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Windows 7: Faster switch?

09 Nov 2014   #1
badspell68

Windows 7
 
 
Faster switch?

I think the weak link in my network is the speed of my current switch. What speeds are out there and what would a good speed-range be for a home network?

Thanks!


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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09 Nov 2014   #2
strollin

W10 Pro desktop, W10 laptop, W10 laptop, W10 Pro tablet (all 64-bit)
 
 

What speed is your current switch? What speed NICs are in your computers?

There are essentially 2 speed classes for switches/routers. There's 10/100 which has been around for many years and there is the newer 10/100/1000, also known as gigabit. If I was going to buy a switch today I would make sure it was a gigabit switch. However, simply adding a gigabit switch won't necessarily speed things up. In order for your network to take advantage of the faster switch, you need to also have gigabit NICs in your machines. In addition, low quality cables or long cable runs may defeat adding gigabit hardware.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Nov 2014   #3
badspell68

Windows 7
 
 

Some have old and some have new NICs.

I'm going to get a Netgear 10/100/1000, but are there other features I should be looking for on the switch?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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09 Nov 2014   #4
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by badspell68 View Post
Some have old and some have new NICs.

I'm going to get a Netgear 10/100/1000, but are there other features I should be looking for on the switch?
If your home LAN devices are "wired", there's really no need to spend any more money than for say a standard "unmanaged" normal minimalist gigabit switch like a GS105. I have three of them around my house, providing basic "wired" connectivity to assorted devices located at each of those "nodes". These switches are like "power strips for ethernet", simply port-multiplying the four LAN ports normally found on home routers (like my Netgear WNDR4000 gigabit router) to provide more than four "wired" ports at locations around your home which cannot reach an available "wired" router port.

However I also have CAT6 cable running from my router to each of these GS105 gigabit switches. CAT5 cabling will not support gigabit speeds... you need CAT6 for that. CAT5e cabling is better than CAT5, but is still not CAT6 in performance. But remember, unless you are doing true PC-to-PC transfers there is pretty much ZERO need for these types of LAN speeds through either a router or a switch. Normal access to the Internet will be limited by your ISP service tier, not the capability of your router or switch or cabling. And normal LAN inter-device speed requirements are also relatively slow, including such things as HDTV delivered from HTPC to extenders through a home LAN.

Also, remember that each switch has not only "downstream" wired connections (to wired devices, connecting to the switch) but also has one "upstream" wired connection (either directly to a wired port on the router, or perhaps to some other "downstream" port on another switch, if that's your network topology). Each of these "upstream" connections defines the total simultaneous bandwidth which might be available among any wired devices you have connecting to the "downstream" ports on that switch.

So if you have a gigabit switch connected "upstream" to one port of your gigabit router, then that switch can only provide at most one gigabit of "downstream" bandwidth to any individual one of its ports or to all ports simultaneously in total. If two or more of the "downstream" ports on the switch are in use simultaneously, the sum of their in-use data transfer speeds will of course cannot possibly exceed a gigabit in total, since the "upstream" connection from the switch to the router is itself only one gigabit in speed. Of course it's very rare for multiple high-speed "downstream" connections to be in use simultaneously, just as it is very rare for most inter-device and device->switch->router->Internet needs to typically exceed modest 10/100 speed requirements (as most people's home cable/DSL ISP service levels are typically in the 5Mbps-100Mbps download speed range).

And finally, realize that the NIC speed on your PC's also sets the upper-limit on any LAN transfer speed which can be reached to/from that PC. If you have an older machine with a 10/100 NIC, that's the maximum you will be able to use that PC at on your LAN. Only machines with a gigabit NIC can even possibly take advantage of gigabit LAN capability, either through a gigabit router and/or a gigabit switch. And most "smart" home devices (e.g. BluRay players, TV's, game consoles, etc.) do NOT have gigabit NIC's built into them. They are almost always 10/100 NIC's, since they don't need higher than that to support the "streaming" services they can provide or use.

Bottom line: buy a GS105 or similar. But you should also invest in a modestly priced gigabit router (e.g. WNDR4000) if you don't already have one. And if you don't have better than CAT5 cabling in your house, don't expect performance above the capability of that cabling. Otherwise, if you want to and can upgrade to CAT5e or CAT6, this will "future-proof" you while also potentially providing very high-speed transfers between your home devices as well as to the Internet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Nov 2014   #5
badspell68

Windows 7
 
 

Great and helpful info!

My mail objective is to stream Netflix HD to my computers and HD video files from a NAS. My place is wired with CAT-5 and I have wifi with some new computers and some old...the older computers have 10/100 and not sure what the new ones have. Will I be able to do HD in my environment?

And...what is considered to long of a run for cat 5 and 6? I'm running 50 feet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Nov 2014   #6
strollin

W10 Pro desktop, W10 laptop, W10 laptop, W10 Pro tablet (all 64-bit)
 
 

For Cat5 or Cat6 the max cable run is generally quoted as 100M. Here's a link to the cable specs: CAT5, CAT5e, CAT6, CAT7 and CAT7a Information
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Nov 2014   #7
badspell68

Windows 7
 
 

Meters?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Nov 2014   #8
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by badspell68 View Post
My mail objective is to stream Netflix HD to my computers and HD video files from a NAS.
Netflix is a very touchy beast. The apps provided by Netflix for various "smart" devices vary widely in their performance capabilities, and some of them are "throttled" to not provide higher quality than a certain upper-limit despite the fact that you believe your Internet speed (from your ISP) should justify better quality from Netflix on your HDTV.

In theory, the Netflix app responds to what it detects as your Internet bandwidth speed in getting to the Netflix servers, which is determined after a relatively short startup period and running of the app in order for it to make its decision. But this is further influenced by your ISP, and whether or not there's a "deal" between your provider and Netflix for "preferential treatment" (e.g. the infamous Comcast/Netflix deal).

Even more influence is whether you are using wireless or wired connection from the "smart" device to get to your switch/router/Internet, and the reliability and speed of such connection. Typically wireless speeds are much less than wired speeds, but this depends on distance from the device to the nearest WiFi access point or wireless router. Also, 5GHz wireless speeds are typically MUCH FASTER than conventional 2.4Ghz speeds (both 811.n), but not many wireless-enabled devices support 5G yet. In other words, there are lots of factors involved trying to stream through wireless, which are all eliminated entirely if you go wired... if that's an option. That's certainly my recommendation, if it's possible.

But again, the performance of Netflix apps on "smart" devices is also a function of the hardware vendor and relationship with Netflix. For example, my sister's setup (Comcast in Chicago, using a Sony BDP-S5100 player) has dreadful Netflix streaming performance (despite it being Comcast with 15Mbps service, and despite the wired connection from the S5100 to the router), whereas my own Oppo BDP-103 with latest firmware and very latest Netflix app provides STUNNING 1080p HD streaming (with TWC, formerly at 30Mbps and now 100Mbps, again wired connection from the 103 to the router).

In other words, YMMV.


Quote:
My place is wired with CAT-5 and I have wifi with some new computers and some old...the older computers have 10/100 and not sure what the new ones have. Will I be able to do HD in my environment?
What are you using or planning to use to stream your HD videos from the NAS? Windows Media Center? Some other NAS-based server software?

Depending on whether HDTV is 720p or 1080i (or maybe 1080p for videos and movies coming from NAS), your LAN bitrate bandwidth requirements will vary. But 1080i HDTV shouldn't exceed maybe 12Mbps in whatever direction its being sent. That's what I meant when I said "relatively slow", compared to what we think of when using the word "gigabit" to describe hardware or cabling capability.

Now if you are simultaneously streaming multiple HDTV programs to multiple devices around your house through your switches and routers, well now you have clearly increased your bandwidth requirements. And it is here that wireless may well reach or exceed overall performance limits that would simply not be an issue at all for wired connections.

So, you may just have to try things out for yourself and see how it all performs. Just be prepared for some surprises (or not), and be able to react accordingly. You might just try wireless to start, and not feel any motivation to convert to wired unless your wireless performance is unacceptable or spotty or intermittent (e.g. depending on whether multiple streams to different TV's are happening simultaneously, etc.).


Quote:
And...what is considered to long of a run for cat 5 and 6? I'm running 50 feet.
Absolutely not a problem for CAT5. And Cat6 can be used over several hundred feet.

Incidentally, if you can't run new ethernet cable to a location to provide "wired" there, there are two other alternative methods which can be considered:

(1) ethernet over powerline (using device gizmos something like these) plugged into the AC power sockets around your home. This uses the copper wiring in your walls as if it were CAT5 cable delivering 10/100 speed, and provides ethernet connector ports on the gizmos so that you can connect devices "wired" through them.

Note that the performance of these varies, largely dependent on the copper in your walls, whether or not they pass through circuit breaker boxes or are a "straight line" between wall sockets into which the gizmos are plugged, whether there is proper grounding on the wall sockets, how far apart the gizmos are from each other which describes how much copper wire is involved, etc.

Also, these gizmos should NEVER be plugged into power-strips or surge protectors. They MUST be plugged directly into a wall socket, in order to get to the copper wiring directly.

(2) ethernet over coax (using device gizmos like these), using existing 75ohm coax cable runs in your house (say from the old days of analog cable TV, when we had coax connectors on the walls in many rooms for connection to our "cable box" or possibly directly to the TV with its antenna switch set to "cable"). These gizmos connect to either end of the coax run, and like the powerline adapters use that coax cable as if it were ethernet. Again, they provide wired ethernet connector ports on the gizmos.

Performance of these gizmos is SUPERB, and actually provides the equivalent of 4x100 ethernet cables across a single run of coax which can be up to 1000ft in length. So this approach works well for "estates", where there might be a long coax run to a guest house and where you now want to provide wired ethernet to your home LAN capability as well.


And for improving wireless performance around your house, there are two additional approaches which might be considered:

(1) wireless range extender (like one of these device gizmos) which you plug into wall power sockets at some intermediate distance between the router and the far end location you want to reach with improved WiFi. This is kind of like an extension cord for your router's WiFi network, kind of like an amplifier or booster.

(2) wireless access point (like one of these device gizmos) which you plug into a wired ethernet port somewhere on your home LAN, either say a port on your router or some switch, or even on an ethernet port on one of the earlier mentioned special gizmos which has provided wired ethernet capability through either powerline or coax. The wireless access point (WAP) in turn generates a SECOND UNIQUE (and locally strong) WIFI NETWORK around itself, for wireless devices to connect to when they don't have acceptable wireless connectivity to the far distant primary wired/wireless router elsewhere on the LAN.

The WAP communicates to the primary router via wired for all wireless devices connecting through it, and all of the wireless devices connecting through the WAP are actually assigned IP address and managed by the primary router as part of the primary home LAN. So they show up as "attached devices" on the primary router, even though they're really connected to the second WiFi network of the WAP.

As with all wireless networks, connection speed and performance varies with distance from the WAP and it second WiFi network, same as it does with distance from the primary router's WiFi network.


Lots of ways to build your LAN.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Nov 2014   #9
dsperber

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by badspell68 View Post
Meters?
1 meter = 3.3 feet
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Nov 2014   #10
badspell68

Windows 7
 
 

I'm using VLC to view everything off a Synology NAS with WD Red drives to computers only, most have 10/100 NICs. CAT 5 cabling and all the runs are no-longer then 40 feet. I only download or view 720p video.
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