Gigabit Switch vs Fast 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 the 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 Switch: Still Can Be Used As Desktop Switch

Fast Ethernet is known as the updated version of the original Ethernet, which further upgrades the speed of Ethernet. It increases the transmission rate of Ethernet from 10 Megabit per second (10 Mbps) to 100 Megabits per second (100 Mbps). The 10/100 protocol, which can operate at 100 megabits per second, is supported by the Fast Ethernet switch as well.

Fast Ethernet switches are typically equipped with RJ45 ports to connect PCs, servers, routers, etc. via Cat5 cable. Many Fast Ethernet switches also feature high-speed uplink ports. Through these ports, copper/fiber modules can connect fiber optic or UTP cabling, allowing the switch to support speeds of 1Gbps or higher.

Fast Ethernet Switch

Gigabit Ethernet Switch: Address Bottleneck at the Network Edge

The Gigabit Ethernet is ten times faster than Fast Ethernet. It is designed to meet the demands of internet service providers for high speeds.

Gigabit Ethernet switch is a higher version of Fast Ethernet switch, supporting transmission speeds of up to 1000 Mbps. Additionally, it is compatible with the legacy 10/100 standard.

The Gigabit network switch, typically constructed with multiple RJ45 interfaces and/or SFP slots, works well with twisted-pair copper cable and SFP optical transceivers. It is common for some Gigabit switches to also include a few 10G SFP+ ports for uplinking a 10GB switch with a higher speed.

     " Also check: What Is a Gigabit Switch?

Gigabit Ethernet Switch

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

In addition to enhanced transmission speed and improved performance, Gigabit Ethernet switches differs from Fast Ethernet switches in the following aspects.

Cost: According to IDC, each Gigabit Ethernet port costs four times as much as a Fast Ethernet port. Price difference between Gigabit switches and the Fast Ethernet switches may be key to network engineers’ decision for upgrade.

Feature Sets: The Gigabit switch usually has the latest network management features, allowing network administrators to assign QoS and security policies. These advanced functions ensure service level agreements and improve security. Fast Ethernet switches with similar management and security features typically require a premium price.

PoE Standard: The initial PoE technology provides 12.94 watts for wireless access points and other IP-enabled devices. This is not sufficient to satisfy the power requirements of the newer equipment. The latest Gigabit switches support the enhanced PoE+ standard, which delivers 30 watts of power. However, vendors are not adopting the new Power over Ethernet standard into their existing Fast Ethernet switches.

Power Consumption: In addition to offering increased bandwidth and more robust management, Gigabit Ethernet switches are also more energy efficient. Enterprises could reduce their power consumption by deploying Gigabit switches at the network edge.

Future Growth: Gigabit switches offer great flexibility, which can prepare your local area network (LAN) for the upcoming convergence or the next technology refresh.

Gigabit Switch vs Fast Ethernet Switch: 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.


What does a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port mean?

The 10/100/1000 Ethernet port represents the data transfer speed that can be handled by network hardware. A Gigabit network switch supports up to 1000 Mbps. And it can also negotiate connections with network devices running at slower speeds of 10Mbps or 100Mbps.

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.

You might be interested in