This week’s hardware highlight is an interesting if niche black sheep product from a black sheep company. Formed in the shadow of a collapsed Soviet empire, the plucky Latvian company has gained a cult following among networking cognoscenti.
The value proposition Mikrotik products provide is often outstanding when compared to more mainstream rivals. With an MSRP of only $299, The RB1100ahx4 is a particular standout. It offers 13 gigabit ethernet ports in a small, passively cooled, rack-mountable form factor. Beyond the number of ports provided at this price point, the RB1100ahx4 stands out in deployment flexibility.
It comes equipped with redundant AC power supplies and accepts two types of DC input as it can receive power from passive POE on port thirteen or via DC with a negative voltage on its telecom terminals.
This flexibility in power combined with a rugged metal case and passive cooling makes the RB1100ahx4 for remote locations, even those off the grid and using solar energy. The device features a selectable option to bypass the router entirely in case of failure and pass traffic on ports eleven and twelve even if power is lost completely.
The RB1100ahx4 is running Mikrotik’s RouterOS and so is extremely capable in terms of advanced network configurations. It supports everything from basics like DHCP and IP firewalls to carrier-level features like OSPF, BGP, and MPLS. Since this runs on a quadcore ARM processor, performance can exceed even the vaunted CCR series in single-thread tasks like BGP convergence.
The only obvious shortcoming of this device is its lack of ports other than gigabit ethernet. Without native SFP, fiber optic connections will require a separate media converter, and 10Gb links are impossible. If such capability is needed, the newer RB4011 and RB5009 can provide similar routing performance and additional port options at the cost of the RB1100ahx’s power input options.
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Wide range of power inputs
Flexible and powerful configuration via RouterOS
Complex setup can require specialized knowledge for proper setup
Lack of SFP ports