$90 TP-Link switch – wow


Today I got this tiny little switch from chinese TP-Link – and I’ll write a review here, since I’m having a hard time believing what this low-cost thinggy can do.

last time I bought something from that vendor was 5-6 years ago, some wireless cards with the FreeBSD-friendly Atheros chipset. Until recently their switches definitely didn’t look like anything you’d want to buy.

How I ended up with this one?

I always wanted to run fibre through the small hole I drilled into the living room wall so I could have a nice LACP+Vlan trunked interface to “teh server”, since that allows much more networking fun. The “normal” powerful switches like Cisco, Extreme, H3C I would have around are not suited for home use due to the amounts of power they are consuming to generate the noise the make 🙂

A review of this tiny TP-Link switch in c’t had caught my attention since it listed having SNMPv3 support, plus two SFP ports.

Got the switch, took a moment to realize I would need to look at the manual to find the CLI port speed (38400 bps) and off we were!

Configuration is on the CLI mostly Cisco-link although at some points I didn’t manage to do it right on the CLI. For example I didn’t find out how to save the config 🙂

From the web UI things are easier to configure, except maybe IP ACLs where you really want some copy-paste facility. It’s not 100% intuitive at all times, but it’s very fast to make up for it.

Features

The LACP implementation is working fine, it’s doing real dynamic LACP, you just enable it on ports and they’re bound as cables are plugged in. That also means it will not cause issues when doing kickstart installs, much different from some Linksys switches.

SNMP: You can define views, you can assign them to users / groups all no problem. V2C bulkwalks just fly (ok, the MIB is small, too). No per-VLAN counters as far as I can tell, also no sFlow, but both is hardly even found on $500 models, so that is quite fair.

Fun issue when using it with Check_MK: The interface desc’s I set from the web UI are… well… there is some encoding oopsy somewhere. The vendor supplied descriptions to the left, are all fine, but mine to the right ended up in chinese:

NTP / Syslog: All as you’d expect it. show logging buffer gives the log output locally, what else do I ask. This is one of the pieces I had to setup from the gui.

VLANs: It is possible to change the management VLAN off VLAN1 to something that is not the default vlan. Yay! Didn’t use that yet, since at home it is not … well managed 🙂  Even GVRP is available and configurable per port in learning or other modes.

Spanning tree stuff is nicely done with STP/RSTP/MSTP support to a level where it can surely use it to extend some lab.

See the screenshot here – and they really call it a “L2 Lite Managed Switch“.

tplink SG3210 mstp settings

MSTP settings

And here’s the output from the bonding driver with working LACP:

802.3ad info
LACP rate: fast
Active Aggregator Info:
	Aggregator ID: 1
	Number of ports: 2
	Actor Key: 17
	Partner Key: zz
	Partner Mac Address: b0:48:7a:b3:xx:xx

Joining the 2nd ethernet port of my server into the bond was just a matter of adding the linux config and doing “ifup eth1” (since normal linux distros can’t do dynamic lacp grouping like a switch… go figure)

What I didn’t yet get to work was the IP ACLs that should block the config interface & snmp for non-management systems. But I guess that was just my own error.

Also nice is a bunch of DDOS protection stuff (Anyone said SYN flood?) and even ARP spoofing filters, also on a per-port level!

Stability-wise: I’ve pulled 121GBytes off a NFS share at 100+MB/s without errors. OK for me. 🙂

Noise: It has no fan!

So this thing is taking the #1 place for best low-cost switch from the HP 1810G as of today 🙂

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8 thoughts on “$90 TP-Link switch – wow

  1. Thank you for the review! I would never even have considered looking at TP-Link if it wasn’t for this review – finding a cheap MSTP-capable switch is not easy, especially one with a CLI-mode.

    • Hi,

      the amazon price was EUR 90 and the cheapest seller had it for EUR 83. I was wrong about $90 (1:1 exchange ratio for UKP and USD is very easy in the head and very wrong, too). But $150 sounds way off, yahoo! tells me it should rather be something like $105. Also normally IT gear is like 10% cheaper in the US than here, so I wasn’t really that far off. At $150 one might rather pick HP for the extended warranty etc.

      Anyway, I checked out the offers on Amazon US (there’s two for $199) – compare for yourself by looking at Amazon Germany.

  2. Nice review, nice switch!
    Can you say something about energy consumption? I didn’t find a single word about it neither in data sheet nor in user manual.

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