Aside from the notably enhanced transfer speed and improved performance, the Gigabit Ethernet switch differs from Fast Ethernet switch in the following aspects.
Cost: According to IDC, the Gigabit Ethernet ports cost four times the price per port compared to a Fast Ethernet switch. The price gap between the Gigabit switch and Fast Ethernet switch may be the most significant factor impacting network engineers’ decision on upgrading.
Feature Sets: The Gigabit switch is usually built with the latest network management features, allowing network administrators to assign QoS and security policies to specific applications. These advanced features help guarantee service level agreements and enhance security. Fast Ethernet switches with similar management and security functions often demand a premium, in order to narrow the price gap compared to the Gigabit Ethernet switch.
Power Standard: The original PoE technology delivers 12.94 watts for wireless access points and other IP-enabled device. This fails to satisfy the power requirements of the newer equipment. The latest Gigabit switches support the enhanced PoE+ standard that delivers 30 watts of power. Still, vendors are not updating their existing Fast Ethernet switches with the new power standard.
Power Consumption: Except for providing higher bandwidth and more robust management, Gigabit Ethernet switches are also more energy efficient than Fast Ethernet switches. Enterprises could lower their power consumption by deploying Gigabit Ethernet switch at the network edge.
Future Growth: The Gigabit switch on the network edge may prepare your local area network for the upcoming convergence or the next technology refresh.
Gigabit Switch vs Fast Ethernet Switch: How to Choose?
The cost of Gigabit switches has dropped dramatically, so even common users can afford to have it at home or in small businesses. You still have to weigh the choice between the Gigabit Ethernet and Fast Ethernet switch carefully. Certainly, there are many good reasons to migrate to Gigabit switch as they boast obvious advantages of speed and performance. At the same time, not every type of business requires that speed. If you only plan to expand your internet traffic to 100Mbps and beyond, or simply use the internet for non-resource-intensive tasks like e-mail, instant messaging, or surfing the web, you may not see enough benefit to upgrading to Gigabit switch. Instead, a Fast Ethernet switch that has one or more Gigabit uplinks can also justify the need.
If you need to perform other network-intensive tasks, such as hosting files on a server, or playing online games, you would likely benefit from a Gigabit switch. In addition, medium to large enterprises that have multiple users that access the same network device, or need to add devices that require PoE+ for power, might want to consider upgrading the edge to Gigabit because it will be more efficient. The Gigabit switch comes in various port configurations, such as 8 port Gigabit switch, 16 port Gigabit switch, 24 port Gigabit switch, etc to satisfy different cabling needs.