Cisco CBS350-8MGP-2X: 30-second review
With more people working from home, having a reliable home network will play an important role in an employee’s productivity. A managed Ethernet network switch ensures that data is transferred quickly while keeping the network in top shape. So it is crucial to choose the right product: one that is easy to use, has the right amount of bandwidth and has a variety of interfaces to suit even the most demanding office environments.
Known for its powerful networking equipment, Cisco recently released the CBS350-8MGP-2X. The main features of the switch are many ports, integrated Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), good system bandwidth and ease of use through a simple user interface. It is completely silent and energy efficient, supports the IEEE802.3az standard and consumes less than 30W without a PoE device connected.
Cisco CBS350-8MGP-2X: Price and Availability
The CBS350-8MGP-2X is a ten-port managed switch with 6 x 1G, 2 x 2.5G and 2 x 10G Ethernet ports. The 10G Ethernet ports support both copper and SFP, allowing connection to, for example, an internet router via fiber or as an uplink to another managed switch. The CBS350 family has other port combinations ranging from eight to forty ports. The 8MGP-2X costs $693 and comes with a Cisco Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Cisco CBS350-8MGP-2X: Design
The CBS350-8MGP-2X comes with a mounting kit, a power cable and a small user manual. The switch, in the form of a white metal box, measures 4.4 cm x 34.4 cm x 25.2 cm and weighs 2.5 kg. It is low maintenance and very quiet. This is due to the use of a large heat sink on the back instead of fans. Four mounting holes on each side make it suitable for rack mounting.
Network ports are located on the front side next to the management console port. There is also a single USB Type-A port that allows for file transfers, such as when upgrading the switch firmware. A reset button is available to reset or reboot the device. Two LEDs sit on top of each Ethernet port and indicate link status and whether the connection is in PoE or 10G mode.
All ten Ethernet ports are in the form of RJ45 sockets. Six ports on the left only support up to 1 Gbps. Ports 7 and 8 can carry up to 2.5G while ports 9 and 10 can carry up to 10G. Ports 9 and 10 are combo ports with SFP cages in addition to the RJ45s. An SFP module or the RJ45 can be used for the 10G ports, but not both. All ports are grouped according to their maximum supported speed and are color coded. The 1G Ethernet group is yellow, while the 2.5G and 10G groups are blue.
All Ethernet ports except the two combos support PoE. The maximum output power is limited to a total of 124W and should be sufficient for many usage situations. The switch consumes a maximum of 30 W, which can go up to 167 W when using all PoE power allocation. An 800MHz single-core ARM processor with 512MB DRAM provides the processing power needed to run all software functions smoothly.
Cisco CBS350-8MGP-2X: in use
The CBS350-8MGP-2X is immediately ready for use. The switch boots up in less than three minutes with ports connected and a web interface active. A green status LED flashes quickly during the boot process and remains lit once complete. The metal box stays warm with a temperature rise of up to 20 degrees C when PoE devices are connected. It is therefore recommended to place the switch in a well-ventilated area.
The 8MGP switch has an internal bandwidth of 62 Gbps. This gives a lot of room to run multiple ports at their maximum transfer speed without delays. Something will probably happen in the case of six 4K cameras streaming continuously to, say, redundant NAS. Using Access Control Lists or ACLs, the user can create rules to limit bandwidth usage.
The default configuration method is through the web interface. The user must first create a new account. After logging in, a Getting Started page is displayed to help you create VLANs or perform IP assignments. The System Overview page provides a quick overview of all ten Ethernet port states and is usually the most frequently used page. A console is also available via the serial port on the front or remotely via SSH.
Cisco offers both Apple and Android mobile applications through the platform’s download channels. The Cisco Business mobile app allows the user to customize and monitor important parameters not only for the CBS350 switch series, but also for other Cisco products such as Access Points. This unified approach allows the administrator to learn only one interface, simplifying the deployment of Cisco products.
The switch offers a variety of additional services, such as QoS, Multicast, DNS and DHCP servers. A nice feature of the switch is the possibility to view the power consumption per port when using PoE. This is very useful for troubleshooting a connected device that is not working properly.
Cisco CBS350-8MGP-2X: Competition
Since a managed switch is a fundamental part of a network, there are many manufacturers, large and small, targeting all kinds of consumer markets. Cisco has positioned itself in the prosumer category with the CBS series, leveraging its experience building switches for telecom, but offering a low-cost offering. It competes directly with TP-Link, Netgear and Mikrotik.
The Mikrotik CRS312-4C+8XG-RM is a good competitor at just under $600. It offers eight 10G ports and offers redundant power supplies. The QCA9531 CPU in the CRS312 is known for being cheap, focused on wireless router products. It is based on the MIPS architecture and offers less processing power than the ARM CPU in the CBS350 series. The CRS312 does not support PoE and has four fans making it louder than the fanless CBS350.
The TP-Link Jetstream TL-SG3210XHP-M2 is a faster alternative to the CBS350 with its eight 2.5 Gbps Ethernet ports. It’s a steal for a managed switch that costs $400. It offers 240W PoE output capacity and has two 10G SFP+ slots. It lacks the two copper 10G Ethernet ports that the CBS350 offers. Since it’s based on the Omada SDN, it requires an additional hardware controller to be cloud-based, something the CBS350 supports out-of-the-box.
Cisco CBS350-8MGP-2X: Verdict
With the CBS350 series, Cisco has established a foothold in the lucrative consumer market that will undoubtedly grow as more people work from home. The CBS350-8MGP-2X offers the right balance in terms of number of ports, speed and features. The fanless design along with great PoE support both in hardware and software make the device a joy to deploy and maintain. The web interface and accompanying mobile application extend the utility of the managed switch by simplifying configuration.
The CBS350-8MGP-2X is not without its flaws, as the price is still a bit steep with only four ports of 2.5 Gbps and above. The case could certainly be smaller if the 10G combo ports were stacked up. The CBS350-8MGP-2X remains one of the higher quality switches we’ve seen and will be a good investment in the long run.
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