Think Gig! Time to Shop for Gigabit Ethernet Hardware

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Although Wireless Ethernet adapters and routers are the SKU kings of your computer store's network hardware department, only the emerging 802.11n standard even gets close to matching the performance of Fast Ethernet (100Mbps). Meanwhile, led by NVIDIA and Intel chipsets, many motherboards and systems have now ramped up their onboard wired Ethernet support to Gigabit Ethernet, offering ten times the bandwidth at 1000Mbps and backwards compatibility with 10/100 Ethernet. If you're wanting to move video or other data really, really, fast, Gigabit Ethernet's the way to go.

Why Move to Gigabit? It's All About the Devices

Although Gigabit Ethernet is becoming standard on the desktop, Fast Ethernet, running at 1/10 the speed, is still the overwhelming choice for wireless routers' integrated Ethernet switches. And, as long as all you're doing is running a network to connect your PCs to the Internet, 100Mbps is fast enough. However, what if you could connect Gigabit Ethernet storage devices to your network? With fast access to storage from any PC, it's a powerful reason to make the move. And, now you have plenty of choices.

Gigabit Ethernet for Faster Network Storage

High-capacity network attached storage with features such as a USB print server, support for network discovery (Universal Plug and Play) for easy media sharing, bundled backup software, RAID support, and support for remote access via the Internet is a really good reason to look at making the move to end-to-end Gigabit Ethernet support.

Some of the network storage devices that include Gigabit Ethernet connections include:

- Western Digital's My Book World Edition (500 and 750GB) and World Edition II (1, 1.5 and 2TB) can be accessed remotely or locally without a PC host, and offer bundled EMC Retrospect Express backup software.

- LaCie Ethernet Big Disk provides capacity up to 2TB, while Ethernet Disk mini provides storage from 320-500GB with USB expansion options.

- Iomega StorCenter Wireless Network Storage combines 1TB storage with a USB print server, 802.11g wireless access, and EMC Retrospect Express backup; Iomega also offers a 500MB StorCenter Network Hard Disk without wireless support.

- Maxtor Solutions' Shared Storage II Dual puts 1TB of storage with RAID 1 mirroring and USB storage expansion on your network. Fusion offers a 500GB capacity, and Shared Storage II offers 320 or 500GB storage.

Have Your N and Gigabits Too

So, if you're ready to make the jump to Gigabit Ethernet, what routers can you choose from?

Some IEEE 802.11n routers, including some that have received Wi-Fi Certification , include Gigabit Ethernet support. Buffalo Wireless-N Nfiniti Dual Band Gigabit router,  Linksys WRT330N , WRT350N and WRVS4400N , D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router , and Netgear RangeMax NEXT WNR854T are some of the first of a growing wave of Gigabit routers.Choose one of these, and you can boost the speed of your wired network immediately, keep using existing 802.11g clients, and be ready to add 802.11n wireless clients in the future.

Thumbnail image of Western Digital My Book World Edition II courtesy of Western Digital.

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