|At a Glance|
|Product||Linksys 8-port 10/100/1000 Gigabit Smart Switch (SLM2008)|
|Summary||Full-featured 8-port gigabit smart switch for around $100|
|Pros||• Two 802.3ad Link Aggregated Groups (LAG)
• 802.1x/RADIUS authentication
• Spanning Tree support
• No fan
• Jumbo Frame support
|Cons||• No Online Help
• No quick start guide
• No support for SNMP/RMON/Logging
Earlier this year, we did a roundup of gigabit "Smart Switches" priced at under $250.00. That review included the D-Link DGS-1216T, NETGEAR GS716T, and Trendnet TEG-160WS, each with 16 gigabit Ethernet ports. Unfortunately, at that time, Linksys did not have a "smart switch," so we elected to include the SRW2008 fully managed 8-port switch in our roundup.
Times have changed, and Linksys has introduced a "Business Series" of Smart Switches. While the new line of switches still doesn’t include a 16-port model, it does include 5, 8, 24 and 48-port models. For this review, I selected the SLM2008 8-port 10/100/1000 Smart Switch, which has online delivered pricing hovering just above $100.
According to Linksys, the "LM" in the SLM product name stands for "lightly managed." However, this is a Cisco product, so their "lightly managed" easily goes toe-to-toe with the best of the other smart switches in our earlier roundup.
The first thing that differentiates the SLM2008 from all of the other products in our roundup is its form factor. Measuring 5 1/8" X 1 1/8" X 5 1/8" (130mm X 28.5mm X 130mm), the SLM2008 is easily the smallest smart switch we’ve looked at. Unlike the previously reviewed switches, the SLM2008 does not include rack mounting brackets. It’s intended for small workgroups, or possibly conference rooms, rather than a data center. Thus, it has a security lock slot on the left side (looking at the front panel) for securing it with a standard cable lock.
The front panel is quite simple and contains nine single-color green LEDs. The eight LEDs for the individual ports indicate link and activity. The ninth LED is a power indicator. This indicator configuration is by far the simplest, not to mention, the least informative, of any of the switches reviewed. Other switches had various means of showing link speed, link/activity, and, in some cases full/half duplex links, by using multiple LEDs per port. Arguably, however, in a workgroup environment, often you only need to see if the port is connected. All of the other link status/speed/duplex information is available in the web-based user interface.
Figure 1: Rear Panel of the SLM2008
Unlike its fully managed cousin, the SRW2008, the Ethernet ports are on the rear of the SLM2008. The port numbers are molded into the plastic and are numbered 1 to 8 from left to right. Since the corresponding port LEDs on the front panel are also numbered left to right, the cable directly "behind" the LED for Port 1 is actually connected to Port 8.
Linksys included an interesting and potentially very useful feature on the SLM2008. The switch can be powered by either the included "wall wart" transformer, or via Power over Ethernet on Port 1. If, for example, you wanted to mount the switch in a ceiling panel, it could be powered by connecting Port 1 to another switch that supplies power according to the IEEE 802.3af standard. You wouldn’t need to run an electrical circuit into the ceiling, potentially saving you much more than the cost of the switch itself.
Since the case is somewhat difficult to open, and I expected to find a heatsink-covered device inside, I opted to ask Linksys to share some construction details. They told me that the switch uses a Vitesse chipset and has 2 MB of flash and only 256 KB of RAM. With a power consumption of only 6 Watts, there is no need for an internal fan.