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According to the manufacturer specification, even my rather plain desktop computer has "Gigabit Ethernet". So when I want to copy large files over the LAN (not Internet) it would make sense to have a gigabit switch.

I'm searching eBay for a gigabit switch for a planned home network upgrade. The products I find are all labeled "gigabit" but they all have 24 x 10/100Mbit autosensing ports and sometimes 2 x 10/100/1000Mbit autosensing ports.

It was my understanding that 10/100 is ancient and that modern computers have network interfaces that work with 1000Mbit, so it would make sense to get a switch that has 24 x 1000Mbit ports.

Did I misunderstand, or are sellers (deliberately?) mislabeling older hardware?

(Let's not dive into wired vs. wireless networks and how "N" wireless is fast. You'd be right, but not answering the question.)

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I have a 10+ year old Gigabit switch at home so they certainly do exist. – ChrisF Mar 21 '12 at 15:25
10/100 is not ancient. You are buying what likely is USED hardware and since 10/100/1000 Mbit are newer you have to purchase devices newer. Wireless will always be slower then wired so your statement is sort of pointless. The point of this comment is your simply looking at OLD hardware. – Ramhound Mar 21 '12 at 15:29
@Ramhound: Thank you for confirming my suspicion. I was looking on eBay first for cost reasons but I might have to purchase new to get real gigabit then. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 21 '12 at 15:32
Small Gigabit switches (5 or 8 ports) are available online under $80 nowadays, that should be perfect for you. – Shadok Mar 21 '12 at 16:14
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You are correct, most modern computers do support Gigabit Ethernet. However, many desktop/home oriented switches are going to be lower-end, especially when you search on eBay, and will typically have a couple of Gigabit ports (for connecting the switch to other switches), and the rest will often be 10/100 ports.

If you do a little more searching, however, it's easy to find all Gigabit switches. If you do a Google Search for gigabit switch, you'll get plenty of results that have all Gigabit ports. Prices (as of right now) range from $20us for a cheap (low-end) 5 port desktop switch, up to hundreds of dollars for a higher end 16 or 24 port switch.

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Your search wasn't ideal: you can easy find user-level 5-8 ports-switch of 1G, but - all copper.

Multico, DLink (can't recommend crap), NetGear, Trendnet. You saw at operation-level switches, where last mile still is copper-line (and 100 is good for operator-userplans even in Europe)

MultiCo EW series (use now) (EW-4008B 8 1G ports, unmanaged, EW-4008iW 8 1G ports, VLAN, Qos, managed), EW-70164 Gigabit E-net Switch 16-port (16UTP, 10/100/1000Mbps, 4-port combo SFP)

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Common switches will only have 24 10/100Mbit ports and two 1000Mbit ports. The Gigabit ports are intended to link two switches together. (They were when I studied for my CCNA anyway).

Depending on the NIC (Network Interface Card) you have in your PC, if it's rated at 10/100Mbits then the NIC and the switch will auto negotiate and use the highest speed possible. So if the NIC and the Switch both agree on 100Mbits then you will have 100Mbits bandwidth on that link.

However, if you plug your PC using a 10/100Mbit NIC to a port on the switch that is a 10/100/1000Mbit port, the link will only ever use 100Mbit bandwidth, because the NIC wouldn't be able to handle the 1000Mbit transmission.

10/100Mbit isn't ancient, it's very common and will remain common for years to come. As far as I know, switches that have 24x 1000Mbit ports are primarily used in data centres and haven't found the need to be used in normal office network situations. Once they start being used to replace the normal 10/100Mbit switches being used now then you will see the 10/100Mbit NIC's being replaced and made obsolete.

That's my understanding anyway, it's been a good 6 years since I finished my CCNA!

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My rather plain desktop computer has "Gigabit Ethernet" according to the manufacturer specification. So when I want to copy large files over the LAN (not Internet) it would make sense to have a gigabit switch. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 21 '12 at 16:02
But would the NIC on your server be 1000Mbit? You would need to remove all bottlenecks to get maximum performance from it. – mickburkejnr Mar 21 '12 at 16:04
Let's assume for the sake of the question that all my computers have gigabit. I'm nearly certain that's true anyway. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 21 '12 at 16:08
Well go for a Gigabit switch but if the server has a 10/100Mbps NIC it'll be pointless using the gigabit switch until the server's NIC is upgraded to a gigabit NIC too. – mickburkejnr Mar 21 '12 at 16:14
My modem, my router, and my computer all have a 1000Mbit port. While this answer has good information its not 100% valid. If you go to the store and purchase a new household networking device your going to get 10/100/1000 ports. Heck I think my Vonage device even has a 10/100/1000 port. – Ramhound Mar 21 '12 at 18:10

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