The network switch serves the invaluable role of uniting ethernet devices beyond the router. In a networked office or business, switches fill tall racks with their lines of ports and snaking cables, often 48 ports to a switch.
At home, an ethernet switch of maybe five or eight ports like the Lindy 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch helps to expand upon the under-provisioning of just four ports that practically all consumer routers provide.
Between these extremes there’s a real role for a simple ethernet switch such as the TP-Link TL-SG1024D. And by simple, we mean of course the unmanaged switch, a true plug-and-play hub that requires no administration or configuration yet will usefully expand the number of ethernet devices that can talk to each other.
The TP-Link TL-SG1024D is not a rack-mount unit, at least not directly out of the box. At 294mm wide, it’s more compact, although a pair of L-shaped mounting brackets are supplied that allow it to be bolted into a standard rack.
Or if that is to be its permanent home, you could opt for the 19in (440mm) full-width version, the TL-SG1024, sans D suffix.
Up to 24 ports are available on this TP-Link TL-SG1024D model, stacked in three sets of eight across the front, with status LEDs running in two corresponding lines to the left: odd-numbered ports above, even below.
Also available are 8- and 16-port versions, the TP-Link TL-SG1008 and TL-SG1016D respectively.
Each port is signposted by one green LED with the usual Link (solid) and Act (blinking) designation, while a second LED for each port lights up when synced at gigabit speed.
Setup of the TP-Link TL-SG1024D is as easy as connecting it to a router or another switch through any of its 24 ports, leaving 23 ports free to unite wired PCs, NAS drives and other ethernet devices.
Construction is to a high quality in its sturdy metal chassis. An internal power supply means no faffing with external wall-warts.
As a pro-level unit, it's specified for maximum throughput of full-duplex (2 x 1Gbps) gigabit on each port: up to a maximum 48Gbps switching capacity.
Too cool blues
Like much server-room kit, the TP-Link TL-SG1024D safeguards against overheating by rather over-zealous fan cooling.
At one end is a small diameter fan running at high speed, with ventilation holes at the other end. The net effect is a noisy unit – although you could try disconnecting the fan if it's to be used in less demanding installations and you don’t wish to be driven to distraction by the insane noise.
In our test setup with fan silenced, and with several NAS drives performing intensive rsync backups between themselves, the TL-SG1024D barely got warm.
Nevertheless, an ideal solution for this unit would be an intelligent multi-speed fan that kicked in only when required.
Like many modern network switches, the TP-Link TL-SG1024D can auto-sense connected equipment for 10/100/1000Mbps operation, as well as recognise straight-through and crossover cables (auto-MDIX).
Each port is also said to sense its input and connected cable length, and then adjust power levels accordingly in order to improve efficiency.
In use, we found no network issues, such as slow zeroconf mDNS/DNS-SD (Bonjour) device discovery that have affected some network switches we’ve tested.