Gigabit versus 10/100 LAN


I've got your run of the mill LAN going here at the office. Four Macs connected to a G4/466 via 10/100 ethernet.

We use the G4/466 as a file server (not a real server, just file sharing turned on).

I was wondering if updating the satellite machines to Gigabit and getting a Gigabit router/hub would significantly increase network speed for us or not. I like our setup, but the network speed is a bit sluggish for those big photoshop files and such. We're pushing and pulling around 7-10 MB/sec, give or take, which isn't bad at all, but nowhere near local speed of course. A local file pumps around 20-30 MB/sec, so I'd like to get closer to that over the network.

Is this doable without having to buy a true server and expensive hardware?

Here's some general speed tests for reference:

Hardware A= Dual G5 2.7, 4.5 GB RAM, 250 GB serial-ATA drive

110 MB tif opens in Photoshop in 3+ seconds (36+ MB/sec)
110 MB tif with slight change saves in 3+ seconds (36+ MB/sec)
Duplication of 110 MB file takes 3 second (36+ MB/sec)

NETWORK (connected to G4/466)
110 MB tif transfers from G5 to G4 in 12 seconds (9+ MB/sec)
110 MB opens on G5 from G4 in 13 seconds (8+ MB/sec)

Hardware B= Dual G4 867, 1 GB RAM, 60 GB ATA

110 MB open in photoshop in 13 seconds (8+ MB/sec)
Duplication of 110 MB file takes 11 seconds (10 MB/sec)
110 MB tif saved with slight changes takes 11 seconds (10 MB/sec)

110 MB open in photoshop in 17 seconds (6+ MB/sec)
110 MB tif saved with slight changes takes 18 seconds (6+ MB/sec)
110 MB file transfer from DP G4 867 to G4/466 in 17 seconds (6+ MB/sec)

As you can see, the local speed on the second hardware setup is not much faster than the network speed. Presumably this is due to the regular ATA drive and older technology all around. The G5 is massively faster locally than via network and since that's my main machine, I'd like to get the network speed up as cheaply as possible.


Captain Code

Staff member
If you go to gigabit you should get 40MB/sec reading from a HD if you're lucky, but that's still a lot better than ~10-12MB/sec with 100BT so if it's worth it because you use the network a lot then I'd say go for it.

The only thing that sucks IMO is that gigabit ethernet cards for Macs are a lot more money than for the PC. G5 already has it so you're set there.


Cool. Thanks for the info. Couple more questions.

1. If I just wanted the G5 at optimal network sped, do I only need to get a Gigabit router to replace the 10/100 one we currently use?

2. And do I get a router or a switch? I think a router, right? We're currently using an Asanté 4-port and a Netgear 4-port. So I guess I'd get like an 8-port Gigabit router like this, but with 8 ports:

3. Any brand recommendations? I've had my issues with LinkSys lately, so I'm avoiding them for now.

4. Any idea where I can get an 8-port gigabit router? I can't find one online for less than a thousand dollars, which seems insane. Shouldn't I be able to get one for like a couple of hundred bucks?


Captain Code

Staff member
Since you're reading from the G4 which is 100Mbit then just upgrading to a gigabit router wouldn't make the transfer any faster.

The PCI slot might end up limiting the throughput somewhat.

That router looks good but if you only want to share between your networked computers at that speed then you really only need a switch and not a router. You need the router if you want to have it sharing the internet, but you could keep the router you have now and uplink it to a gigabit switch instead.

This gigabit switch would be all you need besides the gigabit PCI cards.