Scott Hanselman

Wiring the house for a Home Network - Part 4 - Thank You Cat 6 Gigabit Ethernet

November 28, 2007 Comment on this post [18] Posted in Musings
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UPDATE: Here's a Bundled Link of the complete "Wiring your house for Gigabit Ethernet 5 PART SERIES."

UPDATE: I'm a putz, and did my math wrong. This is a crappy result. Turns out I was using Cat5 Patch Cables on a Cat 6 network, and what I'm seeing here is a probably a maxed out Cat5 cable. I'll redo this with decent cables using all 4 pair and update soon.

When designing the new house and home office I really wanted gigabit Ethernet through the house. I run a lot of VMs, music, HD Video, and generally don't like to wait when moving things from here to there.

All my systems have gigabit cards now, including my laptops and the Macs, so it seemed a reasonable thing to do.

This afternoon I was copying Visual Studio 2008 Installation Media between two machines, one a Lenovo T60p with a beta of Vista SP1 and the other a Mac Book Pro with Vista RTM via Bootcamp and I snapped this screenshot:

3 Minutes and 5 Seconds remaining

Ah. Moving ~4 gigs in about ~6 minutes. Just about 1/3 maximum 5400RPM laptop hard drive speed over the wire. Not too shabby for now. Gigabit is definitely worth the trouble and you can run it happily over Cat5e if you've got the wires. You just can't compare 54Mbs Wireless with 1Gbs. I'm just not so much into the wireless, even though I do run WPA rather than WEP, I just don't trust it.

Here's the complete house/office/wiring round-up so far:


About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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November 28, 2007 3:33
~4 gigs in ~6 minutes is below 100mbit theoretical speeds. You should be pushing at least 100 megabytes per second with gigabit ethernet.
November 28, 2007 3:39
@Ted: Scott did say he was running Vista. I wonder if the transfer across the network ever actually finished?

I understand Vista, networks and copying files don't mix?
November 28, 2007 3:42
I have not had that issue with Vista at work, under 32bit or 64bit, but I did think of it. His stats only caught my attention because just today I was profiling the speeds of a new hard drive array for one of the programmers and copied 3.2gb in 7 minutes over our 100mbit ethernet connection.
November 28, 2007 3:44
Wireless is about the convenience, not about the speed. It is nice to be online for casual surfing and most things over a wireless connection; then when a large download or something like that is about to happen, you could plug into the wired network.
November 28, 2007 3:58
10Meg/sec is well below what I'd expect even for a laptop to laptop exchange over a gigabit connection where the drives probably top out at 30-50Meg/sec - the limiting factor here may be Vista's handling of the file types - producing thumbnails if they are image\video for example or simply the file system overhead since there are quite a few files. You can see sustained >100Meg/sec over Gig-Ethernet but the conditions all have to be right (very large files, high spec systems with RAID striped source and destination drives, Cat 6 cable, no other traffic).
November 28, 2007 4:30
I suspect that I was hitting the max-throughput of the little laptop harddrives. I was copying thousands of files, not one ISO. As for Vista copying issues, after the hotfix a few months ago, I haven't had any problems.

@Ted - These notebook hard drives typically push 10megs a second and MAX out at 32megs but only sustained large file transfers. I really think 30megs a second is not something you'd see in the real world without striping.
November 28, 2007 6:29
Scott - just did a test here since I was a bit dubious - you should be getting about ~32meg per second with standard 5400rpm notebook hard drives copying a single large file. So copying VS2008 (reproducing your test) across the network here took about ~1min50s for me - you might want to do some speed tests between some of your servers to check all is well on the network of Casa del Hanselman? :)
November 28, 2007 8:18
Jeremy - You got 32 megs a second over what kind of network? Was this the ISO or the file structure?
November 28, 2007 9:59
Hm....I'm starting to suspect crappy patch cables...I'll do some tests. Thanks everyone!
November 28, 2007 12:49
IPerf is your friend.

100 megabits per seconds = 12.5 megabytes per second

10MB/s is only 80mbps which is you would expect on fast Ethernet, not gigabit.
November 28, 2007 13:00
Agreed. I did my math wrong and had bad cables. I'll redo the numbers when my ducks are in a row.
November 28, 2007 19:53
I am able to achieve ~50 mBps (capital 'b' for bytes) transferring a directory full of ~1 gB movie files between two 10,000 RPM SATAII RAID 0 arrays over gigabit, which i'm guessing is probably about the best you can expect given current 'home user' hardware.

You could probably achieve better results with more specialized hardware, but let's be honest, isn't a gig every 20-30 seconds fast enough for most practical situations?
November 28, 2007 22:34
sucks that it didn't work out like you expected, but at least i learned something about the megabyte:megabit ratio! Thanks!
November 29, 2007 8:53
Newborn in the house and math errors? Go figure. Been there and had those same errors! I'm looking forward to seeing your updated figures.

This whole series of yours has been a great one!
November 29, 2007 18:30
Hi all...

i'm building my house ( sorry.. all in icelandic) these days and have thought a lot about the wiring but i' m not sure about the real differance between Cat5 and Cat6. Is it (or will it) supported in the hardware? And what will the real speed difference be on a gig network?

I just love this series also!
November 29, 2007 18:50
Scott Hanselman, you are my hero.
November 30, 2007 7:04
Hi Scott - 5e patch cables on a 6 network isn't going to cause a slowdown whatsoever. If you have GB cards there's no such thing as the 5 cables getting "maxed out".

December 21, 2007 11:19
A chart that might interest some of you:

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.