2.5GbE POE Switches
|TP-Link JetStream TL-SG3210XHP-M2 - V1 - Switch - 10...||£349.99||Buy on Amazon|
|NETGEAR MS510TXUP 8-PORT POE++ + 2XSFP+ ULTRA60 MULTI-G/10G...||£669.99||Buy on Amazon|
Multi-gig POE switches used to be quite rare, but with the growth of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, more access points have 2.5GbE or higher ports and therefore benefit from an equivalently capable switch. Therefore there are a growing number of options, but at the time of writing, it would appear that a lot of these are in short supply.
I have previously recommended:
- TP-Link TL-SG3210XHP-M2
- Netgear MS510TXPP
- Netgear MS510TXUP
All of these appear out of stock on both Amazon and Broadbandbuyer. Scan states the ETA for the Netgear MS510TXPP is November 2022!
I personally use the excellent EnGenius ECS2512FP, but at almost £1k it hardly belongs on a list of cheapest multi-gigabit switches.
Ubiquiti appears to be the best current option with available stock. The Ubiquiti Switch Enterprise 8 PoE is an 8-port 2.5GbE POE switch with 2x10G SFP+ is €550 / £472. It can only supply 120W, which is very much on the low end, but it is enough to drive a few access points (the U6-LR has a maximum power consumption of just 16.5W).
If you are doing a large commercial installation (or wiring up your whole home), then the USW-Enterprise-48-PoE seems to be good value for money at €1835 / £1600, providing you with 48 x 2.5GbE ports with 720W total PoE supply,
10GbE POE Switches
These are even more rare and more expensive.
The Zyxel XS1930-12HP is about the only option I know of at a semi-affordable price at just under £1k. This has eight 10GbE RJ45 Ethernet PoE++ ports, then two 10GbE RJ45 Ethernet ports and two 10GbE SFP+ ports.
There are a growing number of affordable multi-gig switches. In particular, if you are happy with unmanaged switches, there is a lot of choices. You also no longer have to resort to SFP for an affordable way to get 10GbE.
[Original Post 30th July 2020]
[Updated on 20th June 2022] Added several new switches for 2.5GbE, 10GbE and added two new POE categories.
Last update on 2023-03-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API