EnGenius ECS2512FP review: Bang on target
This multi-Gigabit switch combines plenty of ports with high-power PoE++ and cloud management
The EnGenius ECS2512FP is a fairly compact network switch, measuring a modest 330mm across. Don’t judge it on size alone, though, because it packs serious performance into its diminutive chassis. Eight front-facing Ethernet ports all support both regular Gigabit and 2.5Gbits/sec connections, while four 10GbE SFP+ ports allow for high-speed fibre connections.
Even better, all eight multi-Gigabit ports support the 802.3bt PoE++ specification, with an overall power budget of 240W. This means the ECS2512FP can deliver 30W on every port at once, or 60W on any four of them – which should be music to the ears of IT managers looking to deploy high-performance Wi-Fi 6 APs over existing Cat5e cabling.
Three management methods are on offer: you can use the switch’s own built-in web console, integrate it into EnGenius’ free cloud portal or use EnGenius’ ezMaster management software, which will run in a VM, on an EnGenius SkyKey appliance or in the cloud on Amazon AWS. There’s also a mobile app, but this is for monitoring only and doesn’t offer any configuration options.
Standalone management is the least exciting option, but the web console gives you full control of a wide range of standard L2 services, including port and protocol-based VLANs, QoS traffic prioritisation, static or LACP link aggregation groups and port mirroring.
VoIP networks are covered too: the switch automatically identifies traffic from IP phones using their OUI (organisationally unique identifier) and prioritises it by dynamically creating voice VLANs. And if you’re worried about the power budget, you can set each of the ports to one of four priorities: should the total draw threaten to exceed the 240W limit, ports with the lowest priority will be automatically switched off to ensure high-priority devices keep working.
Activating cloud management is as simple as registering the ECS2512FP with your EnGenius Cloud account. We used the Cloud To-Go iOS app to scan in the QR code on the base of the unit, then selected the organisation and network we wanted to add it to. In less than a minute, it popped up ready for action.
So far, so good – although once you’re into the cloud portal you’ll find that it’s clearly been designed with a focus on managing wireless networks. There’s lots of good information on display about APs and wireless clients, but it’s a shame that you can’t tweak the homepage to add selected details about the switch.
Still, on the switch’s own page you’ll find plenty of readouts and controls. Coloured icons give an instant overview of the state of each port, along with its connection speed. Charts below reveal total PoE usage against the switch’s power budget, along with the individual power draw of each port.
From here you can also choose to enable or disable the voice VLAN, add custom OUIs, configure QoS scheduling plus jumbo frames and block access to the switch’s local web console. All port settings can be configured remotely too, as can port mirroring and link aggregation.
If you prefer to use the ezMaster software, it’s quick to set up: it took us only five minutes to install on our VMware ESXi host, and as soon as we opened it up, it had spotted the switch and prompted us to approve it. With the ECS2512FP added to our ezMaster project we could now change its port settings, monitor used and available power, check the status of connected devices and modify their power priorities. You won’t find as many configuration options as the cloud portal offers, but you can launch the switch’s own web console directly from the ezMaster interface. Just note that once the switch has been claimed by ezMaster, its individual port and power settings become unavailable. We also noticed that when devices connected over 2.5GbE, the local console correctly showed their port speed, while ezMaster thought they were down – a minor bug that will hopefully soon be squashed.
As Wi-Fi 6 APs start to become the norm, manufacturers have been curiously slow to offer switches that provide a suitable combination of performance and power. EnGenius’ ECS2512FP hits the target bang on, delivering exactly what you need to start rolling out next-gen Wi-Fi – and does so at a good price with plenty of management choices.
EnGenius ECS2512FP specifications
1U rack chassis
8 x GbE/2.5GbE ports with PoE++, 4 x 10GbE SFP+ ports
Total power budget
Total MAC addresses
Web browser, EnGenius Cloud and ezMaster management
2yr RTB warranty