Zyxel 8-Port 2.5G Multi-Gigabit Unmanaged Switch (Model MG-108) (Evaluation)
If you’re looking for a little more oomph in the wired connections on your network, upgrading to 2.5 Gbps is a start. This will generally cost less than heading for 5GB or 10GB options, which would also require you to run new cables (Cat 7 or 8 preferably). Worse yet, you may be limited to cables already installed in your walls. Therefore, as long as you have Cat5e (at least), you can upgrade to 2.5GB connections anywhere. All you’ll need are the devices that support it. Devices like Zyxel 8-Port 2.5G Multi-Gigabit Unmanaged Switch.
That being said, these devices are still generally expensive compared to your typical 1GB solutions (which you find in most modern routers and switches today). This includes the price of the option that we are discussing today. Fortunately, these costs are usually limited to the switch / router options and not so much to the devices that connect to them. You can usually find a 2.5 Gbps Ethernet Adapter for your computer at around $ 30, allowing a computer or laptop to browse a 2.5 Gbps network at a relatively affordable price. The price of these adapters is quite comparable to your normal 1 Gbps options, so that’s a plus.
Zyxel’s 8-port option (model: MG-108) currently sells for around $ 169. Compared to a 8-port 1 Gbit / s option (which average between $ 20 and $ 60 depending on what level of switch you’re looking for), that’s quite the jump. However, once you’ve done that, it’s as easy as running Cat5e or better on all of your systems and then purchasing the adapters mentioned above for each one. Now all of these systems have a much larger pipeline between them for transferring data back and forth.
You are limited to transfers between these systems / devices as most routers do not yet offer 2.5 Gbps +. This is because you normally won’t (yet) find a multi-gig internet connection for mainstream ISP accounts. This does not mean, however, that they do not exist. Take Netgear’s Nighthawk RAXE500 router, which offers 2.5 Gbps and multi-giga support, for example. Netgear also has a Nighthawk X10 with a 10G SFP + connection on the back that can be used to access a 10G switch, like the Zyxel 12-Port Multi-Gig Switch Managed Web Switch (Model XGS1210-12). So the options are indeed out there. They are just generally expensive.
So for now you can think of it as a perennial when you break into a multi-gig router and internet connection. Instead, you can focus on your local LAN parts, or the media or NAS collections you manage on the network.
Business / corporate networks are a whole different beast. Where devices like this are a given. Especially if you have web servers hosted on such networks.
So what about the one we’re talking about today? The Zyxel MG-108s is an 8-port option that offers 2.5GB ports through and through, with a total switching capacity of up to 40Gbps (which you probably couldn’t achieve if you were trying, so it is also likely a theoretical threshold). This is an incredibly powerful switch, at least for the 2.5 Gbps (2.5 GbE) market.
As mentioned, it’s a bit pricey. However, this is nothing new compared to everything else. It seems to maintain a neutral stance on this price, comparing it to similar brands like TRENDnet. TP-Link and QNAP.
It offers great scalability to your home (or office) network. It is unmanaged, so it does not require any experience on your part to set it up. Just plug it into the wall, then start plugging your various Ethernet circuits into it just like you would any (unmanaged) switch.
It comes with an adaptable power plug so you can use it literally anywhere in the world (mostly). In view of this, we were only able to test the normal American standard ourselves.
The unit uses a bit more power than your typical switch. It’s not too bad, but it’s rated at a maximum power consumption of 12.24 watts (we’ve seen an average of around 6-7W in our own use so far). This means that it will contribute to a bit more power consumption on your network, but again, not bad. About using a working LED bulb. You’ll notice a little something if you add more items every year, but it would be easy to compare your own bandwidth improvement desires.
The switch offers plenty of ventilation on each side, as well as on the back. This is good because it can sometimes get a little hot (more energy = more heat). If you can, you’ll want to keep it in a well-ventilated room, just like you would with a powerful router.
From a performance standpoint, it handles data between multiple devices very well. It was easy for us to test this as parts of the network here operate at up to 10Gbps. So we have more than enough devices and scenarios to test it out.
We’ve been using it for several days without any disappointment, including 4 systems we’ve connected to that use 10G adapters (such as the OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet Adapter) that really put it to the test.
The Switch will continue to be tested in the future as we use it for various projects to make sure there is nothing we missed. If anything new comes up, we’ll make sure to update the information here.
If you’re an avid gamer or professional, or host large amounts of data on your network between computers or NAS storage solutions, this is a great way to wrap it all up. There is so much power to be shared between all devices thanks to the 8 ports using the full speeds of 2.5 Gbps.
The switch seems to be pretty stable / reliable, even when it’s in hell with all ports busy and occupied by devices that support that speed or higher. Of course, they’re all limited to 2.5Gbps because the switch can’t go faster per Ethernet port. However, it allows us to avoid bottlenecks everywhere else.
As mentioned, it’s a bit pricey. However, it does not deviate from the mid-market price range. It fits exactly where it’s supposed to. You might even see the price drop over the next few years if 2.5 Gbps gets closer to the norm in the devices you typically buy.
| Our assessment
| Average price *
* Average price is based on the publication time of this article
- Fast Ethernet IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-TX
- IEEE802.3ab 1000BASE-T
- IEEE 802.3bz 2.5GBASE-T
- Full-duplex IEEE 802.3x operation and flow control
- IEEE 802.1p QoS
- IEEE 802.3 Nway auto-negotiation
- Switching capacity: MG-108: 40 Gbit / s
- Switching transfer rate: MG-108: 29.8 Mpps
- MAC address table: 16K
- Packet buffer: 12MB
- Jumbo frame supports up to 12KB
- 100M, 1G and 2.5G ports for multiple speeds
- Fanless and silent
- Auto-MDI / MDIX in all ports
- Input: 100 – 240 VAC, 50/60 Hz
- Output: 12 V DC / 1.5 A
- MG-108: 12.24 watts max.
- Certifications: CE, EAC, FCC, BSMI Class B
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