This may be the smallest of the six switches we tested, the FSM7326 will be a familiar sight to Netgear customers with its blue livery and full range of front-mounted data connectors.
In this case that means 24 10/100Mb/sec UTP ports for device attachment plus a couple of Gigabit uplinks to connect to servers or a backbone network. You also get a choice of either the built-in UTP uplink ports or optional plug-in adapters for fibre.
As with most of the switches we looked at you can simply plug the Netgear FSM7326 into the mains and start using it. Power will, by default, be available on all of the 10/100Mb/sec ports (the Gigabit ports don't support PoE) and, if you're using DHCP, the management processor gets its IP address automatically. However, you'll probably want to set a manual address, in which case you'll need to hook a PC up to the console port using the supplied cable and configure this yourself.
That, of course, takes time but it's no big deal and you can manage the switch this way too if you want. However, it is a lot easier to use a browser or SNMP in conjunction with either the Netgear ProSafe software supplied (this needs to be licensed separately) or another SNMP management console.
Log on with a browser and you'll see a graphical representation of the switch displayed at the top of the screen. This shows the ports that are connected with a red outline where power is being drawn. A menu on the left then provides access to more detailed status and setup screens, from which it's possible to enable/disable PoE to each port and further manage its delivery. The interface here is quite simple but not particularly intuitive and we found it a bit too easy to apply the wrong settings until we'd got used to the way it worked.
Power arrives at the switch via a single AC adapter, but this can then be backed up by plugging in a Redundant Power System using the connector alongside. Netgear itself can't supply these, but there are specialist vendors who can.
Despite the redundant power option you're limited to a 180W power budget, which means careful rationing if a lot of PoE devices are attached. To this end you can specify a maximum for each port and set priorities to balance the available power across all the ports. The switch can also tell you how much power is being used by each port and summarise total utilisation to help with the balancing exercise.
But then none of the devices we attached required more than 6-8W, which is pretty much the average for things like wireless access points and IP phones. You could, therefore, get away with a full setup despite the 180W limit.
The FSM7326 is also a Layer 3 device with routing and bandwidth management capabilities. This make it a little more expensive than the more basic Layer 2 products, but not it's not overpriced and as such, if you need the extra functionality, it's worth considering.
Middle of the road, but that's not necessarily a bad thing in this case
Type: Layer 3 Ethernet switch 10/100Mb/sec UTP ports: 24 Gigabit ports: 2 - shared adapter slots for fibre connectivity Switching capacity: 8.8Gb/sec MAC addresses: 8000 VLANs: 228 PoE budget: 180W Redundant power: Yes