Cisco 2960 vs 3560 Catalyst Comparison

By Garry Hamilton
This Cisco 2960 vs 3560 Catalyst guide compares two of the best series from the industry leader, Cisco. Cisco can be considered the leader in the Network industry. One primary reason for this position is the robust switches they are producing. This robustness can be returned to many reasons, not only due to the fact that their switches are so reliable and –unlike some other vendors- perform as they are mentioned in their datasheets, but also to the versatile portfolio they do offer. This ensures that customers and end users, whether they are an Internet Service Provider ISP, a big enterprise, or even a Small office Home office SoHo users, are getting exactly what they need. From this perspective, Cisco is offering the 2960-CX and the 3560-CX family of switches, which are compact yet powerful switches, and in this Cisco 2960 vs Cisco 3560 comparison, we will contrast the differences between those two series of switches to help customers select the right series for their application.

Cisco Catalyst 3560-CX and Cisco Catalyst 2960-CX  switches are designed for scenarios where a low density of downlink ports are needed. With wide options of PoE, PoE+, uplink ports speeds, and feature sets. based on the predecessor models, the Cisco Catalyst 3560-CG and the Cisco Catalyst 2960-CG, which were very successful switches, the new 3560-CX and 2960-CX switches do offer much more fancy features:

  • Support Cisco Digital Network Architecture DNA, which allows the customer to build value on the network, so he can streamline operations and facilitate IT and business innovation.
  • Enhanced uplink speed options, including 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity over SFP+ uplinks, which allows those switches to be used in an environment where a high throughput is required.
  • Multigigabit Ethernet (100-Mbps and 1-, 2.5-, 5-, and 10-Gbps) downlink/uplink ports, those multigigabit downlink ports can be used to connect the new 802.11ac Wave 1 and Wave 2 Wireless Access Points APs, which require more than 1Gbps for the wired connection to work in its full power, to the network, without using any EtherChannel bundles to the access points, which reduces the complexity of the configuration and cut the costs of cabling, Which makes those switches ideally to extend wireless LAN networks.


  • Power over Ethernet PoE/PoE+ with up to 240W of PoE+, which allows those switches to power up most PoE devices, even high-end devices like the 802.11ac APs and PTZ IP cameras.
  • PoE pass-through in some 3560-CX models, which can be considered the industry’s first Cisco Universal Power over Ethernet (Cisco UPOE)-powered switch with Power over Ethernet (PoE) pass-through, which enables the compact switch to draw power from the wiring closet and pass it to end devices. It has the option to also be powered by an auxiliary AC-DC or DC-DC power adapter. It offers up to 146W of PoE+ which is about six times the power budget of the previous generation.


  • Network Plug and Play (PnP) for easy configuration, which automates the installation and configuration of Cisco IOS Software using an embedded PnP agent on Cisco Catalyst switches.
  • An option to run in Instant Access mode, which is a solution that allows customers to dramatically simplify campus network operations through a single point of operation and management for campus access and backbone. Multiple access switches connect to the Cisco Catalyst 6500 or 6800 backbone switches and the entire configuration works as a single extended switch with a single management domain. In this mode, the access switches inherit all the features of the Cisco Catalyst 6500 or 6800.

  • Cisco IOS NetFlow Lite, which is a Cisco IOS Software feature that uses sampled flows to provide statistics for network traffic accounting, network monitoring, and network planning. A flow is created using a flow record, which defines the unique keys of the flow. NetFlow Lite provides valuable information about network users and applications, peak usage times, and traffic routing.
  • Perpetual PoE which allows the 2960-CX and 3560-CX switches to provide uninterrupted power to a powered-down device even when the switch is booting. A customer can connect any PoE-powered device (access point, IP phone, etc.) to the switch port and reload the switch. The PoE-powered device will continue to work and get last negotiated power.
  • Switch Hibernation Mode, in which the 2960-CX and 3560-CX switches are put to sleep when it is not in use. This feature enables the switches to save up to 80 percent of power during nonbusiness hours.
  • An option to upgrade to the advanced Layer 3 IP Services feature set, which includes enterprise-grade protocols like BGP, PIM, VRF, OSPF, HSRP, IPSLA, etc.

So at this point, we come to the important question, what is the difference between the Cisco Catalyst 2960-CX and the 3560-CX switches?

Cisco Catalyst 2960-CX switches are considered a layer 2 switches, which are more suitable to be used as a layer 2 edge switch where 1G uplinks and enterprise-grade –yet not complete- feature sets are enough. On the other hand, Cisco Catalyst 3560-CX switches offer complete feature sets and 10G uplink ports, the table below summarizes the main differences between the two families:

And the table below shows the differences between the Cisco IOS Software feature sets on Cisco Catalyst 3560-CX and 2960-CX:

We at Network Devices Inc. offer the full portfolio of both Cisco Catalyst 2960-CX and 3560-CX series, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can further assist you to choose the best switch.

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