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Old 16-05-19, 09:01 PM
Diablo Diablo is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: London
Posts: 1,531
10Gbps networking on the (relative) cheap

Many enthusiasts find that even with their NVME SSDs, their steam drive stretching into the terabytes and unlimited Netflix there is still a need for some network attached storage. Maybe it is to run their music in the living room, hold their photo collection, or stream their video collection they “acquired”.
Then they build their NAS, or maybe even a mini server, find a RAID card on ebay (or Amazon warehouse deals – pro tip) and fill it with disks. It is at this stage they connect to it and find it is really, really slow. A full back up takes hours, if not days, transfer rates are at best around the 100MB/s mark.
No matter, they connect via network cable, and to no-one’s surprise – it is still slow. So now they start to look for faster ethernet – and then run at the price.

When I started to need my own server, I had got a RAID card, 5 1TB disks, and had run out of drive bays in my PC. At the time a 10Gbps card was £250+ and I would have needed two. So I shelved the idea.
Then two years ago Aquantia brought out their 10Gbps network controllers. They can be found in all manner of cards, including the Asus 10Gbps NIC, and some of their high end motherboards. Before I continue; let me state this is “on the relative cheap” – this is about new hardware, multiple computers and network attached storage capable of 300MB/s speeds. If you have everything in one system, rely on WiFi for most of your needs, or think £300 is too much for a motherboard, you would find better value elsewhere.
For the people left with me, the components you will need are:
• A pair of 10Gbps network cards such as ASUS XG-C100C ~£99
• Cat 6A cable ~£1
If you have a thunderbolt enabled laptop (this is not USB-C + Displayport, and can be identified by the lightning logo), try a thunderbolt to RJ45 10Gbps adapter (expect to pay £180 ish)
Connect them up, set the IP address manually in IPV4 settings, enable jumbo packets (e.g. 9046 bytes) and job’s a good’un. You should have transfers limited by the speed of you disks / SSD (or network for NVME to NVME transfers).
Alternatively use an ASUS XG-U2008 Unmanaged 2-Port 10G/8-Port switch to connect your computers to the main house network.

But I have more than two computers which need 10G connections…here we start to get expensive. Maybe you want to connect more than a pair of computers, and then use link aggregation to connect computers at 2Gbps?
I went down the route of an 8 port 10Gbps switch; the price difference between 5 and 8 port is very small. Furthermore, I prefer to have a manged switch, so I can pick the jumbo frame size, and have the option to create V-Lans etc. This one is a matter of preference, but I had good luck with the XS708T from Netgear (about £500).
Finally I decided to upgrade my router to allow the switch to connect to the router, and then connect the router to my existing 24 port smart switch via link aggregation. The only router for a reasonable price I could find with an SFP+ connection or 10Gbps connection was the R9000 from netgear. The downside is that this has 802.11ad wireless, which is not really current anymore versus 802.11ax.
Finally to connect these, use a direct attach copper SFP+ cable (£25) – you can use fibre, but this is properly expensive (often >£200 for the cable)

This ends up being quite expensive, but for less £1000 you can have a multi-computer 10G network at home. You will see transfer rates in excess of 125MB/s (typically I see 220-250MB/s on the mechanical drives, and for SSD to SSD transfers, I can see >600MB/s.
Finally to hold this all in place, I bought a Lack (£9) from Ikea (a coffee table). This is 19” between the legs, so is perfect for 19” rackmount kit. As a bonus my stereo amp sits perfectly under the switches.
Downsides:
• Price (obviously)
• Plex support – if you enable jumbo frames on your plex server, it will not work correctly; the trick is then to run a second network card, bind the port for the plex server onto the second card (try using Bind IP) (also same problem for BlueIris CCTV)
• Multiple connections may require you to play around with the network metrics, particularly if you are direct connecting two computers
I would not recommend doing this unless you have:
• A fast SSD
• Loads of storage and a need to transfer data quickly
• A decent monitor, GPU, keyboard, mouse etc. – this is because upgrading these will make more of a difference to your quality of life
My kit:
• Asus Rampage VI Extreme
• Asus XG-100C
• Server with 5960X + adaptec 5805 and adaptec 8805 RAID cards (5 x 1TB RAID 5, 3 x 4TB RAID 5, 8 x 10TB RAID 5, 3 x 1TB SSD RAID 0)
• Netgear R9000
• Netgear XS708T 8 port 10G switch
• Netgear JGS524E 24 Port Gbps switch
• TP LINK 24 Port Gbps POE+ switch + 3 POE cameras
• Lack from Ikea for a lack rack
A quick update – it is now possible to do this for slightly cheaper with a cheaper 5 port switch. My caution to this is that a five port switch gives very little upgrade and expansion room. When you have a laptop with thunderbolt, a pair of fast computers and a router, you will find yourself with exactly one port left…
Is this fun – yes; does it make life easier to run big backups, run a steam library on a NAS for the house, and hold 2TB of RAW files across the house – yes; does it enable all users to hit the server as fast as they need; yes. Finally; does it make your geek cred higher – oh yes!
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