If you’re searching for the best ethernet switch to buy, you may get a little confused, seeing the huge number of switches that are available, all with a lot of features that can set them apart. To make your deciding process easier, the BlueGadgetTooth team has categorized the Ethernet switches into ones that are best for business, Editor’s Choice, best low budget switch and the best smart Ethernet switch.
What Does an Ethernet Switch Do?
This is a networking device that helps to connect multiple devices into one common network. Although they have been popularly used in business networks, especially when there are devices with multiple ports, it has found its way into home networks. To put it in a nutshell, it’s an extension of Network hubs and allows stable inter-device connectivity through the incorporation of data transmission and packet switching.
What Is The User Base for Ethernet Switches?
If you are an avid high speed internet user and feel that your network is not adequately equipped to handle a large number of users, and wish to make your network more flexible, you should consider buying an Ethernet switch. There are two types of switches: managed - in which you can make changes, and unmanaged - where you are stuck with the switch you bought, with no allowance for any changes to be made at a later stage.
It is good to understand what you want out of your switch – and your basic need – for example, a business network will need a modular switch, while a home network can function perfectly well with a form factor switch which can have multiple ports – ranging from 5 – 48 ports.
Understanding the basic differences between the various switches to help you make the best decision while buying the best Ethernet port, lead the BlueGadgetTooth team to research and review the best Ethernet ports. Read on to know more.
Ethernet Switches: What To Look For
A wrong Ethernet switch could adversely affect your networking speed; this is why you should consider your choices carefully. There are certain factors that should go into consideration before buying your best Ethernet switch.
Number of ports
How many networks will be utilising the device? This will affect the number of ports your switch should have.
The speed the Ethernet switch can handle
Ethernet switches will improve your internet speed, but to really notice a drastic improvement, you have to look at the type of switch you are buying. The average Ethernet switch can handle speeds ranging from 10Mbps to 100 Mbps. However, invest in a Gigabit Ethernet switch to truly get a boost in your internet speed. If you really want to be ready for future fast speeds, get a specialty switch that can handle 2Gbps.
If your device’s switching speed is optimal, it can transfer data packets faster. This switching speed takes into account the time taken for the outgoing and incoming packets to be processed, mostly in terms of millions of packets per second. However, you should also keep in mind your network’s backplane speed during the said network’s highest anticipated workload.
Switch Forwards Packets Capabilities
This is the way the switch forwards packets. The most common method is the ‘store and forward’ method where the switch forwards packets with minimal delay after scanning the packets for any errors and filtering them. The store and forward switch mode also allows you to transform your LAN speeds. You should always keep an eye out for these capabilities if speed and switch flexibility are important to you.
Unmanaged vs. Smart Managed vs. Fully Managed Ethernet Switch
There are three classes of switches which commonly address certain target markets.
Unmanaged Ethernet Switch:
Unmanaged Ethernet switches are created with home users and small businesses in mind. They are simple plug and play models, and many of these switches do not offer any options to configure, manage or monitor them, leaving you with something that is easy to use, but harder to tweak, should you want to make any adjustments later. A few local configurations can be done on a few models. These are typically the least expensive options in the three classes of switches.
Smart Managed Ethernet Switch:
Also known as Web-managed switches, they are a great and popular option for medium sized businesses and or mid-sized networks. If you wish to make any changes to them, they will need to be done on an individual basis rather than group management. Users do have access to certain switch management features like VPN via a Web interface, port monitoring and link aggregation. However, they do have a few features missing such as SNMP management capabilities.
Even though these are preferred for medium sized businesses, advanced users who love to get more control over their switch management due to these being the best web-managed switches will prefer them over unmanaged switches. Smart switches are growing in popularity, with many more Smart switches offering features of a fully managed switch.
Fully Managed Ethernet Switch:
These are also known as Enterprise switches and are more popularly used in larger commercial settings and high traffic applications. As they offer extensive management capabilities, they are commonly utilized in large enterprise networks - hence the name – where a huge number of network devices can be controlled and managed by the network’s administrators.
Best Ethernet Switches Comparison Table
1. TP-Link SG1024
2. Cisco SG200-26
3. Netgear SG108
4. D-Link DGS1016
1. TP-Link 24-Port Ethernet Unmanaged Switch (TL-SG1024)
Best Ethernet Switch (Editor's Choice)
Choosing the best Ethernet switch to be our Editor’s pick was not easy, but the BlueGadgetTooth team had heard a lot of good reviews about the TL- SG1024, so this was amongst the first batch of Ethernet switches we tested.
To begin with, the design is quite straight forward and to the point. We like this no-nonsense look where what you see is what you get, except in this case, you do get a lot more than you probably thought. Being an unmanaged Ethernets witch, it’s a plug and play of sorts so it does win in terms of being easy for just about anybody to use. As majority of users know the basics of a switch, not everyone can understand the intricacies of changing configurations.
But this doesn’t restrict you from getting an optimum performance. Firstly, when you power it on, it finds an IP address almost instantly which is a huge winner. Your devices are able to connect within seconds and obtain a proper IP address. You also do notice a boost in your LAN network. When we tested this, we couldn’t concretely state that it improves your internet speed, but it does make a huge difference in solving latency issues, helps your web pages load faster and you do get connected to a VPN server and other WAN related activities faster.
The 2Gbps per port makes a huge difference in performance as well. If you’ve ever face a bottle neck in your LAN network due to having a smaller switch, then you will definitely appreciate our Editor’s choice.
- 19” standard steel case – rack mountable
- 24 ports x 10/100/1000M
- All 24 ports support half/ full duplex transfer mode ranging from 10 Mbps to 1000Mbps in the full duplex transfer mode
- IEEE 802.3X flow control supported for full duplex transfer mode and back pressure flow control for half-duplex transfer mode
- Supports auto and self learning MAC address and MDI/ MDIX
This is a great option for anyone who wants to remove a bottle neck issues or latency issues in their internal network and who doesn’t want to bother with a laborious process of setting up and configuration.
TP-Link (TP-SG1024) Pros
- Good build
- Well ventilated
- Reduces latency issues
- Quick initialization process
- Boosts existing network
- Lots of ports, all 2Gbps each
- Plug and play makes it very user friendly
- Save up to 40% of power due to green Ethernet technology
- Well placed LED indictors that display your network’s status
TP-Link (TP-SG1024) Cons
- Even though the ears and screws are included in the package, you may need to get your own screws to attach the ears to your Rack.
2. Cisco SG200-26 (SLM2024T-NA) Ethernet Switch
Best Ethernet Switch For Business
Small businesses have different requirements from their switch as compared to larger enterprises or home owners. This is because you need something that can handle the client connections, all while being able to provide hassle free Gigabit speeds for your LAN network. You also need to check that users connected to the network cannot interfere with it, all of which makes the Cisco SLM2024T-NA a great choice.
Even though we feel that this is a great option for small to medium sized businesses, it can be integrated into a larger infrastructure due to the many features it supports.
Non hard core users who are not too familiar with networking technology will appreciate the simple plug and play, while there are options for the advanced user to manage and control a large array of networking features via the web based management interface. So if you are familiar with CL, go for it!
To really test it out, we streamed HD videos through multiple devices and even though there was a huge amount of data flowing through the network, the quality remained consistent.
- 26 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Embedded QoS
- 26 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- PoE available
- IEEE 802.1X port security
- IPv6 and IPv4 support
- Smart inbuilt intelligence to adjust power depending on size of length of cable
This is one of the best Ethernet switches for businesses because it offers business class network features, is easy to set up, keeps your network secure, and in this time, where businesses are conscious about the carbon footprint they leave behind, it is an eco friendly option.
Cisco SG200-26 Pros
- Simplified set up process via the web based UI
- Lowers energy costs
- Even though it is simple to use, it can manage deeper networking settings
- Reliable brand
- Good investment for features and performance
Cisco SG200-26 Cons
- Overkill for the average consumer
3. Netgear GS108Ev3 Smart Managed Ethernet Switch
Netgear has consistently come out with better internet related devices and when it comes to Smart managed Ethernet switches, they have proven to be our top pick. Why? It’s smart – the set up is simple enough for a non-tech user to get it up and running, but this switch comes packaged with many features that makes it a great choice for businesses, home owners or companies who need something that can handle the demands they place on their Ethernet Infrastructure.
There is a growing need for people who want something that can handle the load they place on their Ethernet infrastructure, due to the huge amount of web based applications that is needed to run your business or be organized. This is a great value for money deal, while also being easy enough for people who don’t have the time or the know-how in dealing with complex managed switches.
This switch helped boost our speeds and reduced latency issues which became more visible when we were streaming HD on 5 devices in different rooms while also playing HD online games. Even though the GUI is impressive and it shares many features with an enterprise switch, it lacks command line – which is not a big deal in our eyes.
Performance wise – no complaints from our end – it was absolutely flawless for the two weeks we tested it.
- 8 auto sensing Gigabit Ethernet ports delivering up to 2Gbps bandwidth per port
- 4 PoE ports 802.3af
- Auto DoS prevention
- Support VLANs/ QoS
Great for businesses or homes that have a good wired Ethernet connectivity.
Netgear GS108 Pros
- Advanced control over many settings
- Lifetime warranty – that shows confidence in the product
- Flawless performance
- Great option or PoE support
- Solid build
- Fanless but well ventilated
- Plug and Play connectivity
Netgear GS108 Cons
- Does not support port trunking
- No command line
4. D-Link 16-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch (DSG-1016A)
Low Budget Ethernet Switch
Attractively priced, the D-Link DGS-1016A has a plug and play installation process that makes your life easier. When it comes to actual performance, before setting it up, we used a router that would not give us adequate coverage over our home. But having this switch, even though it doesn’t cost the Earth, made us happy with the overall performance. The throughput was higher and transferring large amounts of data didn’t cause our network to freeze, which is very important when you’re trying to get a lot done.
- Every port supports auto MDI/MDI-X
- D-Link Green Ethernet technology
- 9k jumbo frames support
- IEEE 802.3az
- 16 Gigabit Ethernet ports with aggregated 32Gbps bandwidth offered
For people who want higher throughput, don’t want a large sized gadget while want to have multiple gaming consoles up and running.
D-Link DSG Pros
- Eco-friendly, using green technology, recyclable packaging and is RoHS compliant
- Limited lifetime warranty ensure consumer confidence
- Minimum energy dissipation
- Small size
- Simple plug and play
- Does exactly what the description states
- Can handle multiple devices and different speeds
D-Link DSG Cons
- The mounting holes could be spaced in exact rounded off numbers
Advantages of Network Switches
You do have a number of pathways to go down when you are thinking of which gadget to get which could impact your network’s speed – in a good way. You could opt for a networking switch or a hub. But there are many reasons why buying the best Ethernet switch are a great idea:
Unlike Hubs, Network switches can designate specific end locations and can route packages accordingly to avoid Ethernet collisions from taking place.
If you have multiple devices in your home or business, and you probably do – there are chances that your multiple devices will try to transfer data at the same time. This can lead to a collision of signals on the wire, and may cause your network to seem slow as this information must be resent again at a later stage. The more devices are connected to a Network switch, the higher are the chances of a collision taking place.
Network switches eliminate this from happening by creating a direct connection between the outgoing and incoming information sent by devices on the network. This leads to an overall effective bandwidth availability which in turn, boosts your network’s performance and efficiency.
Reliable Network Performance through effective bandwidth Usage
As network switches allows the full potential of a Gigabit bandwidth to be utilised, the number of devices connected to the network should not hamper your networks performance. They can therefore, send and receive information simultaneously.
Pinpoint area of Concern
Each device works on its very own wire when connected to a network switch. This makes it easier to identify the area of concern should a problem pop up on any switch port. This is also great because none of the other connected devices are affected by the disrupted port.
When you take a quick glance at the various options available to you, buying the best Ethernet switch can seem like an overly technical process, but once you narrow down what you need it for – and you go through our list of what you should watch out for while buying an Ethernets witch, you should be alright.
Knowing beforehand the number of devices that will be connected will allow you to make a better purchasing decision, while also making the right decision, one that will improve your network’s performance. If you are an avid gamer, or have a family or business with many users, you will need a network switch that can provide dedicated bandwidth to avoid network congestion.