Cisco’s Catalyst 2960-C Compact Switch Review

I continue to receive requests from users to have a 2nd wired connection at their desk. These people are acting as mentors for new staff. The new employee plans to sit at the same desk for a few months, then move to their own desk. During this time they want that user to be hard wired to the network and have their own phone, but there is only one network drop to the desk.

Instead of having a new data cable run to the desk, I purchased some Cisco Catalyst 2960-C Compact switches (WS-C2960CPD-8PT-L).

The requirements are not high for this switch.
– Enterprise grade switch, fully managed via SSH, SNMP etc..
– Layer 2 only, Just pass the VLANs through
– 802.1w Support
– Mark QOS via ACL, Trust DSCP on the uplink
– Provide PoE (for an IP phone and maybe an Access Point)
– No fan, low to no noise


The configuration on the 2960-C is the same as the NON-Compact switch models in the 2960 series. I took my standard template for the other 2960s in my network and simply pasted it in.

This model has 8 10/100 ports and 2 10/100/1000 ports for uplinks, no SFP module. For more information on the different form factors click here to review the 2960-C and 3560-C Data Sheet.

The one form factor that I wanted was a 12 port 10/100/1000 compact switch. The 3560-C does have a 12 port versions, but it is only 10/100. I do have other needs where I would like to have 12 ports at Gigabit Ethernet speeds.

The size of the unit will easily fit on the floor or under an end users desk.

This model comes with an external power supply (Brick), this is very disappointing to me. This product was made to be placed under desks and in small places. I need to find a place for the switch under a desk and the power brick. I had to remind myself that the switch can be powered with PoE, so I don’t need the power brick…… Yes, but not in my network. I only have 802.3AF PoE to the desktop. With 802.3AF power, the switch will power up and run, but it constantly logs “Low Power” alarms. If I power it with 802.3AT (PoE+), it powers the switch and allows 7mw of power for PoE pass-through to power another device connected to the switch like an IP Phone. I found that this is just enough power to power up a Cisco 6921 IP phone (Low feature IP Phone), but is not enough to power the Cisco 7900 series IP phones (More feature rich IP Phone then the 6900 series). Almost all of the end users have 7900 series IP Phones. Without UPOE, I require the power brick.

The 2960-C can be powered with 2 POE/POE+/UPOE uplinks from the closet switch. This feature provides more power to provide up to 22mw of power for POE Pass-through. I find no value in this feature because if I had 2 data drops to the location where the switch is going to be, I would not need a switch. Here is the product power budget information. I’m sure your use is different, do you find value in this feature?

The noise level of this switch is very low. The switch is fanless, but there is a very low high pitch noise (a Humm, or a Buzz) that comes from the circuitry in the switch. To hear this noise, I picked up the switch and placed it next to my ear. If the switch is under a desk in an office environment, I’m sure most users would not hear it. If the switch gets placed on top of a desk, maybe they will.

There are a hand full of brackets that you can get for this switch. Click here to go to the Cisco website to get more information about mounting the switch. Most likely my switches will be on the floor or on top of a desk. However, we did purchase the magnet. It is a thin magnet that will hold the switch against a metal wall. This magnet works really well. The only problem that I have is that there is cloth on my cubical walls and the magnet does not work on that material. What environment is your switch in that would work with the magnet?

For a fanless low cost compact switch, the 2960-C will work great for my needs. The noise is low, the features are good with the same configuration we are all used to on the 2900 series switches.

Have you used any of the compact switches?
If so, how are you using it?
How are you powering it?

Please share your experiences with the switch or what you would like to see different? I would like to see internal power supplies and a 12 port version that can do 10/100/1000 to the clients.

Cisco Catalyst 2960-C PD Compact Switch

Cisco Catalyst 2960-C PD Compact Switch

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