Posted by Deliverator on February 3rd, 2008
On Ryan’s recommendation I purchased a Linksys EG008W Gigabit Switch for $99 at Fry’s to replace the craptacular Netgear GS108. The EG008W features 8 auto sensing 10/100/1000 ports and unlike the ports on the GS108 the Linksys properly detected the Gigabit capabilities of all 4 Gigabit NICs I connected to it. The ports are on the back, with indicator lights on the front, which I like. A minor criticism, but the ports on the back are numbered 8-1 vs 1-8 on the front LEDs. The power adapter is slim and was able to be plugged into a power strip with plugs on either side, which was not possible with the GS108. Ryan recalled that his EG008W had a relatively loud fan, which he ended up disabling. My unit appears to be completely passively cooled. Either that or the fan is awfully quiet. The EG008W has worked flawlessly with every NIC I have tested and does not appear to degrade performance when you have a mix of 100 and 1000 mbit devices connected.
I measured the data throughput performance between my fileserver and media center box, which both use on motherboard Gigabit controllers from different manufacturers. To measure the performance, I used a windows port of the popular *nix tool Iperf called Jperf. As you might have guessed from the name, Jperf includes a java based GUI front end to Iperf, making adjustments to various networking and testing parameters easy. Jperf also has the ability to graph results. I played around with a variety of TCP parameters to see if I could get better performance and also tried turning on the Jumbo frames support on both NICs. Unfortunately, the size of Jumbo frames is not standardized, although 9000 bytes seems to be the size most manufacturers support. One of my NICs does not allow one to manually specify the size in the driver and only allowed me to chose from a short list of preset values, none of which is 9000 bytes. So, in the end, no Jumbo frames for me. Even with the default TCP parameters, I was able to achieve 38.2 MB/s throughput, which is not to shabby. That is over 300 mbit of real world speed, more than enough to stream high def video around my network. If you are looking for a broadly compatible, reasonably inexpensive Gigabit switch that performs well under pressure, then you could do much worse than the Linksys EG008W.