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LAN & WAN Reviews

Introduction

Dell 2708 front view

At a Glance
Product Dell PowerConnect 2708
Summary Eight port gigabit smart switch offering unbeatable value
Pros • Six 8032.3ad Link Aggregated Groups (LAG) with up to 4 ports/group
• Per port storm control
• Configurable CoS and DSCP
• Fanless
• Port mirroring for up to four ports
Cons • No jumbo frame support
• No spanning tree support
• Firmware upgrade via TFTP only

When we rounded up gigabit switches priced at $250 or less, a number of readers were disappointed that we didn’t include the Dell PowerConnect switches. While we hadn’t originally considered Dell switches, some additional research showed that Dell’s PowerConnect switches are, indeed, very capable smart switches at very competitive prices.

Though the 16 port Dell PowerConnect 2716 is still priced above our $250 threshold ($269.95 with a 3-year warranty), the eight port 2708, which has most of the features of its more expensive siblings, is available directly from Dell for an unbelievable price of $109.00. However, if you act quickly, Dell has special pricing of $89.

The case of the Power Connect 2708 is very similar to the case used by Linksys on their SRW2008 8 port managed switch. The 2708 measures less than the standard width for a rack mount configuration, but like the SRW2008, is supplied with extension brackets for mounting in a 1U rack space.

The 2708 lacks some of the more advanced features found in the Linksys SRW2008, such as 802.1x/RADIUS port control, IP/MAC authentication, an SSL-based browser interface, and Spanning tree support. However, it has a surprising number of features that I really didn’t expect to find on a name brand gigabit switch selling for less than $100. Those features include 802.1ad link aggregation, 802.1q static VLANs (up to 64—all 4096 tags recognized), support for 802.1p Class of Service (CoS), per port storm control, and port mirroring.

However, you do pay a price for the low initial cost of the 2708. The web price only includes a one-year warranty for next business day parts delivery. All of the other switches in the roundup had five-year warranties. You also give up jumbo frame support. Of the eight, 16, 24 and 48 port switches in the PowerConnect line, only the 2708 lacks support for jumbo frames.

Front Panel Features

Unlike the Linksys SRW2008, the ports on the 2708 are arranged in two rows of four ports each. Odd numbered ports are on the top row, and even numbered ones on the bottom. I find this layout a little less useful than eight ports arranged in a single row, because the Ethernet cables tend to obscure the LED status lights on the lower row. Still, when you examine the circuit board layout, you’ll see that Dell probably saved some circuit board real estate with this design.

Each of the eight ports has two built-in status LEDs. The multi-colored LED to the left of each port indicates link, connection speed, and activity. Green indicates a 1000 Mbps connection; yellow indicates 10 or 100 Mbps. The second LED for each port shows full or half-duplex. Solid green means a full duplex connection; off means half duplex. The only other status indicators on the 2708 are an LED to indicate power, and one to show that management mode is enabled.

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