An awesome switch for any small network!

Sep 28, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:High speed. Quality metal case. Jumbo Frame support!!


The Bottom Line: A no hassle, sturdy, high performance gigabit switch that also supports Jumbo Frames, this switch belongs in your next small network.

The SMC8508T is an 8 port, 10/100/1000 gigabit workgroup switch. Here is a list of the important features found in this device:

8 10/100/1000 Ports: The SMC8508T has 8 physical network ports. If you're looking to build a smaller home network, this switch's little brother the SMC8505T comes with 5 ports for a smaller price tag. Every port on the switch supports automatic 10/100 or 1000 speed connections. This means any older networking devices which support 10/100mb connectivity can be connected, along side new gigabit (1000mb) devices. You can mix and match the devices as you wish, each port is independent.

Auto MDI/MDI-X: All 8 ports support a technology called MDI/MDI-X. In simple terms, this means you can connect this switch to another switch (daisy-chain), without the need for a specialized uplink port or cross-over cable. In traditional switches, the cabling necessary to connect one switch to another switch is wired differently than the network cables used to connect computers and other end devices to a switch. To accommodate switch to switch connections, a special cross-over cable, or specialized uplink port was necessary. The MDI/MDI-X in the SMC8508T automatically detects when another switch is connected, eliminating the need for any extra work by you.

Jumbo Frame Support!: This was one of the determining factors in my decision to chose the SMC8508T over other switches. Gigabit ethernet introduces the concept of jumbo frames to networking transmissions. Traditional 10/100 networks all used a frame size of 1500. Data sent over the network is segmented into frames before being transmitted, and reassembled at their destination. The SMC8508T allows you to set the frame size transmitted by gigabit devices to up to 9014, rather than the traditional 1500 only. These "Jumbo Frames" are intended to make network transmission more efficient in high speed gigabit networks. Since more data is sent at once, less fragmentation occurs and it eliminates processing overhead. It is important to note that Jumbo Frames are not currently supported by the majority of consumer gigabit switches on the market, including those manufactured by Netgear, D-Link, and Linksys. If you plan on building a gigabit network, and want the option of enabling jumbo frames for performance, you NEED a switch such as the SMC8508T which supports them!

Solid Construction: SMC doesn't mention this on their web site, but to me it's definitely a selling point. I'm a network buff (and a Cisco Certified Network Professional), and I own quite a variety of network devices. It always bugs me when companies build an otherwise great product, and house it in a cheap flimsy case. Not so with the SMC8508T. The device has a solid metal case which appears much more durable than your every-day plastic case.

Ease of Use: As with any consumer switch, there is zero administration necessary. If you can figure out how to plug in a power adaptor, you're done. The switch automatically discovers what type of device (10/100,1000,switch) is connected, and takes it from there.

Important Notes: There are a few things first time buyers of gigabit switches should be aware of. These apply more in general than to this specific switch, but I'd like to mention them anyway. First of all, in order to get a gigabit connection, there are a few other prerequisites. First, you need a computer with a gigabit network card in it (or built in gigabit networking); a computer with a 10/100 network card will not operate at gigabit speeds just because this switch can. Also, you must use CAT-5E or greater cabling between gigabit devices. If you use CAT-5 or lower cabling, the switch will automatically reduce your connection to 10/100 (as it should). Finally, this is a switch, not a router. If you have a broadband connection, you still need a broadband router or at least a modem between you and the internet...switches are dumb and only capable of physically connecting devices. They can't assign IP addresses or connect you directly to your ISP.

Summary: In summation, I strongly recommend this switch for your next small gigabit network. It provides the high performance of gigabit networking, and supports all the standard features of comparable switches by Linksys, Netgear, and D-Link. In addition, it has the more rare support for Jumbo frames, not found in most devices in this price range. It also presents a sturdy metal case, and a lifetime warranty.

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