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The M4100 series supports Spanning Tree Protocol (STP = 802.1d), Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP = 802.1w), and Multiple Spanning Tree (MST = 802.1s)  protocol.  RSTP is enabled by default.  

A simple STP test is to connect a single Ethernet cable to two ports in the same VLAN of a switch.  Without STP enabled, it is likely the switch will crash or become inaccessible due to the loop created.  With STP enabled, the switch should take one of the ports on the ends of the Ethernet cable out of service, eliminating the problem caused by the loop.  

I connected my Ethernet cable to ports 9 and 10 on the M4100.  As you can see in the screenshot, port 10 has been placed in a Discarding state, meaning the M4100 detected the loop and took that port out of service.  

STP configuration

STP configuration


The M4100 series supports manual Link Aggregation Groups (LAGs) for using multiple ports to connect switches or servers to the network.  NETGEAR's specs list the M4100 series as supporting up to 12 LAGs with up to 8 ports per LAG.  

I tested basic LAG support between the D12G and a Cisco SG200-26 switch.  As shown below, my LAG is UP on ports 9 and 10 on the D12G.  

LAG configuration

LAG configuration


Like the GS510TP, the M4100 series supports CoS and DiffServ QoS options, although there are a few more options on the M4100.  CoS configuration is a bit easier, DiffServ configuration is more complex.

CoS configuration is based on queuing.  Traffic marked with CoS or DSCP values can be directed to one of four queues.  Outbound traffic can be shaped by interface and inbound traffic can be given a rate or queuing method.  Queued traffic can either use a strict priority scheme or use a weighted priority scheme.  

DiffServ configuration allows for identifying traffic classes based on characteristics such as MAC, IP, VLAN, or protocol.  Once a traffic class is defined, the class is associated with a policy to mark and/or allocate that traffic to a specific traffic rate.  Finally, the policy can be applied to inbound traffic on one or more interfaces.  

A simple QoS tool on the D12G is to apply bandwidth limits on a per port basis.  Bandwidth limits are applied as a percentage from 1-100.  Below is a screenshot of the CoS interface configuration screen where per port bandwidth limits are set to 30%.

Bandwidth shaping configuration

Bandwidth shaping configuration

I tested the bandwidth settings with the ports on the D12G running at 1 Gbps. As shown below, I measured throughput of 94.4 Mbps using a setting of 10%, 188 Mbps using a setting of 20%, and 282 Mbps using a setting of 30%, which closely matches the mathematical result of applying each % to 1 Gbps.

shaping performance

Bandwidth shaping performance


GUI configuration of the M4100 is available via HTTP and HTTPs, while CLI configuration is available via SSH, Telnet, and the console.  By default, only HTTP, Telnet and the Console port are enabled; you'll want to change those settings for greater security.  I had no problem accessing the M4100 via the HTTP GUI as well as via Telnet.  Authentication for configuration access to the M4100 can be via a local user database or via RADIUS or TACACS servers.

End user access to the network can be controlled with 802.1X port security as well as MAC filters.  For specific filters, up to 50 Access Control Lists (ACLs) can be created using a wizard or manually, permitting or denying traffic based on interface, MAC, VLAN or IP address.  

Traffic security options on the M4100 include multiple Denial of Service (DoS) protections, storm control, DHCP Snooping, IP source guard, and Dynamic ARP Inspection.

Other Features

The D12G may be physically suitable as a desktop switch, but it is loaded with a lot more features than a typical desktop switch.  Additional features of note include support for jumbo frames with frame sizes up to 9216 bytes, port mirroring, Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP), Green Ethernet Power Saving modes and IPv6.

Although IPv6 functionality isn't equivalent to IPv4 functionality on the M4100, the M4100 does support an IPv6 address for the management interface, IPv6 loopback interfaces, IPv6 routing, and traffic filters based on IPv6 addresses.  

Closing Thoughts

I looked for comparable “Layer 2+” switches with similar port densities for the comparison chart below.  As you can see, the NETGEAR M4100 is the least expensive of the Layer 2+ switches listed below.  I also included the NETGEAR GS110T in the chart as a reference, but note that the GS110T is a more basic Layer 2 switch.

The Cisco SG300-10SFP has two less ports than the NETGEAR M4100-D12G, but has higher routing and VLAN capacity.  The Cisco device is also nearly $200 more expensive.  D-Link offers a Layer 2+ switch with 20 ports, a faster backplane, greater VLAN capacity, but less routing capacity, for about $100 more than the NETGEAR M4100.

Updated 9/19/2013
I incorrectly compared the NETGEAR M4100-D12G to the Cisco SG300-10SFP. The Cisco SG300-10SFP, currently available on line for $353.94, has 10 SFP ports while the NETGEAR M4100-D12G has 12 copper ports and 2 shared SFP ports. It is understandable that a switch with 10 SFP ports would be more expensive than a switch with primarily copper ports.

A correct comparison would be between the NETGEAR M4100-D12G and the Cisco SG300-10. The Cisco SG300-10 has 10 copper ports and 2 shared SFP ports, yet has higher routing and VLAN capacity than the NETGEAR M4100-D12G. Current pricing for the NETGEAR M4100-D12G is $184.00 and the Cisco SG300-10 is $199.00.

The bottom line is the Cisco SG300-10 is competitively priced with the NETGEAR M4100-D12G and appears to be an interesting alternative. Table 3 has been updated to reflect the SG300-10.

Model Layer 3 Routes Dynamic Routing Switching (Gbps) MAC Table VLANs Total Ports Cooling Fan Price
NETGEAR M4100-D12G 64 N 24 16k 1024 12 N $194.10
Cisco SG300-10 512 N 20 16k 4000 10 N $199.00
D-Link DGS-1500-20 32 N 40 16k 4000 20 N $290.99
NETGEAR GS110T N N 20 4K 64 10 N $131.87
Table 3: Competitive comparison

The NETGEAR M4100 is an interesting switch.  If you're simply looking for a smart switch with VLAN capability, the M4100 could be overkill unless you're buying a device your network will grow into.  If all you need is VLAN capability, NETGEAR's GS110T fills that need at a lower price.  However, if you're running multiple VLANs on your network and your router is a bottleneck for inter-VLAN traffic, the M4100 is a reasonable solution.

The M4100 carriers NETGEAR's lifetime warranty, which gives me confidence in the reliability of a network device.  I've been using NETGEAR switches for years and haven't had one fail yet.  I had a few challenges figuring out some of the configurations on the M4100, but overall, my experience with the M4100-D12G was positive.  I recommend you consider NETGEAR's M4100 switches if you're looking to aggregate and route inter-VLAN traffic on your network!

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