TP-Link 8-port Power over Ethernet Gigabit Switches Review
TL-SG1008P and TL-SG1008PE Network Switches
Most consumers will have seen the TP-Link brand at some point or another, perhaps overlooking them in favour of a more well-known brands such as Netgear or Belkin, but TP-Link is no lightweight when it comes to networking products. They’ve been in the game for almost 20 years and are considered one of the giants in their native China. They expanded into international markets in 2005 and in that time have firmly established themselves as a major player.
Today we take a look at two products from their network switch range, the aptly named TL-SG1008P and TL-SG1008PE. Both are 8-Port gigabit network switches featuring Power over Ethernet capabilities. The ‘P’ version has 4 of the available 8 ports with PoE capability in a desktop form-factor, while the PE version has PoE functionality on all 8 ports and a larger Rackmount form factor with the option to be used as a standalone unit as well.
Wondering what exactly these devices can do for you? A network switch, is a device that forms the hub of a network, bringing together all the data connections that form a wired network and works by passing messages across to the relevant devices allowing all devices to communicate directly, unlike a hub the switch only sends the message to the required device rather than broadcasting across all ports for the intended device to pick up.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) ports automatically detect and supply power to IEEE 802.3af compatible devices. By providing power to the device connected down the same cable as the data arrives this allows access points, IP cameras and phones to be connected without the need for external power which can be a real added bonus in your network infrastructure.
TP-Link 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch with 4-Port PoE
The packaging has a modern look, featuring plenty of specifications of the device and a clear product shot.
Inside the outer box we have a formed cardboard tray housing our equipment and accessories. The bundle includes power supply unit, mains lead, some quick start guides, warranty information and four adhesive feet to be applied by the user.
Here we see the device from the front and rear. Construction is all metal giving the unit a real solid and quality feel and the TP-Link logo is embossed on the top face with a plastic faceplate applied over the activity LEDS on the front of the unit. We have LEDS for link/activity, gigabit connection rate and PoE status. The rear simply features the 8 ports and a power connection, there is no power switch, power is controlled at the wall outlet. Four of the eight available ports have PoE functionality with overload protection and port priority ensuring the switch does not become overloaded, the maximum power per port is 15.4w. A red LED warns when PoE is at maximum capacity.
The base features a sticker that details the model number, the various standards in use for the technology and required FCC regulations. We also see four recesses to locate the adhesive feet supplied to help with stability on some surfaces.
TP-Link 8-Port Gigabit Desktop/Rackmount Switch with 8-Port PoE
Again with the TL-SG1008PE we have a clear product image and plenty of product details, this time with a significantly larger box. Inside with find the cardboard tray has been replaced with some foam supports and a smaller box to house our bundle.
We have a power cable, some support feet and rackmount brackets including screws as well as the installation guide and documents.
Because this switch is designed for rackmounting all the ports are available on the front of the device, along with the activity LEDS, with just the power input on the back beside a grounding terminal. Again the device is of full metal construction and has some serious weight in it. LEDs on the front panel indicate power, link, activity and speed for each port.
Again, because of the rackmount form factor, we see the power supply unit moved inside the switch with just a mains lead used to bring power to the device. We also have a small 40mm fan fitted which expels air to the side, helping cool the power circuits and unit itself.
All eight of the available ports on the rackmount model are PoE enabled, with the same overload/priority protection but now with a maximum output of 30w per PoE port.
Performance of both switches in our small office network were on par with the existing NETGEAR switch the GS108e. The switches are unmanaged and require no configuration they simply dropped straight into our infrastructure with no problems and operated flawlessly.
The SG1008P has the advantage of being a silent unit with no active cooling and a much smaller form factor. The PoE functionality means we have a more traditional power unit rather than some of the smaller plug transformers switches without PoE use; given the extra power requirements this was to be expected. Looking to the SG1008PE the internal power supply means we have a less cluttered exterior when used as a desktop model but the active cooling fan and large size mean for desktop use we would recommend the ‘P’ version instead.
With the ‘PE’ version being rackmounted, it would have been nice to see wall mounting holes on the base of the ‘P’ this is a simple addition and hopefully one we’ll see in the future on switches such as this from TP-Link.
Given the cost of the switches they are only really feasible if you fully intend to make use of the PoE ports, if PoE isn’t a requirement for your network at the moment then you’d be far better off looking at the other range of TP-Link switches that doesn’t offer this feature as they will cost considerably less. That considered we found the TP-Link switches typically came in around £20-30 cheaper than their equivalent from competitors, so if you’re in the market for PoE these are excellent choices.