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8 Port Gigabit Switch Roundup - Performance, Closing Thoughts

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My performance testing was quick and dirty, since a true switch performance test would require a Spirent SmartBits test platform or its equivalent, which I don't have access to. I used two computers with 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon 3000+ processors, both running Windows XP SP2. Yes, I know that the Windows TCP/IP stack isn't the fastest, but it's what I had handy. (Pummel me in the comments if that's what you enjoy...)

The gigabit adapters in each machine were Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop PCI cards with drivers downloaded from Intel's support website. I tried both 4 and 9K jumbo frame settings, but settled on using 4K, since it seemed to work best with my setup. Short (under 6') CAT 5e cables were used to connect each computer to the switch.

I ran separate transmit and receive tests using IxChariot, with the console and Endpoint 1 running on the P4 machine. So the data directions are with respect to the Intel system. I used the IxChariot high_performance_throughput script, running 1 minute tests in each direction using TCP/IP. This script uses a 10,000,000 byte filesize and 65,535 byte send and receive buffers and blasts data as fast as it can.

Figures 1 and 2 plot the average transmit and receive throughputs reported by IxChariot for the six switches. They also include reference runs using the same two computers connected via a 100 Mbps switch and the same two CAT 5e cables attached to each machine connected via a generic, i.e. not bandwidth or Category rated, RJ45 inline coupler. The Gigabit Straight cable runs were done without jumbo frames and with 4K jumbo.

Transmit Performance Comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: Transmit Performance Comparison

Figure 1 clearly shows three things:

  • There is a significant difference (~20%) between not using jumbo frames and 4K jumbo frames
  • There is little difference among switches
  • Best-case % throughput loss is significantly less for 100 Mbps than gigabit Ethernet (7% vs. 30%)

Table 2 summarizes the percent of throughput loss for each switch and the no jumbo frame case, using the straight cable, 4k jumbo frame test as a reference. All transmit results are within 5%, which I think can safely be said to be within measurement resolution.

Product Transmit (Mbps) % Loss
Gigabit Straight cable -no jumbo 551.7 20%
Linksys SD2008 658.2 5%
Belkin F5D5141-8 666.8 4%
Trendnet TEG-S8 671.8 3%
Netgear GS108 685.4 1%
D-Link DGS-2208 685.7 1%
Netgear GS608 692.7 0%
Gigabit Straight cable - 4k jumbo 692.5 -
Table 2: Transmit throughput relative loss

Similar conclusions can be reached using Figure 2 and Table 3, which summarize receive test results.

Receive Performance Comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: Receive Performance Comparison

Receive loss is a bit of a puzzle, since the percentage throughput reduction for the Belkin and Linksys switches is twice that of the other switches. But I'm reluctant to attribute the loss to anything other than measurement error, since both Vitesse and Broadcom-based products show higher losses.

Product Receive (Mbps) % Loss
Gigabit Straight cable -no jumbo 578.6 23%
Belkin F5D5141-8 668.8 12%
Linksys SD2008 689.5 9%
D-Link DGS-2208 728.6 4%
Netgear GS108 734.4 3%
Trendnet TEG-S8 734.5 3%
Netgear GS608 742.7 2%
Gigabit Straight cable -4k jumbo 755.8 -
Table 3: Receive throughput relative loss

Closing Thoughts

So there you have it. It's nice to see that manufacturers have gotten the word that jumbo frames count, even if only for bragging rights and to make a potential sale-killer go away. Every one of these switches automatically supports jumbo frames up to 9K, although it would be nice if Linksys and Belkin added this information to product boxes and the information posted on their websites.

Note that when consider the throughput loss data you have seen, your mileage may vary for jumbo frame performance improvement and actual throughput obtained. Pumping bits along at gigabit speeds demands much more from your OS, computer bus architecture (and speed!) and TCP/IP stack. So those of you with speedier machines than mine might see faster speeds and lower throughput loss.

But what won't make a difference is the switch you choose. You can buy any of these products and feel confident that they aren't a throughput bottleneck.

Check out the slideshow Be sure to see the slide show for the inside details on each switch.

Related Items:

Slideshow: Six 8 port Gigabit Switches
QuickView: NETGEAR GS108 ProSafe 8 Port Gigabit Desktop Switch
How To Add Ports To A Router
NETGEAR GS105E Briefly Reviewed
When Flow Control is not a Good Thing

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Netgear reliability

Overall rating: 
Reviewed by John Russell
March 23, 2013
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Based on this review I bought two Netgear GS605 v2s and a GS608 about two years ago.

Two of these units are now running slow and won't connect at gigabit speeds. One of them can only manage 10Mbps. This is a known problem with the Netgear units - the capacitors fail - and the cure is to replace the components - or throw the unit away.

The Netgears have plastic cases and passive cooling - they run hot inside. Perhaps this contributes to the component failure. Comments on Netgear's user forum suggests that the failing caps are poor quality pieces.

The GS108 by the way has a better reputation.

Whilst they weren't expensive, I would have paid more for a reliable unit, saving time and effort trouble-shooting the problem.

I'm back looking for advice on replacement kit and it would be helpful to have some information on reliability, and which manufacturers produce longer-lasting equipment.


@Well... I found my switch

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Reviewed by Wilkenism
March 13, 2012
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Agree mostly... however, how do work out that the plastic case on the GS608 is any less cheap than the plastic case on the others (apart from the GS108 of course with its much more satisfactory metal case)?

Would still buy one of the Netgears though, have used Netgear net gear (ho ho) ever since I started networking and for the price you can't get much better (apart from some of their very consumer oriented stuff).

Nice real world review by the way, jumbo frames are the way to go!!


Well... I found my switch

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Reviewed by Slipdipidis
March 12, 2010
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Nice test. In all honesty, Using SmartBits wouldn't have produced any better results (more technical details, but the speed calculation algorithms are most likely the same).

The Netgear GS608 thankfully appears to lack certain cons (cheap plastic molded casing, undersized heat sink, etc) while holding some definite pro's (fastest transmit and receive throughput, reputable and recognizeable branding, lowest "claim to actual switching margin" percentage (claim = 1024Mbits (1Gbit) per second Actual = 742.7Mbits per second (due to standard protocol and transport layer overhead)) The Netgear GS608 comes in at only 27.5% below it's tested receive speed and only 32.4% below advertised transmit speed when using a 4k Jumbo frame.

Depending on how visible this page becomes on Google... I think you've just persuaded a few people to consider the GS608 over all others. At least until the next gen comes along. Thanks.