Hands-on Review – D-Link DMS-106XT Unmanaged Switch

With the growing roll-out and uptake of high-speed fibre around NZ, and the ever-looming risk of more lockdowns keeping us at home, having a fast, reliable internet connection is high in people’s minds these days. However, as good as the speed is to your home, it means little without having speed within the home too, and that’s where the D-Link DMS-106XT unmanaged switch rides to the rescue.

Firstly, it is important to distinguish a switch from a hub, as most people don’t understand the difference and thus may erroneously see this as an overpriced bit of kit. A hub is like a power multiplug – it takes in that generous allocation of data and splits it amongst the connected ports. Thus, having two devices attached halves the speed to each, while packing the (usual) 4 ports with devices cuts that bandwidth into quarters. Another point to note is that hubs are often half-duplex, meaning that data is only allowed to travel one way at a time. A switch on the other hand is a lot smarter, and can handle full-duplex at max speed across all connected devices – all devices are given access to the full throughput and can talk to each other as well, without needing fancy management software to control things… incidentally adding added overhead, thus delays. Another factor in the success, and growing need, for switches over hubs, is that they allow devices a shortcut in device-to-device crosstalk. Hubs require all data to go through the central controlling device – be that the router or PC – while a switch allows devices to bypass that and just talk to each other through the switch. Without getting into esoteric technobabble, it boils down to this: switches will give you the best performance possible at all times.

One of the biggest highlights of the D-Link DMS-106XT is that the five ‘regular’ ports run at 2.5Gbps – 2.5x faster than most hubs can manage at their best, and the sixth port is at 10Gbps – perfect for those who have a network-attached storage (NAS) device for centralised, network-wide access to common data. Some examples for the home user may include a movies/TV archive, game-saves, or photo library. For small, home-based businesses – a growing market in the Era of COVID – such a setup is a lifesaver, providing a centralised storage point for documents, client files, accounts, etc. as well as a secure backup of key files on remote devices such as a desktop or laptop PC.

To add the cherry on top, this switch has a little slider-switch on the back to enable Turbo Mode, which kicks in a higher grade of Quality-of-Service (QoS) routine that prioritises data across the ports. It will give the device on Port 1 a higher priority, so best to connect that one directly to your modem so that the data flowing from the wider world reaches your switch at the best speed possible. Port 2 is given the next highest priority, so that’s where you should put the plug to your workstation – be it desktop or laptop… or your gaming console if that is your priority. Ports 3-5 are all assigned third-place, so perfect for Smart devices such as Smart Speakers (Alexa, Google Assistant, etc) TV’s and low-dataflow devices such as printers or the kids’ homework PCs. If you use an external WiFi station rather than the one built into most modems these days, then you can use any port really, as the best WiFi speeds still won’t touch the max speed of these ports, though if you have a lot of wireless traffic in the house, then it could be worth considering giving that Port 2 and bumping everything else over by one. Port 6 – being the highest speed, is ranked up with Port 1 in the priority list.

When it comes to setup, it couldn’t be simpler. No software to install, no apps to download. Plug it in, pop in your device cables, and you are done – just like that. No tech skills are required, which makes it the perfect upgrade to every home network.

Style is a growing sales-decider, and this switch wins the top award. In fact, it won the Good Design Award and the Red Dot Award for design excellence in 2021. With a solid aluminium chassis giving it a reassuring heft, smooth faces and angles making it eye-catching, and the inclusion of a stylish LED colour bar on the front, it’s going to be a hit with the PC Mod community who love to add extra lights to their gear, as well as a subtle but appealing addition to any home. The individual port indicator lights will change colour depending on the connection speed, giving you an instant overview of the performance of your network… and a good indicator of which devices might be next for upgrades.

I found the fanless design to be appealing and practical, with the silent operation being a real winner for me. My old network hub (not switch) had a small fan in it to cool the circuit board, and with age, the bearings were starting to wear, so I was surrounded by a constant buzzing noise that only got louder when I was pushing a lot of data through to backup storage or pulling stored videos to watch.

Overall, this is a welcome evolution of the technology, and it looks to be somewhat future-ready too, as devices that support the 2.5Gbps data rate are still slowly reaching the average-consumer marketspace. Being D-Link, I have no doubt I will be still enjoying blazing fast network speeds for years to come. If you have a lot of cable-connected devices, you can daisy-chain multiple switches to keep that full-duplex speed too – just connect the switches to the 10Gbps port on the preceding switch for best results. While $450 may seem like a lot to pay, when you can pick up a hub for under $100, you definitely get what you pay for.


Reposted in partnership with: KIWIreviews.nz

Disclosure Statement: This unit was supplied by D-Link expressly for the purposes of review. No fee was offered or accepted for this impartial review.

As well as having a sleek aluminium alloy design, the multi-coloured LED light bar makes the DMS-106XT a great addition to any modern space. The DMS-106XT also supports Turbo Mode, which provides up to 40% more speed.

•  5 x 2.5Gbps Ethernet Ports for high-speed connections such as to your Router or gaming PC
•  1 x 10Gbps Ethernet port for uplink to a high-speed Server or NAS connection
•  Smart Turbo Mode delivers Quality of Service (QoS) and port-based priority for uninterrupted online gaming and 4K streaming
•  Power-efficient design aids in lower power consumption
•  LED conveniently indicates port speed status
•  Durable matte grey aluminium alloy casing
•  Fanless operation for enhanced reliability and silent performance

You can read the original press release [-here-]

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