Cisco 3000 & Cisco 4000 Series Router Comparison

By Garry Hamilton

Discover the ability of the Cisco 3000 Series and Cisco 4000 router to meet the network needs of businesses. In the last few years and with the explosion of the Internet of Things IoT phenomena, Network manufacturers became more aware of the important rule the IoT oriented devices will occupy, and hence they started to enhance their portfolio of those devices.

Cisco Systems, as one of the leaders of those manufacturers, paid a strong attention to this field, and they had a strong awareness of the statistics quoted from IDC which indicates that “As of the end of 2013, there were 9.1 billion IoT units installed, which we expect to grow at a 17.5% CAGR to 28.1 billion in 2020.” So they enhanced their ruggedized network devices’ portfolio to cover the different needs of the different scenarios and environments with their Cisco 300 Series and Cisco 4000 Series router collections.

On top of those ruggedized devices are the Cisco IE switches, which form the networking infrastructure foundation for a wide array of technology industrial applications and processes, such as factory automation, intelligent transportation systems, Surveillance, and remote-monitoring systems, etc.

Those switches blend high availability technology with reliability to help the customer quickly scale their rapidly increasing network endpoints and applications while maintaining network-wide resilience. Cisco’s network as-a-sensor approach integrates cybersecurity throughout the network, maximizing security visibility and control and providing valuable insights into traffic flows, while continuously monitoring all network activity.

With Cisco IE Industrial switches, which are so reliable and include high-availability technology to ensure resilient networks, even in extreme industrial environments, a customer can reduce downtime. In the same time, the operational costs can be reduced with zero-touch deployment model which automates connecting thousands of new endpoints as part of the Internet of Things IoT deployments. All this using a single standardized Operating System OS, which can monitor, manage and react across the whole network, from any location, all this while focusing on security by using cyber and physical network-wide security policies that can deliver unparalleled visibility and control. On top of all those benefits, Cisco IE Series switches offer modular models that scale with IoT device growth and software licensing that gives the customer new and improved software features without hardware upgrades.

Cisco IE industrial switches’ portfolio includes many models, ranging from the Cisco IE 1000 Series  which are the entry-level switches, to the Cisco IE 5000 Series which are 19-inch one-rack-unit multi-10 Gbps aggregation switches, but in this blog we will focus on the Cisco IE 3000 and IE 4000 series and spot the light on the differences between it in order to assist the customers to take the right decision when selecting their products during the design phase of their ruggedized network.


Cisco Industrial Switches 3000 and 4000 Series do intersect with each other in the following points:

  • Both of them are designed for Industrial Ethernet applications, including extended environmental, shock/vibration, surge ratings, and fanless convection cooling.
  • Both of them offer a complete set of AC/DC inputs and dual redundant power supply units.
  • Both of them offer DIN-rail, wall, and 19” rack mount options allow for deployments in a variety of control systems.
  • Both of them offer easy switch replacement with a removable SD flash card, allowing the user to quickly replace a switch in the field
  • Both of them offer alarm relay contacts to meet various alarm needs.
  • Both of them offer two types of management console port: RJ45 for serial connection and USB mini type B for USB connection
  • Both of them offer improved resiliency with the support of Cisco Resilient Ethernet Protocol (REP) for ring topology, and Flex Link, Link-State Tracking, EtherChannel for other topologies.
  • Both of them offer recommended software configurations for industrial applications preconfigured using Smartport macros
  • Both of them offer high security with support for port-security, encrypted access (Secure Shell [SSH] Protocol, HTTPS, Simple Network Management Protocol Version 3 [SNMPv3]), and other network protection features.
  • Both of them offer advanced hardware ready to support IEEE1588v2, a precision timing protocol with nanosecond-level precision for high-performance applications

Despite the fact that the list of similarity between the Cisco Industrial switches 3000 and 4000 Series is not short, they do diverge from each other in the following points:

  • Cisco Industrial switch 4000 Series offers 20Gbps nonblocking switching capacity, which is around 25% percent more than the 16Gbps nonblocking switching capacity offered by the 3000 Series switches, which makes it more suitable for networks demanding higher bandwidth.
  • Cisco Industrial switch 4000 series offers 4 1G combo uplink ports in all of its models, which make it perfect for dual ring topologies and in scenarios requiring a high uplink bandwidth, whereas the 3000 Series offers only 2 1G combo uplink ports.

Cisco Industrial switch 4000 Series includes models with 1G downlink ports, whereas the 3000 Series only include 100Mbps downlink ports.

  • Cisco Industrial switch 3000 Series are modular up to two modules per switch), the number of active ports on the platform can reach 26 ports (fully populated, 1 switch and two modules), whereas the Cisco Industrial switch 4000 Series can offer up to 20 ports per platform.


  • Cisco Industrial switch 4000 Series can offer a PoE budget of up to 240 Watt, whereas the 3000 Series can handle PoE requirements of maximum 130 Watt using a separate power supply for the PoE enabled modules. Which makes the 4000 Series switches more suitable for applications demanding a high PoE budget like CCTV systems including PTZ cameras or similar power hungry devices.
  • Cisco Industrial switch 3000 Series offers 4 inputs for the alarm connector, whereas the 4000 Series offers only two alarm inputs, so the 3000 Series may be more suitable for scenarios with many alarms.

Since the above items are so important and can affect the choosing process between the 3000 and the 4000 Series, we can confidently say that those Series are cousins, not brothers, and each of them can perfectly suit a specific scenario better than the other. Please don’t hesitate to call us so our experts can further assist you to choose the model which best suits your needs.

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