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I am looking for an alternative to Cisco (too expensive for me !) for semi-pro utilization (at home but with advanced feature (I'm studying in IT)) and in small/medium enterprises. I think I will choose between LinkSys (Including Cisco Small Business), Netgear and D-Link, but I've never really used these products, that what I need is a manufacturer that make "almost" all type of networking equipment (Like Cisco but cheaper..), here are my needs :

  • I need almost all my products to be rackable
  • I need a good warranty (Netgear lifetime waranty rulez!)
  • I need an "unified" network environment

I made a little comparison of the characteristics that interest me after hours of search on Internet (based on result found on many websites):

(Prices are based on the ldlc-pro.com french website)

Hotline/Support Quality:

  • Netgear : Not so bad
  • Linksys : Not so bad
  • D-Link : Poor!

Most common Warranty:

  • Netgear : Unlimited Lifetime Warranty!
  • Linksys : Limited 3 years warranty
  • D-Link : Limited 5 years warranty (Unlimited in US but I'm on France :(...)

VPN protocols compatibles with routers on endpoint mode:

  • Netgear : Only IPSEC :(
  • Linksys : IPSEC, PPTP, L2TP
  • D-Link : IPSEC, PPTP, L2TP

Cheaper 8 ports Gb switch :

  • Netgear : 30€
  • Linksys : 47€
  • D-Link : 30€

Cheaper 48 ports + 1Gb uplink(s) administrable switch :

  • Netgear : 263€
  • Linksys : 630€
  • D-Link : 600€

Cheaper VPN router :

  • Netgear : 100€
  • Linksys : 80€
  • D-Link : 60€

Cheaper rackable switch :

  • Netgear : 50€
  • Linksys : 87€
  • D-Link : 50€

Cheaper rackable and administrable switch :

  • Netgear : 120€
  • Linksys : 370€
  • D-Link : 171€

Netgear and D-Link are in the same range of price, where Linksys is more expensives.

I've searched for some other criteria ( the full comparison is here, in french with shop/source links: http://forums.jeuxonline.info/showthread.php?t=1072280 ) and made a final score for each manufacturer :

SCORE including IP camera sub-score:

  • Netgear : 6.2/10
  • Linksys : 7.3/10
  • D-Link : 7.0/10

SCORE excluding IP camera sub-score:

  • Netgear : 6.9/10
  • Linksys : 7.0/10
  • D-Link : 6.7/10

On both case, Linksys wins. So here is my little comparison, but because I've never really used these stuffs, I need your help to make a decision on witch manufacturer choose for both my personnal and corporate use.

So here are the questions :

  • What manufacturer do you recommend me (Not cisco (except Small business)) ? Why ?

  • Have you called the call center of the customer support of one of these manufacturer ? How it was ?

  • Did you had problems or bad experiences with these equipments ?

  • Any other advices ? ;)

Thank you !

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It's unclear why you have eliminated Juniper and HP from the comparison as well. If you want to eventually provide SMB support, you will have to be somewhat familiar with Cisco - why not buy a cheap older used model to play around with? –  hurfdurf May 7 '10 at 21:45
    
As I know, HP Procurve only makes Switch, and Juniper is very hard to find/buy in France, it's almost impossible to buy "alone", yes buying used products is not really a problem for me (but the question is still here, what to buy ?), I think I'll forget D-Link because they don't do a lot of rackable things (no rackable routers as I know) –  Kedare May 7 '10 at 22:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I think they all have support forums, I know for sure D-Link does. Go to each one and search for your product of choice. See what the overall impression is.

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I'm almost interested by all king of products, after some search, I've found D-Link don't make lot of rackable equipments (especially on VPN router, only the most expensive are rackable), and I've found lot of bad reviews on their support, so I think I won't choose D-Link, then I really love the Netgear Lifetime warranty, and it's cheaper than Linksys, so for now, I'm almost sure to choose Netgear, but I would like to have some of your advices on both manufacturer if you had bad/good experiences with them ? –  Kedare May 8 '10 at 18:35
    
The answer is yes, good and bad with all of them. Seems to be product / firmware dependent. Like I said, pick a product you are interested in, go to the manufacturers forum, or other networking forum and see what you can find out about that product. –  dbasnett May 8 '10 at 22:26

Although It may break your unified network concept, Why are you so concerned about the router being the same brand as the switches? If your studying for IT it is important to realize that it is rare for the server room to just be one brand.

The Cisco 1600 series routers are EOL but still great for learning CLI and can be puchased very cheaply. Another option for routers is Microtik's RouterOS. You can either use an current x86 box or buy one of the router board models like the 750G http://routerboard.com/index.php?showProduct=90

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