Networking

Alta Labs S24 PoE Switch Review

Review of the powerful Alta Labs S24-PoE network switch with 16 PoE+, (24) 10/100/1000 (gigabit) ports & 2 SFP+ with 10 gig connectivity

Recently, the great guys over at Alta Labs sent me one of their network switches, an Alta Labs S24-PoE, to take a look at and give my feedback. This is not a paid post or review, so my thoughts are my own. I have reviewed other Alta Labs products, such as the AP6 Pro, and this switch fits nicely with current Alta Labs products for both business and residential users.

Design and Build

The S24-PoE is a rackmountable switch with (24) 10/100/1000 (gigabit) ports, 16 of which support Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+). These port PoE capabilities make them ideal for powering PoE devices. Additionally, the S24 switch includes two SFP+ ports, allowing you to uplink the switch with 10 gig uplinks.

Below is a pic of the switch powered up with a single patch cable connected.

Alta labs s24 poe with power and uplink
Alta labs s24 poe with power and uplink

PoE+ Connectivity

The S24-PoE has switch ports with the 802.3at PoE+ standard and is backward compatible with the 802.3af PoE standard. This allows it to provide up to 30 Watts per port, with a total PoE budget of up to 240 Watts. These are very good PoE capabilities, especially for powering devices like access points and camera gear that support these standards. 

Bluetooth and App Integration

A feature I really like about the Alta Labs switches and Alta Labs devices in general is the Bluetooth basic setup feature. You can use Bluetooth to configure your Alta Labs gear with the Alta Labs mobile app on a mobile device.

They have the same functionality with the AP6 and AP6 Pro access points. However, as I mentioned in the AP6 Pro review, one downside is the lack of availability of the app on Android. Currently, it is iOS only. The Android app has been released here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.alta.altanetworks&pli=1.

The App gives you mobile access to most of the relevant information you would want to see such as your devices, IP address information, wireless networks, clients, bandwidth, network utilization, network overview data, QoS metrics, uplinks, etc.

Alta labs mobile app for management
Alta labs mobile app for management

Cloud-Based Management

Alta Labs provides a cloud management platform. I find the Alta Labs cloud interface to be intuitive and user-friendly. It supports remote management and monitoring of your devices, such as wireless APs and switches. All of this is possible from a web browser accessing the Alta Labs cloud portal. 

The cloud interface also has a lot of really good features out-of-the-box, such as visibility to applications and security, blocking of applications, client visibility and various metrics around your network traffic. Restricting certain applications is a good practice to enhance the efficiency of the network, making it more reliable and secure.

Advanced Networking Features

The switch includes advanced networking features such as VLAN stacking, egress and ingress rate limitation, IGMP snooping, and upcoming support for 802.1X authentication and network loop detection that will be delivered through firmware updates, according to the official documentation on the Alta Labs site.

Specifications

Note the following general specifications of the S24-PoE switch from Alta Labs.

  • Dimensions & Build: Rack-mountable, sturdy design.
  • Ports: 24 Ethernet ports, 16 PoE+ capable, and two SFP+ ports for Twinax or fiber connections
  • Performance: Non-blocking throughput and high switching capacity.
  • Environmental Tolerance: Designed to operate in various conditions without a cooling fan.

Unboxing

One of the first things you will see the box of accessories that comes with the switch, including the power cable, screws for rack and wall mounting and the rackmount ears. The unboxing of the Alta Labs switch is akin to unboxing an Ubiquiti switch. I have seen noted that Alta Labs was founded by former Ubiquiti company employees. You will see much of the same attention to detail with the packaging with Alta Labs.

Viewing the accessories box
Viewing the accessories box

With the packaging pulled out a bit.

Another view of the accessories box
Another view of the accessories box

Below is the switch without anything plugged in and powered off. The finish of the switch is a light gray color and the build quality is nice. 

The alta labs s24 poe
The alta labs s24 poe

Adopting the switch in the Alta Cloud

The process to adopt the Alta Labs switches into Alta Cloud services is straightforward and the same as they use for the Alta Labs access points. As long as you log into your Alta Labs account from the same WAN IP as your device is coming from, it will automatically adopt the hardware into your account – pretty cool if you ask me. So, you don’t have to fumble around to get connected to the management interface, etc.

It definitely helps to take the heavy lifting out of installation, logging in with a password, copying MAC addresses, serial numbers, etc to your cloud console and adopting through the cloud software. I really appreciate the convenience this allows when provisioning new hardware. Immediately the cloud portal prompted me to run a firmware update on the switch.

Onboarding the switch and firmware upgrade prompt
Onboarding the switch and firmware upgrade prompt

Clicking on the firmware update icon will begin the process. It will first ask if you want to perform the update now or schedule it for later.

Choose the time to upgrade the alta labs switch
Choose the time to upgrade the alta labs switch

After selecting to update the software right now the process begins.

Switch is updating
Switch is updating

After updating the software, the version number is incremented.

Switch firmware upated to the newest version
Switch firmware upated to the newest version

On the devices tab I immediately saw connection information from the network with identification of the vendors, etc.

Viewing the devices tab
Viewing the devices tab

Lights with RGB!

I think most of us with home labs have experimented with RGB in our server racks and other places. Alta has taken this a step further than I have seen with any other vendor, RGB! I have seen many short video takes of guys running Alta and matching colors with their home lab RGB. I think Unifi is starting to do some of this as well from some of the recent videos I have seen on Youtube.

Under the Settings menu > System > Switch LED Color, you can click the dropdown box and see the variety of colors available for the LEDs. It does look like you are limited to the colors in the dropdown when you visit the Switch LED configuration as there is no Hex-type editor to allow you to choose your own custom color.

Also, I want to point out you can also turn the color to “off” as well so you can disable the light.

Viewing the rgb settings for the switch
Viewing the rgb settings for the switch

After changing the color to Green, you can watch, and the switch will quickly change colors.

Green light enabled
Green light enabled

This is the Purple color.

Purple lights enabled
Purple lights enabled

Power consumption

On boot, I captured a maximum of 14.2 watts as the switch booted and the fans ramped up.

Power draw during switch boot
Power draw during switch boot

During operation, utilizing a couple of uplinks plugged in. One of the uplinks is the Alta Labs AP6 Pro Wi-Fi AP.

Power draw with a poe device plugged in and one other uplink
Power draw with a poe device plugged in and one other uplink

Below is the switch with the Alta Labs WiFi APs plugged in.

Alta labs switch with the ap6 pro plugged in
Alta labs switch with the ap6 pro plugged in

Price

You can put one of the Alta Labs S24-PoE+ switches in your cart on Amazon for around $455 purchase price. 

You can check out the link on the Alta Labs site on where to buy the switch from resellers as well from here: Where to buy (alta.inc).

Wrapping up

The Alta Labs S24-PoE switch is a great switch that is well-suited for the enterprise and small office/home office environments. I like what Alta Labs is doing for their customers and the value they are delivering and ease of use with the cloud portal. They are also giving attention to detail with this product and this is helping to build a name in the community and I am starting to see a lot more mention of them on Google and other sources on the Internet. 

My experience with the Alta Labs products I have tested has been very good. If you are looking for a good quality, high-density switch for PoE and 10 gig uplinks with great cloud management, Alta Labs may be what you are looking for.

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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