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Review: Funkwerk bintec S208

8 Port Desktop Gigabit Ethernet Switch
Funkwerk bintec S208
Funkwerk bintec S208 switch

Recently I decided that I wanted to replace my old 10/100Mbit Netgear FS-308 switch with a Gigabit ethernet switch, as data volumes on my home network have increased and most connected devices now have Gigabit ethernet ports.

My main requirements were the following:
  • 8 RJ45 Gigabit ethernet ports
  • fan-less (silent!)
  • internal power supply (I hate wall warts!)
  • less than 10 Watts power consumption
  • rear cable ports, but front indicator LEDs
  • metal casing (for robustness and better EMF screening)
After a lot of googling, I found only 3 switches that matched all my requirements (none from 'big name' brands!), they are:
I opted for the Funkwerk bintec S208 as it was cheaper than the LevelOne GSW-0804T (with virtually identical specs) and I excluded the Planet GSD-805 as it only has a two wires mains power connection (no earth wire) and less detailed status LEDs.

The Funkwerk bintec S208 arrived in a small plain brown cardboard box containing the switch, four self-adhesive rubber feet for the switch, two L-shaped metal brackets with eight screws, a small leaflet with general safety precautions and a CD-ROM containing the user manual in pdf format, in german and english.
Compared to my old Netgear FS-308, the Funkwerk bintec S208 is really small, it measures only 16.5 x 10 x 3.25 cm, less than half the size of the Netgear, despite they both have 8 ports and an internal power supply.

According to its specifications, the S208 has all the standard features you would expect from a modern Gigabit ethernet switch, auto-MDI/MDIX on all ports (which means you don't have to worry about straight or crossed network cables), a 16 Gbps backplane (enables true non-blocking switching), speed (10/100/1000Mbit) and half/full duplex auto-negotiation, 8KB Jumbo frame support, 8000 MAC addresses (way more than you will ever need), store-and-forward switching architecture, back-pressure, flow control and a 144KB buffer.

The power consumption is reasonably low with 7.6 Watts maximum and the internal PSU adapts itself automatically to the mains power of most countries (AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz). The power plug is a 3-wire clover leaf shaped one (IEC C5), like commonly found on laptop power supplies.
I would have preferred a standard IEC C14 as found on PC power supplies, as this would make it easier to connect the S208 to a UPS.

rear view of the Funkwerk bintec S208
rear view of the Funkwerk bintec S208

The front panel sports a 'power on' LED and 3 LEDs for each network port, one that indicates a 100 or 1000 Mbit connection, one link and activity LED and one that indicates full/half duplex and traffic collisions. This full set of LEDs allows for quick and easy diagnosis of most common network connection and cabling issues and distinguishes the S208 from many other switches, that have a more reduced set of indicators.
Once switched on, I noticed that the LEDs are not clearly visible unless watched at the same height, straight in front of the S208. If you look at them from above or slightly from the side, they bleed into the ones next to them, making it difficult to read them. This is not a major issue though, as they are only needed occasionally when troubleshooting a link, not during normal operations.

front view of the Funkwerk bintec S208
front view of the Funkwerk bintec S208

Another peculiarity is, that the order of the LEDs on the front is reversed compared to the order of the ports on the back. In other words, if looking at the switch from the front, the left-most LED corresponds to the right-most port on the back and viceversa. The numbering below the LEDs and below the ports is correct though, so this is only a minor practical issue.

When powered on, the switch doesn't get too warm, even after several hours of continuous use. The dark red colour of the casing is a bit unusual for a network device and might not suit everyone's taste, but it gives the S208 a vaguely 60-70's retro look.

LinuxTECH.NET - Recommended
Overall I'm very pleased with the Funkwerk bintec S208, it has all the right features in a compact sturdy casing with an ample array of LEDs, which come handy when having network connectivity problems. I'm confident that it will serve it's purpose silently and unobtrusively for many years. For peace of mind it would have been perfect, if it had come with a 5 year warranty, instead of the 2 years provided.

LinuxTECH.NET Rating: 8/10

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[14-Feb-2009 - art-review_funkwerk_s208]