All NICs need to be Gigabit and you would need to use Cat 6 cabling.
Obviously, your bottle neck is at your Router. No big deal though. Have all your Comptuers that are Gigabit capable connect to the Gigabit switch using Cat6.
You should be set - check your network settings to see if it negotiated at 10, 100, or 1000. If it doesn't pick up 1000, try manually setting your NIC to 1000/Full Duplex under properties in Device Manager.
The house is wired with Belden Cat5e cable and I made all the network cables myself using Belden Cat5e as well.
So is there any noteable or potential performance difference if I changed it all to Cat 6?
As for the speed, isn't there some sort of rule that goes along the line of: "Your network can only be as fast as the slowest object in the network" ?
If you're wired with cat5e, stick with it. Cat6 just has more twists per inch than cat5e. The E is for 'enhanced' and was originally created for colleges and the like that were passing large throughput like audio.
As far as the speed - if you have a slow network device (Router, switch, network card) that will be your limitation.
If you have everything for gigabit, you'll be fine.
Your WAN port on your Router most likely doesn't even support gigabit. Why? Because your internet connection is actually extremely slow compared to your private network.
You have 10/100/1000 but you might have 5/7/10mbit internet connection. I have 7mbit at home, which doesn't even break the 10 in 10/100.
So your cable modem doesn't effect your gigabit at all. You won't reach those speeds on the internet. Gigabit is really only good, at this point in your situation, to transfer files between your computers. Other than that it won't make surfing the internet any faster or anything like that.
Since most of the computers I have, have dual gigabit ports I will split the network and use two smaller switches. 1 switch for the internet, the other switch for LAN use. This way I think I can use jumbo frames as well (will have to check all my nics).
Any recommendations on which 8 port switch to buy?
I read the review of the 8 Gigabit Switch Roundup over at smallnetbuilder.com but with all the comments everyone wrote I'm not sure which switch to buy anymore.