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We are looking to upgrade our network infrastructure. We have fiber between our IDFs and our MDF but have found fiber core switches to be significantly more expensive than copper. If we were to have a copper core switch and use media converters to connect them to fiber to the closets, would there be any performance impact (bandwidth, latency, etc.?) compared to having a fiber switch?

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Did the price of a copper core switch plus however many media converters you'd need really come out that much cheaper than a fiber core switch? – Spiff May 13 '11 at 4:54
@obsidian, I'm curious whether you have some feedback on devices you considered... did any of them work for you in production? – Mike Pennington Aug 8 '11 at 19:09
Keep in mind that every converter needs extra power. So over five years you maybe can save money with a fibre switch. But this depends on the count of converters and the price difference. – CookieCrash Jul 3 '15 at 7:58

I have not seen a latency or performance impact, but it is a maintenance issue... many of these devices are not managable so you do not get good visibility to link error statistics or (in some really bad cases) you dont even get link down on both sides.

I dont want to be all negative, but do think carefully about troubleshooting, rack mounting, error conditions and management for the candidates you consider; I would be interested in your experiences if you find a particularly good device.

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Additionally, you're basically tripling the chances of a link going down due to device failure. – EEAA May 12 '11 at 12:36
thanks I meant to mention increased failure rate that when I started drafting the response in my head. – Mike Pennington May 12 '11 at 12:41

There is measurable latency (few ns); it's not noticeable unless your running HPCs or something similar.

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We had several small single-port (one in, one out) converters that we used for the same reason. It makes your cable management a little sloppy (as far as keeping wiring nice and tidy) which becomes more and more important as you grow and add servers and more cabling.

The failure rate was also pretty bad. We used two different brands (don't remember what they were now), and both brands seemed like they didn't last long before failing and having to be replaced. This is why we eventually (a year or two later) sprang for a decent rackmount switch with built-in fiber ports.

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We had good luck with a few media converters that we blindly ordered - didn't check where they came from, they were cheap enough to just try and they run w/out problems for years. – Ward May 13 '11 at 6:43

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