When it comes to a Multi-Gig wiring upgrade, I'd always recommend the top-tier 10Gbps.
But 10Gbps-capable devices are still rare, and the lowest grade of Multi-Gig, 2.5Gbps, makes more economic sense in many cases. And that's where the Zyxel MG-108 8-Port 2.5G Multi-Gigabit Unmanaged Switch comes into play.
This new unmanaged switch has eight 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig ports and proved in my testing to be worth the current affordable price of around $170. (There's also a 5-port version, the MG-105, that goes for $50 less.)
Zyxel MG-108: A simple Multi-Gig switch that works
The 8-port Zyxel MG-108 shares the same shape as the 12-port XGS1250-12 -- it's a compact rectangle box with all the ports on one side, including the power connecter. And it shares the same power adapter as its older cousin, too.
However, it has no fans, which is a good thing, for the most part -- more below. And the new switch has only eight 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig ports and no other port grade.
In other words, the MG-108 is a quiet complete low-end Multi-Gig switch, while the XGS1250-12 is a mixed bag of the standard Gigabit and top-notch 10Gbps Multi-Gig within a similar design. The two look almost the same.
Zyxel MG-108: Hardware specifications
The Zyxel MG-108 is an unmanaged switch. As such, it works right away the moment you plug it into an existing router (or another switch) to add seven additional ports to the network.
|Full Name||Zyxel MG-108 8-Port 2.5GbE Unmanaged Switch|
(W x D x H)
|9.45 x 4.13 x 1.02 in|
(240 x 106 x 26 mm)
|Weight||1.41 lbs (640 g)|
|Gigabit Ports||Part of Multi-Gig ports|
|Multi-Gig Ports||8x RJ-45 100/1000/2500|
|Jumbo Frame Support||Yes (Up to 12KB)|
|Features||Fanless and quiet|
Desktop and Wall mount
Auto-MDI/MDIX in all ports
|Supported Standards||IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-TX Fast Ethernet|
IEEE 802.3bz 2.5GBASE-T
IEEE 802.3x full-duplex operation and flow control
IEEE 802.1p QoS
IEEE 802.3 Nway auto-negotiation
|Operating Environment||Temperature: 0°C to 40°C (32°F to 104°F)|
Humidity: 10% to 90% (Non-condensing)
|Power Supply||AC-to-DC external power adapter|
Input: 100 - 240V AC, 50/60 Hz
Output: 12V DC/1.5A
|Certification||CE, EAC, FCC, BSMI Class B|
|Power Consumption||12.24-watt max.|
|LED Indicator||PWR: Power|
Each port: Link/Activity
(Amber: 100/1000 Mbps, Green: 2.5 Gbps)
|U.S Cost (at review)||$170|
As a 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig switch, you can also use the MG-108's ports in the Fast Ethernet (100Mbps) or Gigabit mode, depending on the plugged-in device.
Zyxel MG-108: Detail photos
Totally plug and play
Setting up the Zyxel MG-108 is a no-brainer.
Like all unmanaged switches, all you need to do is plug it into power and connect one of its ports to the existing network, either the router or another switch, preferably via a 2.5Gbps connection.
And that's it. There's no web interface or app to fiddle with, no extra configuration, either. Plug it in, and you can hook up to 7 wired devices to the network with up to 2.5Gpbs connection speed.
Zyxel MG-108: Excellent performance, runs a bit warm
The Zyxel MG-108 worked well in my trial. It passed my three-day stress test with no issue at all. As a standard practice, I'll continue to use it after this review and update in case of any significant unexpected change.
And the switch did well in terms of speeds, too. I tested it with both Multi-Gig and Gigabit clients, and the results were within my expectations.
Specifically, via a 2.5Gbps connection, I got sustained real-world copy speeds of more than 2200Mbps or 2.2Gbps. That's about as fast as can be for the standard after overheads.
Note, though, that the MG-108 was the only non-10Gbps switch on the chart, which explained why it had the slowest Multi-Gig performance compared to the handful of other Multi-Gig switches I've tested.
However, when hosting Gigabit devices, you can expect it to deliver sustained speeds as fast as the next guy, within the margin of error.
A quiet operator
Having no fan, the Zyxel MG-108 was silent. And that was a pleasant surprise in my experience, considering the last switch I tested, the TP-Link SX1008, was so noisy.
In return, though, the MG-108 ran a bit warm. It wasn't burning but sure was hotter than the XGS1250-12. That said, make sure you use it in an open space. Per the hardware specifications, you shouldn't use the MG-108 where the ambient temperature is higher than 104°F (40°C) anyway.
Zyxel MG-108 8-Port 2.5G Multi-Gigabit Unmanaged Switch's Rating
Fast entry-level Multi-Gig performance
Eight 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig ports
Compact, fanless, sturdy design
No 10Gbps or SFP+ port
Runs a bit warm
The Zyxel MG-108 8-Port 2.5G Multi-Gigabit Unmanaged Switch is an excellent buy for those with Gigabit or Gig+ broadband and want to deliver Internet in full to wired devices.
While 10Gbps is the way to go, 2.5Gbps is the sweet spot since that's the speed of most high-end Multi-Gig routers, on the WAN or LAN side or both. And most Gig+ broadband connections cap at lower than 2.5Gbps.
The point is, in most cases, getting a faster-than-2.5Gbps Multi-Gig might not return any extra for your investment.
Needless to say, you need devices that also support Multi-Gig at the other end to enjoy the speed. On top of that, make sure you have a suitable router with a 2.5Gbps (or faster) LAN port, and most importantly, getting your home wired (with CAT5e or higher-grade cables) is a must.