D-Link DGS-F1026P-E Network Switch REVIEW
If you’ve got too many gadgets and not enough ports, D-Link’s latest network switch might prove the ultimate solution, writes PAT PILCHER.
Tech media remains firmly obsessed with Wi-Fi, and with good reason. Wi-Fi is quick and is dead easy to use. But here’s the thing. You still can’t beat a wired connection when it comes to sheer performance and the ease of setup.
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Most consumer-grade routers typically have four measly ethernet cable ports. In some mesh network setups that number drops to just two, one of which is the uplink connection, leaving you with a single usable port!
That just won’t cut it in my house. I’ve got a smart TV, Sonos gear, an Xbox and PlayStation, two network-attached storage drives, indoor IP cameras, an Arlo camera hub, a Philips Hue Hub as well as a hardware security appliance all needing a wired connection to perform. The four ports on my router just weren’t cutting it. What was this poor geek to do?
Enter stage left, D-Link’s DGS-F1026P-E. Aside from its name (which kinda rolls of the tongue, don’t it?), it’s the perfect answer to my wired network conundrums. It’s like a power extension box, but for wired networking, providing an additional 26 Gigabit Ethernet ports (two uplink ports plus 24 ethernet ports). I’ve connected all my wired gadgets and there’s room for plenty more, leaving me completely future-proofed.
Getting set up was a doddle. After powering up the DGS-F1026P-E, I connected my router and wired devices and was good to go. Everything from my fibre broadband to all connected widgets run at gigabit speeds. File transfers, video conferencing, media consumption and gaming feels super quick.
A nifty trick baked into the DGS-F1026P-E is that it comes with what is known as PoE (Power over Ethernet). PoE-capable widgets can be powered using a single ethernet cable from up to 250 metres away, eliminating the need for power adaptors and greatly reducing cable clutter. Each of the DGS-F1026P-E’s 24 ports can supply up to 30W of juice.
Should a PoE gizmo crap out, built-in AI automatically detect the unresponsive PoE device and reboots it to get it going again. Keeping an eye on the status of PoE usage is easy peasy. Status LEDs provide real-time feedback on the network’s performance. Devices requiring real-time low latency data (such as IP surveillance cameras, VoIP phones, etc) are automatically prioritised, making the DGS-F1026P-E ideal for IP Camera/CCTV applications.
I was pleasantly surprised to find two Gigabit uplink ports. This means I could use multiple broadband connections to minimise network downtime should one broadband connection drop out. IEEE 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) is also supported. This sees the DGS-F1026P-E automatically hibernating any ports not used, powering them up only when needed to keep energy bills to a sensible minimum. Last (but not least), there’s also 6KV lightning/power surge protection that might prevent valuable gadgets from being zapped.
If all this sounds great, there is one small downside: noise. The DGS-F1026P-E’s cooling fan is audible, which isn’t surprising given it is designed to sit in a data wiring closet or data centre.
While few home users are likely to need a 26-port network switch, those with lots of smart home gear and small businesses could benefit from what the DGS-F1026P-E offers. While it retails for $749.99, a quick check revealed that it’s discounted to a wallet pleasing $564 sticker price by some retailers, giving you a tonne of bang for your networking buck.