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QNAP QSW-1208-8C review: universal SFP+/RJ45 switch for 10G

Buying a modern 10-Gigabit NAS, you will surely ask yourself the question: what, in fact, to connect it? Regardless of whether your server has 10 Gigabit network ports or you will add them with expansion cards, you need to decide whether you will use a copper cable (twisted pair) or optics. This question is considered separately in the article “what is the best standard for a 10-Gigabit network”, but the developers of the company QNAP did not read it, and think for you, weighing all the" pros “and” cons " are not going to. So they released an 8-port 10-Gigabit switch with combined ports so you can use whatever environment you want. What’s more, the switch supports 5G/2.5 G BASE-T standards, and many top gaming motherboards now have network ports at this rate.

You can say that you are not surprised, because the world is full of switches with RJ45 ports for LAN and SFP / SFP+ slots for uplink connections to the backbone network, but QNAP has a very different approach: QSW-1208 - 8C is a peer-to-peer switch that has 12 SFP+ slots, of which 8 are duplicated as RJ45 ports. This means that there is no separation between Uplink and local ports, and all connections share a common 240 Gbps switching fabric.

Unfortunately, the switch QSW-1208-8C - unmanaged, and even VLAN-s you will not be able to configure on it, not to mention some functions like load balancing or aggregation of channels.

Of course, this limits the potential use of the switch, but still for you and me the name QNAP is associated with storage systems, and 10-Gigabit network switch suggests itself in this category, where you just need to connect 5-10 workstations or servers to the NAS.

How QNAP tests switches

It is interesting that QNAP in the blog in detail tells how engineers torment QSW-1208-8C. first, connect to the switch to 20 devices and start Burn-in test for a period of 1 month. Secondly, the maximum load is driven on the vibration table and in the heat chamber at a temperature from 0 to +50 degrees Celsius. The criterion of successful passing of the test is 0 lost packages at all mockeries of developers.

In addition, the test team produces 1000 cycles on / off switch, test to work in a wet environment, drops the switch to the floor and rides on the load equipment to debug the firmware of the device.


Of course, in the presence of such switch the eternal question “copper or optics” becomes irrelevant: choose what you want, there will be enough ports for all. I want to note that QNAP does not produce optical transceivers, but in the compatibility list there is 1 model Mellanox MFM1T02A-SR, offered under the brand name QNAP and several DAC-cables up to 5 meters. In General, the most popular transceivers Intel, Cisco, HP, Netgear, Avago and Finisar are supported.

Compatibility test

In general, if you have not dealt with 10-Gigabit networks before, you will be interested to know that compatibility in this segment is a problem. We got used to that if to take any 1-Gigabit switch or a router and to include in any 1-Gigabit network card any cable-you will have 1-Gigabit connection, and with 10G Base-T everything absolutely differently. On paper, all the equipment is compatible with each other and backwards compatible with 1GBase-T, but in fact - it’s not so simple: no link at all, communication at speeds of about 100 Mbit/s and other joys, and in General not every 10-Gigabit switch supports 2.5 GBase-T and 5GBase-T standards (2.5 Gbit/s and 5 Gbit/s, respectively). Therefore, when choosing a switch, try to test it with your equipment before buying, well, or negotiate with the seller a refund.

NIC Compatibility
Aquantia AQC107 Yes
Intel X540 Yes
Intel X550 Yes
Intel X550-T2 Yes
Intel X557 Yes
Intel X520-DA2 Yes
Mellanox ConnectX-2 Yes

The switch made friends with network cards at once, and here began to be choosy with cables: from 7 samples of cables of category CAT 5E from 20 cm long to 1 meter, 3 samples completely refused to work though directly they connected 10-Gigabit network cards at the maximum speed. Among these samples there were both factory cables, from a delivery set of the network equipment, and compressed independently unnamed chips, and also a cable with Siemens connectors.

Cable type Category Length Compatibility
Unshielded UTP 20 cable (factory crimp) 5 20 cm Yes
Foil FTP cable, 50 cm (Siemens plug-in chips) 5E 0.5 m Yes
Unshielded UTP cable, 50 cm (manual crimp) 5E 0.5 m Yes
STP shielded cable,
(factory crimp) 5E 2 m Yes
STP shielded cable,
(factory crimp) 6 1 m Yes
STP shielded cable
(split chips, noname) 7 35 m Yes
DAC SFP+, Intel branded 3 m Yes

With cable Cat 6 and Cat 7 problems expected did not arise, and once again I want to repeat: all samples were tested and worked perfectly at a speed of 10 Gbit/s with a direct connection of network cards. This test tells us that if you want to use the switch with existing CAT 5E cables for short distances (10-15 meters), then be prepared for the fact that the cable will have to be re-pressed or changed.

Performance testing

Test Bench:

Softwarе:

  • VMware ESXi 6.5
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Paessler Passmark

Our test bench has a capacity of 60 Gbit/s, which is 4 times less than the capabilities of the qsw-1208-8C switch, which has a matrix of 240 Gbit / s.Let’s look at the switching speed between different network ports.

En_test_1

En_test_2

En_test_3

Sometimes network switches increase speed even between two network ports at the expense of the built-in buffer that we saw in the test of Gigabit switches of Zyxel. Sometimes-slow down, but QNAP QSW-1208-8C practically does not affect the speed between ports, making only a slight delay, which is lost on the background of measurement error. Even switching between Intel X520 DA2 (SFP+ DAC cable) and Intel X550-T2 (RJ45, copper) is carried out without delay.

Conclusions

QNAP QSW-1208-8C has no direct competitor with the same number of ports, but among the models on 8/10 10GBase-T with 2/4 uplink SFP+ slots for the same money you can choose a managed switch with VLAN support. Of course, unmanaged architecture is a switch design feature that you should be aware of in advance, so I can’t attribute this to a disadvantage. At least, not every company may need to cut a 10-Gigabit network into segments.

What did not like:

  • The switch has proven to be cable-demanding, so use shielded CAT5E or CAT6/CAT7 cables where possible. We do not recommend using unshielded twisted pair CAT5E UTP even with a cable length of 20 cm.
  • No power switch

What we liked:

  • Compatible with all network cards that are in our testlab. At the time of writing, not all 10-Gigabit switches can boast of this. The switch does not degrade performance compared to a direct connection.
  • Low noise level

Thanks to the fact that QSW-1208-8C works almost silently, you can use this switch directly on a workplace, without being afraid that by the evening from it the head will ache. Given how carefully QNAP tests its products, you can expect it to run for years 24/7 with no packet loss.