The GS724TR is packaged in a 1U rack format and comes with brackets to install in a standard 19" data center rack. There are two small, but loud cooling fans venting heat out the left side of the unit. You won't want to use this switch as a desktop switch with the amount of noise these fans generate!
The front of the GS724TR shown in Figure 1 has 24 Gigabit Ethernet ports, plus 2 SFP (small form-factor pluggable) GBIC (Gigabit Interface Converter) ports on the far right. The SFP ports can be used to connect standard multi mode or single mode fiber connectors. The SFP ports are shared and if used, will replace Gigabit Ethernet ports 23 and 24.
The case itself is a professional looking grey and blue metal, with all ports on the front of the device. Indicator lights show the status of each port, and there are small recessed buttons on the lower left to reset and restore factory defaults. Also, I like how Netgear prints the default password on the bottom of their devices.
Figure 1: Front view
A nice feature in the menu of the GS724TR is the System Device View option. An administrator can log into the switch remotely and see real time which ports are live with a graphical display that looks just like the device. Figure 2 below is from the Netgear menu, and it is an exact display of which ports were live on the system as I wrote this.
Figure 2: Device view
The rear of the unit shown in Figure 3 is for connecting the power cord. The power supply is internal, so there is just an AC power cord to plug in. The GS724TR doesn't have an on/off switch, just plug it in and it turns on.
Figure 3: Rear view
Under the Covers
The mainboard has a pair of Nanya Technologies 256 Mb DDR400 SDRAM chips, giving the GS724TR 512 MB of RAM. An Altera MAX II CPLD (Complex Programmable Logic Device) is also on the main board for boot loader functionality.
Netgear has done a nice job covering the remaining components on the GS724TR's motherboard. The bulk of the components are underneath a large heat sink shown in Figure 4, which is sealed to the board. Although I could remove the screws holding the heat sink in place, there was no prying it off to see what was underneath.
Figure 4: GS724TR board
Netgear's specifications list the GS724TR with 750 KB of buffer memory and the capacity to hold 8,000 addresses in its MAC table. The device is rated as having a MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) of 265,000 hours, or approximately 30 years. With a 30 year life expectancy and Netgear's lifetime warranty, I would expect the GS724TR to be a reliable device!