Test and review: Zyxel XS 1920-12 for 10-Gigabit networks

When switching to a 10-Gigabit network infrastructure, you will probably encounter two environments: optical and copper. In the first case, it will most likely be trunk connections, and in the second-modern equipment, which usually has the 10GBASE-t standard. for such use cases, Zyxel has the XS 1920 model, a managed switch with 12 ports, 2 of which are combined.

Of course, by modern standards, giving 12 ports, even if they are 10-Gigabit, the full width of the 1U case looks like a waste, but we will make an allowance for the fact that the XS1920-12 was introduced in 2017, and even today is not inferior to new models.

Port density and compatibility

The switch has twelve 10GBASE-T ports arranged in a single row, and each of the ports has its own activity/speed indication. A 10 Gbit link is indicated by a dark blue LED indicator. Ports numbered 11 and 12 are paired with SFP + slots, so the optical medium is included in the overall switching matrix of the device.


In general, 10-Gigabit devices tend to be capricious when working with different cables, which we saw in the QNAP qsw-1208-8C test, so traditionally, we check compatibility with RJ45 connectors and cables of categories 5, 6 and 7. The single-row arrangement of ports with latches up does not cause any difficulties when connecting any network chips.

Cable type Category Length Compatibility Link
Unshielded UTP 20 cable (factory crimp) 5 20 cm Yes 10 Gbps
Foil FTP cable, 50 cm (Siemens plug-in chips) 5E 0.5 m Yes 10 Gbps
Unshielded UTP cable, 50 cm (manual crimp) 5E 0.5 m Yes 10 Gbps
STP shielded cable,
(factory crimp) 5E 2 m Yes 10 Gbps
STP shielded cable,
(factory crimp) 6 1 m Yes 10 Gbps
STP shielded cable
(split chips, noname) 7 35 m Yes 10 Gbps
DAC SFP+, Intel branded 3 m Yes 10 Gbps

You should also keep in mind that the switch may not work with your network cards: this phenomenon is common to some models of old 10-Gigabit switches, such as Ubiquiti EdgeSwitch 16 XG or 1-Gigabit devices from Mikrotik, so to make it easier for you, we are conducting a compatibility test with our fleet of 10-Gigabit devices.

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

However, despite any tests, still provide the ability to check on your own fleet of equipment and return if something does not work.

Construction and hardware

The entire design is reduced to removing 94 watts of power consumption from the shallow 1-unit enclosure. 10-Gigabit switches are still very hot stuff, so cooling the CPU and PHY here is like in a good server. Still, these chips account for the execution of checksum counting operations, and the lion’s share of energy consumption. In Zyxel XS1920-12, they are given the flow from two fans, and the processor and power supply will be enough for one.

By the way, about the components: the power supply - Delta Electronics with Japanese Nichicon capacitors, fans - from the same" Delta", do not need an introduction, on the motherboard - Sanyo capacitors. It’s nice to see expensive branded components with a high service life in difficult conditions. At the same time, even for such a heat-loaded design, Zyxel kept the side cooling scheme so that the switch could be installed in short closed wall cabinets. Moreover, the XS1920-12 has an extended temperature range: it can work when “overboard” - from 0 to 50 degrees Celsius. It’s more robust than many server motherboards, and even has a dual BIOS so you can roll back when an update fails.

Configuration features

Today, almost 4 years after the release of the XS1920-12 model, there are already many 10-Gigabit switches on sale, including much cheaper ones. And how many of them support channel aggregation for those who do not have enough 10 gigabits? Here is the xs1920-12 in question-maybe there are 6 groups available to you, each of which can be assigned any number of ports using a static method or LACP. Or if we are talking about VLANs, then both static port-based configuration is supported here (which even the cheapest GS1200-8HP switches have, and:

  • based on IP subnets,
  • set statically
  • it is obtained by DHCP

based on protocols

  • IP
  • IPX
  • ARP
  • RARP
  • Apple Talk DECNET

and

  • based on MAC addresses with priority
  • on the basis of the OUI Voice VLAN

You can have as many VLANs as you want on a single port, including private networks, but you can limit the number of MAC addresses per port and VLAN to prevent unknown devices from connecting to the network. One of three protocols is available for loop protection: RST (default), MRST, and MST.

In general, according to the settings, Zyxel XS1920 is a typical example of a SMART switch, and if you are not going to put it in the center of the network core, taking out traffic management on it, then surely these features will be more than enough.

Test

For testing, we use the following configuration stand:

To eliminate the OS impact, a network port as a PCI-E device was pushed into the guest virtual machine. In the same tests, traffic was started through the switch and directly connecting the Board ports. The Intel X520-DA2 used a 3-meter-long DAC cable. With a minimum packet size of 512 bytes, we will see how the built-in switch buffer speeds up network traffic for a long stream load. Note that contrary to popular belief, here the twisted pair gives higher traffic than the DAC.

Now let’s look at the same thing, but with a large package of 9 Kilobytes, typical for file networks.

Let’s look at the delay that the presence of the switch makes in the transmission of network packets, for which we will use the psping utility from the PsTools package from Microsoft.

On average, the delay does not increase, and the maximum-even decreases. But the minimum delay in the presence of a switch grows by a negligible 0.01 MS.

Recommendations for ordering

Please note that the Zyxel XS1920-12 model does not support the Nebula cloud service for remote device management over the Internet. This means that there will be no metrics and no binding to other people’s services in your infrastructure. If you are selecting a switch for installation in a room where people work, you can not be afraid of high noise of the switch: automatic adjustment of the fans maintains a low noise level.

I want to note that the device does not support intermediate speeds of 2.5 Gbit / s and 5 Gbit / s, which, contrary to my forecasts, suddenly rose from the ashes and now began to appear in personal computers and cheap NAS-es. Keep this in mind if you are going to purchase new workstations. Also, if you decide to expand your network, please note that stacking is not provided here.

If we consider the pricing policy of Zyxel, the xs1920-12 switch does not stand out in any particular way: this device is “in the market”, it is on a par with the 14 - and 16-port models of HPE and D-Link. Traditionally high component base, extended temperature range, and as a result - full compatibility with cables and network adapters - these are the strengths of this model.