I accidentally found something interesting. It wasn’t planned, but it worked out very nicely.
My son’s computer was the computer in our house that was capable of using Gigabit Ethernet (1000 megabits per second — 1000 Mbps). When he built that computer, I started thinking ahead for future upgrades to our other computers.
After he did that, I bought two Gigabit switches in anticipation of the upgrade. Well, I really needed another switch at that point, so I was going to buy one switch anyway. This encouraged me to buy a Gigabit Ethernet switch instead of a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switch. Gigabit switches are backwards compatible with 10/100 Mbps networks.
I also bought two Linksys Gigabit Ethernet network cards, one for my home theater PC and one for my desktop. Finally, I bought some Cat6 Ethernet cable to use, both standard cable to go through the walls and a special flat cable designed to go under carpets.
With the SageTV software (www.sagetv.com) software that I use, I would be able to use the desktop as remote storage for "imported videos" or as actual working storage, able to record a show from the HTPC directly to the desktop’s hard drive(s).
Unfortunately, I hit a major snag. The home theater PC’s PCI expansion slots were full — it didn’t have room to take the Gigabit Ethernet card. That idea went down the tubes. (This was before I upgraded my home theater PC).
When I upgraded the home theater PC in December, that new motherboard also provided Gigabit Ethernet capability. I knew that, but without the rewiring, it wasn’t going to do any good. I thought…
Then, I opened up my desktop computer to check it’s memory. I thought I had an open memory slot, in which case, I would take one of the memory modules from my old HTPC to put in the desktop (there are distinct advantages to putting the same motherboard and memory in multiple computers!).
While I had that open, I realized that I actually had open expansion slots in the desktop, so I could install one of the Gigabit Ethernet cards I already had purchased. It quickly was installed and the driver loaded from the included CDROM.
I also remembered that I had purchased the 5-port Gigabit Ethernet switch. As long as I was fooling around with the cables, I plugged it in, too.
Then, I remembered seeing an article that said Gigabit Ethernet worked with Cat 5e cable as well as working with Cat 6 cable.
I mentioned that to my son, not thinking it would really be true, but he checked and confirmed that his Windows 7 reported that he had a Gigabit connection, not just a 10/100 Mbit connection.
I checked my wife’s computer, and it did, too. Same for the home theater PC and my desktop, too.
Once I replaced my 6-year old notebook, I had Gigabit, too!