What Is The SFP Module?

The SFP module (Small-Form Factor Pluggable) is a hot-pluggable and compact optical transceiver module that is used in data communication and telecommunication applications. Which are the best SFP modules in 2021 that you can get in the market? Being hot-pluggable, the SFP module can be added or removed when the system is running, allowing for easier replacement and installation.

The standards for SFP modules are laid down by an MSA (Multi-Source Agreement). SFP modules support gigabit ethernet, SONET, and fiber channel among various communication channels. They are thus developed as well as supported by many vendors of network components.

So what are the different SFP modules in the market? And what should you consider before making a choice? These are exactly the questions that we will try to answer next.

List of The Best SFP Module in 2021

How To Pick The Best SFP Module

Now that you know which are some of the best SFP modules in the market, you may be wondering how you can single out and select one that is best for your requirement. To help you with just that, we have compiled a list of the most important factors and considerations that you must go through.

Compatibility

Compatibility is the first and most important parameter to consider. Is it compatible with the specific devices you need it with? Just because the details list that it works with ‘Netgear’ or some other manufacturer products does not guarantee compatibility. Check specific switches or model numbers, user reviews, and product documentation to be sure of compatibility.

Operating Temperature and Stability

SFP modules are mostly used in data centers or with switches where the temperature ranges can vary. Ensure that the ones you are considering are recommended to work within the desired temperature range and do not overheat. Temperature stability is important as too high or low temperatures can affect optical sensibility and powers.

Manufacturer Support and Service

After-sales service and manufacturer support ensure that the SFP module lasts long and gives you the best performance. Often, there are some minor issues that may prevent it from working, such as a firmware upgrade. Something like this can be easily diagnosed and fixed if manufacturer support is available.

Warranty

Always go for a product that has at least 2 to 3 years of manufacturer warranty. This ensures that you do not have to search for frequent replacements and get the best out of your investment.

Budget

Your budget is also an important consideration. If you take care of all the above factors, then 3rd party SFP modules will help you save significant money without any compromise on performance and quality.

Check out the thorough reviews of the best SFP modules in 2021 below.

1. QSFPTEK 10G SFP Module

Best SFP Modules In 2021: Trusted Review-10TechPro

The QSFPTEK 10G SFP module is compatible with a range of open switches, including Cisco, Ubiquiti, Mikrotik, Netgear, and many others. It is ideal for use with routers, fiber switches, servers, NICs, and other fiber optic and server equipment that have 10Gb SFP+ ports. It has a multimode-duplex LC connector with a 10 Gb/s data rate.

It also has DDM or Digital Diagnostics Monitoring that allows for real-time monitoring of critical information and finding out problems. QSFPTEK offers a high-quality SFP Module that has been individually tested on different switches for providing a wide compatibility range.

Pros
  • Compatible with a wide range of switches
  • Digital diagnostics Monitoring for real-time information
  • High-quality construction
Cons
  • The maximum cable distance is limited to 300m
  • Slight heating issue reported with UBNT gear

2. H!Fiber 1000Base-T-Compatible SFP Module

Best SFP Modules In 2021: Trusted Review-10TechPro

H!Fiber’s 1000  Base-T fiber optic transceiver with an RJ45 interface is an SFP Module that is suitable for a variety of applications include ethernet, Catalyst switches, Wireless LAN Controllers, and Routers among many others that have a 1G SFP port. It uses an imported chip that is designed to offer high-performance while consuming low power and facilitate a fast and stable transmission of signals.

This module has a simple plug-and-play installation to save you from any hassles. You get a data rate of 1.25Gb/s with this optical module, with a maximum reach of 100-meters. The Category-5 copper wire further adds to its performance and high-quality. H!Fiber provides a 30-day return period along with 3-years of warranty and service along with this SFP Module.

Pros
  • Chip ensures low power consumption with high performance
  • Simple installation and set up
  • 30-day return with a 3-year warranty
Cons
  • No real-time diagnostics
  • Have a higher running temperature that is not reported to the switch

3. 10GTek 10GBase SFP Module

Best SFP Modules In 2021: Trusted Review-10TechPro

This 10GBase SFP Module from 10GTek comes with a 300-meter range and a 10G data rate. As per its official specs, it is made specifically for Mikrotik’s S+85DLC03D; it also works equally well with Ubiquiti gear. Installation is simple and all it takes is to plug it in. The free-coding service by 10GTek writes specific codes with password protection and ensures testing for best compatibility and functioning. The password protection eliminates any chances of an error like ‘unsupported transceiver’ that is common in 3rd party modules.

10GTek module works out of the box and is an ideal OEM replacement in most cases. With one of the longest ranges in their category, this SFP module may just be what you need to solve connectivity problems. It is backed by a 3-year manufacturer warranty.

Pros
  • 300m reach with a 10G data rate
  • Works with a range of brands as OEM replacement
  • Affordable and high-quality
Cons
  • Not compatible with individual switches like AT&T fiber switch
  • Heating issues with Cisco switches

4. H!Fiber 1000Base SFP Module Single-Mode

Best SFP Modules In 2021: Trusted Review-10TechPro

This SFP Module provides a 1.25 Gbps data rate with a 10km reach.  It has a duplex LC connector and 1000Base LX/LH Gigabit ethernet. This optical module is ideal for a range of applications, from Catalyst switches to industrial ethernets and various other routers and appliances. They are a perfect replacement for OEM switches providing excellent performance without any significant cons.

This SFP module is ready to work out of the box and does not require any installation. Simply plug it in and you are all set to go. For Cisco devices ensure that firmware is updated to the latest version. It also has an extended temperature range of 32 to 158 °F. DDM is also included to provide real-time data and a faster diagnosis of any issues.

Pros
  • Simplified setup
  • DDM for real-time data and diagnostics
  • Durable product with a high operating temperature range
Cons
  • No official warranty information provided
  • Separate variants for Cisco, Netgear, and Ubiquiti

5. ipolex 10G SFP Twinax Module

Best SFP Modules In 2021: Trusted Review-10TechPro

The ipolex 10G SFP twinax optical module comes with a 10GBase-CU, available in lengths from 0.5m to 7m. It works with a range of switches, including those from Cisco, D-link, Palo Alto, ZTE, Mikrotik, and Netgear, among others. The module is suitable for various applications from data centers to NAS (Network Attached Storage) to high-processing computing centers and others.

The small form factor provides a stable connection and better control over the bending angle. This also provides long life for the cable. The chip enables higher performance with low power consumption. The gold-plated plug makes it suitable for repeated plugging and unplugging as needed.

Pros
  • 3-year warranty, 30-day return period
  • Designed for durability and long service life
  • Versatile applications
Cons
  • Incompatible with certain Ubiquiti switches
  • When connecting SFP to SFP+ port, requires powering down of 10G port to 1G

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between SFP+ and SFP, and can SFP be used in SFP+ slots?

While both of them have the same appearance and size, SFP+ transceivers support speeds up to 10.3 Gbps while SFP supports up to 4Gbps. While SFP+ port does accept SFP optics in most cases, the speed has to be downgraded to 1G from 10G. However, the other way is not possible- you cannot plug SFP+ optics in an SFP port.

  • What are the best maintenance tips for the SFP module?

The end face must be kept clean while avoiding prolonged exposure in the air. The environmental humidity of the SFP transceiver must be kept normal, and it must be inserted gently to avoid any form of damage.

  • What is the life of an SFP Module?

Most vendors guarantee a lifespan of at least 3-years for the modules. Good quality modules, when taken care of properly, can easily last 3-5 years or more.

The Application of SFP Module

1. Short-distance network wiring

1000BASE-T sfp module supports 10/100/1000 adaptive and Auto MDI/MDIX, it can be used with Category 5 unshielded network patch cords and the transmission distance can reach 100m.

The 1000BASE-SX sfp module is compatible with the IEEE 802.3z 1000BASE-SX standard and can be used in multi-mode optical fiber links with a maximum transmission distance of 550m.

2. Long-distance network wiring

1000BASE-EX and 1000BASE-ZX sfp modules can be used with single-mode optical fibers and are suitable for long-distance network transmission. The transmission distance of 1000BASE-EX sfp modules can reach 40km, and the transmission distance of 1000BASE-ZX sfp modules can reach 80km.

When single-mode fiber (SMF) is used for a short distance, in order to avoid overload of the receiver, an optical attenuator needs to be inserted in the link.

The SFP port can support both SFP electrical port modules and SFP optical port modules. Both SFP ports and SFP modules have high flexibility and compatibility in practical applications and they are the best solution for your gigabit ethernet.

What are the differences between Gigabit transceiver and 10G transceiver

As we all know, the main difference between Gigabit sfp modules and 10 Gigabit sfp modules is that they have different transmission rates. The transmission rate of Gigabit sfp modules is 1000 Mbps, while the transmission rate of 10 Gigabit sfp modules is 10 Gbps.

What is the gigabit sfp module?

Gigabit sfp module is an optical module with a transmission rate of 1000Mbps, which is usually expressed by FE, and the transmission distance can reach 80m-160km. Generally speaking, we can distinguish Gigabit sfp modules from the specifications of the product itself and the optical module naming rules provided by different companies.

What is the 10G sfp+ module?

A 10G sfp+ module is an optical module with a transmission rate of 10G. There are IEEE 802.3ae, IEEE 802.3ak and IEEE 802.3an standards for 10 Gigabit sfp+ modules. When choosing a 10 Gigabit sfp+ module, we can consider some factors such as price, power consumption, and space.

Gigabit sfp modules are used in gigabit ethernet, dual-channel and two-way transmission synchronous optical network (SONET), while 10 gigabit sfp+ modules are used in 10 gigabit ethernet, STM-64 and OC-192 rate standard synchronous optical networks (SONET) and 10G fiber channel.

In the application, whether you should choose a Gigabit sfp module or a 10 Gigabit sfp+ module depends on your network type. For example, if your network is a Gigabit ethernet, you need a Gigabit sfp module, and a 10 Gigabit ethernet uses a 10 Gigabit sfp+ module. However, it should be noted that unless your Gigabit switch has a 10 Gigabit expansion port, you can use a 10 Gigabit sfp+ module, if not, you must strictly select the appropriate module according to the type of module and the port rate on the switch.

Why are SFP modules popular?

The volume of the SFP module is reduced by half compared with the volume of the GBIC optical module. The number of SFP ports on the same panel will be twice that of the GBIC module. In addition, SFP module has a plug-and-play mini optical fiber slot, which conforms to the data Center high density requirements. SFP modules have replaced GBIC optical modules in the data center.

Best SFP Modules In 2021: Trusted Review-10TechPro

SFP module has the following four advantages:

  • 1. Supports hot swap, which can reduce installation, maintenance and management time.
  • 2. The port is flexible.
  • 3. Robust design enhances reliability.
  • 4. Support digital optical monitoring (DOM) function.

What are the differences between SFP、SFP+、SFP28、QSFP+ and QSFP28

SFP, SFP+, SFP28, QSFP+ and QSFP28, these optical module types can be used to connect network switches and other network devices (such as servers or transceivers) for data transmission. But do you understand the specific differences between these modules? Are SFP module and QSFP+ module compatible? Can SFP28 modules be used in SFP+ slots? If you have these questions, please read on.

Best SFP Modules In 2021: Trusted Review-10TechPro

Before clarifying the difference between these modules, you need to understand what SFP, SFP+, SFP28, QSFP and QSFP28 are.

1. SFP module

SFP module can be understood as an upgraded version of GBIC. Its volume is only 1/2 of GBIC module, which greatly increases the port density of network equipment. In addition, the data transmission rate of the SFP module ranges from 100Mbps to 4Gbps.

2. SFP+ module

SFP+ module is a kind of 10G optical module of SFP module. SFP+ is an enhanced version of SFP, which is independent of the communication protocol. Generally connected with switches, optical routers, optical network cards, etc, it is used in 10G bps Ethernet and 8.5G bps fiber channel systems, it can meet the higher speed requirements of data centers and realize the network expansion and conversion of data centers.

The SFP+ module has high density and small size, and can communicate with other types of 10G modules, providing a higher installation density for data centers and saving costs. Therefore, it has become the mainstream pluggable optical module in the market.

In addition, SFP+ direct-connect cables (SFP+ DAC high-speed cables and AOC active optical cables) can connect two SFP+ ports without adding additional optical modules and cables (network cables or optical fiber jumpers). It is a good choice for direct connection between two adjacent short-distance network switches.

3. SFP28 module

SFP28 module is an enhanced version of the SFP+ module, which has the same size as SFP+, but it can support a single-channel 25Gb/s rate. SFP28 provides an efficient solution for the upgrade of 10G-25G-100G network, which can meet the continuously growing demand of next-generation data center networks.

4. QSFP+ module

QSFP+ module is an upgraded version of the QSFP module. QSFP module can support 4 channels of transmission at the same time, and the data rate of each channel is 1Gbit/s, but QSFP+ module is different from QSFP module that it supports 4×10Gbit/s channel transmission, QSFP+ module can achieve a 40Gbps transmission rate through 4 channels. Compared with SFP+, the transmission rate of QSFP+ modules can reach four times that of SFP+ optical modules. QSFP+ modules can be used directly when deploying 40G networks, thereby effectively saving costs while increasing port density.

5. QSFP28 module

QSFP28 module was born to meet the needs of 100G applications. There are 4 high-speed differential signal channels. The transmission rate of each channel ranges from 25Gbps to possible 40Gbps. It can meet the application needs of 100G Ethernet (4×25Gbps). There are many types of QSFP28 products, and there are different ways to realize 100G transmission, such as 100G direct connection, 100G to 4-channel 25G branch link or 100G to 2-channel 50G branch link.

The Similarities And Differences of SFP, SFP+, SFP28, QSFP+, QSFP28

SFP and SFP+: same size, different speed and compatibility

SFP and SFP+ modules are the same in size and appearance, so equipment manufacturers can adopt SFP physical designs on switches with SFP+ ports. Due to the same size, many customers use SFP modules on the SFP+ ports of switches. This operation is feasible, but the rate will be reduced to 1Gbit/s. Note that SFP+ modules cannot be used in SFP slots, otherwise the port or module may be damaged. In addition to the difference in compatibility, the transmission rates and standards of SFP module and SFP+ module are also different. SFP module can transmit up to 4Gbit/s, SFP+ module can transmit up to 10Gbit/s. SFP module is based on the SFF-8472 protocol, and SFP+ module is based on the SFF-8431 and SFF-8432 protocols.

SFP28 and SFP+: SFP28 module can be used in SFP+ port

As mentioned above, SFP28 module is an upgraded version of SFP+ module. The two have the same size, but the transmission rate is different. The transmission rate of SFP+ module is 10Gbit/s and the transmission rate of SFP28 module is 25Gbit/s. If the SFP+ module is inserted into the SFP28 port, the link transmission rate is 10Gbit/s. In addition, SFP28 direct-attached copper cables have higher bandwidth and lower loss than SFP+ direct-attached copper cables.

SFP28 and QSFP28: different protocol standards

Although both SFP28 and QSFP28 have the number “28”, their sizes and protocol standards are different. SFP28 module supports 25Gbit/s single channel, QSFP28 module supports 4 25Gbit/s channels. Both can be used in 100G networks, but they are used in different ways.

QSFP and QSFP28: different rates, different applications

QSFP+ and QSFP28 modules are the same in size, and both have 4 integrated transmit and receive channels. In addition, although QSFP+ and QSFP28 series products also have optical modules and DAC/AOC high-speed cables, the speeds are different. The QSFP+ module supports a single channel rate of 40Gbit/s, and the QSFP+ DAC/AOC supports a transmission rate of 4×10Gbit/s. The QSFP28 module transmits data at a rate of 100Gbit/s, and the QSFP28 DAC/AOC supports 4×25Gbit/s or 2×50Gbit/s. It should be noted that QSFP28 module cannot be used for 10G branch link, but if the switch with QSFP28 port supports QSFP+ module, you can insert QSFP+ module into QSFP28 port to realize 4×10G branch link.

The difference between SFP and SFP+, SFP28 and SFP+, QSFP+ and QSFP28 modules has been explained in detail above. Although some of them are similar in size and shape, their operating speeds are not the same. It is not difficult to see from the comparison that the main force for the development of optical modules is to achieve higher bandwidth while pursuing small size. This is proved by QSFP28 and QSFP+ with the same size but with higher bandwidth.

Can 10GB Switch Port Be Connected To Gigabit Switch Port?

With the development of networks tending to high speeds, 10 Gigabit switches are becoming more and more popular in enterprise networks. However, the compatibility issues between SFP and SFP+ module have always puzzled many users. For example, can SFP+ ports support SFP modules? Can SFP ports support SFP+ modules? Can the SFP port of the Gigabit switch be connected to the SFP+ port of the 10 Gigabit switch? The compatibility of SFP and SFP+ ports will be discussed below.

The SFP port on the Gigabit switch

With the continuous changes in the transmission rate of Ethernet switches, the types of ports are also constantly changing, such as SFP ports, SFP+ ports, SFP28 ports, QSFP+ ports, QSFP28 ports, etc. The SFP port is a compact and hot-swappable interface , For Ethernet, the transmission rate is 1Gbit/s, for Fiber Channel systems, the transmission rate can reach 4Gbit/s. When inserting the SFP module with an optical fiber jumper or copper cable into the SFP port of a gigabit switch, transmission at different distances can be realized. For example, the maximum transmission distance is 160 kilometers when the SFP 1G optical module is connected with the LC duplex fiber jumper, and the maximum transmission distance is 100 meters when the SFP-GB-GE-T module (electrical port module) is connected with the Category 5 network cable is used.

The SFP+ port on the 10G switch

10 Gigabit switches are classified into 10 Gigabit fiber switches and 10 Gigabit copper switches according to different port types. Among them, 10 Gigabit fiber switches are 10 Gigabit switches with SFP+ ports. Generally speaking, 10 Gigabit switches will have higher-speed uplink ports, such as QSFP+ ports and QSFP28 ports, to facilitate the connection of other higher-speed switches in the topology.

In most cases, SFP modules can be used on SFP+ ports

Can a 1G SFP module be plugged into a 10G SFP+ port for use? In most cases, it is possible, but if you insert an SFP optical module into an SFP+ port, the transmission rate of the link will be reduced to 1Gb, and some switches will lock the port rate at 1G until you reset the switch or when the configuration command is executed, the port rate will return to the original state. In addition, SFP+ ports generally cannot support rates below 1Gb. In other words, SFP+ ports cannot use 100BASE SFP optical modules. In fact, this problem depends largely on the switch itself, because some switches will support, but some cannot. Therefore, if you want to insert the SFP optical module into the SFP+ port of the 10 Gigabit switch, it is best to consult the supplier before using it to ensure that the SFP+ port of the 10 Gigabit switch can support dual rates.

SFP+ modules cannot be used on SFP ports under any circumstances

Can 10G SFP+ optical modules be used on 1G SFP ports? The answer is definitely “No”. As we all know, the speed of the optical module installed on the switch determines the speed of the port link. At present, the SFP+ ports on most 10 Gigabit switches are backward compatible and support 1G SFP modules. However, the SFP port on the Gigabit switch is not forward compatible, that is, it cannot support 10G SFP+ modules.

Can the SFP port of the Gigabit switch be connected to the SFP+ port of the 10 Gigabit switch?

As can be seen from the above, usually SFP+ ports can support SFP optical modules and SFP+ optical modules, while SFP ports can only support SFP optical modules but not SFP+ optical modules. Therefore, the two ends of the connection are mainly divided into the following two situations:

When the SFP+ module is used on the SFP+ port of the 10G switch and the SFP module is used on the SFP port of the Gigabit switch, the SFP+ port of the Gigabit switch cannot be connected to the SFP port of the Gigabit switch. Because the SFP+ module does not support auto-negotiation technology, the rate cannot be adjusted to 1G, this connection method is invalid.

When the SFP module is used on the SFP+ port of the Gigabit switch and the SFP module is used on the SFP port of the Gigabit switch, the SFP+ port of the 10 Gigabit switch can be connected to the SFP port of the Gigabit switch. It can work normally, and its link transmission rate is 1G.

All in all, most SFP+ ports can support SFP modules, but SFP ports cannot support SFP+ modules. Therefore, in order to ensure the correct operation of the network, the optical modules used at both ends must be compatible with each other.

Precautions for the connection of SFP+ modules and switches

  1. Pay attention to the wavelength and transmission distance of the optical modules used by the switches at both ends, whether they are the same, as well as single-fiber dual-fiber, single-mode and multi-mode problems. If the two ends are not equal, the corresponding converter should be used.
  2. Avoid static electricity and bumps when using the sfp+ module. If bumps occur, it is not recommended to continue using the optical module.
  3. Pay attention to the front and back of the optical module, the pull ring and label should face up.
  4. When inserting the optical module into the switch, try to push it to the bottom as hard as possible. Generally, there will be a slight vibration. After inserting the optical module, you can gently pull out the optical module to check whether it is in place.
  5. When disassembling the optical module, first pull the bracelet to a position of 90° to the optical port, and then pull out the optical module.

Final thoughts

Finding an SFP module is not hard when you consider all the right factors. You can easily get the best SFP modules of 2021 from Amazon that will provide you value for money and ensure that you get the best equipment for your project. The high-quality SFP modules that we have reviewed above are sure to save your money while ensuring high-performance and reliability throughout.

List of The Best SFP Module in 2021