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Should I upgrade from 3750X switch to the 3850 Series switch?

Should I upgrade from 3750X switch to the 3850 Series switch?

Cisco has established its brand through consistency, innovation and performance. It’s no accident that the Cisco name remains one of the most recognizable and respected brands in networking. Even though the Cisco label is enough to inspire certain confidence in the quality of their products, it’s not always enough to determine which device really is the best option for a given network. When considering high-level, enterprise networks, there are a number of viable switches that can handle the workload. Two of those switches are the 3750X and the 3850X. The former has been around for close to a decade, and it still remains relevant in many active networks. Is it time to upgrade to the newer 3850X switch? Hopefully this breakdown can help you answer that question.

How 3750X & 3850 Series Compare

Both of these switches are stackable and designed for enterprise systems. There are significant differences in the raw specifications, intended use, design philosophy and controlling software, but the very largest difference is that the 3850 handles wired and wireless traffic management in a single unit. More specifically, the 3850X is designed to converge wireless and wired connections to streamline traffic management. The 3750X only directly manages wired traffic.

As for the specification discrepancies, the 3850 is the newer, shinier model. The 3750X utilizes pairs of 10 GE connections, and when fully stacked, can support traffic at 64G. The 3850 employs 4 by 10 GE connections. This allows a single stack to manage 480G traffic.

Additionally, the wireless management of the 3850X can handle up to 100 access points and 2,000 clients per stack. It also utilizes 2 40G QSFP ports, and supports PoE+ up to 60W per port. The PoE on the 3750X maxes at 30W per port.

Best Jobs for the 3850 Series

The wireless component of the 3850 makes some things pretty obvious. Any network that needs a powerful wireless quarterback is going to benefit from the 3850X. A single stack can manage massive, sprawling wireless networks. It’s ideal for hospitals, high rise buildings and similarly scaled wireless networking. With the PoE+ ports, a 3850X stack is an amazing tool to minimize wireless equipment without compromising on performance.

It’s also an excellent wired quarterback for extremely dense networks. The QSFP ports allow this switch to go far beyond standard 100G networking. It’s an essential tool for data centers and comparably data-rich environments. When you’re working with a network that functions as a genuine hub for traffic, this is the switch to consider.

Best Jobs for the 3750X Series

While the wireless networking capacity of the 3850X makes it the clear favorite for those applications, the 3750X should not be excluded from networks that include wireless access. It does require supporting hardware in order to communicate with wireless networking, but the majority of wireless networks simply don’t need the sheer capacity of the 3850X. In fact, that generalizes the niche function of the 3750X.

It’s still a powerful switch with easy scalability. It can handle enterprise-level networking, and it costs significantly less than its successor. That makes the 3750X great for managing heavy traffic and large data streams that aren’t quite overwhelming enough to necessitate more powerful hardware.

An additional use of the 3750X is to supplement those more demanding networks just mentioned. Considering that the 3850X can handle such robust wireless networks on its own, expanding wired service beyond the range of the 3850X is readily and competently handled by its predecessor.

So, to answer the initial question, the answer clearly depends on the demands of your network. If you need massively scalable wireless or nearly an order of magnitude more overall throughput, then the 3850 Series is a justifiable upgrade. It certainly fits the definition of future proofing, and you can expect it to handle heavy loads for some time.

Conversely, if your network isn’t so demanding and isn’t growing at breakneck speed, then you can stick with the 3750X. It’s a solid workhorse of a switch, and there’s a reason it remains a staple in countless enterprise networks and data centers.

Here’s a final thought. While we’ve hopefully answered a clear question here, we’ve only discussed two switches. The true scope of networking equipment available is massive, and you should always research before spending. There may be a better switch for the niche you need to fill, but finding it might require a little help.

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