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Asus Releases XG-C100C 10GBASE-T NIC For $99 (Updated)

Update, 6/28/17, 8:50am PT: Asus officially announced the XG-C100C's release in North America. The company said the NIC is now available from "leading resellers" with the $100 MSRP we previously reported. Amazon still doesn't seem to have the card in stock--it's currently only available from a third-party seller--but Newegg does.

Original article: 6/21/17, 10:00am PT:

Asus rounded out the branded 10GbE ecosystem today with a desktop add-in network interface card to go with the previously released XG-U2008 unmanaged switch ($250 on Amazon). For less than $100 you get massive bandwidth with priority queuing for enhanced gaming support.

10GbE delivers just over 1,000MBps, which is just what you need to take advantage of your new NVMe protocol SSD across the network. The market is ready for a network upgrade, but we need products like the new XG-100C NIC and motherboards with the feature onboard to jump start demand, according to industry insiders.

The XG-C100C supports 10GbE and the latest 2.5 and 5GbE standards. The lower bandwidth standards have yet to appear in a home-focused switch, but when they're available, they'll allow you to use legacy CAT5e cabling to avoid the expense of running new wire throughout your home. In our testing, we've found that users can still use CAT5e to achieve 10GbE speeds for short distances.

IEEE 802.1p Priority Queuing is a supported feature on the XG-C100C, and it allows users to utilize Quality-of-Service (QoS) technology. This allows you to prioritize game packets over other traffic, for example, to help make sure you experience smooth gameplay even if you're using your network for other things at the same time.

The NIC will set your system back four PCI Express 3.0 lanes as required by the Aquantia AQtion Client Controller. There are two specifications that make this product stand out from other 10GbE NICs shipping today. The first is the low $99 price tag. Amazon already has a product page for the XG-C100C, but doesn't have stock at time of writing. The MSRP is low and we expect pricing to get better over time. The second standout feature is related to why the market has adopted the AQtion AQC107 controller: it consumes very little power, and thus produces very little heat. The products we've seen use a low-cost heat sink--or no heat sink at all, in the case on onboard designs. Both features run contrary to enterprise-focused products, which are expensive and require cooling beyond what most of us use in our quiet desktops.

The question many will ask is: What the hell do you do with 1,000MBps of network bandwidth? If you have to ask, then this might not be the upgrade for you. More products will support the 10GbE and Multi-Gigabit standards in time. Wouldn't it be nice to watch a high-definition movie from across the network without stuttering? 10GbE ships on nearly all of the latest network-attached storage appliances costing north of $450. Just like USB 3.1 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3, and NVMe, 10GbE enhances storage bandwidth, and that's what you need to increase before life-like gameplay can become a reality. Until then, you will just have to live with very fast file transfers and lower latency.

ProductAsus XG-C100C
ChipsetAquantia AQtion AQC107 Client Controller
Port AttributesRJ-45 100Mbps, 1Gbps, 2.5Gbps, 5Gbps/10GbpsAuto-Negotiation
StandardsIEEE 802.3an 10GBASE-TIEEE 802.3u 100Base-TX Fast EthernetIEEE 802ab 1000Base-T Gigabit EthernetIEEE 802az Energy Efficient EthernetIEEE 802.1p Priority Queuing
PerformanceJumbo Frame Support: 9 KB
Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.