Review by: Patrick D. Cox
PRICE: $199.99 List / $106.99 Online
WARRANTY: 3 Years
PRODUCT HOME PAGE
- DX2216 Hub
- Rack Mount Adapter Kit
- AC Power Cord
- Warranty Card
- Technical Specifications:
- 16 RJ45 ports supporting 10/100Mbps network connections (Full and Half Duplex)
- N-Way auto negotiation
- Uplink port for on the front, switched
- Diagnostic LEDs for easy troubleshooting and monitoring of the switch
- Dynamic memory sharing in/out buffer for packet transmission/re-transmission
- Traffic priority services
- Trunking capability with another DSR2216 - 4 Ports
- LEDs - Power, Speed, Duplex, Link/Activity
- Dimensions - 440mm x 160mm x 44mm (LxWxH) / 17.3IN x 6.29IN x 1.73IN (LxWxH)
Compex, founded in 1987, has a growing market share in Europe and the US centered on SOHO and business networking equipment. Based out of Anaheim, California, Compex and its partner companies have an install base of over two million products and are slowly increasing their market share and product name. Part of this growth is centered on products that focus on home LAN and Internet users, which of course impacts online gamers.
A Network Switch?
For this review, Compex brings us another cross-market product in the DX2216 network switch. When I was first notified that I would be reviewing a small-business class network switch, I had to ask why. With 16 ports, rack-mount capability, trunking, and bandwidth management features it seemed a bit overkill for the average home user with two or three networked PCs.
However, after recently completing a move to a new state and discovering that LAN parties are a lot more popular on the East Coast than they were in the Midwest, the new marketing focus by Compex seems to make sense. While the DSR2216 may be overkill in the average home, on paper it is a great item for throwing your own LAN party. 16 speed managed ports means 15 targets for your mouse and a great day of gaming with your friends.
Hub vs. Switch
I am sure many of you know what a network hub is, especially if you have more than one computer at home. If you do have several home computers and they are networked together in some way, the odds are that you already use one. Common home network hubs typically have two to six ports that allow you to connect a similar number of computers together to share files and Internet connections, as well as game together in the home as a family.
A network switch is quite a bit different, and up until recently it was considered the exclusive domain of medium to large sized businesses with 10-100 computers on a private network. While a typical hub only shares bandwidth and computer resources in a simple network environment, a switch can connect different types of network resources through auto negotiation, share bandwidth intelligently and smoothly across multiple ports, and smartly manage individual bandwidth needs for each port on the switch. This means that a great number of computers can communicate with each other and the outside world efficiently, and with little network induced lag or errors.
The DSR2216 comes with rack mount hardware as well as lightweight rubber feet for stacking on a flat surface. Since this is a device with no external console management needs, installation is very straightforward. Just plug in your broadband connection to the uplink port, your computers into the available RJ45 LAN ports, and plug in the power cable on the back.
The switch has a front panel interface consisting of 16 RJ45 ports, two large and one small LED arrays, and two very small buttons for switching modes and changing port priorities. This is not a very intuitive interface and the manual is definitely recommended reading before trying to sort out the control interface or LED readings. Once you are used to how the panel works, however, you will find that it is a snap to understand and rather easy to use.
Since Compex markets their product lines in Germany, Russia, and the United States, the manual comes in all three languages. The manual is very complete, with full illustrations and walkthroughs for setting the various features of this managed switch. My only complaint is that, at times, the documentation is a bit thin -- especially in regards to trunking and priority modes -- leaving you scratching your head at the wording until you actually try the function out on the front control panel.
The DSR2216 requires no external software to manage, so no software is included in the package.
Small Business Network:
Being a small network administrator by day, I had the opportunity to actually rack mount and load test the DSR2216 switch. Not only do I feel that the mounting hardware is insufficient thanks to some very short and lightweight mounting screws, but the holes on the front of the brackets do not line up very precisely with a standard open architecture network rack. This could be of significant consideration if you are going to put together a small mobile LAN rack to take on the road when setting up a LAN event at a friend's house or other location away from home.
Once I had mounted the DSR2216 and ensured that it was not going to warp or break free from the mounting brackets, I plugged in several network printers and six PCs running a variety of operating systems. I even used some priority routing for the printers since they are constantly in use. Everything cabled up without a hitch and the switch immediately went to work.
Performance in this environment was excellent. On newer computers over 80 feet away file transfers still averaged over 9MB/s and I never saw any collisions or loss on the network when monitoring traffic from the primary domain server.
If you are a power user or involved in setting up LAN gaming events, this switch is not a bad choice. The DSR2216 is lightweight, can be stacked or rack-mounted, and requires no external console or software to configure. The bandwidth management features work, and even in a mixed environment of 10 and 100 Base-T connections everything flows smoothly and without packet loss or collision.
In its given niche market for gamers, primarily LAN partiers, I think the Compex DSR2216 is a capable and affordable network switch. If you are a home user with no ambitions of setting up large LAN gaming events or running over six computers in your house, you can skip the DSR2216 for a more reasonably priced hub or router.