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What are the Differences between Cisco 3650X and 3750X Switches?

Enterprise networking is an amazing industry. It’s full of exciting challenges and massive opportunities. Every type of business in the world needs to be able to handle network traffic, sometimes to a surprising extent, and it falls on network engineers and IT minds to service those needs. When it comes to designing scalable solutions to such networks, stackable switches are an invaluable resource. They allow you spend and expand the network capacity on demand, and a single stack can typically handle massive numbers of users and large amounts of data. Two stackable switches that have been appearing in enterprise networks for many years are the Cisco Catalyst 3650 and 3750X switches. They each have their pros and cons, and serve different niches, but you need to know how they compare to optimize your network.

How Are 3650 & 3750X Switches Alike

These are both enterprise-level switches made by Cisco. They’re intended to handle large amounts of traffic in dense network environments. This is why both switches are stackable and utilize proprietary control software to make management as easy or meticulous as is necessary. The 3650 and 3750X are both equipped with multiple Gigabit and 10 Gigabit ports, and that makes them both well suited for a variety of network applications. Seeing as how the 3650 is a newer switch, you can reasonably think of it has being built on the back of design elements that went into the 3750X. The 3650 is the newer, bigger, more-expensive switch. There are plenty of applications that can be serviced by either or both switches. We’ll get into that more in a minute. Where They Differ The 3650 was designed several years after the 3750X, and that shows in many specifications. Before we go deep into the specs, the single biggest separation between the switches is that the 3650X is designed to handle wired and wireless traffic through a single switch. The 3750X has no wireless client. As such, the 3650 self-selects for networks that benefit from this feature. Delving deeper into the wireless specs for the 3650, it’s made for heavy lifting. It can handle 25 access points and 1,000 clients from a single unit. It can also manage 40 Gbps per unit. When stacked, the maximum bandwidth of the 3650 gets up to 160 Gbps. This is managed through Cisco’s UADP and ASIC support. As for the 3750X, it supports a large amount of wired traffic. Each unit has 2 10GE ports. When stacked to capacity, this allows for 64 Gbps throughput. It’s worth noting that the 3650X can be configured with 4 10GE ports, granting it double the wired capacity per unit. Where to Use Them Clearly, these switches shine in different applications. The wireless distinction will completely eliminate the viability of the 3750X from many networks. That aside, the 3650 shines in large-scale wireless networks. The ability to quarterback so many access points and clients makes it amazing for campus-level wireless networks. Hospitals and similarly scaled networks are ideal places to make use of the 3650. The 3750X serves a different niche. Data-heavy networks that still employ large amounts of copper networking and have de-emphasized or segregated wireless are the best places to use the 3750X. While it does have a lower overall capacity than the 3650, the 3750X features a lower price point. Any time you can get away with the lower specs, it’s an easy way to maintain high-level performance while saving room in the budget. It’s important to note that the two switches work well together. A single stack of 3650 can handle more wireless devices than wired, so supplementing that difference with the money-saving 3750X is an obvious choice. Being built on such similar systems, they play well together and require minimum oversight to integrate into the same network. That covers the major differences between these two switches. Together, they can serve many applications with room to spare. That said, there are plenty of other switches, even in the 3000 series, that each offer a different set of pros and cons. It always pays to stay informed, so make sure you also explore the 3850 switches before settling on your next major networking investment.

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