The ASRock Z390 Professional SLI/ac is the first consumer desktop board I've tested that removes the Intel gigabit ports altogether and replaces them with a single 2.5GbE port. The older ASRock X299 Professional Gaming i9 XE that we also tested includes two Intel gigabit ports and the premium 10GbE port from the AQUANTIA AQtion client controller to deliver 5-speed connectivity.
As time passes, we should see more integration of faster-than-gigabit ports as the technology trickles down to lower-cost motherboards. We are already close to a crossover with nearly half of new mainstream and all premium motherboards shipping with the technology. 2020 products will likely move the ratio closer to 90% with only entry-level products shipping with only gigabit-speed LAN.
The motherboard alone doesn't fulfill the promise of high-speed, low-latency performance. On the storage side, NAS manufacturers have shipped low-cost products with 10-gigabit for a few years. The last piece of the multi-gigabit puzzle comes on the switch and router side. Products like the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming SX10 10-port switch (with 2x 10GbE) start at around $200 on Amazon.
The ecosystem has finally come full circle with affordable products positioned in the standard upgrade path rather than niche products that you have to reach for. What that means is your next PC build will include a motherboard, and the technology will likely come with the technology. The same is true for your next NAS, most which cost over $250 ship with multi-gigabit technology today. The piece that ties it all together is the switch/router, and with the multi-gigabit shipping on premium consumer models (as opposed to only business-focused and enterprise-specific), all of the pieces are in your upgrade path.
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