Zyxel XGS4600-32 core level switch review

Core-level switches perform the main function of distributing network traffic on an object between WAN and network segments, such as Wi-Fi, video surveillance, workstations, IPTV, and so on. Since they are the most critical node of the network, the design of such devices is focused on fault tolerance, and the switches themselves have the function of combining into a stack, so that if one of the switches still fails, your network continues to function during replacement. Zyxel offers gigabit switches of the xgs4600 series of Layer 3 class, which are designed for use as root devices in networks of small hotels, offices and business centers.

In the XGS4600 model range, there are three switch variants that differ in the number and type of downlink interfaces:

XGS4600-32 XGS4600-32F XGS4600-52
Total number of ports 32 32 52
Gigabit SFP 0 24 48
1GBase-T 24 0 0
Gigabit combo (SFP/RJ-45) 4 4 0
10-Gigabit SFP+ 4 4 4
Performance
Switching performance (Gbps) 136 136 176
Packet forwarding speed (Mpps) 101.1 101.1 130.9
The packet buffer, MB 4 4 4

Obviously, models with Gigabit SFP interfaces are designed for building networks over large areas where optics are used as the transmission medium, and the XGS4600-32 is a more “office” option.

Each of the switches has 4 SFP + slots with a speed of 10 Gbit / s for uplink connection, connection to server racks, or stacking. At the same time, each of the models has a full-fledged non-blocking switching matrix that allows you to simultaneously use the performance of all ports in duplex mode (136 Gbit/s for 32-port and 176 Gbit/s for 52-port models). For network packets, there is a fairly large buffer of 4 MB, and the amount of RAM is 1 GB.

Immediately I want to note that connecting to server racks in this particular case, we consider it more like just an opportunity to give a 10-GB link for some storage installed for backups. There are no file Protocol traffic prioritization functions in the xgs4600 series switches (if you need them, look towards the XS3800). this model is based on Layer 3 and fault tolerance. Let’s start with it.

Design feature

Series XGS4600 has two power supplies operating in the mode active/passive. These are high-quality models produced by Delta Electronics, using Japanese components and do not require individual cooling. The choice of such PSU from the manufacturer is obvious: the depth of the switch (270 or 360 mm) should allow you to mount the device in a wall сabinet, even at the cost of no hot replacement.

Even after a sufficiently high-quality PSU, additional filtering from RF interference is installed in the power supply chain of the switch, although there is no objective need for this. Our traditional capacitor analysis shows the use of Japanese Sanyo solid-state components that are not prone to drying out from high temperatures.

By the way, please note: the switch has an extended temperature range, from 0 to 50 degrees Celsius, and 3 fans manufactured by Y. S. Tech are used for protection against overheating, working in the n+1 scheme (long-term operation is allowed if one fan fails). The maximum noise level is 59.8 dB, but in normal operation, the switch makes no more noise than other network equipment, and it can be placed in the same room where the staff works, in a closed wall сabinet.

From my point of view, the 28-port xgs4600-32 model is the most versatile: for local connections on the downlink network direction, you have 28 copper ports. Of these, 4 are universal, parallelized with SFP slots, which allows you to throw “Gigabit optics” into a neighboring building, through several floors, or connect to a backbone provider. And you still have 4 SFP slots for 10-Gigabit connections.

The RJ45 ports are equipped with proprietary Zyxel-EV lightning protection, so you can also directly connect access points or IP cameras with Autonomous power or via a PoE injector. It is also interesting that Zyxel XS4600-32 stores 2 firmware versions and 2 configuration files in memory, so if you updated unsuccessfully or clicked the wrong button, you can easily roll back the changes.

Management and monitoring

For an SNMP server, Zyxel provides MIB files that include exporting diagnostic information over cables to configure SNMP monitoring, for example via Prometheus or Zabbix. Nebula Control Center cloud management features are still not supported, and the company offers Zyxel One Network and Smart Connect utilities for simplified configuration and deployment. At the switch location, you can connect to the console via an RS232 port or a serial port with a physical RJ45 interface.

The main configuration is done via the Web interface, and since we are talking about an L3 switch, its capabilities seem limitless: you can learn more about them from the screenshots of the web interface, or by requesting a test sample in Zyxel, and I will give just a few:

  • a single port can belong to multiple VLANs, plus there is a Private VLAN setting to isolate connection endpoints
  • you can configure individual broadcast storm protection settings for each port
  • if you plan to actively use video broadcasts in your network, for example, to build complex configurations of video walls via HDMI-over-IP devices, and even add IPTV to the network, then Zyxel XGS4600 has a full set of tools for you: traditional IGMP Snooping version 1/2/3, IGMP filtering function for binding multicast profiles to separate ports, IGMP trottling for controlling the number of IGMP groups on a single interface, IGMP proxying and MVR.
  • if you plan to actively use video broadcasts in your network, for example, to build complex configurations of video walls via HDMI-over-IP devices, and even add IPTV to the network, then Zyxel XGS4600 has a full set of tools for you: traditional IGMP Snooping version 1/2/3, IGMP filtering function for binding multicast profiles to separate ports, IGMP trottling for controlling the number of IGMP groups on a single interface, IGMP proxying and MVR.
  • the switch has a PPPoE client and basic routing rules configuration, plus priority rules selection based on port, MAC address, and IP address. The XGS4600 itself can act as a DHCP repeater. There is a limit on the number of MAC addresses served by a single port, ACL filtering of IPV4/IPV6 packets, and a speed limit for specified IP addresses on a given port.

Testing

For testing, we use a stand with the following configuration:

To exclude OS influence, the network port was passed to the guest virtual machine as a PCI-E device. In the same tests, traffic was run through the switch and directly connecting the Board ports. Given the performance of the switch, we focused on the 10-Gigabit port throughput and used the recently reviewed Zyxel XS1920-12 as a comparison. 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 with a long stream load, and the switch wins even with the 10-Gigabit model.

To test the switch’s own latency, we used the psping utility from Microsoft’s PsTools package.

We can see that the average and minimum latency indicators on a 10-GB network do not change at all, which indicates high code performance. The maximum delay, which determines the stability of your services, when using a switch is only 0.83 MS. That is, for highly sensitive applications, the Zyxel XGS4600-32 is suitable.

Warranty policy

The ZyXEL xgs4600-32 switch has a limited lifetime warranty, meaning the manufacturer maintains the device for as long as its lifecycle lasts, plus 5 years after it is discontinued. It is also possible to purchase replacement service packages for the next business day. That is, for responsible objects, the integrator can remove the responsibility for warranty service by transferring this responsibility to Zyxel, which is undoubtedly convenient.

Recommendations for ordering

Considering the typical application scheme of the ZyXEL xgs4600-32 switch, I want to note that it is the ability to stack the root switch that determines the reliability of the entire network. Regardless of whether you have an extended warranty package from the manufacturer or not, regardless of whether two power supplies are installed in the device or one, by duplicating the switches, you can be sure that the network will continue to function if the switch is out of order and under repair.

In total, the switch in question has a very good 10-Gigabit network speed, a productive matrix, a full set of Layer 3 management functions, and a lifetime warranty with the possibility of replacing NBD. With a competent pricing policy, Zyxel makes it an excellent choice for building networks in business centers, administrative buildings and hotels, including facilities that occupy several buildings on a common territory.