Review: Netgear Gigabit Ethernet Switch: GS716Tv2

With two neg­a­tive posts in a row out of my sys­tem, let’s have some good news — which is to fore­shad­ow: I like the switch.

With my SRW2008 dying an igno­min­ious death, I start­ed out research­ing new switch­es with the hope that I could replace it with­out spend­ing too much mon­ey.  I quick­ly elim­i­nat­ed the Cis­co, HP and DLink switch­es in my price range from con­sid­er­a­tion as I required both man­aged capa­bil­i­ty to set VLANs and jum­bo frames.  See the above linked arti­cle for that whole discussion.

There were a few switch­es that fit these require­ments in my price range… made by Tp-Link, Net­gear and one oth­er that only NewEgg sold.  As far as the buy­ing deci­sion goes, I have no infor­ma­tion to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the Tp-Link from the Net­gear — it came down to stock and avail­abil­i­ty.  I have been hap­py with the Tp-Link devices that have come across my desk (most­ly access points and DSL routers), but the Net­gear GS716Tv2 was “in stock.”

There is an 8 port ver­sion of “almost” this switch that lists at $97.  This 16 port ver­sion (which I bought) they list at $188 and the 24 port ver­sion (which shares the same firmware) lists at $281.  For the fea­tures of the switch, these prices are well under half what the oth­ers are charg­ing for their “gimped” switch­es and who-knows-how-much of a dis­count off the switch­es with sim­i­lar function.

I was impressed while unbox­ing the switch that it took a stan­dard pow­er cord rather than a “wall wart.”  Most of the switch­es for sale now are adver­tis­ing  how “green” they are by using very lit­tle pow­er.  Many of them can use even less pow­er when devices they con­nect to are also turned off.  With this in mind, it’s nice to see that they’ve giv­en some thought to the pow­er sup­ply, too.  Accord­ing to the spec­i­fi­ca­tions, the 16 port switch con­sumes 16.5W at max­i­mum draw and the 24 port switch con­sumes 21.5W.  At rough­ly 1W per port, I’m impressed.

Also while unbox­ing, a brochure informed me that Net­gear was pre­pared to pro­vide me with all man­ner of eth­er­net switch­es … from these that we’re talk­ing about up to 1/2 rack sized mon­sters with blades full of 10GE ports.  It strikes me that while Net­gear is effec­tive­ly start­ing to eat the bot­tom of the mar­ket from the big guys, it might also be attempt­ing to make inroads into the large mar­ket.  It’s worth not­ing that these switch­es come with rack-mount ears.

After pow­er­ing up the switch, I pro­ceed­ed to attempt to use their includ­ed “mag­ic” man­age­ment soft­ware.  It failed to fig­ure out which of the many eth­er­net inter­faces on my work­sta­tion to use — and I was unable to instruct it which to used.  Osten­si­bly, it would auto detect­ed the switch’s IP address and allowed a num­ber of aggre­gate man­age­ment func­tions among many switch­es on the LAN, were I to have such a con­fig­u­ra­tion.  It was sim­ple enough for me to look for new MAC address­es on my router — and once found, I was able to imme­di­ate­ly use the inter­face.  The pass­word was “pass­word.” … which took me a few guess­es.  Some­one else might be chal­lenged by that, but they might also have a sim­pler work­sta­tion con­fig­u­ra­tion.  I prob­a­bly could have used my lap­top (which has a sim­ple con­fig­u­ra­tion), so I’m will­ing to over­look this minor problem.

The web inter­face itself is straight for­ward, if a bit slow.  It takes sev­er­al sec­onds to com­plete each oper­a­tion.  What impressed me most, how­ev­er, was the laun­dry list of  avail­able fea­tures and con­fig­u­ra­tion.  Not only does this switch sup­port my require­ments of VLANs (part of 802.1q) and jum­bo pack­ets, but also a laun­dry list of 802.1 vari­ants that include QOS (includ­ing some QOS auto con­fig for voice), radius authen­ti­ca­tion on a per-port basis, bit-rate con­trol in 64kbit incre­ments on each port, port mir­ror­ing and not just span­ning tree, but mul­ti­ple span­ning tree (which is impor­tant when you have sys­tems and MAC address­es that appear on mul­ti­ple vlans in dif­fer­ent configurations).

It only sup­ports 128 VLAN’s, but at 16 or 24 ports, this is rea­son­able and like­ly lim­it­ed by the hard­ware (ie: not just a mar­ket­ing limitation).

I’m leav­ing out many things I find less remark­able, so you can vis­it the Net­gear site to look up your favorite bits.  As I stat­ed in the first para­graph, I’m giv­ing this switch a hearty rec­om­men­da­tion.  I sin­cere­ly hope that it forces Cis­co to think about what it’s cut­ting out of its prod­uct line.

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