Best L2 Managed Ethernet Switches
|1. ZyXEL GS1900-16 Ethernet Switch||2. Zyxel NSW100-10P Ethernet Switch||3. Engenius ECS1008P Ethernet Switch|
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|4. Ubiquiti EdgeSwitch ES-8XP Ethernet Switch||5. TP-Link TL-SG108E Ethernet Switch||6. NETGEAR GS750E Ethernet Switch|
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1. ZyXEL GS1920-8HP 10-Port Cloud Smart Ethernet Switch
The Zyxel GS1920-8HP is the first 8-port PoE switch released by the Chinese manufacturer, offering a very compact case considering its features, which includes the 130W PoE budget, a couple of SFP ports, lots of advanced SMB-suitable capabilities and most importantly, the full integration to the Nebula Cloud management platform (it will seamlessly work along other Cloud-compatible Zyxel devices), as well as the possibility to be fully configured in stand-alone mode (I know that the Ethernet switch is advertised as being the second version, but that’s for making it easier to be discerned from the previous generation of GS1920 switches).
Note: The Zyxel GS1920-8HPv2 is a hybrid Cloud Ethernet switch (part of the NebulaFlex series), but the manufacturer also offers a ‘purely’ Cloud-managed Ethernet switch series which includes the slightly more powerful NSW100-10P.
Design-wise, the ZyXEL GS1920-8HP is a relatively small and compact device, having a metallic rectangular body covered by a black matte finish. And that’s pretty much the standard blueprint for this type of devices, but to add a differentiating element, Zyxel has added a carbon-fiber-like front panel (covered by a glossy finish). One of the most compact PoE switches is the unmanaged TRENDnet TPE-LG80, but, since it’s more powerful, the GS1920-8HP needed to be a bit bigger, but it’s still impressively compact especially when put next to its Cloud-only sibling, the NSW100-10P. That being said, the GS1920-8HP measures 10.51 x 6.38 x 1.73 inches and it weighs 4.19 lb, so it’s quite heavy considering its size.
This means that you won’t really have a problem placing it anywhere in the room (on a desk or on a shelf), but if space is very important (especially when dealing with crowded business offices), ZyXEL offers the possibility to mount the switch on the wall (use the two screws provided in the box) and, additionally, you get the option to mount it on a rack (there are two mounting brackets included in the package to help you), just be careful to not obstruct the airflow of the switch.
The ZyXEL GS1920-8HP relies on passive cooling, so it lacks the loud fans that some of us have come to dread. On the left and the right side of the switch there are some ventilation grills that should ensure a proper airflow, as well as on the top side (where there are some large cut-outs), but bear in mind that the GS1920-8HP does have the tendency to get a bit warm (and sometimes hot to the touch, unlike the fan-cooled NSW100-10P). The bottom side of the switch is home to four feet (they come separately and you have to stick them to the bottom of the device), two holes for wall-mounting and some labels (with the product name, model number and the power consumption).
On the front side of the ZyXEL GS1920-8HP, you can find the 10 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet BASE-T ports positioned in two blocks, one consists of 8 PoE LAN ports and the other of two non-PoE LAN ports. On the left side of the ports, there are five PoE MAX Usage LEDs (will light up as you add more PoE devices and draw more power – when less than 5% remains from the total budget, then the last LED will start flashing), as well as a LED for Power, a System LED (if it’s blinking, it means that the system is either rebooting or is performing self-diagnostic tests), a Cloud LED (if it flashes green, then the device has not yet been registered to the Nebula Control Center, but a solid green shows that it’s registered to the NCC) and a Locator LED; additionally, there two small LEDs showing the LINK/ACTIVITY for every port (if the green LED is blinking, it means that the system is transmitting and/or receiving data from a 100/1000 Mbps network, otherwise, if it’s on, it means that the link to a 100/1000Mbps network is up and running).
Underneath the block of LEDs, there is a recessed Reset button (accessible using a paper clip along with a Restore button to help you return the device to a previously saved configuration. On the rear side of the switch, there is a Power port (AC input 100-240VAC 50/60Hz 0.25A MAX), but there is no Power ON/OFF switch.
On the inside, ZyXEL has equipped the GS1920-8HP with a Broadcom BCM59121B0KWLG PoE Controller, a Texas Instruments TPS23754 IEEE 802.3at PoE controller, 128 MB of DDR3L SDRAM and 32 MB of IC Flash Memory. Furthermore, the ZyXEL GS1920-8HP has a switching capacity of 20 Gbps, a packet buffer of 1.5 million bytes, a forwarding rate of 15 Mbps and 16K MAC address table.
Setting up the GS1900-16 is very easy, all you have to do is connect the switch to a power supply and add up to 10 devices using Ethernet cables (and an additional of two using the SFP ports). Furthermore, ZyXEL gives you the option to configure your network using the standalone web-based user interface and to access it, you have to go to the IP address of the device, where you’ll be prompted to insert the user name and password (admin/1234) and lastly, you have to click Login to access the utility (in case the IP address coincides with that of the router – the case when the IP is set to static – you can change it using the ZON utility). That being said, the UI looks a bit dated, but it offers all the features one may expect from a managed Ethernet switch. The menu on the left includes the Basic Setting (PoE Setup, DNS and Cloud Management), the Advanced Applications (VLAN Configuration, Static MAC and Multicast Forwarding, Filtering and STP, the Bandwidth Control, Port Mirroring, Link Aggregation, Port Authentication, Port Security, Time Range, the Classifier, the Queuing Method, Loop Guard, Private LAN and more), the IP Application and the Management (to upgrade the Firmware, set the Remote Management, view the Port Status and more).
Since the ZyXEL GS1920-8HP is a hybrid Ethernet switch, it will also work seamlessly with the Nebula Control Center and the device can be registered using either the Nebula app (it offers a healthy amount of features but it is a bit more limited than the web-based NCC) or through the Nebula Control Center which is accessible through a web browser (to do, so, you need to register the switch from the Inventory section which is part of the Organization section). After registering the GS1920-8HP, you will be able to see it along with some other stats on the Dashboard (part of the Site-Wide section). If you click on the Switch option (from the top menu), you will be able to Monitor and Configure the device. The Monitor group of settings includes a list of all connected switches, the Event Log and the Client list while the Configure group allows you to view the Switch ports, set up the IP filtering, the Advanced IGMP, the RADIUS Policy, the PoE Schedule and the Switch configuration.
Note: The ZyXEL GS1920-8HP is compatible with the following standards: IEEE 802.1Q, IEEE 802.3u, IEEE 802.1ab, IEEE 802.3az, IEEE 802.3af, IEEE 802.3at, IEEE 802.1p, IEEE 802.1x, IEEE 802.3AB, IEEE 802.3ad, IEEE 802.3w, IEEE 802.3X and IEEE 802.3s.
2. Zyxel NSW100-10P Nebula Cloud Ethernet PoE Switch
Over the last two years, Zyxel has been building its Nebula Cloud management software, slowly including more networking products under its NebulaFlex series (they’re hybrid devices, supporting both full Cloud and full standalone management) but it has recently released a new line of ‘purely’ Cloud-based devices which includes security gateways (such as the NGS50), wireless access points (such as the NAP303) and Ethernet switches, such as the Zyxel NSW100-10P, an 8-port PoE+ (+ 2 SFP) switch which offers a power budget of 180W (the second device from Zyxel to be a part of the best Ethernet switches list).
The Nebula Cloud-managed NSW100 series also includes a non-PoE 8-port switch and a couple of 24-port Ethernet switches, one with support for PoE (375W power budget) and the other lacking this support.
When put next to the GS1920-8HP, the Zyxel NSW100-10P is significantly larger (it needs two fans to remain cool), but it does follow the same guidelines as the other switches on the market, which means that we’re dealing with a rectangular case covered by a black matte finish all around and with a white front panel (where rest the ports and the LEDs). As said before, the NSW100-10P is not a compact device, measuring 12.99 x 9.07 x 1.75 inches and, while Zyxel has added four silicone pads that you can add to the bottom of the switch (to keep it on a desk or shelf), since it’s not a passive-cooled device, I would advise that you mount it on a rack (the manufacturer has added a mounting kit in the package).
I really enjoyed the compact size of the GS1920-8HP but it did have some trouble remaining cool (especially during the summer, when I tested the device), so it’s not ideal to rely on passive cooling with this type of devices (especially if the PSU is internal). And that’s where the NSW100-10P gets it right, despite being larger: the two fans do a great job at keeping the case cool despite the number of connected PoE clients. You do need to keep in mind that the fans aren’t that quiet and for this reason, you may want to keep the Ethernet switch within a special enclosure.
The front of the NSW100-10P contains eight PoE Gigabit LAN ports, two non-PoE Gigabit LAN ports, two 100/1000Mbps SFP ports (for connecting a couple of fiber optic transceivers) and a 9-pin console port (for running a terminal emulation).
To the left of the eight PoE ports block, Zyxel has positioned the LED indicators. First there’s a four LED block which includes the Power LED, the System LED (will be solid green after the switch has been connected to the Nebula Control Center), the ALM LED (if it’s red, then the system has encountered an error) and a Locator LED (to help you identify the switch if it has been installed along many other devices). Next to these LEDs, there are two additional blocks of indicators, two for each of the eight PoE ports, one indicating the status of the Link/Activity (will flash green when the data is transmitted on a 1,000 Mbps connection and will flash amber if the data is transmitted on a connection of either 10 or 100 Mbps) and the other will show the status of the PoE (green indicates that the power supplied meets the 802.3ad standard and amber indicates that it meets the 802.3af standard).
Note: On the rear side of the switch, there’s an AC Input 100-240VAC 50/50Hz 2.55A Max power connector.
Inside the case, the Zyxel NSW100-10P is equipped with a Broadcom BCM59111KMLG ZA1819 PoE Controller 802.3at, 128 MB DDR3 RAM (from NANYA), a RealTek RTL8231 QFC chip and a 32F100 C8T67 GQ25G 1893 STMicroelectronics ARM micro-controller. Furthermore, the NSW100-10P has a switching capacity of 20 Gbps, 16K MAC address table and a forwarding rate of 15 Mbps.
The hardware installation of the NSW100-10P is similar to any other Ethernet switch, just connect it to a power source and a router and then just start adding clients, but, since this is an L2 managed switch, we do get to configure various aspects of the network. The NSW100-10P was built to be immediately adopted to the Nebula Cloud Center, but, if you want to, you can configure it locally, just know that the options will be very limited (you can access the stand-alone UI by entering the switches’ IP address in a web browser’s URL). Otherwise, just register an account on the NCC (go to https://nebula.zyxel.com) and, after creating a new Organization and Site, you will gain access to the full user interface (yes, you can create multiple sites for an easy device deployment).
The Nebula Control Center is differently organized than the UniFi controller from Ubiquiti or the CloudTrax from OpenMesh, having its main sections on a horizontal menu and each section has two groups of options, Monitor and Configure. Under Monitor, you can view a list of all connected Switches and, by clicking on the NSW100-10P, it will summon a dedicated window where you can view some stats about the device and, towards the bottom, you will see a graphical representation of the ports (click on the ports to configure them – includes Static link aggregation and LACP, Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol, STP Guard, Port isolation, Loop guard and the Storm control); furthermore, under Monitor you can view all the connected Clients, consult the Event log, view the IPTV Report and the Summary Report.
Under the Configure group of options, you can set the IP filtering, assign specific VLANs or Auto-detect for the IGMP snooping VLAN, set the RADIUS policy, configure the PoE schedule or access the more in-depth Switch configuration (includes configuring the Management VLAN, the STP, the QoS, add Port mirroring, Authentication servers, enable the Voice VLAN or the DHCP Server Guard). Additionally, Zyxel has also made available a mobile application called Nebula (Android OS and iOS), where you can add new devices to the Cloud, view various stats and perform some basic configuration, but it is far more limited in functionality than the web-based NCC.
The NSW100-10P is compatible with the following standards: IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3af, IEEE 802.3at, IEEE 802.3az, IEEE 802.3ad, IEEE 802.3AB, IEEE 802.3D, IEEE 802.w, IEEE 802.3u, IEEE 802.3X, IEEE 802.3ab, IEEE 802.3z, IEEE 802.3Q and IEEE 802.3p.
Note: Inside the package, you can find the NSW100-10P Nebula Cloud Ethernet PoE Switch unit, the AC adapter, the wall-mounting kit, the silicone footpads and the installation guide.
3. Engenius ECS1008P Cloud Managed Switch
EnGenius is currently expanding its Cloud managed infrastructure and the ECS1008P is a part of the latest Ethernet switches series that focuses towards providing an alternative to the more expensive products from the enterprise-level manufacturers by bringing more and more advanced features to the small and medium businesses. The subscription-free Cloud management platform is also an important factor, specially when Ubiquiti has been raising its prices for a while now, allowing more competitors to enter this networking department.
The Engenius ECS1008P is an entry-level PoE switch and it comes to complement the new line of Cloud-managed wireless APs, promising to offer a better integration with an already existing network of access points. In terms of design, the ECS1008P looks similar to the other switches on the market, so it features a metallic rectangular case, covered by a dark blue matte finish (doesn’t retain fingerprints). And, since this is a managed PoE switch, you may expect that it isn’t as compact as the other 8-port switches from the competition, but you’d be wrong because Engenius has managed to make the ECS1008P as small as the unmanaged TRENDnet TPE-LG80 (it measures 9.44 x 4.13 x 1.06 inches) and it is also reasonably lightweight (weighing 1.36 lbs).
Of course, this could only be achieved by having an external power brick – for example, the Zyxel GS1920-8HP is larger and heavier because it has an internal PSU. Since it’s very compact, the Engenius ECS1008P can’t be mounted on a rack, but, thanks to the couple of holes on the bottom side, you can mount the switch on the wall or you can also simply keep it on a flat surface, such as a desk or a shelf (you need to attach the four provided rubber feet, which have proven to be very reliable at keeping the device from budging).
Furthermore, Engenius ensured that the switch won’t overheat by adding lots of ventilation holes on the left and the right side of the device, as well as on the rear area and it’s also worth mentioning that inside the case, there’s a very large heatsink that does have a significant role into maintaining a proper internal temperature.
On the front side of the Engenius ECS1008P switch, you can find almost all the ports and LED indicators: first, there’s the Power LED, followed by the Fault LED (indicates an error) and PoE Max (if it’s turned on, you have exceeded the maximum allowed PoE budget – 55W); further to the left, there are two LED lights which show if the LAN Mode or the PoE Mode is enabled, along with the LED mode button which switches between these two modes and a small Reset button (for going back to the factory default settings). Next, you’ll find eight Gigabit (10/100/1000M) Ethernet ports that can be used to connect your PoE devices (supports the IEEE 802.3af PoE standard) and each of these ports has its own set of LED lights, one showing the Mode (solid amber shows a 10/100 Mbps connection, while solid green indicates a connection at 1000 Mbps) and the other, the Link/ACTivity (solid green means that a valid link has been established, while blinking green indicates that there is a transmission of packets).
On the rear side of the device, you’re going to find the power adapter, an On/Off switch (a real rarity with Ethernet switches) and a grounding screw.
Inside the case, Engenius ECS1008P is equipped with a Broadcom BCM59121B0KMLG PoE controller, a Nuvoton WO516lDEARM microcontroller, 256 MB of DRAM (from NANYA), 32MB of NOR flash memory (from Macronix) and four GL2P1025 ACE 19188 transformers. Furthermore, the switching capacity of the Engenius ECS1008P is 16 Gbps.
Hardware-wise, the switch is well built and has decent internal components, but one of the main selling points is the compatibility with the Cloud management platform, allowing the user to configure and monitor the network (or networks) remotely. There is also a local management software, but it is extremely basic, so you should register a new account on the Cloud and add the switch to a new network. This way, you’ll be able to configure multiple Ethernet switches along with a high number of wireless access points and SkyKey appliances (for controlling non-Cloud APs) and the user interface has made it quite easy, displaying a graphical representation of all connected devices.
The switch-related features include the ability to see and manage the PoE budget per port, as well as to configure the VLAN (and Voice VLAN), the STP, QoS, the Flow Control, Port Trunking (Static or LACP), Port Mirroring and a lot more. You can also use the mobile application which is a bit more limited, but will allow you to make some amount of changes to your sites, until you can access the full web-based Cloud management software.
Note: Inside the package, there is the Engenius ECS1008P switch unit, the Power brick, four rubber feet and a Quick Start Guide (there is no Ethernet cable).
4. Ubiquiti EdgeSwitch ES-8XP Ethernet Switch
If you’ve been wondering what happened to the ToughSwitch line, well, apparently Ubiquiti decided that it no longer wants to support it (the switches reached EOL) and instead, it rebranded the line as EdgeSwitch-XP. This means that the old TOUGHSwitch TS-8-PRO became the Ubiquiti EdgeSwitch ES-8XP, but, besides the top logo and the software, nothing else changed. So, we still get a PoE (passive) switch equipped with 8 ports, the same rugged exterior (which UI guess is useful if you carry it around a lot) and a better, more intuitive user interface (it all sounds good, but those that have deployed multiple ToughSwitches may not be that happy about needing to completely change the software).
If you haven’t heard about Ubiquiti (and I would be surprised if you actually didn’t), know that it’s a manufacturer of enterprise-level networking products which also offers affordable solutions suitable for small business offices or for home use, as opposed to the expensive devices from the likes of Cisco or the budget-friendly consumer-oriented manufacturers that leave out many features for the sake of simplicity or for keeping the cost as low as possible (of course, Ubiquiti falls somewhere in the middle, as it offers some advanced features for a better price than its competitors).
Some time ago I had a look at the Layer 3 managed EdgeSwitch ES-24-250W and, while the ES-8XP is now part of the same series, it hasn’t adopted the industrial look, instead, it has kept the rubber and metal combination (which gives the device a rugged look). As a consequence, the case will require a tray to be mounted inside a rack, but, as a positive, the ES-8XP moved away from the plain, boring design of the average switch and, instead of the usual rectangular box, it has some chamfered edges on the left and right side of the device, while on the top, the switch has a recessed area covered almost entirely by small puncture holes. Besides that, the device is covered by a black matte finish, so it doesn’t retain fingerprints. Furthermore, the EdgeSwitch ES-8XP is made to easily fit on a shelf or simply, on the desk, measuring 8.3 x 7.3 x 1.6 inches and weighing 2.7 lbs, so, even though it looks smaller than the usual 8-port PoE switch and, because of its weight and the rubber from the bottom area, this device won’t budge no matter how many cables you connect to its ports.
On the bottom of the switch you can still find the usual label with info about the device (such as the MAC address). The rear panel of the EdgeSwitch ES-8XP is mostly occupied by a large area with ventilation holes (some additional ventilation holes can also be found on the lateral sides and on the top of the device) and a Power socket (which connects to a power brick, it doesn’t have an internal PSU). It’s good to see that Ubiquiti made all the proper steps into ensuring a good airflow and, since there is no fan installed inside the case (despite implementing the PoE technology), it relies solely on passive cooling, so you won’t be bothered by any loud fan noises – the switch remains completely silent.
The front panel is the place with the most activity: from the left, there’s a Management port (it’s a 10/100 Mbps port specifically created for the management of the switch, but, of course, you can use it as an additional Ethernet port, but be aware that it doesn’t do well under heavy load and it comes with the 10/100 Mbps and non-PoE limitations), a USB 2.0 port (it seems that this port can only be used to power up devices, as it provides 5V of power), eight 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet PoE ports (the maximum PoE wattage per data port is 11.5W for 24V and 23W for 48V) and a small Reset button (hold the button for more than 10 seconds to return the device to factory default settings). Furthermore, every port features two LED lights, one for PoE (green means 24V PoE, amber signifies 48V PoE) and the other for Speed/Link/Activity (amber means an established link at 10/100 Mbps, while green means an established link at 1000 Mbps; if either colours are flashing, it signifies activity). The Management port has only one LED light which will be amber when there is Power and when there’s a 10/100 Mbps established connection.
Inside the case, the EdgeSwitch ES-8XP PoE switch is equipped in the same manner as the TOUGHSwitch TS-8-PRO (no, Ubiquiti didn’t take the chance to upgrade the internal hardware), so also comes with a Broadcom BCM53128 SoC (Atheros AR7242 MIPS 24K CPU clocked at 400MHz), along with 8 MB of flash storage and 64 MB of RAM.
The hardware installation process is as simple as it gets and all you have to do is connect the Power cord to the Power port and to an outlet, then use an Ethernet cable and connect it to the Management port and to the Ethernet port from your PC (to perform the configuration of the switch) and lastly, you can simply add any devices you want (including PoE) using additional Ethernet cables. After you have installed the switch, you can configure the device by visiting the Configuration Interface (type https://192.168.1.20 in your favourite web browser and enter ubnt for both the user name and the password).
If you’re familiar with the UI of the TOUGHSwitch TS-8-PRO, well, you get the same experience, the interface featuring five main sections: Status, Device, Ports, VLANs and Alerts, each with its own window and set of options. The Status section displays a graphic representation of the switch, with all connected ports and the specific LED light, as well as the Total Throughput, the Status of the device, the Status of the Ports (as well as Port Statistics) and the Data Distribution between the ports. The Device section also keeps the upper graphic representation of the switch and addresses the Firmware Update, it allows you to change the Management Network Settings, the Basic Settings, the Management Connection Settings, configure the Services, the Spanning Tree Protocol, the Jumbo Frames, access the Device Discovery, the System Account, the Device Maintenance and the Configuration Management.
The Ports section consists of Basic Settings, Ping Watchdog settings, the Spanning Tree Settings and the Alerts for every EdgeSwitch port.
The VLANs section allows you to Trunk Ports and configure Virtual Local Area Networks, while the Alerts section shows the Alert and System logs. Besides the main sections, on the right side, there’s also a Tools drop-down list which includes the MAC Forwarding Table, Ping, Traceroute and Discovery.
The novelty element is the support for the UNMS (Ubiquiti Network Management System) which is a great tool for configuring and monitoring any Ubiquiti devices and it is a far larger environment than the UniFi controller (the latter will be viewed as an endpoint within the UNMS).
The EdgeSwitch ES-8XP is compatible with the following standards: IEEE 802.1Q-based VLAN with 4K entries, IEEE 802.3x, 802.3, 802.3u, 802.3ab.
Note: Inside the package, there is the Ubiquiti EdgeSwitch ES-8XP Switch, a Power cord and the Quick Start Guide.
5. TP-LINK TL-SG108E Ethernet Switch
The TP-LINK TL-SG108E is part of the TP-Link’s Easy Switch series, which offers a slight degree of customization, but not so much as to be considered fully manageable. As expected, TP-Link is an alternative to the more expensive switches from the market (like Cisco) and it aims to implement as much technology possible, while maintaining an affordable price. This makes the TP-Link switches perfect for home use or for small businesses.
From the design point of view, the TP-LINK TL-SG108E has the same rectangular metallic case, this time with a dark grey blue finish, but what attracts attention is that it’s incredibly compact, it’s not larger than a small book (or a VHS tape, if you remember those). It only measures 6.2 x 4.0 x 1.0 inches and it weighs 0.86 pounds (so it’s quite lightweight). Sure, it has rubber feet to stop the switch from budging, but, if you connect devices to all ports, you may have to pay attention to not position the device near the edge of the table (especially if you go for the 5-port or the 8-port version).
Since this is a small device, you won’t really have trouble positioning it anywhere in the room, but if you want to mount the switch on the wall, TP-Link made this option possible by adding two holes on the bottom of the device. Because of its reduce size, you obviously can’t mount it on a rack and the only unit from this series that is rack-mountable is the 48-port TL-SG1048.
As expected, the TP-LINK TL-SG108E does not have a fan and relies on passive cooling, so make sure that you don’t obstruct the vent holes on the sides. On the bottom side of the switch, besides the wall mounting holes, there is a label with printed information about the device (the MAC address, the Serial Number, the default IP address, the user name and the password).
On the front side, you can find a Power LED and the 8 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45 Ethernet ports (the connected cables must not exceed 328 feet). Each port has two LED lights on the top left and right side (if the LED light is amber, it means that it is connected to a 10/100Mbps device, otherwise, if the LED is green, it means that the port is connected to a 1000Mbps device). The rear side of the switch is occupied by a Kensington lock and the Power port.
Inside the case, the TL-SG108E is equipped with a Realtek RTL8370N Switch Controller (Layer 2) and 1MB of flash memory. The switching capacity of the TL-SG108E is 16Gbps.
The hardware installation is quite simple, you have to connect the switch to a power outlet, using the provided Power adapter and then connect it to a router (to access the Internet) and/or connect any desired clients to create a LAN network. Since the TL-SG108E is a smart switch, it does feature a configuration utility that is compatible only with the Windows OS.
In order to access the interface, you have to install the Easy Smart Configuration Utility. If you access the utility, you will be prompted to insert the user name and password in order to gain access to the main interface. Here, you can find six main tabs: System, Switching, Monitoring, VLAN, QoS and Help. The System tab has the following sub-tabs: System Info, IP Setting, User Account, Backup and Restore, System Reboot, System Reset and Firmware Upgrade.
The Switching tab consists of Port Setting (Speed/Duplex and Flow Control), IGMP Snooping and Port Trunk (up to two trunk groups, each with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 port members). The Mirroring tab has the following sub-tabs: Port Statistics (Link Status and more), Port Mirror (ports that are part of a trunk group cannot be mirroring or mirrored ports), Cable Test (tests the ports and shows the cable fault distance) and Loop Prevention (if a loop is detected, the port will be automatically blocked in order to maintain the network running; it must be coordinated with the Storm Control).
The VLAN tab features the following sub-tabs: MTU VLAN, Port Based VLAN, 802.1Q VLAN and 802.1Q PVID Setting. The TL-SG108E supports 32 VLANs. The QoS tab has the following sub-tabs: QoS Basic (four priority levels), Bandwidth Control (you can set ingress and egress bandwidth limits for every port) and Storm Control (one limit to control possible storm traffic rates).
The TP-LINK TL-SG108E is compatible with the following standards: IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3ab, IEEE 802.3u, IEEE 802.3x and IEEE 802.1p.
Note: Inside the package, you can find the TP-LINK TL-SG108E switch unit, a Power cord, an Installation Guide, the Resource CD and the rubber feet.
6. NETGEAR GS750E Ethernet Switch
The NETGEAR GS750E is one of the best smart managed switches to choose if you want to take the next step from an unmanaged switch and to ensure that you have a reliable entry-to-intermediate-level solution for small businesses or even for home users enthusiasts. So, if you’re coming from an unmanaged switch, the Gigabit Smart Managed Plus Series will offer a lot more control over how your devices are connected to the network and a more flexibility to do some basic management (more so than your average web-smart switches).
On the other hand, if you downgrade from a fully managed switch, you’ll notice that a lot of features are gone and that there’s a lot more constraint over the management capability. That being said, the GS750E offers the essential networking features (such as QoS for traffic prioritization, loop prevention, VLAN support, Auto DoS prevention or IGMP snooping v1, v2 and v3 support for multicast optimization) but it does lack support for PoE – if this feature is mandatory, you could have a look at the Netgear GS105PE.
The NETGEAR GS750E features the usual rectangular, metallic case, covered by a light grey matte finish and on the front the switch barely tries to break the monotony by using a darker grey nuance to surround the ports. It isn’t easy to stand out of the crowd from the design point of view when dealing with enterprise-focused networking products, but nobody really expects them to, since people will value a lot more the built quality and the features of the GS750E than any other eye-catching unnecessary element.
The switch is well-built and reasonably compact, measuring only 17.3 x 8.0 x 1.7 inches; it’s not really lightweight though (weighing about 7.17 lbs), but once again, that’s to be expected for a switch with 48 ports. The device lacks an internal fan, therefore it runs completely silent and, since it relies on passive cooling, the GS750E features a series of vent holes on the left and right side of the case in order to maintain a proper airflow (I was a bit concerned when I saw that a 48-port switch does not have at least a fail-safe fan, but, so far, it did not give any signs that it could overheat even with all the ports connected – this usually happens with PoE switches, where a fan is mandatory). Furthermore, the device is equipped with four feet if you want to put it on a desk or shelf, but, it also has four holes on each side for mounting on a rack horizontally.
Now, returning on the front of the switch, you’ll notice a small Power Led on the left side, along with a recessed Reset button (which has the role of returning the device to factory default settings) and on the right side there are four blocks of 10/100/1000 Base-T RJ45 Ethernet ports (each with 12 ports, which makes 48, in total) and each port has its own LED light that has the role of showing the status of the connection: if the LED is solid green, then a valid 1000 Mbps link is established (if the LED is blinking green, then the port is receiving and transmitting data at 1000 Mbps) and, if the LED is solid amber, then you either get a valid 10 or 100 Mbps link established (flashing amber means activity on the port at 10 or 100 Mbps).
Further to the right, there are two additional SFP ports for fibre uplinks, each with its own LED light (Link/Activity): if there’s a valid 1000 Mbps link established, then the LED will be solid green, while if data is being transmitted or received at 1000 Mbps, the LED will blink a green colour; the LED it will remain solid amber as long as a valid link was established at 100 Mbps, while it will blink amber if the port is receiving or transmitting packets at 100 Mbps.
On the rear side, the GS750E has a Kensington lock and the 100-240V ~ 50-60Hz power connector (1 A maximum, the power supply is internal). On the bottom, there’s a label with info about the device (such as the model name and the MAC address).
Setting up the Netgear GS750E is pretty simple and intuitive, all you have to do is connect the switch to a power source and then add all the devices (in a plug-and-play manner), but, all switches from the Plus series come with a configuration utility (ProSafe Plus Utility) which allows some degree of management (unfortunately, it only works with Microsoft Windows OS). After you install the utility (from the resource CD or from the official website), you’ll be asked to choose the switch that you wish to configure and to enter a password for the device.
As a side note, be aware that the utility can be a bit slow at times. You can also access and configure the GS750E directly through the web browser–based management interface – you can access it by going to the IP address of the switch (it is 192.168.0.210 by default).
Note: In terms of performance, the switch features a 1.5MB packet buffer, it supports 4k VLANs, a 11.9 Mfps packet forwarding rate (64 byte), up to 9K Jumbo Frames an 16K dynamic MAC address table VLAN entries.
The interface of the GS750E has a top main menu with four options (System, VLAN, QoS and Help), each with its own set of settings. So, under System, you can visit Management (here, you can access and configure the Switch Information (includes enabling DHCP Mode), view the Port Status, configure the Loop Prevention, enable the Power Saving Mode and Broadcast/Forwarding), Maintenance (here, you can Change the Password, change the Switch Management Mode (Web browser Only or along with the PROSafe Utility), perform Device Reboot, return to Factory Default settings, perform Firmware Upgrade, set up the Access Control, Save the Configuration or Restore the Configuration), Monitoring (shows Port Statistics, gives you access to port Mirroring and Cable Tester), Multicast (IGMP Snooping – if you have enabled port-based or 802.1q-based VLANs, then you can specify a VLAN specifically for IGMP snooping) and LAG (allows you to configure the Link Aggregation between two managed switches and add ports under Link Aggregation Membership). The GS750E supports both port trunking and LACP groups (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) through IEEE 802.3ad Link Aggregation.
Under VLAN, you get two options: Port Based VLANs, 802.1Q (both with Basic and Advanced settings) and Voice VLAN, while under QoS, you get access to QoS – Global Configuration (where you can enable the 802.1p/DSCP-based QoS), Rate Limit and Broadcast Filtering (enable Broadcast Filtering and configure the Storm Control Rate).
Note: The NETGEAR GS750E is compatible with the following standards: IEEE 802.3az compliant, IEEE 802.3 Ethernet, IEEE 802.3ab 1000BASE-T, IEEE 802.1Q VLAN Tagging, IEEE 802.1p Class of Service, IEEE 802.3x Full-duplex Flow Control and IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-T.