Our Syba 2.5GbE PCIe NIC review finds something utterly interesting. This is an absolutely barebones network adapter for the multi-gigabit era. Recently, we took a look at the TRENDnet 2.5Gbase-T PCIe Adapter Review TEG-25GECTX. In many ways, this Syba NIC is similar. At the same time, there are vast differences that we saw in the quality and presentation of the product.
Syba 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe NIC Hardware Overview
We procured this unit from Amazon and paid around $26 for it. Straight from the invoice, it is around half the cost of the TRENDnet unit that we reviewed earlier. Strangely, the box says it is a “dual” controller, but it has a sticker that says “1 Ports”.
The reason for this is likely that Syba makes a dual-port 2.5GbE NIC as well. Of course, we procured that version since we were immensely interested. As you can see, the sticker outside says how many ports are populated. This was likely necessary since the box says “dual 2.5G Ethernet Controller Card” on five of the six sides even though it is a single port NIC.
The box itself clearly saw some wear from the long logistics train that brought it to Amazon then to STH. At first, we thought these were second/third-hand units because of how much wear the box had on it, and the fact that the box was not sealed. Insite the worn box, you can see what may be the scariest packing job in the industry today. There is a low-profile bracket that has foam wrapping. At the bottom, one can see a driver disk as well as an instruction manual. We were not brave enough to try that disk. The car itself was in an ESD bag, but there was no box filler. There was no bubble wrap nor other retention mechanisms. Shaking the box means you can hear the card rattle around inside.
Once we liberated the card from its container, it is very small. Noticeably smaller than the TRENDnet unit. The full height PCIe bracket looks gargantuan in comparison to the point that we should have probably taken photos with the low-profile bracket.
You can see the Realtek RTL8125 2.5GbE controller clearly here. There is no heatsink. This is a sub 2W card, so perhaps it is simply not necessary. If you look at the TRENDnet version, they are using a small heatsink.
There is a single RJ45 port with two status LEDs on the rear I/O plate.
On the back of the unit, we found a sticker that has the serial number and SD-PEX24065 which is the actual Syba model number. You will notice that nowhere on this card is simple markings such as the MAC with a barcode that is standard on most modern NICs.
The unit itself is a PCIe Gen2 x1 card and its small size makes it very easy to integrate.
Syba 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe NIC Setup
In Windows 10, the Syba 2.5GbE PCIe NIC was dead simple to set up. You plug in the adapter, and it connects with a DHCP address. It identifies as a Realtek 2.5GbE NIC and everything works. We are not going into the Linux side since we did that in the TRENDnet review.
There are updated drivers compared to what is now shipping with Windows 10, but having easy plug-and-play functionality is nice. You can see that the card immediately connected to our multi-gig switch and negotiated at 2.5Gbps speeds.
There are a number of features such as VLAN tagging and Jumbo Frames that one may want to change after setting up the NIC in the standard network adapter configuration, but everything was where we expected.
Syba 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe NIC Performance
We tested the unit directly attached between two Windows 10 PCs going from a Syba 2.5GbE PCIe NIC to a TEG-25GECTX NIC. We also pushed these through a multi-gigabit switch and saw the same results within a 0.7% margin of error on both setups. We also used the speed setting to manually drop speeds from 2.5GbE to 1GbE.
We did not see the performance impact of not having a heatsink, however, if you are running these in high temperatures beyond the normal office ranges, there may be an impact. The results were slightly lower (1% variance) than the TRENDnet NIC so we have to call this one a virtual tie since that is within a margin of error.
Syba 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe NIC Power Consumption
Syba did not list power consumption for its NIC. We tested the Syba 2.5GbE PCIe NIC both in a direct attach 2.5Gbps connection using CAT5e near the edge of the 100-meter maximum run length. We also tested the solution on a short connection to the switch using CAT6. We measured the impact on an Intel Atom C3558 server because that platform has relatively stable clock speeds and a low platform power base so we could see the impact measured at the wall.
- Syba 2.5GbE to TEG-25GECTX 300 feet / 91.44 meters: 1.9W
- Syba 2.5GbE to Switch 10 feet / 3.05 meters: 1.3W
These are actually the same results that we saw on the TRENDnet unit. That makes sense since they have the same controller and are relatively simple boards. Still, it is amazing to see how close they were down to the tenth of a watt.
Let us take a step back here. Under 2W is a margin of error for higher-end systems. For lower-end systems it is noticeable but likely has little to no impact. If you can use the performance, then this is a very minor performance delta.
On one hand, we paid not a lot yet received a card that worked perfectly well and performed as well as its more expensive alternative. On the other, it came packaged in a manner that does not give one confidence in the reliability and consistency of these cards. Ours worked, so it seems to be a decent option. Perhaps these cards are so simple these days that this is perfectly acceptable. Still, for those who want lower-cost 2.5GbE, this is a widely available solution that is around half the price of its competition.