Greg Hook takes a first look at TP-LINK's new 8 port PoE Gigabit switch
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IntroductionIn the competitive world of networking products there are many suppliers to choose from including the likes of Netgear, D-Link, Belkin and Devolo to name but a few. TP-LINK is one that has recently come to our attention with excellent value and well performing Powerline Adaptors and Powerline Wireless Extenders reviewed here and here. The general impression we were left with was that they both performed well, whilst coming in at a price point pleasingly below the competition. So it's with a certain amount of expectation that we approach our next TP-LINK product for review, the TL-SG1008PE 8-Port Gigabit Desktop and Rackmount Switch with 8-Port PoE.
Gigabit switches are a widely available product these days and come in many guises, from the basic 4 or 5 ports such as TP-LINK's own TL-SG1005D available for under £15, to an all singing and dancing Gigabit switch with 48 PoE ports from the mighty Cisco costing several thousand pounds. PoE is Power over Ethernet and is particularly useful for devices such as wireless access points and VOIP phones because, with the addition of a PoE splitter, you can provide both power and Ethernet to those devices without any additional power outlets. In conjunction with CAT5 and above cables, the TL-SG1008PE offers a maximum power budget of 124W over the 8 ports and a maximum per port of 30W. Let's see if it delivers the goods.
Gigabit switches are widely available and come in many guises
Styling and DesignThe SG1008PE is functional in it's design which is no bad thing for a device such as this. You aren't exactly going to have it out on display, so there's no point really in TP-LINK spending more cash trying to tart it up! So what you get is a gunmetal grey case with 8 ports to the front and the power connection to the rear. All 8 ports are 10/100/1000Mbps RJ45 and all 8 are PoE+ supported ports to transfer data and power over a single cable. One bonus here is that the device has an integral power supply so you won't have a power brick to contend with as well. The power connection is the standard IEC kettle lead type.
Also to the front we have three rows of LED lights. One row will illuminate when a 1000Mbps device is connected, another row to show when a PoE device has been connected and another to show that a valid link has been established to the port. You also get a single LED to show the device is powered on and a red LED which will illuminate if the power draw of the connected PoE ports is between 118W and 124W and will flash if over 124W.
Very basic, but everything you would want or need
So very basic, but everything you would want or need on a device such as this. It's rack-mountable too with accessories supplied in the box and it measures 294mm wide, 180mm deep and just 44mm deep, with a weight of 1830g.
Setup and OperationAs you would expect, the setup here is minimal. You basically plug it into the power, plug your Ethernet cables in and that's it. Nothing else for you to do but just sit back and enjoy whatever use you have in store for it. All that's left for you to do is simply fit the rackmount brackets and install it into your rackmount if that is required. It's plug and play all the way!
The switch includes it's own integral cooling system which is supplied by one small fan located on the right side. This is perhaps one of the few negatives we immediately noticed with the SG1008PE. It is not a quiet device solely because of this fan and will be something to bear in mind if the switch is being located in a main room or living area. At 12" distance from the fan, our sound level meter was reading 38 dB and it's on permanently, it doesn't ramp up only when required.
Performance and TestingTP-LINK state this device uses 'Innovative energy-efficient technology that reduces power consumption by up to 75%'. When no PoE ports are being used the switch is very energy efficient consuming just 9.5W and then with all 8 PoE ports used this rises to a maximum of 140W. As far as performance goes we tested with our PC and laptop both connected to the SG1008PE and by transferring several 1GB files back and forth.
As you can see from the DUMeter screenshots below we received speeds of almost 400Mbps whilst transferring the files. With a peak of 637 Mbps. A 1GB file transferred in just a few seconds and we also had no issues throughout the use, such as dropped ports or lock ups which often plague cheaper devices. We had no problems during our testing at all and the SG1008PE passed with flying colours.
- Internal power supply
- Good value
- Plug and Play
- 8 Port PoE
- Noisy cooling fan
TP-LINK TL-SG1008PE Gigabit Desktop SwitchThe SG1008PE is a great value product that works without issue and it is one that users requiring PoE would find the most beneficial. Perhaps it's closest competitor is the Netgear GS110TP which offers similar specifications and can be found at a similar price point. Other than that you won't find a Gigabit switch with 8 port PoE within another £50. Plenty offering an 8 port Gigabit switch, but most with only 4 port PoE.The build quality is good with a solid metal construction, an integral power supply and an instant plug and play setup with no configuration. Our testing received excellent results with file transfer speeds close to 400Mbps with peaks of 637Mbps, which was probably more limited by our own testing hardware.
The only slight negative is a noisy cooling fan, not a problem perhaps if the switch is located out of earshot but it would probably be too noticeable if it was in a main living room or bedroom. If you don't have any devices that you could utilise Power over Ethernet, then you would be better of choosing TP-LINK's own 4 port SG1005D for £15 or their 8 port Gigabit SG1008D switch for just £20. Coming in at around £125 it is a significantly more expensive product than non-PoE switches, but for those of you who can fully utilise the PoE facility it is definitely a product we would recommend for it's ease of use, performance and value.
Ease of Use10
Value for Money8
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