Belkin 8-Port Network Switch Review

Belkin 8-Port Network Switch Review
Reviewer: Matt Wilson
Category: 
Networking
Model: 
F5D5130-8
Price: 
$88

Having been introduced to a wide variety of hubs and had my fair share of networking fiasco's I was looking forward to reviewing this switch. After all, it runs at 100Mbit (auto-sensing for 10Mbit) which none of my previous hubs did and also, of course, it was a switch, which none of my previous hubs were either.

Never before have I owned or used any Belkin networking products, this alone was enough incentive to write this review.

Package contents

  • One Belkin 8-(or 5-)Port 10/100Mbps Network Switch
  • One Power Supply
  • One CD-ROM
  • User Guide

Features

  • Conforms to the Ethernet IEEE 802.3 and 802.3u standards
  • Provides LED indicators for monitoring network traffic
  • Provides 8 (or 5) 10/100 Mbps auto-sensing RJ45 ports for easy migration from 10Base-T to 100Base-T networks
  • Shared RJ45 up-link port allows you to easily add computers to your network at any time
  • Dedicated bandwidth provided for each port provides for an efficient and error-free network

Front panel

  • Power light - when lit, the switch is receiving power
  • Port activity/status lights
  • o Amber - steady amber indicates a 100Mbps (100Base-TX) link on this port
    o Green - steady green indicates a 10Mbps (10Base-T) link on this port
    o Flashing - either green or amber, indicates data is travelling between the switch and the connected interface

Rear panel

  • Power input jack (6V DC power supply included)
  • LAN ports - numbered from 1 through 8 (or 5 with the 5 port version)
  • Up-link button - when pushed, port 1 becomes an up-link port to other switches, routers or other network components

Installation

When I first received this switch I already had an existing network setup between several machines via a 4 port 10Mbps hub. Eager for speed, I plugged the new switch into the network before reading any of the documentation and was pleasantly surprised when all the machines continued to function as expected.

It wasn't until some time later that I noticed a multitude of colorful lights on the front and was eager to know more. Only then did I realize how comprehensive and detailed the manual and instructions were within the manual, it contains step-by-step instructions for setup and configuration of the switch and any computers connected to it (instructions for Windows (9x, ME, 2000 or XP) or Mac).

In order to test the uplink port I decided to link a couple of our network machines via the old hub and see how it easy it is. I linked the two up, pressed the uplink button and away it goes. I am very impressed with this switch!

A Few Benchmarks

After the installation was completed I moved onto a few simple benchmarks between several of the machines on our network. Three of these machines are running a version of Windows and one of which is running Debian Linux (yes, that one's mine). For the sake of tracking I am assigning names to each machine, below are the machine names and some brief technological details.

Computer Name Operating System NIC Model Speed
Alex Windows XP 3-Com 100Mbit
Jane Windows 98 SE RPTI 10Mbit
Matt Linux (Debian) D-Link 100Mbit
Randy Windows 2000 Realtek 100Mbit

I performed several file uploads and downloads across the two main file transfer protocols in our household, namely FTP and SMB (Samba on Linux).

The Results

Here is a table of the various speeds that I recorded traveling from machine to machine. Note that all benchmarks involving computer "Jane" is limited to only 10Mbit/s as that machine is not equipped with a 100Mbit NIC.

Source Machine Destination File Size Average Speed Protocol
Matt Alex 718983168 10800 kbit/s FTP
Alex Randy 696377344 9932 kbit/s FTP
Matt Jane 825849856 990 kbit/s FTP
Randy Alex 737835008 2789 kbit/s SMB
Randy Matt 734590976 3242 kbit/s SMB
Jane Randy 720758224 420 kbit/s SMB
Jane Alex 719251456 441 kbit/s SMB

The results were very promising. As expected the SMB network protocol was considerably slower than FTP transfers but in my experience this is always the case. When considering the network cards available for these tests and the transfer speeds achieved I was, once again, very impressed with this switch.

Mounting

The switch comes supplied with a small clip on stand so it can stand up straight (vertical), this is what I have been using and it works well, very stable. Belkin also sell a wall mounting device which can mount three switches by attaching the mounting clip to any wall.

Stacking

One thing you cannot fail to notice about this switch is the fact that it isn't a stackable one. Thankfully, this isn't a bad thing as Belkin saw fit to introduce a method for connecting multiple devices together via a side-to-side clipping method. It's really quite clever. This image shows the connection system; those small circles on the side of the switch. Unfortunately I only have one switch and so didn't have the opportunity of seeing this in action, though I imagine it would work very well.

After Thoughts

With all the standard installation and benchmarking completed, I needed a new avenue to walk down - something else I can test the switch with and it came in the form of network routing.

As I previously stated, a single PC is currently routing an internet connection (1Mbit ethernet) to several PCs. By linking the internet cable to the uplink port of the switch (and enabling the uplink port) all the machines connected to the network were instantly able to share the internet connection - I'll say it again, I'm impressed with this switch!

Final Thoughts

For only $87.99 (USD, £45 GBP) this switch is unbelievable value. Comprising of 8 independent, auto-sensing ports (1 of which can be an up-link port) I really was incredibly impressed with the ease of use and flexibility of it. Definitely a good buy!

Conclusion

The Good - Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Low cost
  • Great performance
The Bad - Cons
  • None listed
The Ugly - Problems
  • N/A
The Verdict - Opinion
  • An excellent buy, well worth the money - highly recommended!

Innovation: 
4/5
Performance: 
5/5
Compatibility: 
5/5
Cost / Value: 
5/5

18/20

Overall score


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