What is the best Ethernet switch? When choosing a model, the first thing you need to consider is configuration. Fast ethernet runs 10 times faster than a standard connection at 100 Mbps. Gigabit Ethernet is the fastest possible option, offering 1,000 Mbps, but it is more expensive. Secondly, think about the number of ports your Ethernet switch needs to have. These devices can have 5, 10, 16 or even 24 ports. So it is up to you to decide whether you need to pay more for extra ports or you just want to connect a couple of gaming consoles, TV, and a router. And finally, you will need to choose between managed and unmanaged Ethernet switches. The latter is a simpler and cheaper option. Just plug it in and no further action is needed. The managed switch is a more advanced option as it allows you to log into the device to change settings and update it. We believe that NETGEAR 10-Port Gigabit/10G Ethernet Switch meets these criteria best.

Offering fast and stable connections, it should be no surprise that families are finally switching over to ethernet switches rather than the standard wireless connection. Although these units can seem tricky to understand at first, the proper ethernet switch should boost your connectivity, network pairing options, data transfer rates, and local network security.

What Are the Main Characteristics and Types of Ethernet Switches?

Configuration

Ethernet configuration simply refers to the different types of connections that an ethernet cable can make. Depending on the configuration type, data and distinct types of media will either transfer more slowly or quickly.

Have no worries: all ethernet cable configurations are compatible with each other, meaning that you can mix and match different configurations on one device. The three major types are standard, fast, and gigabit.

As you can likely guess, standard is the slowest possible connection that runs at 10 Mbps. Though they were impressive in the seventies, these devices are practically obsolete now.

Fast ethernet runs ten times faster than a standard connection at 100 Mbps. These devices are commonly used for residential properties or as backup devices for slow network operations.

Gigabit Ethernet is the fastest possible option, offering an impressive 1,000 Mbps. Although this configuration was prohibitively expensive twenty years ago, it's now the standard in most business and residential applications.

Types of Switches

There are so many distinct types of ethernet switches that it's difficult to sum up in a short article. General users should keep in mind that there are two major umbrella types: modular and fixed configuration.

Aruba Modular Switch: photo

  • Modular switches are expandable units that allow you to add more ports as your network grows. For small businesses and shared residential spaces, modular switches often come in handy for specific applications, such as setting up firewalls, network analyzers, and more.
  • Fixed configuration. Nowadays, most ethernet switches are fixed, meaning that no ports or capabilities can be added to a unit. These units can either be unmanaged, L2/L3 managed, or smart switches.

TP-Link Jetstream 48 Port Gigabit Managed Switch: photo

While unmanaged units offer basic connectivity, managed L2 and L3 switches deliver a comprehensive set of features for enhanced security, network control, and greater scalability. Smart switches are often dubbed "managed lite", since they are simpler in design but offer less power than a fully managed system.

Why You Need Ethernet Switches

There are many reasons why an individual or business would opt for ethernet over wireless connections. Since Wifi can lose its signal, vital data packets can be completely lost in a network if the connection fails. Additionally, ethernet enhances transfer speed, allows for enhanced security set-up, and allows an experienced to have complete control over their local network.

Even if you have no knowledge of networks, ethernet connections are dead-simple to set up and scale as needed.

Expensive Versus Cheap Ethernet Switches

Unfortunately, not all ethernet switches are created equal. As a rule of thumb, any ethernet switch that features management layers, non-standard numbers of ports, fanless housing, enhanced security features, and advanced network connectivity options will be more expensive than a simple plug-and-play device.

Pricier units boast faster Gigabit ports, very fast streaming rates for video transfer, and extended hardware warranties.

Reviews of The Best Ethernet Switches

Below, you will find a review of the most popular Ethernet switches at a price ranging from $35 to $200. The first one is an easy-to-configure device and perfect for clients that need extra network management. The second one automatically manages connection and data transfer, and offers unique security features.

NETGEAR 10-Port Gigabit/10G Ethernet Smart Managed Plus Switch with 2x10G/Multi-gig | Best Ethernet Switch for Gaming

NETGEAR 10-Port Ethernet Switch: photo

Configured with eight gigabit ports and 2 multi-gigabit ports, the Netgear switch is well-regarded for its silent operation and energy efficiency. Most importantly, the unit's management software has a simple user interface that offers all the basic functions of configuring, securing, and monitoring your local network.

The Netgear switch is energy efficient and designed to optimize power usage dynamically based on the number of ports currently in use. For instance, when packets of data aren't being transferred through the connection, the switch automatically reduces the power operating the device.

Ultimately, the Netgear switch is recommended for large homes or small businesses. With full network control, 1G switch speed, and extensive network control, it's hard to go wrong with the Netgear switch.

Pros Cons
  • Perfect for clients that need extra network management and an easy-to-configure device
  • Offers basic VLAN, QoS, IGMP, and LACP network control
  • Capable of Level 2 layer management
  • Not capable of Link Aggregation

TP-LINK Jetstream 8-Port Gigabit L2 Managed Switch with 2 SFP Slots

TP-LINK 8-Port Switch: photo

The Jetstream is an L2 managed switch that's capable of gigabit connections on eight ports. Additionally, the unit offers advanced security features that set it apart from other switch devices: IP-Mac port binding, port security, DHCP snooping, and local network authentication -- and that's just to name a few.

Users are satisfied with the Jetstream because it can double as a simple "plug and play" device, offering endless ways to pair different ethernet connections in a local network. It's perfect some a user who doesn't have extensive experience in the science of networking, yet also suitable for more knowledgeable network administrators.

If you're switching from a lagging wireless connection to an ethernet connection, the Jetstream offers speed boosts in excess of 2000Mbps. Potential buyers don't need to have any concerns either, because the Jetstream comes with a lifetime parts warranty provided through the manufacturer.

Pros Cons
  • Very easy to use with no device configuration needed
  • Automatically manages connection and data transfer between connections
  • Offers unique security features to keep personal data private and boot data-throttlers
  • Device firmware not updated frequently, causing connections to lag over a period of years

NETGEAR 5-Port Ethernet Switch | Best Under $50

NETGEAR 5-Port Ethernet Switch: photo

Take a look at this energy-efficient model with 5 ports. This Ethernet switch is easy to set up and does not require installing software. You can mount it on the wall or place on your desk, depending on how much space you have. This item is very quiet, actually, you will not even hear it operating. On top of that, the product comes with a lifetime warranty.

Cisco 52-Port Gigabit PoE Managed Switch: photo

If you trust Cisco Systems, choose their 8 to 52-Port Gigabit PoE Managed Switches.

10 Best-Selling Ethernet Switches Comparative Table

FAQ

What is an Ethernet switch?
An Ethernet switch is used to connect devices on a computer network to allow for their communication. However, don’t confuse it with a hub, which is an obsolete device nowadays. There are two main types of Ethernet switches: modular and fixed configuration ones. With a modular model, you will be able to add expansion modules, which means more flexibility. Whereas fixed configuration switches come with a certain quantity of ports and in most cases cannot be expanded.

Much depends on whether you need just some more ports for your devices or you are going to build a full-fledged network. The latter will require a number of additional features. Quiet operation and compact design are also important aspects to consider.

Ethernet switch or hub? What is the difference?
Though these terms are often used interchangeably, switch and hub refer to two completely different types of ethernet devices.

A switch is simply a device that allows a user to connect multiple network segments, like ethernet cables, together. Using a switch, multiple computers in a local network can be joined together.

By contrast, a hub connects multiple ethernet devices together so that they act as a single segment. Since a hub works with purely physical components, switches are always more efficient since switches function on a data link layer.

Does Ethernet Switch Reduce Speed?
No. Hands down: a proper ethernet switch should never hamper your network connection. In order to avoid slow speeds, make sure to opt for newer switches with Gigabit ports. In rare cases, some very old standard ethernet switches could throttle a fast network connection. However, the more common case is that a user is unknowingly using an ethernet hub rather than a switch.