Can a switch this cheap really be any good? – here’s a quick review of the Belkin F5D5141 8-port gigabit switch…
From the picture on Click2BuyDirect’s site, I was expecting the older style switch with a metal case. But the latest (v3) plastic version arrived instead:
It’s an un-managed device in a plastic case with a small external PSU – about as simple as it gets.
The specifications provided by Belkin are pretty minimal, and I was a bit dissapointed to get the plastic version, but this turned out to be no bad thing when I looked inside…
Earlier versions of this product (with a metal case) used the older Vitesse VSC7388 chipset, but cracking open the plastic case reveals the compact board seemingly built on RealTek’s 8368S/8214 reference design. The board seems well made with good quality soldering.
The heart of the switch is the RTL-8368S, providing an 8-port switching fabric and 4-port physical interface layer, the 8214 providing the physical interface for the other four ports.
- 16 Gbps switching fabric
- 11.9 Mpps forwarding rate
- 1 Mbit on-chip frame buffer
- 802.3x flow control (and half-duplex back-pressure)
- 9K jumbo frame support
- Power consumption < 1W idle (no ports active), and <9W max
All this for £20 sounded pretty optimistic, so I’ve put some load on it. Test configuration was two Pentium-4 2.8GHz PCs running Debian, and two Debian VMs on the ML115 connected with it’s single onboard NIC. I then ran iperf with the two VMs in TCP server mode and the two physical PCs in client mode with a two-minute test duration.
The iperf clients reported 469 and 470 Mbps (13.12GB in 120s), whilst the vSphere Client on the ML115 reported receive rate of 120,300 KBps – so the switch can indeed forward at line rate, at least on one port.
The Belkin 8-port Gigabit Switch (model FD5141 v3) is a cheap and simple switch with minimal power consumption and line-rate throughput. It’s priced anywhere between £20 and £100 - and although I’d struggle to recommend it at anywhere near £100, for £20 it’s clearly a bargain.