Fast Ethernet Switch vs Gigabit Ethernet Switch: What Is the Difference?

Updated on Dec 30, 2021

Gigabit Ethernet switch and Fast Ethernet switch play a significant role in the network edge. What is the difference between thEthernet is a family of wired computer networking technologies commonly used in local area networks (LAN), metropolitan area networks (MAN), and wide area networks (WAN). This technology was introduced in the 1990s and is covered under the IEEE 802.3u standard. Ethernet is perceived as a low-cost network connectivity solution because it allows businesses to expand their network without disturbing the existing workflow and allows all connected computers in a network to communicate through a single cable. There are several types of Ethernet, which are mainly differentiated based on their speeds. Of these, Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet are the two Ethernet types used most frequently. How do these types differ? Which is the right Ethernet speed for you? This article will help you determine which switch type can satisfy your real needs.e Gigabit switch and the Fast Ethernet switch? How to choose the right Ethernet switch? This article will go through the basics of Gigabit Ethernet and Fast Ethernet switch, and compare these two switches to help you make a viable decision.

Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet: What Are They?

Fast Ethernet(FE): 

Introduced in 1995, Fast Ethernet has a transmission speed of 100 Mbps. Covered under 802.3u standard, a few Fast Ethernet types include 100 Base-FX, 100 Base-T4, and 100 Base-TX.  The “100” is common to all and it indicates the transmission speed of the network, which is 100 Mbps. Base refers to the baseband signaling. In this, T stands for twisted pair cable, and F stands for fiber – both referring to the type of cable used for signal carrying. The term 4 or X refers to the line code signal used.  FE supports full-duplex and half-duplex modes. Auto-negotiation was introduced along with FE, which enables two devices to transmit data through a commonly shared connection.

Fast Ethernet Switch

Gigabit Ethernet(GE): 

Introduced in 1999, Gigabit Ethernet has a transmission speed of 1000 Mbps. It is today one of the widely used Ethernet types. It supports full-duplex and half-duplex modes and is covered under the framework of 803.2.  It was first introduced over fiber optic cables in 1999 and twisted pair cables were introduced later. There are different layer standards of GE, such as 1000Base-SX, 1000Base-LX, 1000Base-CX, and 1000Base-T. Of these, 1000 Base-SX and 1000-Base LX use fiber optics cable 1000Base-CX uses 2 pairs of STP and 1000Base-T uses 4 pairs of STP.

Gigabit Ethernet Switch

What are the Types of Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet?

Fast Ethernet refers to Ethernet standards that offer data transfer speeds of 100 Mbps (Megabits per second). There are two primary types of Fast Ethernet:

1. 100BASE-TX: This type of Fast Ethernet uses Category 5 (Cat5) or higher twisted-pair copper cables for data transmission. It operates over two pairs of wires (pins 1-2 and 3-6) in the Ethernet cable and supports full-duplex mode for simultaneous data transmission and reception.

2. 100BASE-FX: This type of Fast Ethernet utilizes fiber optic cables for data transmission. It operates over two optical fibers and supports full-duplex mode as well. 100BASE-FX is commonly used for long-distance connections, where copper cables might have limitations.


Gigabit Ethernet refers to Ethernet standards that offer data transfer speeds of 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second). There are several types of Gigabit Ethernet:

1. 1000BASE-T: Also known as Gigabit Ethernet over twisted-pair copper cables, 1000BASE-T is the most common type of Gigabit Ethernet. It operates over Category 5e (Cat5e) or higher twisted-pair copper cables and supports full-duplex mode for simultaneous data transmission and reception.

2. 1000BASE-SX: This type of Gigabit Ethernet utilizes multi-mode fiber optic cables for data transmission. It is commonly used for short-distance connections, such as within a data center or campus network.

3. 1000BASE-LX: 1000BASE-LX also utilizes fiber optic cables but is designed for longer-distance connections compared to 1000BASE-SX. It is suitable for connections spanning several kilometers.

4. 1000BASE-ZX: This type of Gigabit Ethernet is designed for even longer-distance connections, often reaching up to 70 kilometers or more. It is commonly used in metropolitan and wide-area networks.

5. 1000BASE-CX: This type of Gigabit Ethernet utilizes balanced copper cables with specialized connectors for short-distance connections within data centers or between networking equipment.

6. 1000BASE-TX: This is a less common type of Gigabit Ethernet that uses Category 6 (Cat6) or higher twisted-pair copper cables for data transmission. It is backward compatible with 100BASE-TX and supports full-duplex mode.

Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet: What Is the Difference?

 Comparison Features  Fast Ethernet  Gigabit Ethernet
 Speed  100 Mbps  1Gbps
 Configuration  Simple  Slightly complicated
 Delays  More delays  Less delays
 Coverage Distance  Can cover a distance up to 10km  Can cover a further distance up to 70km
 Round Trip Delay  100-500 bit times  4000 bit times
 Transmission Modes  Full duplex and half duplex Full duplex and half duplex
Device Requirements
Requires no specific devices Requires specially designed cables and Ethernet switches
Cost Less experience  More experience 


Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet: How to Choose?

Before choosing between Gigabit Ethernet switches and Fast Ethernet switches, the current deployment, budget, transmission speed requirements, and future needs should be taken into consideration.

Fast Ethernet Switch-----Slower Speed at a Lower Price

Gigabit switches have dropped in price so much that even common users can afford them in home or small business applications. Certainly, there are many good reasons to switch to Gigabit switches because they offer significant advantages in speed and performance.

However, not every type of enterprise needs that speed. If enterprises plan to scale internet traffic to 100Mbps and perform simple activities like instant messaging and Web surfing, upgrading to a Gigabit switch may not be much beneficial. On the other hand, a Fast Ethernet switch with one or more Gigabit uplinks can also justify the need.

Gigabit Ethernet Switch-----Faster Speed and Great Flexibility at a Higher Price

A Gigabit switch may be a better fit for you if you need to do network-intensive tasks like hosting files on a server or playing online games. Additionally, Gigabit switches are more energy efficient. Medium to large businesses that require more PoE+ powered devices or have multiple users may need to consider upgrading the edge to Gigabit.

What's more, 1G Ethernet switches are available in a variety of port configurations, including the 8-port, 16-port, and 24-port models, meeting a variety of cabling requirements.


How to get a better ethernet connection?

1. Ensure secure cable connections.

2. Check for cable damage and replace if necessary.

3. Connect directly to the router or modem.

4. Restart router and modem.

5. Update networking devices.

6. Minimize signal interference and distance-related speed loss.

Is 10/100 Ethernet fast enough for high-bandwidth applications?

For some sites on the same LAN and some level of network traffic, 100Mb/s is fast enough for gaming, streaming audio and streaming 4K UHD TV. If 100Mb/s isn’t enough, Gigabit Ethernet (1000Mb/s) will be the ideal choice for you.

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