24-port PoE Ethernet switches

Part of Dell's PowerConnect family of Ethernet switches, the 3424p is an affordable yet well-configured 24-port device with an impressive list of features including top notch Power over Ethernet support, bandwidth management and stacking capabilities.

The format is nothing to write home about with the 3424p housed in the usual !U rackable casing (brackets supplied) with all of the connectors on the front panel. That means 24 auto-sensing UTP ports for LAN devices plus a couple of Gigabit uplinks. These uplinks can also be used to connect switches together to form a fault tolerant stack of up to six using either UTP or fibre cables.

Dell actually sent us a couple of boxes: the 3424P switch we were expecting and a second, much smaller, device which turned out to be a backup power unit, known as an RPS-470. Adding 199 (exc VAT) to the price, this can also be rack-mounted and plugs into a connector on the back of the switch - cunningly hidden behind a screw-on cover - to both share power delivery and provide a backup for the 3424p's built-in power supply.

Connect it all up, turn the Dell switch on and it starts working straight away with full support for PoE on all 24 of the UTP ports. If you want to properly configure and manage it, however, you need to attach a PC via the local console port and update a couple of settings, such as the IP address for telnet and/or Web-based access and to choose whether or not to use SNMP.

That done you can either carry on with the local console, telnet into the box or use an SNMP console such as Dell's OpenManage Network Manager (not included). Alternatively, if you point a browser at the switch you'll gain access to the built in GUI, confusingly referred to as the Dell OpenManage Switch Administrator.

The interface here is pretty straightforward and with so much information to get through and this many parameters to tweak, finding what you need can take a while - particularly the Power over Ethernet stuff. But it's all there and with 370W on tap you don't have to worry too much about power rationing. Just plug in an 802.3af compatible device and it gets what it needs, right up to the maximum 15.4W specified by the standard - no matter what else happens to be connected.

You do have a few options to manage the power delivery, however, such as being able to enable/disable PoE on a per port basis and assign power priority. You can also set a power ceiling for the switch as whole and generate an SNMP trap when that's exceeded.

It all worked as expected in our tests, regardless of what we plugged in or in what combination. And there's a lot of more besides in a quality product which, although not the cheapest on the planet, has a lot to offer at a reasonable price. A worthy award winner.


Hard to beat on the power front and a top-scoring package all round

Type: Layer 2 Ethernet switch 10/100Mb/sec UTP ports: 24 Gigabit ports: 2 - shared adapter slots for fibre connectivity Switching capacity: 12.8Gb/sec MAC addresses: 8000 VLANs: 256 PoE budget: 370W Redundant power: Yes