Gigabit Ethernet has been around for what seems like forever. The standard is so ubiquitous that TR staff has discussed no longer mentioning the presence of standard-issue network adapters in motherboards and other PC hardware. The 10GBASE-T standard has been in place since the middle of the last decade, but the requirement for pricey Cat 6 cable and the substantial work needed to replace existing installations has stymied its adoption. Meanwhile, the IEEE 802.3bz 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T standards ratified last year allow for extra bandwidth on existing cabling, but desktop NICs with support for the new technology have been few and far between. We've only seen a few mobos with the new adapters, and Asus' ROG Areion NIC. Aquantia, a high-end network transceiver manufacturer, has announced a pair of cards that will make it easier to upgrade network speeds on existing PCs.
The Aquantia Aqtion AQN-108 is a PCIe card capable of pushing Ethernet packets at Gigabit, 2.5 Gbps, or 5 Gbps speeds over standard Cat 5e cabling. The higher-end AQN-107 model adds compatibility with 10GBASE-T networks when the appropriate Cat 6 wiring is used.
The company says both NICs are available immediately, though we were unable to find them at our favorite e-tailers just yet. The AQtion AQN-108 5Gbps NIC will go for $100, while the faster AQN-107 unit with broader compatibility should cost $130. In light of those prices, buyers might just want to wait until their motherboard maker of choice integrates an 802.3bz controller into its designs.