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Zyxel XMG1915 Series: Entry-level Multi-Gig Switches for Pro and Advanced Users Unveiled

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If you're looking to upgrade your home network beyond Gigabit, Zyxel has not one, not two, but three options for you to get the job done. Today, the company launched the new Zyxel XMG1915 series with three new comparatively affordable 2.5Gbps switches, all with dual SFP+ ports as the uplink options.

Zyxel XMG1915 Series switches
The three new Multi-Gig switches of the Zyxel XMG1915 Series.

Zyxel XMG1915 Series: Flexible managed switches

These new switches include:

  1. Zyxel XMG1915-10E 8-port 2.5GbE Smart Managed Switch with 2 SFP+ Uplink.
  2. Zyxel XMG1915-10EP 8-port 2.5GbE Smart Managed PoE Switch with 2 SFP+ Uplink.
  3. Zyxel XMG1915-18EP 16-port 2.5GbE Smart Managed PoE Switch with 2 SFP+ Uplink.

As you might have noted from the names, these all come with 2.5BASE-T Multi-Gig ports to host wired devices and two SFP+ ports. You can use one of the SFP+ ports for the uplink and the other for the downlink in a daisy-chain setup for another 10Gbps device.

Generally, you want to use the fastest port for the uplink since it's the bandwidth for all other ports. Specifically, a single SFP+ can deliver enough bandwidth for five concurrent 2.5Gbps connections.

BASE-T vs SFP+

BASE-T (or BaseT) is the standard port type for data communication and refers to the wiring method used inside a network cable and the connectors at its ends, which is 8-position 8-contact (8P8C).

This type is known by a misnomer called Registered Jack 45 or RJ45. So, we'll keep calling it RJ45.

On the other hand, the SFP or SFP+ (plus) port type is used for telecommunication and data communication, primarily in enterprise applications. SFP stands for small form-factor pluggable and is the technical name for what is often referred to as Fiber Channel or Fiber.

Best among Multi-Gigabit Routers: The Asus RT-AX89X 10GbpsTP-Link Archer AXE300 Ports Multi Gig
BASE-T Multi-Gig vs. SFP+: The two are generally available as separate ports, such as in the Asus RT-AX89X's case (left), but can also be part of a combo port in some hardware, such as the TP-Link Archer AXE300.

For data communication, an SFP+ port has speed grades of either 1Gbps or 10Gbps. The older version, SFP, can only do 1Gbps, though it shares the same port type as SFP+. This type of port standard is more strict in compatibility with better reliability and performance.

While physically different, BASE-T and SFP/+ are parts of the Ethernet family, sharing the same networking principles and Ethernet naming convention—Gigabit Ethernet (1Gbps), Multi-Gig Ethernet (2.5GBASE-T, 5GABSE-T), or 10 Gigabit Ethernet (a.k.a 10GE, 10GbE, or 10 GigE).

Generally, you can get an adapter, called a "transceiver", to connect a BASE-T device to an SFP or SFP+ port. Still, in this case, compatibility can be an issue—a particular adapter might only work (well) with the SFP/+ port of certain hardware vendors.

The BASE-T wiring is more popular thanks to its simple design and speed support flexibility. Some routers and switches have an RJ45/SFP+ combo, which includes two physical ports of each type, but you can use one at a time.

PoE++ and fanless options

The main differences between them are the number of ports (8 vs. 16) and the fact that the XMG1915-10EP 8-port (#2) features all eight PoE ports while the XMG1915-10E (#1) includes all non-PoE ports. The XMG1915-18EP is basically the combo of the other two.

Zyxel says the XMG1915-10EP and XMG1915-18EP switches can each provide eight uninterrupted PoE++ (802.3bt) (60W) ports and a flexible PoE budget of 130W and 150W, respectively. As a result, you can use each of these two up to eight PoE devices, including the most demanding, such as the Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 7 Wi-Fi access point, such as Zyxel's own WBE660S.

According to Zyxel, the XMG1915-10E 8-port and XMG1915-10EP 8-port come with no internal fan—they are silent. The XMG1915-18EP 16-port has a "smart fan design" slated to deliver near-silient performance.

Part of Nebula Ecosystem

Like the case of Zyxel's previous switches, such as the XS1930-12HP, the new XMG1915 switches are all managed switches that are part of its Nebula Cloud Management. Nebula has a Base Pack license that is free of charge, though you can upgrade to the Pro tier with more features.

However, all these can be used individually via local web user interface. They all also work as unmanaged switches by default.

Availability

Zyxel says the new non-PoE XMG1915-10E will be available next month, and the other two PoE switches are slated to ship in Q2 2024. They carry the following suggested retail costs:

  • 8-port XMG1915-10E: $249.99
  • 8-port PoE++ XMG1915-10EP: $299.99.
  • 16-ort PoE++ XMG1915-18EP: $399.99.

While not cheap, they are among the more affordable options. The support for PoE++ and near-silent performance, if panned out, never hurt.

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2 thoughts on “Zyxel XMG1915 Series: Entry-level Multi-Gig Switches for Pro and Advanced Users Unveiled”

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  1. Got the “P” model which is available in EU. Zyxel has a very nice offer of various switches, they way people want it – with 2.5Gbit. I look at the led lights, and heck, I have just 1 remaining 1gbit device. But 2.5gbit is harder to accommodate. I’ve researched the competition (Zyxel XMG1915-10E(P), XGS1210-12, Tplink TL-SG3210XHP-M2, Ubiqiti USW-Enterprise-8-PoE, MikroTik CRS310-8G+2S+IN, Qnap QSW-M2108-2C) and this model actually is one of the most power saving ones. But be prepared to burn 15Wh all day with most slots allocated. If you want a serious reduction, go for a non-PoE model. Another saving comes from 1gbit or unmanaged one. That’s how it works. Simple switches can drop to 1W idle. Things are worse with Ubiquiti, Mikrotek. One of them burns 21W when not connected! Turn on auto power off, that will help. So despite great numbers matching spec (idle 8W), i’m not excited about the power consumption, because it’s at Mini server level. And I took PoE just because “what if”. The device is not only one of the cheapiest, but also smallest. It’s very tiny. I like clear marketing, clear PoE markings, design and the performance is great. SFP connected to SFP28 delivers beautiful 9.7Gbit. There’s zero noise, and temperature isn’t bad. First I turned off Nebula nonsense, i can’t even fantasize about losing privacy in a big way — all info is extracted. Plus, you lose 1/2 features with the cloud. Complete nonsense. The software looks quite nice, but I feel like there was a simple DLink UI underlying. Data isn’t refreshed, the port names are not displayed everywhere. It’s just page after page, without an effort to glue it together. Luckily calling home is minimal. I was often locked out of access and it was difficult to get in. So i wish there was a control port. Functionality is strong, stronger than 1930 model without subscription. LED lights are not next to ports, but in one place which is a great idea. For nonmanaged PoE switch i’d consider XMG-105HP @1.62W min.
    That’s my first impressions.

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