As we alluded to during our Syba 2.5 Gigabit NIC Review, we also purchased the 2-port model to review. The Syba Dual 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter is a PCIe Gen2 x1 NIC which means it can be deployed in just about any server. This Ethernet adapter has two Realtek NICs that each can provide a 2.5GbE connection over existing copper wire. For many deployments, this is an easy way to get more than twice the performance of 1GbE at a relatively low cost.
Syba Dual 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe NIC Hardware Overview
We procured this unit from Amazon and paid around $50 for it. Straight from the invoice, it the same cost as the TRENDnet unit that we reviewed earlier. It is also about twice what we paid for the single port option.
The box in this case correctly identifies the card as a dual-port model. Syba seems to use this same box for both the single and dual port options but affixes a “1 Ports” label to the single port version.
Inside the box, we see a card wrapped in an ESD bag, a low-profile bracket in a foam pouch, as well as a driver CD and manual. Our advice is to skip the CD and if necessary download the drivers onto a USB stick or use a system’s onboard networking to fetch the drivers from Realtek. The card absolutely shakes around in the box. Both our Syba cards that came packaged like this worked, but it does not inspire great confidence. Simple bubble wrap would help tremendously for only a few cents per unit.
The card itself uses two Realtek RTL8125 Ethernet controllers. These are the company’s 2.5GbE single-port NIC offering. We saw the same NICs in our Syba 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe NIC Review and our TRENDnet 2.5Gbase-T PCIe Adapter Review. Instead of a single port NIC, there are two NICs.
This adapter uses an ASMedia ASM1182e PCIe switch in the bottom right corner. This switch allows two PCIe x1 devices to share a PCIe x1 uplink. You can see that this is an absolutely tiny package listed at 7mm x 7mm.
The rear of the unit is relatively barren. Of note here, there are no labels on our unit with the MAC address of the NIC.
Perhaps the key functionality for this card is seen here with two 2.5GbE RJ45 ports. The unit is still small enough that one can utilize the low profile bracket for this dual-port NIC.
Overall, this is not the most complex solution. Still, it is inexpensive and is a way to get dual 2.5GbE ports into virtually any system. With the PCIe Gen2 x1 interface and low-profile bracket, this is a very versatile form factor.
Syba Dual 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe NIC Setup
In Windows 10, the Syba dual 2.5GbE PCIe NIC was simple to set up. You plug in the adapter, and two NICs are recognized. Each NIC 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.
The Realtek driver is about what one would expect. There are key features such as jumbo frame support.
Overall, this is a truly plug-and-play experience. If you are using Windows 10, and have an open PCIe slot, installation requires that you can open your PC, align the card to a PCIe slot, and screw the PCIe card in (skip that if it is a tool-less PCIe chassis.) From there everything will work although you may want to upgrade to the newer Realtek driver. Still, it works out-of-the-box.
Syba Dual 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 10Gbase-T switch that supports multi-gigabit speeds. We tried switches from both MikroTik and Netgear and we had a sub 0.9% variance between the two setups.
Performance is slightly lower than we would have liked to have seen here. When we tested either NIC alone, the performance was close to the single port Realtek solutions we have tested. When we put both NICs under load, we see less than a 2x performance increase. This may be due to heat or the PCIe topology. Still, there is a large performance increase with a dual-port solution.
This is certainly not our ideal. Still, it is showing a large gain versus the single port solution, and in most deployments, both NICs will not be utilized to their maximum at all times. If this was a $200 NIC, we would be more critical. At $50, it is something one has to expect. We did not get to do this, but the TRENDnet NIC placed a heatsink on the Realtek package. Adding some low-cost Raspberry Pi heatsinks or similar may be a worthwhile experiment but we did our testing in the data center where we do not modify hardware’s cooling before installing.
Syba 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe NIC Power Consumption
Syba did not list power consumption for its NIC. We tested both ports of the Syba 2.5GbE PCIe NIC in a direct attach 2.5Gbps connections 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 Dual 2.5GbE to TEG-25GECTX and Syba single port 2.5GbE 300 feet / 91.44 meters: 6.1W
- Syba Dual 2.5GbE to Switch 10 feet / 3.05 meters: 3.8W
There is certainly an impact on power, albeit small for many systems. If you are using this as, for example, a dual-port 2.5GbE NIC for a NAS and foregoing a new switch, then it is very inexpensive power-wise. It also provides around half the performance of a 10Gbase-T solution at very reasonable power consumption. At the end of the day, we are still discussing 3-6W impact on the system.
Price-wise, these are extremely reasonable. In fact, it is around the same price as the TRENDnet TEG-25GECTX single port adapter. Since both cards use the same NICs, just the Syba unit has two NICs, this may be a better deal even if one had to spend a few dollars on heatsinks to match the feature on the TEG-25GECTX. It is also a lower cost per port item than the single port option.
Opening the package at home is likely not scary. Opening the package in front of your boss at work may make them think you are crazy. Syba could add some bubble wrap around the NIC which would make one feel a lot better about the product. Both of our Syba NICs worked, so there is not much more we can say there.
Overall, this is a card that we really like. Performance is good, albeit not absolutely perfect. For the price, it is great. Syba made the card easy to deploy with the PCIe Gen2 x1 interface and full height/ low profile bracket options.