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LAN & WAN Reviews

M4100

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR M4100-D12G Intelligent Edge M4100 Series Switch [GSM5212]
Summary Full-featured 12-port Gigabit Smart Switch with 2 SFP
Pros • Layer 2+ features with near wire-speed throughput on Inter-VLAN routing
• Responsive admin GUI
• IPv6 support
Cons • Documentation

Introduction

Updated 9/19/2013: Corrected Cisco SG300-10SFP comparison

NETGEAR has four product lines of business grade switches, including Fully Managed switches, Smart switches, ProSafe Plus switches, and Unmanaged switches.  Within NETGEAR's Fully Managed switch line are a group of switches called "Intelligent Edge" switches.  Within this group, NETGEAR has recently introduced the M4100 series of switches.

M4100 switches range from 8-50 ports in both 10/100 Mbps and 10/100/1000 Mbps models, with support for static Layer 3 routing, PoE and various advanced Layer 2 functions.  In this review, I'm going to look at the M4100-D12G, which is a 12 port Gigabit Ethernet switch with 2 shared SFP ports. Note that M4100-D12G is actually the product model name; the model number is GSM5212. I'll frequently refer to it from here on as the D12G.

Physically, the D12G is housed in a metal case measuring 12.91”w x 6.65”d x 1.7 “w.  There are 12 RJ45 network ports and 2 SFP ports, as well as a USB port on the front of the device, shown below.  The USB port is used for loading and saving firmware and config files.

Front of M4100-D12G

Front of M4100-D12G

The D12G is smaller than other members of the M4100 series and can be placed on desktop, magnetically attached to a metal surface, or mounted to a wall.  The installation guide indicates the M4100-D12G is shipped with with rubber feet, magnetic feet, and wall mounting brackets.  (I would have liked to try the magnetic feet, but my test device only came with the rubber feet and rack mounting brackets.)

The D12G is externally powered and comes with an AC power adapter.  The back of the switch has the power connector, a locking cable security slot, a mini USB port, console port and power button, shown below.

Rear of M4100-D12G

Rear of M4100-D12G

Inside

The D12G does not have a cooling fan, thus runs silently and is suitable for office desktop use.  The D12G runs on a Broadcom BCM53003 600 MHz CPU with 128 MB of RAM and 32 MB of flash, The “top secret” switch components are located under the large heatsinks shown in the photo below. 

M4100-D12G board

M4100-D12G board

NETGEAR wouldn't reveal the make and model numbers of the switch and Ethernet components, saying they “don't disclose that information”. But it's a safe bet they are also from Broadcom. Of note, there is also an Altera Max V CPLD (complex programmable logic device) chip on the board.

Multiple models of the M4100 series support PoE. The M4100-D12G does not provide PoE itself, but in a unique arrangement, can be powered from another PoE switch.  An Ethernet cable from a PoE switch that supports 802.3at or 802.3af plugged into port 1 on the M4100-D12G will power it up.  The M4100-D12G requires 30W to run via PoE.

Menu

The look and feel of the M4100 menu is very similar to NETGEAR's GS510TP and the GS108T.  I noted in my review of the GS510TP that there was some menu lag.  The M4100 seemed to have a more responsive menu, a nice improvement.   

Configuration menus on the M4100 are organized in eight menu tabs.  Within each menu are two to nine configuration options.  Once a configuration option is selected, additional options are available on the left side of the screen.  Table 1 shows the M4100's menus in the far left column and the configuration options available in each menu.

Menu Options
System Mgt Device View Services PoE SNMP LLDP ISDP Timer Sched
Switching VLAN Auto-VoIP STP Multicast MVR Address Table Ports LAG
Routing Routing Table IP VLAN ARP Router Discovery      
QoS CoS DiffServ            
Security Mgt Security Access Port Auth Traffic Control Control ACL    
Monitor Ports Logs Port Mirroring sFlow        
Maint Save Config Reset Upload Dwnload File Mgt Trouble-shooting    
Help Online Help User Guide            
Table 1: Menu tree

The M4100 manual, written for the M4100 and M7100 series, is pretty extensive at over 400 pages long.  (The M7100 series is similar to the M4100 series, but supports 10G copper interfaces as opposed to the 1G copper interfaces on the M4100.)  A nice feature on the M4100 is configuration explanations are also available by clicking the “?” symbol in each menu.

At the end of the manual is a useful section listing default values, plus a section with five configuration examples.  The configuration example section covers VLANs, ACLs, DiffServ, 802.1X, and MSTP.  The configuration examples in the manual are helpful, but they are basic. 

Specifically, the M4100 has Layer 3 functions, yet there are no Layer 3 configuration examples in the manual.  However, I found NETGEAR has numerous configuration examples on their support website written for the M5300 series that were useful for figuring out how to configure the M4100.

Of note, configurations on the M4100 need to be applied and saved.  Once applied, the configurations are active, but will be lost in a reboot unless you go to the Maintenance menu and click on the Save Configuration screen.  This came in handy while I was messing with Security configurations and locked myself out of the switch.  Fortunately, I didn't save my config, so power cycling the switch removed my error and let me back into the switch.

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