Linksys EtherFast (EZXS88W-UK) 8-Ports External Switch

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Cisco breathes life into a consumer grade low cost 100Mbs duplexing switch!

Oct 12, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Installation:
  • Ease of Use:

Pros:High bandwidth

Cons:Flimsy case

The Bottom Line: A switch is a terrific way to expand your home network. Wireless users who need more speed should reconsider a cable network for cost savings and more bandwidth.


Since 2005, I have been rendering a 150,000 frame computer animation on six machines at my house. Each frame is a 720x480 TGA file that is approximately 1mb in size. The animation is done in POV-Ray 3.7 Beta because it supports multi-core processors. My problem was simple, what is the fastest most economical way to transfer thousands of large files between the rendering computers in 2007? I use a Supermicro X7DAL-E based server to store my animation frames because of its high bandwidth, file subsystem. The Supermicro box has an Adaptec 2410 SATA hardware raid controller that can burst transfer over 300 Mbps internally. However the Linksys WRT54G wireless router at my house could not handle the load of multiple computers transferring thousands of files over my network. I could have either bought higher cost wireless networking gear or just used the built in network ports on my machines. I choose to use the network ports instead and bought the EZXS88W. Now, I can easily initiate multiple transfers between machines and never have any slowdown during the transfer process.

The EZXS88W 10/100 8-Port workgroup switch is a quick and easy way to boost your home network’s performance while migrating to the power of fast Ethernet. With support for half and full duplex speeds, the switch allows your network to run at 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 100Mbps and 200Mbps. People who desire a secure, private network should look elsewhere since the switch will allow any connected computer to view all other computers on your network. For this reason, business users should purchase a router instead.

Why should you consider a switch/wired network over a wireless network?
Some people would think installing a new switch/wired network is not cool in 2007. I disagree for three reasons: security, ease of installation and low cost. A wireless network that has not been properly configured can let anyone within 50 to 200 feet of your residence use your personal network. Wireless networks usually feature a router in some form or fashion. The proper setup of this router requires some training that most people do not have the luxury of spending time to understand. Today, nearly all computers sold have a network port built into them. Networking the computer is simply a matter of running a cable between the PC and your switch. Wireless networks however require the additional purchase of the wireless router as well as a set of wireless network cards if you do not want to run the cabling. From experience, bandwidth can easily be limited to 50% or less on most wireless network routers during peak usage. All of these reasons combined are why I do not use a wireless network for my cluster of ray tracing computers.

Precautions
The eighth port is your WAN uplink. As a result, you will only have 7 ports to connect computers to.

You can plug this into a DSL modem to give your network an internet connection. I advise buying a Linksys router instead so that you can hide your computers behind it’s firewall.

Installation
Before you start make sure you have enough networking cable. Consider mounting the switch in a position that will let you quickly observe the front panel. In the future when troubleshooting, you will be able to diagnose problems without having to physically move the switch.

Upon removing the EZXS88W from it’s box give it a gentle shake to make sure no broken parts are inside the switch. Plug the power adapter into an uninterruptible power supply and start connecting your network cables. Make sure you do not plug a cable into port 8 if the switch is connected to another network appliance through the uplink port.

After you have finished installing your new switch, remember to clean up after yourself using a Dyson DC07

Problems
If your previous switch is being replaced because the ports were failing, chances are the problem is not with the switch but with your cabling. Before purchasing another network appliance, make sure all cabling is properly grounded or you will continue to lose ports.

However, at my company we often see ports die in these Linksys switches. The best way around the problem is to just purchase more ports than you need. If a port fails plug the RJ-45 into the next available port.

Appearance
The case is made out two pieces of plastic. The front panel is blue and has a clear plastic cover over top of the LED indicators. When viewed from angle the light from nearby LED’s bleed into the other ports making it appear as if they are on. The back panel is a light black color. The back panel is very weak and can collapse slightly if more than 5lbs of pressure is placed on it. The bottom of the switch has four rubber feet that give it some grip on a non skid surface at the same time allowing air to pass underneath and cool it off during normal operation.

The power adapter has at least 6ft of cord and is small enough to allow fit on a power strip with other plugs.

Features
Model: EZXS88W
Case: Plastic
Color: Blue and black
Dimensions: 11”x6.25”x2.1”
Ports: 8-port 10/100 dual-speed per-port, reach speeds of up to 200 Mbps in full-duplex operation
NWAY Technology Detects cabling type, speed, and duplex operation
LEDs: Power and Collision, Link/Activity, Full Duplex, and 100 Per Port
Power: External AC adapter; input: 100 to 240 volts AC 25Watts, 50 to 60 Hz; output: 9 volts DC

How can I make 200Mbps (full-duplex) work?
In Windows XP this is auto-negotiated between your switch and NIC. You can view the network card properties’ page to see if it is operating in full duplex mode. If you choose you can force the network card to operate in this mode. I advice using shorter LAN cabling and keeping the cables away from any EMI to achieve maximum benefit. All my computers connected to the EZXS88W are operating in this mode by default.

What is NWAY?
NWay is a telecommunications protocol used with Ethernet networking devices to automatically negotiate the highest possible common transmission speed between two devices. The NWay protocol is also known as auto-negotiation or auto-sensing. When a connection to a network device has been established, the NWay protocol determines what modes that device uses, sends information about its own capabilities, and automatically configures the highest common performance mode.

Websites of Interest
Product homepage: http://www.linksys.com/servlet/Satellite?c=L_Product_C2&childpagename=US/Layout&cid=1115416836813&pagename=Linksys/Common/VisitorWrapper

POV Raytracer: www.povray.org

Summary
The EZXS88W is a good choice for anyone looking to connect a home or small office wired network together. Bright link lights help you wire up new computers and instantly see connection status. Keep in mind that most computers cannot generate more than 75Mbps of bandwidth at a time so the need for a 1000Mbps switch is unfounded.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 35
Driver Availability: Windows, Linux, and Mac


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