Netgear GS110EMX Review A Managed GS110MX Switch

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Netgear GS110EMX Cover
Netgear GS110EMX Cover

At STH, we have used Netgear switches for edge locations for years. Netgear has two low power and fanless edge switches in the GS110MX and GS110EMX that remind us of some of our favorites. As you can see in our previously published Netgear GS110MX review and this review of the GS110EMX, both switches have 8x 1GbE ports, along with two 10Gbase-T ports. Those 10Gbase-T ports are Nbase-T devices which means they also can handle 2.5GbE and 5GbE speeds. The addition of the “E” in the model name means that this is a managed switch which offers many more features than the unmanaged version. After using this switch, our Editor-in-Chief Patrick said he felt swindled by the unmanaged version. In our review, we are going to see why.

Netgear GS110EMX Overview

This is a very small unit that measures 236x102x27mm or 9.29×4.02×1.06 inches just like its unmanaged counterpart. The front of the switch has ten ports. Ports 1-8 are the 1GbE ports for the switch. These can also operate at 10/100 speeds for those who still utilize ancient network devices.

Netgear GS110EMX Port View Front
Netgear GS110EMX Port View Front

Ports 9 and 10 are the entire value proposition of this switch each support 10GbE (10Gbae-T), 5GbE, and 2.5GbE speeds with RJ-45 Nbase-T ports. This lets one attach fast NAS units, workstations, servers, or even fast Wi-Fi APs to the switch at higher speeds. Those ports also operate at 100M/1GbE speeds as well.

Netgear GS110EMX 10Gbase T Ports 9 And 10
Netgear GS110EMX 10Gbase T Ports 9 And 10

The rear of the switch has a DC input, a Kennsington lock port, and a grounding point. Again, there is not much different here.

Netgear GS110EMX Rear View
Netgear GS110EMX Rear View

The underside of the unit shows important facets of this multi-gig enabled switch. As you can see, the switch has a number of mounting options. For the photos thus far, we have had rubber feet supplied with the unit. The GS110EMX also comes with a wall mounting kit that anchors to the underside as well.

Netgear GS110EMX Under View And Default Password
Netgear GS110EMX Under View And Default Password

The underside has a key difference between this and the GS110MX unmanaged switch. There is a default http IP of 192.168.0.239 and a default password of “password”. That is right, Netgear is not using HTTPS. There is no login username. Adding to that, the default password is the same one that tops almost every “worst password of the year” list that gets published. This is 20-year-old security at its finest.

Adding to the flexibility of this switch it comes with what we are calling “Dumbo” sized rack ears. Netgear has to make up 5 inches or so on either side of the unit to make it fit a rack. Furthermore, it has to make up vertical space as well since the switch is so small. It is actually small enough that it can be rack-mounted with the rubber feet still installed. One negative of this design is that it allows air to flow freely above and below the switch. If you are thinking of using this switch in a location with proper hot and cold aisles, this is something that will need to be addressed.

Netgear GS110EMX Dumbo Rack Ears
Netgear GS110EMX Dumbo Rack Ears

We wanted to show the unit atop a MikroTik 1U form factor for two reasons. First, we wanted to show the offset due to the height of the switch. You can see that with the overlapping rack ears on either end. Second, we wanted to show just how much smaller this is than its competition.

Netgear GS110EMX Dumbo Rack Ears V MikroTik 1U Switch
Netgear GS110EMX Dumbo Rack Ears V MikroTik 1U Switch

Inside the switch, we find three heatsinks and something new that was not present on the unmanaged versions.

Netgear GS110EMX Internal View
Netgear GS110EMX Internal View

First, the two heatsinks are the same as we found in the unmanaged version. These are the primary switch chips which is why they are the same.

Netgear GS110EMX Internal 3
Netgear GS110EMX Internal 3

The major difference is in this view. That black heatsink hides the CPU providing management functions. One can also see the small Nanya memory package to the right. Managed switches need CPUs to provide additional features. For example, this switch has a WebUI that will be served from this processor and memory.

Netgear GS110EMX CPU And Nanya Memory
Netgear GS110EMX CPU And Nanya Memory

We took a picture of this area because Netgear also makes the GS110EMX switch. That switch is a managed unit and the controller is placed on this side of the PCB. That review is forthcoming.

Netgear GS110EMX Management

Once you power up the Netgear GS110EMX, the switch has DHCP on as default. As a result, if you plug it into a network with DHCP services, it will get an IP. You can connect to that IP directly or find the switch using a tool like the Netgear Switch Discovery Tool, and login. The login page is http.

Netgear GS110EMX Management
Netgear GS110EMX Management

At the login page, you do not need a username. Instead, you can login by using the default password of “password”. You can change the password, but there is a lack of fairly standard features we see on embedded devices today.

Netgear GS110EMX Change Password
Netgear GS110EMX Change Password

These include adding more users. Even basic server BMCs with IPMI one has multiple directory services integrations and can minimally add new users.

Netgear GS110EMX Management Dashboard
Netgear GS110EMX Management Dashboard

One can see the basic UI here of the Netgear management interface. For specific features the GS110EMX supports over the GS110MX, here is a quick shot from the product data-sheet:

Netgear GS110EMX Management Features QoS And VLAN
Netgear GS110EMX Management Features QoS And VLAN

Here is a bit more:

Netgear GS110EMX Management Additional Features
Netgear GS110EMX Management Additional Features

The switch certainly has more features than its unmanaged counterpart. A big one here is the ability to set port-based VLANs. Still, this is a far cry from some of the more feature-rich options that we see in this space including the similarly priced, and higher-port count MikroTik CRS326-24G-2S+RM Switch.

Netgear GS110EMX Performance

We wanted to do a performance comparison between this and the unmanaged version. We loaded ports and passed traffic through the switch trying to hit maximum speeds using a 10Gbase-T NAS as a target.

Netgear GS110EMX Performance
Netgear GS110EMX Performance

Overall, this is an acceptable result. There is some overhead on the ports. The numbers are very similar to what we saw with the GS110MX here. We also tested the 10Gbase-T ports for 1/2.5/5GbE speeds.

Netgear GS110EMX 1GbE 2.5GbE 5GbE And 10Gbase T Port Performance
Netgear GS110EMX 1GbE 2.5GbE 5GbE And 10Gbase T Port Performance

The numbers are very similar to what we saw on the unmanaged port version. At the same time, all four numbers were ever so slightly slower. We call it a tie since they are within our testing margin of error. This level of performance in the sub $200 segment is absolutely fine.

Netgear GS110EMX Power Consumption and Noise

We tested power consumption on 120V power since that is common at the edge where these will be deployed in North America. In terms of actual power consumption we saw:

  • Idle Power: 5.3W
  • Max Observed Power: 13.3W
  • Max Power from Spec Sheet: 15.6W

This switch absolutely sips power. Even at the maximum power consumption on the datasheet, it is still only 1.56W/ port or 3.59Gbps per Watt under maximum load. Adding the management function did hurt these numbers, however only slightly so.

Final Words

In the introduction to this article, we mentioned that our Editor-in-Chief felt swindled by the unmanaged Netgear GS110MX after seeing this switch. The reason for this is simple. At the time of this writing, and throughout the review process, this Netgear GS110EMX has been $10 less expensive or around 5% less expensive, than its unmanaged counterpart. In our summation, getting these extra features is absolutely worth saving $10 to increase functionality.

A counterpoint is that this Netgear GS110EMX with its password-only management interface in 2020 seems completely dated. Although one can change the default from “password” many users will not. If one cannot, at least, define custom users if not authenticate against an external source, this is harder to recommend outside of personal use.

One of the big features with Netgear is the company’s lifetime 24/7 technical support and hardware warranty. We did not have an issue with this switch, however, one should expect tech support to align with a sub-$200 device that also includes a lifetime support and warranty.

We really like the extremely small form factor of the Netgear GS110EMX and the fact that there are some very basic features one may want such as setting up port-based VLANs and having prioritized voice VLANs for IP phones. That is great in a small environment. A multitude of mounting options also helps the versatility of this switch.

Having 8x 1GbE ports in many situations is all one needs for endpoint connectivity. Having 10Gbase-T ports that can step down to 2.5GbE and 5GbE speeds allows for connecting NAS units, servers, and workstations inexpensively. One pays handsomely for those two ports as they fetch around a $75 per port premium over something like the Netgear GS308E 8-port switch without the 10Gbase-T ports.

We think this switch is a better buy than the unmanaged version. At the same time, the market has evolved and switches in the sub-$200 categories are more robust than previous options. At STH, we will have a few of those options, including another from Netgear soon.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the review. I like how we are getting more options for consumers wanting to run > 1Gbit networking.
    One point of feedback, It would be nice if the mrsp/price was mentioned in the article. I’ve noticed this a couple times now on servethehome, where the price is hard to find in the review. I guess I could google it.

  2. Hi Joseph – there should be an Amazon affiliate ad with real-time pricing just above “Final Words”. That is a way to keep the pricing up-to-date as the review ages. This switch, as an example, was much more costly at launch.

    For small items like this, that is what we are doing. For larger items (e.g. configured servers) pricing tends to vary a lot on a configuration and deal basis.

  3. One of the worst things is to be trying to research some device many years later and not be able to find something like a MSRP. That “affiliate link” will be broken in a year and is less than useless when looking back at the evolution and pricing of technology over time. You could do the world a service by providing the MSRP along with the affiliate link, so that when someone looks back on this in ten years, there’s still a useful data point.

  4. Hi J Greco – So we actually have data on how many people look at devices like these 10 years later. MSRP at launch is usually something found in press releases. For the useful life of a review, current pricing is more relevant. 10 years later, there are other data sources available.

    A great example is this switch. It has gone from $249.99 MSRP at launch to under $200. Anyone reading this review today would find $249 for this switch to be too much but in a sub $200 market it is a better competitor today.

  5. I like Netgear switches, but those “dumbo ears” are gonna twist and bend once the switch is mounted in a rack.

  6. Nice review.
    Been looking at this one lately for my small home LAN.

    For about $20 more (CDN prices) the Netgear MS510TX also looks tempting with the 4 multi-gig ports (2x 2.5G, 2x 5G, 2x 10G, and 4x 1G).

  7. In addition to the password-only security for the management interface, this switch responds to management requests on all VLANs and sends DHCP requests (if enabled) on all ports and VLANs as well. I’d love to have a switch like this for my main home network backhaul, but I need to run a separate VLAN for the guest WiFi network, and I don’t want this switch to be manageable from the guest VLAN! It seems like a major problem for a managed switch – I really don’t know why else I’d want to have VLAN functionality at all.

  8. Please give also a write up on IPv6 compatibility – recent netgear switches from 2019/18 had huge trouble with RA. Partly RA were not forwarded through the Switch so rendered IPv6 useless. common Netgear problem.

  9. Hi Patrick, I don’t see the Amazon links. I suspect these are blocked by our infra. Maybe a line added to the review something like “at time of writing available for $ xxx” could help. Thanks.

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