Many of us have outgrown the capabilities of 1GbE-based networks but don’t have the budget to upgrade to the ridiculously priced enterprise 10GbE solutions. ASUS is attempting to change that after releasing their 10GbE switch for a “measly” 250USD and now a PCIe add-on card for 99USD.
Asus rounded out the branded 10GbE ecosystem today with a desktop add-in network interface card to go with the previously released XG-U2008 unmanaged switch ($250 on Amazon). For less than $100 you get massive bandwidth with priority queuing for enhanced gaming support.
Finally the value proposition for 10GbE is reasonable, and for those of us running home/PLEX servers with 4K films this will be a very welcome upgrade.
The XG-C100C supports 10GbE and the latest 2.5 and 5GbE standards. The lower bandwidth standards have yet to appear in a home-focused switch, but when they’re available, they’ll allow you to use legacy CAT5e cabling to avoid the expense of running new wire throughout your home. In our testing, we’ve found that users can still use CAT5e to achieve 10GbE speeds for short distances.
Another problem for people looking to do a whole-house upgrade was the need to rerun all their cabling and replace it with Cat6a to satisfy the shielding standards that 10GbE requires. By supporting the 2.5GbE and 5GbE standards, shorter runs of less than 40-50 meters will still be able to run at higher speeds (albeit not 10gbps).
The NIC will set your system back four PCI Express 3.0 lanes as required by the Aquantia AQtion Client Controller. There are two specifications that make this product stand out from other 10GbE NICs shipping today. The first is the low $99 price tag. Amazon already has a product page for the XG-C100C, but doesn’t have stock at time of writing. The MSRP is low and we expect pricing to get better over time. The second standout feature is related to why the market has adopted the AQtion AQC107 controller: it consumes very little power, and thus produces very little heat. The products we’ve seen use a low-cost heat sink–or no heat sink at all, in the case on onboard designs. Both features run contrary to enterprise-focused products, which are expensive and require cooling beyond what most of us use in our quiet desktops.