Network Hardware: Dell sets a new low (price) for high speed

Dell PowerConnect 2600

Company: Dell Inc., Round Rock, Texas, www.dell.com.

Nutshell: Plug-and-play Gigabit Ethernet switch in eight-, 16- and 24-port models, priced as low as $18 per port.

Price: $179 for eight ports; $329 for 16 ports; $429 for 24 ports.

Why it won: Makes Gigabit speed to the desktop'and functions such as videoconferencing'more affordable for small workgroups and remote offices.

The 16-port PowerConnect 2600, like the eight- and 24-port models, establishes a new bottom line for Gigabit Ethernet speed.

If speed is what you are looking for in your network connection'and really, who isn't?'the PowerConnect 2600 can help get the junk out of your network trunk.

Even though many companies are shipping new systems with Gigabit Ethernet as a standard, or at least optional, component, getting a system with a huge network pipe won't help much if your switch can't support it. Most wiring closets are still wired with Fast Ethernet, which is one tenth the speed of a true Gigabit connection.

So why don't most agencies simply upgrade to Gigabit switches?

Well, it's like the adage that you can get clean water from even the most polluted source if you boil it long enough: Some water requires so much boiling that it all evaporates before it's safe to drink. On a network, the costs required to upgrade all the wiring closets could evaporate the budget before any clients are bought.

The Dell PowerConnect 2600 can change that.

An eight-port hub costs $179. Even a massive 24-port hub costs just $429. At these prices, almost any network can get blazing speed today as well as plenty of headroom capacity for the future.

The switch also is designed to plug and play. Although advanced applications like load sharing and packet prioritizing would need to be done by a systems administrator, the switch will work perfectly fine right out of the box.

It can perform basic interconnection duties between users and the server, and outside of the network, without any user intervention. You simply plug it in and attach your Gigabit Ethernet clients. There is auto-negotiation of speed, duplex and flow control built into the box. Everything from that point works just as well as before, only a lot faster than when using Fast Ethernet.

Depending on what applications you use, the Gigabit speed can open up areas not previously even attempted on a network due to lack of speed. Videoconferencing becomes a reality with no lag time or frame loss. Likewise, multimedia applications such as training videos closely resemble the source file, not a pixilated version of the original.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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