Asustor (a subsidiary of Asus focused on networking products) has introduced a new gadget to deliver faster Ethernet connectivity to your desktop or laptop. It doesn't have a sexy name, but in the right environment, Asustor's new AS-U2.5G adapter sure is fast.
As the name implies, it is a 2.5-gigabit Ethernet controller. Most modern PCs are equipped with one or two 1-gigabit Ethernet ports (or GbE LAN ports, as they're often called), and in terms of theoretical bandwidth, the AS-U2.5G is 2.5 times faster.
There is also going to be some loss from overhead. Not accounting for that, 2.5 gigabits (Gb) is equivalent to 312.5 megabytes (MB), whereas 1Gb is equivalent to 125MB. In terms of real world performance, Asustor's own testing yielded read and write speeds of 283MB/s and 256MB/s, respectively.
The device itself is rather inexpensive at $35.99 on Amazon. It's also easy to set up and use—it just plugs into a USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C port (or Type-A, with an adapter) and does not require any special software, it works with a range of OSes, and supports standard Cat 5e cables. In short, this upgrades your host device from 1GbE to 2.5GbE, and does it with little hassle.
That said, not every situation will benefit. The ideal scenario is if you have a network attached storage (NAS) box with a 2.5G port, in which case you could make a direct connection. Otherwise, you'd be looking at buying two of these—one for your PC and one for your NAS appliance—and possibly a 2.5G switch, if you need a faster wired connection on more than one device.
Asustor is not the only company offering this sort of thing. Still, it's nice to see there are more options for faster Ethernet connectivity, and without having to lean on PCI Express.
For anyone interested, the AS-U2.5G is available now (opens in new tab).