MikroTik CRS328-24P-4S+RM Management
The MikroTik CRS328-24P-4S+RM switch has a number of management options. These include using MikroTik’s WinBox tool which is an application most MikroTik administrators likely use.
As you can see, WinBox is a graphical interface that may not look like the most modern application, but it lets one access a high degree of configurability, without having to get to the CLI. If you do want to use the CLI (MikroTik has one) then you can see that we can even open a terminal in WinBox.
Another option for management is the company’s WebFig web GUI for management.
With an application, web, and CLI management interfaces, and the ability to access them via an out-of-band management port, MikroTik covers a lot of management use cases for the SMB sector.
As you will notice, we tested the switch using RouterOS which is included at license level 5. MikroTik also has SwitchOS which may be a better fit for this device going forward, but we were not able to use it for our review. Realistically, the anemic processor does not have the performance to handle enabling many RouterOS features but it is still nice that they are available.
One item that we are going to make standard in our PoE switch testing is ensuring that there is an easy way to power-cycle and monitor ports. The CRS328-24P-4S+RM has the ability to report voltages and power consumption as well as power cycle devices from all three management interfaces.
Power cycling these devices may not seem like an important feature at first, but being able to do so means one can remotely reboot devices such as IP cameras and wireless APs without having to go on-site with a ladder and manually power cycle. Some switches such as the Dell X1052‘s “P” counterpart that we used but did not review did not have this feature when we tested them.
MikroTik CRS328-24P-4S+RM Performance
We typically use these for fairly simple networking either with flat networks or using some VLANs but without routing. Since our typical network usage is small file transfers when we are doing things like loading ISOs via IPMI or running management tasks. If you need highly specialized networking or the lowest latency switch, you probably are not looking at a low-cost switch like this. For its intended use, it is fine. Here are the official switching results from MikroTik:
As you can see, performance falls off dramatically when Layer 3 functionality is added. Like most of the CRS line, we assume this is really a Layer 2 switch.
There are a few important caveats. In this market, realistically the 1GbE ports are unlikely to all be loaded at the same time, along with the 10GbE ports. IP security cameras especially use nowhere near 1Gbps of bandwidth even for most 4K cameras. Likewise, IP phones use very little power. Saturation would be a very uncommon situation for this class of switch. Perhaps the more common use case is a handful of these ports operating at higher-saturation rates while others have lower average utilization.
Power Consumption and Noise
When we plugged the CRS328-24P-4S+RM in, we thought this was going to be a relatively quiet switch. The 54-port model was not as loud as we were expecting so a lower port count and lower high-speed port count switch we assumed would be even quieter.
That was an overall correct hypothesis. When we first plugged the switch in, the fans spun up, but then the switch fell silent for about a minute. At low loads such as only having a few lower-power devices, the fans were nearly silent for us the majority of the time. Once we put more load on the switch, the fans would ramp up making it not suitable for next-to-desk operation.
When we hooked this switch up to 120V power and our TrueRMS power meters, we saw very respectable power consumption:
- Idle Power: 25W
- Max Observed Power (no-PoE used): 40W
- Max Power from Spec Sheet without attachments: 44W
- Max Power we drew: 387W
- Max Power w/ PoE+ from Spec Sheet: 500W
We need to get more PoE+ capable devices in the lab. Often devices such as security cameras will use 5-8W so there are a lot of applications where this much speed is simply not needed.
If you simply want a low-cost PoE switch packed with features including quad 10GbE, then this is hard to beat at $379 list and slightly lower street price. The switch does not have some of the higher-end build quality features that we see on switches that cost over $1000, but it offers features well beyond what we see in the sub $400 PoE switch price bracket.
Surveying the competition, this is the only switch that we could find with 450W of PoE/ PoE+ across 24 ports (or three sets of 150W per 8 ports), along with quad SFP+ 10GbE. For some installations, the addition of the quad SFP+ will mean that a small office installation can be consolidated to a single switch or a pair of these switches. That can be an enormous value. There are many 24-port switches on the market such as the Ubiquiti UniFi Switch 24 PoE Gen 2 (USW-24-POE) which is at a similar price point. That switch only has sixteen of the 24 ports capable of PoE/ PoE+ and a 120W power supply. Whereas the MikroTik has 4x SFP+ 10GbE ports, the Ubiquiti has 2x SFP 1GbE ports. A fair point is that there are many who love Ubiquiti UniFi software, but the hardware you are getting at this price point is not even close with the MikroTik giving much more.
Overall, it is hard to deny the value of a switch like this. The combination of hardware one gets with the MikroTik CRS328-24P-4S+RM along with a surprisingly robust software solution makes it one of, if not the, best 24-port PoE/ PoE+ switch values on the market right now.