SOHO switch recommendations



  • Good afternoon, after many years of lurking I finally joined the site. Due to a power outage last week my 10+ year old Dell gigE switch finally bit the dust. Even though it's on a UPS that I manually powered off during the outage, it still decided that enough is enough. It was a basic web managed unit that allowed me to have some simple VLANs and setup a couple LACP groups. The timing is fairly amusing as in a couple weeks I'm going to be running CAT 6A through the house and moving everything from my home office out to a small rack in the garage. Being more a DBA by trade, network switches just aren't on my mind that often. It's also a topic that doesn't seem posted much about on here or the other technical sites in my list of favorites. At the office we use HP ProCurves, which are nice but admittedly overkill for my situation.

    So, do you guys have any current favorites? My needs haven't really changed much, just a 1U 24 port gigE unit with some VLAN and LACP capabilities. CLIs aren't really necessary and I don't have any 10GbE equipment to hang off it, either, although the house is being wired for it just in case. There's only one POE device in the house and it has a separate injector, so there's no compelling reason for that feature, either. Low power operation is a bonus, and the wife would definitely like a quiet unit even if it is in the garage. As mentioned, HP seems like overkill, and some professional experiences with Cisco have soured me on them. I did notice that Ubiquiti seems to be a strong up and comer, and while one of their APs will be going in next month I've never dealt with anything other than their wireless equipment. If anything is unclear let me know; thanks.



  • Something around a Netgear GS716T or GS724T provides a surprising level of functionality for the price, in a pretty low power fanless package. My inclination would be to go that route, and wait a little while longer for a 10gbe upgrade.



  • I was about to mention HP switches like an 1810G-24 but they aren't available anymore.
    Since HP.com doesn't even list switches I wonder if they want to sell them at all…

    If you don't like Cisco for whatever reason (SG300-20 / SG300-28 seem to be popular in this forum, me included) go for D-Link DGS series or some TP-Link. Personally I'd stay away from Netgear.

    If you just want to bridge your entire network into one broadcast domain then pretty much every unmanaged switch will do.



  • Cisco SG-350, just my 2 cents



  • On the Cisco SG-350 L2 IPv4/IPv6 will work like any smart/managed switch. If the OP is looking to move to a L3 network with IPv6 routing later, the SG-500 will have the functionality to do IPv6 routing. SG-350 has capabilities for L3 IPv4 only. At least this is what I have uncovered  through online Cisco forums and may change later with a firmware update.

    https://supportforums.cisco.com/discussion/11528671/sg300-ipv6-limitations

    Sooner or later everything will move to IPv6.

    L3 routing is what I have started recommending to anyone who is looking to upgrade their network. pfSense is a routing and defense system. It shouldn't be tasked to carry the extra load of managing your internal network. Unless there are a few 10 to 15 network devices, L2 is fine. But for 20+ devices with heavy LAN traffic (nas, backups, HD videos, etc,) L3 is the way to go.



  • The Cisco SG-3XX are nice.  You can pick up HP 1800/1810-24's on Ebay pretty inexpensively and if your needs are basic they are rock solid.  I have a few of these and one 1800-24 that has been chugging along for more then 6 years with not a single issue.  I also like the Dell gear and if you need L3 I have some 6224 and I really like them.  Again not the newest but you can pick them up inexpensively and they are rock solid.



  • Guys,
    do you actually read and understand the starting post of this thread?

    @Snugglebear:

    …experiences with Cisco have soured me on them...

    It's probably not worthwhile spending three replys mostly on Cisco SG switches.  :o  ::)
    All he asks for is one flat bridge. Glad that someone mentioned IPv6 L3 routing in this context.  ;)



  • Yes, the basic premise is that the switch is mainly a flat bridge. Most of the network complexity is on the wireless side, which is why I'm moving over to a Ubiquiti AP. In my house there are only a handful of wired clients - my desktop, occasionally my corporate laptop when docked, a FreeNAS box with a couple VMs, printer, UPS, 4G femtocell, and that's it. Everything else, from the wife's laptop to our tablets, phones, raspberry pis, Chromecasts, Fire sticks, and smart TVs, are all wireless. Over time there will be more network drops in remote locations, in turn moving some wireless clients to wired (e.g. PlayStation, wired connection to an Ethernet capable smart TV). Peak traffic is from my desktop to the FreeNAS box or its VMs, and the rest is streaming from the internet over to a TV or TV-connected device, including 4k content.

    My plan over the next few months is to get the new AP setup and then split the wireless clients off from the wired network, forcing that traffic through the firewall. Then also put the 4G femtocell on its own VLAN. In both cases this can be wired as separate physical connections to the firewall instead of traversing the switch. Aside from some local streaming from the FreeNAS box to wireless clients, the amount of traffic that will be traversing the firewall isn't high. This is one reason I'm not sold on a L3 switch. If the extra load on the firewall between the wired LAN and wireless LAN requires an upgrade there, that's fine with me.

    For those of you with Cisco switches, how has the long term support been (firmware updates, etc.)? That's mostly where I've been burned with them.

    If it's any indication about Netgear GSMs, my company has gone through half a dozen of them and they were all replaced by ProCurves as they died, had significant number of port failures, or suffered significant corruption. The longest lasting unit was 4 years old when it was retired after causing > 75% packet loss. If Netgear has improved I'm still open to them, but am cautious.



  • @Snugglebear:

    …PlayStation, wired connection to an Ethernet capable smart TV...

    Is this actually something needed - an Ethernet connection through the HDMI cable?
    I am in the AV industry but have never seen this actually be done. A separate CAT cable to the switch is way more hassle free. Just think about firmware updates of devices which can only occur when a device is selected AND the TV is turned on. That's usually when I want to use it.

    @Snugglebear:

    4G femtocell

    Where did you get that? Wannahave

    @Snugglebear:

    … Cisco switches, how has the long term support been (firmware updates, etc.)?

    SG300s are still sold and serviced, latest FW update is from 2016-Nov or so. And they are available for years already. But that's Small Business, you probably had problems with Catalyst or Nexus devices.

    @Snugglebear:

    …Netgear GSMs, ... were all replaced by ProCurves as they died...

    Glad that I'm not the only one having faced severe problems with their GSM line.

    Given the density of your wireless network it might be a good idea to use multiple APs spaced apart. IIRC there are UniFi switches with built-in management engine for UniFi APs. Might be an option for you.



  • @Snugglebear:

    If it's any indication about Netgear GSMs, my company has gone through half a dozen of them and they were all replaced by ProCurves as they died, had significant number of port failures, or suffered significant corruption. The longest lasting unit was 4 years old when it was retired after causing > 75% packet loss. If Netgear has improved I'm still open to them, but am cautious.

    At work Cisco only - catalyst and nexus. At home ProCurve only. ProCurve CLI is very close to IOS so transition is very easy. Apart from that, IMHO, ProCurve is just as good as Cisco for half the price so I have enterprise grade network hardware at home for half the price. Just remember to stay away from old 3COM hardware rebranded as HP/ProCurve as they under neath is something completely different and firmware support is not as good as with "real" HP products.



  • @Snugglebear:

    If it's any indication about Netgear GSMs, my company has gone through half a dozen of them and they were all replaced by ProCurves as they died, had significant number of port failures, or suffered significant corruption. The longest lasting unit was 4 years old when it was retired after causing > 75% packet loss. If Netgear has improved I'm still open to them, but am cautious.

    I said GS724T, not GSM. :) I've been recommending various items in that line for years where a cheap switch is needed, and haven't had any problems with newer models. Dlink has similar models, but I've encountered more stupid limitations in their firmware.



  • @jahonix:

    Is this actually something needed - an Ethernet connection through the HDMI cable?
    I am in the AV industry but have never seen this actually be done. A separate CAT cable to the switch is way more hassle free. Just think about firmware updates of devices which can only occur when a device is selected AND the TV is turned on. That's usually when I want to use it.

    That probably wasn't phrased well. The Playstation is on a 2.4GHz network and is dog slow, so it will get wired Ethernet to the switch. The TV will get a separate wired Ethernet connection to the switch to try to keep 4k streaming off the 5GHz wireless link. The Playstation and TV will still be connected via HDMI, but just as a video link, not Ethernet over HDMI nor HDMI over Ethernet.

    @jahonix:

    Where did you get that? Wannahave

    This is via T-Mobile in the US; their service doesn't penetrate my house well so it's there to act as a personal tower. My phone doesn't do wifi calling so they sent it out to me. No cost, but it's technically theirs and has to be returned eventually.

    @jahonix:

    SG300s are still sold and serviced, latest FW update is from 2016-Nov or so. And they are available for years already. But that's Small Business, you probably had problems with Catalyst or Nexus devices.

    We had problems with their integrated services routers in the 28xx series, the PIX, and the earlier ASAs. Basically they kept EOLing stuff on us right after vulnerabilities came out or asking for subscription re-ups for necessary patches.

    @jahonix:

    Glad that I'm not the only one having faced severe problems with their GSM line.

    That packet loss was on the subnet where the server management cards all link together and was discovered when one of my DB servers was having problems and I was out of town. I still have it in a closet here at the office and have been meaning to beat it with a sledgehammer.

    @jahonix:

    Given the density of your wireless network it might be a good idea to use multiple APs spaced apart. IIRC there are UniFi switches with built-in management engine for UniFi APs. Might be an option for you.

    My house isn't that large, 2 story open floor plan, and the neighborhood has enough noise that two APs is likely overkill. There's a perfect spot on the ceiling that's right in the middle of the house and only one interior wall between it and any of the media streaming devices. MIMO should be quite helpful.

    @mir:

    At work Cisco only - catalyst and nexus. At home ProCurve only. ProCurve CLI is very close to IOS so transition is very easy. Apart from that, IMHO, ProCurve is just as good as Cisco for half the price so I have enterprise grade network hardware at home for half the price. Just remember to stay away from old 3COM hardware rebranded as HP/ProCurve as they under neath is something completely different and firmware support is not as good as with "real" HP products.

    That's why we went to ProCurves at the office. Not as pricey as Cisco but just as good, and leaps above Netgear GSMs. Still might be overkill for me at home.

    @VAMike:

    I said GS724T, not GSM. :) I've been recommending various items in that line for years where a cheap switch is needed, and haven't had any problems with newer models. Dlink has similar models, but I've encountered more stupid limitations in their firmware.

    Yes, you did. I copied & pasted GS716T into Google without really looking at it and it showed me GSM links as the top couple hits and it slipped by me. They still cause an emotional reaction sometime. Kind of like the 3Com NIC that went bad in my company's only AD DC, on my first day, all those years ago. The network admin hung it outside his office door for a few months and then took it home and set fire to it.



  • @Snugglebear:

    That's why we went to ProCurves at the office. Not as pricey as Cisco but just as good, and leaps above Netgear GSMs. Still might be overkill for me at home.

    Hard to beat this price if you are not scared of used products: http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-ProCurve-2810-24G-J9021A-Managed-Ethernet-Rackmount-Network-Switch/201801862465

    (wrong link first)



  • I use a netgear GS724Tv4 at home, and I'm really NOT impressed with the product.  There are several bugs in the firmware that have been known to netgear for YEARS that they haven't bothered to fix.  Very annoying…



  • @Snugglebear:

    That's why we went to ProCurves at the office. Not as pricey as Cisco but just as good

    Not quite, but close.
    We have an install (CCTV for police) where we do a massive amount of Multicast traffic. HP can't handle that, whereas Catalysts do it just fine. But that's not everybody's daily task.

    Last week I talked to a (really friendly and knowledgeable!) Netgear Senior PLM for Managed Switches at a conference. It was about SDVoE (Software Defined Video over Ethernet), AVB/TSN (Audio-Video-Bridging/Time Sensitive Networks) and other currently hot AV-over-IP topics. His remark on HP & Cisco was interesting - those are the only vendors still developing their own chipsets, all others, including Netgear, use Broadcom etc.
    Well, I'm not sure with Juniper/Brocade/ExtremeNetworks and such heavies but anyways.
    This means that, if you have a designflaw in a chipset, it's not that easy to overcome  ^HP.

    While SDVoE is just Multicast traffic, AVB is a different beast.
    Currently we only have ExNet Summit 440 & 460 switches with AVB support and one (1) Netgear GS724T firmware-pimped switch (oops, which is now discontinued). Cisco is going to implement AVB into the Nexus7000 line and will continue to add it down to the 3700 switches with future firmware updates.
    I learned that Netgear will not adopt AVB to further products even though they already have some code.
    HP and AVB? Not.



  • @garyd9:

    I use a netgear GS724Tv4 at home, and I'm really NOT impressed with the product.  There are several bugs in the firmware that have been known to netgear for YEARS that they haven't bothered to fix.

    I have several GS-switches here so I'd be very interested to learn what those several bugs are? Maybe I need to avoid or work around something in the future?



  • @jahonix:

    Last week I talked to a (really friendly and knowledgeable!) Netgear Senior PLM for Managed Switches at a conference. It was about SDVoE (Software Defined Video over Ethernet), AVB/TSN (Audio-Video-Bridging/Time Sensitive Networks) and other currently hot AV-over-IP topics. His remark on HP & Cisco was interesting - those are the only vendors still developing their own chipsets, all others, including Netgear, use Broadcom etc.
    This means that, if you have a designflaw in a chipset, it's not that easy to overcome  ^HP.

    That's true, but IME the newer commodity netgear stuff is a lot more solid than the older stuff. :)



  • @P3R:

    @garyd9:

    I use a netgear GS724Tv4 at home, and I'm really NOT impressed with the product.  There are several bugs in the firmware that have been known to netgear for YEARS that they haven't bothered to fix.

    I have several GS-switches here so I'd be very interested to learn what those several bugs are? Maybe I need to avoid or work around something in the future?

    Off the top of my head (and these may be specific to the GS724Tv4):

    If you set the switch to use a NTP server (instead of trying to keep track of time locally), it can often be difficult to get the switch to retain that setting.  After a few reboots, it might retain the setting… until the next reboot.

    If you are successfully using IPv6 traffic over this switch, you must have IGMP snooping disabled.  (Functional IGMP snooping on the switch eats IPv6 RA's.)  With this one, people on the netgear forums have claimed that turning off IGMP snooping for all the vlans, but leaving it enabled on the ports, will resolve the issue.  In fact, it effectively causes snooping to be disabled (but anything already in the snooping table will still show up until it times out.  So, if you do this and wait 24 hours, the snooping table will be empty.)

    The IPv6 equivalent of IGMP snooping (MLB or something like that) is horribly broken.

    ....

    Don't get me wrong - it's a decent switch if you don't want all the features to work.  Some people are okay with that, especially considering the low price of the switch.  However, even though I don't care of my switch knows the correct time, and I can live without IGMP snooping on my home network (heh), I'm still not impressed with the product.

    If I wanted a proper managed switch (which the GS724T doesn't claim to be), based on my experience with THIS product, I'd look somewhere other than netgear.  I'd hate to drop several hundred dollars on a "real" managed switch only to get buggy firmware and a company that isn't interested in fixing their bugs.



  • @garyd9:

    If you are successfully using IPv6 traffic over this switch, you must have IGMP snooping disabled.

    Is this really still an issue?
    IIRC, I don't have that switch anymore:
    I ran into this about 9 years ago with a GS-108Tv1 and filed a ticket with their support. Altough it was never mentioned in the Release Notes, I'm quite confident that I was suprised because it actually worked a few firmware versions later. But maybe they had to take it out again because it broke something else. Or I misconfigured it back then and I'm completely wrong here. :)



  • Funny, I distinctly recall all sorts of NTP errors with the GSM series, including one that could never sync up. That was still better than another unit which would hard reset if you dared to save the configuration.

    From what it sounds like the suggestions are to either go with an enterprise level solution such as a Cisco or HP (at relatively high cost unless buying used) or find something more commodity-oriented with a better management software stack. Does that sound about right?



  • Bought 2 SG300-10 in 2010, still running fine and still getting firmware updates. 191€ a piece back then.



  • @garyd9:

    Off the top of my head…

    Thanks for answering.

    …(and these may be specific to the GS724Tv4):

    If you set the switch to use a NTP server (instead of trying to keep track of time locally), it can often be difficult to get the switch to retain that setting.  After a few reboots, it might retain the setting... until the next reboot.

    Yes at least this one must be specific to the v4. I guess I was lucky to get the v3s then.

    I have two GS724Tv3, five GS108Tv2 and one XS712T all using ntp and I've never experienced that or any other ntp-related issue on any of them.



  • @jahonix:

    I was about to mention HP switches like an 1810G-24 but they aren't available anymore.
    Since HP.com doesn't even list switches I wonder if they want to sell them at all…

    You find the switches on HPE nowadays, since the company split. They have rebranded some switches to Aruba. 1820-24G



  • @Snugglebear:

    Funny, I distinctly recall all sorts of NTP errors with the GSM series, including one that could never sync up. That was still better than another unit which would hard reset if you dared to save the configuration.

    From what it sounds like the suggestions are to either go with an enterprise level solution such as a Cisco or HP (at relatively high cost unless buying used) or find something more commodity-oriented with a better management software stack. Does that sound about right?

    It really depends on what you're looking for. The original request was for a basic switch for a not-networking-oriented user. The netgear "smart" switches provide basic functionality and throw in a few features that you might find useful for about the same price as something with no additional functionality at all. Some of the features on the netgear may be a bit flaky (though, don't get me started on the crazy matrix of cisco firmware level limitations) and if you're really trying to do stuff like ipv6 l3 routing or igmp snooping you should probably spend more money on something else. BUT, you're very likely to want a 10gbe upgrade in the not so distant future as the cost of that gear keeps falling, so why spend money on a higher end 1gbe solution now if you're not likely to really utilize the added functionality before you get around to a 10gbe upgrade? Only you can decide what your actual priorities are, but make sure you're buying the thing that you're looking for and not the thing that someone else is looking for.