If you really want optimized performance from your router, along with the ability to tightly control what devices have access to your network and in what situations, an ethernet switch is one of the most useful devices you can have. While ethernet switches are a fantastic choice for offices, they’re also one of the best tech tools for homes with a lot of people. But these are fairly technical devices, and if you just jump in and try to buy one, you might not know exactly what you should be looking for.
- 10 Best Ethernet Switches
- 1. TP-Link 5 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch
- 2. CISCO SYSTEMS 24-Port Gigabit Switch
- 3. TRENDnet 5-Port Unmanaged 10/100 Mbps GREENnet Ethernet Desktop
- 4. NETGEAR 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch
- 5. Aumox 5 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch
- 6. D-Link 8 Port Gigabit Unmanaged Metal Desktop Switch
- 7. Linksys SE1500 5-Port Fast Ethernet Switch
- 8. Ubiquiti UniFi Ethernet Switch 8 60W
- 9. BV-Tech 6 Port PoE Ethernet Switch
- 10. Tenda 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Desktop Switch
- Ethernet Switch Buyer’s Guide
- Number of Ports
- Data Transfer Rate
- Packet Forwarding Rate
- Power Over Ethernet
- Ease of Use
- Quality of Service
- Customer Care
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an Ethernet Switch Used For?
- What is the Difference Between an Ethernet Switch and a Gigabit Switch?
- Do You Lose Speed With an Ethernet Switch?
10 Best Ethernet Switches
1. TP-Link 5 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch
If all you need is a few extra ethernet ports for your home devices, this TP-Link unmanaged ethernet switch can fulfill your needs for less than $20. And despite not being lodade down with a wealth of special switch features, it provides reliably strong performance that goes well beyond what you could expect for the price. The sturdy metal case keeps your wires cool without having to rely on a noisy fan system, and it can be easily mounted if you're trying to clear up space in your home office or entertainment center. And the support for Auto MDI/MDIX means you need no crossover cables.
2. CISCO SYSTEMS 24-Port Gigabit Switch
There isn't a bigger name in networking than Cisco, and there are few ethernet switches as serious as the Cisco SG11224NA. The 24 ports built in make this a clear choice for larger offices, but it's available for a price tag that's affordable even for individual consumers. And getting it up and running requires practically no work. All you have to do is plug and play. As you might expect from a Cisco device, this ethernet switch offers some of the best optimization around so that you're ready to deal even with high end video streaming services, and it's designed to minimize your power usage.
3. TRENDnet 5-Port Unmanaged 10/100 Mbps GREENnet Ethernet Desktop
A high end ethernet switch from Cisco is one of the best options for people who need to maintain quality internet in mid-sized or large businesses, but dropping more than a hundred bucks isn't a necessity if you're just looking to optimize the internet performance in your home. The TrendNET GREENnet is an ethernet switch with a transfer rate of 200 megabytes per port and a total switching capacity of a gigabit. And the plug and play design makes it incredibly easy to set up. And with a price tag of around $10, this is one of the most affordable switches you'll find on the market today.
4. NETGEAR 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch
This Netgear ethernet switch is fundamentally pretty similar to the TRENDnet we reviewed above. It provides a comparable amount of ports with a focus on energy efficiency. But while it won't save you as much power as the later ethernet switch, it ups the data transfer rate significantly. So if you find yourself using data heavy programs and apps, this ethernet switch is one of the best budget models you'll find. It's also incredibly reliable. Netgear provides you with both a lifetime warranty and 24/7 customer support, so if anything goes wrong, you can be confident that an easy solution is within your reach.
5. Aumox 5 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch
Users looking for a decent budget priced ethernet switch for their home should find a lot to like about the Aumox AM-SG205. Getting it up and running is as simple as plugging it into the wall and connecting each ethernet cable, and it's designed for quiet operation even when working with multiple connected devices at the same time. And despite its $16 price tag, it offers a fast and reliable connection for all five devices connected at 1,000 megabyte transfer rates. Whether you're looking to place it on your desk or mount it on the wall, the modest dimensions make this one of the best ethernet switches in its class.
6. D-Link 8 Port Gigabit Unmanaged Metal Desktop Switch
The D-Link DGS-108 is an ethernet switch tailor made for the needs of small and medium sized businesses. The eight ports packed in to the metal frame of this ethernet switch should be enough for most smaller offices, and users can be confident knowing that it provides a consistent transfer rate of a gigabit per second. Despite being available for less than $50, this switch is built to last. The metal housing is incredibly durable, and it makes use of a fanless design so there's less risk of moving parts breaking down during operation. It also uses green technology to reduce overheating and reduce its energy output significantly.
7. Linksys SE1500 5-Port Fast Ethernet Switch
Linksys has set the standards for network technology, offering high-quality products covering everything from routers to modems. So it makes sense that their ethernet switches would be of the highest quality. The SE1500 offers a slick aesthetic and easy to use interface for a pittance of only $20. It makes use of quality of service prioritization technology to ensure that you're getting the ideal speeds for every one of your connected devices, and features include auto-sensing technology that will shut down any cables that aren't currently in use. The result is an ethernet switch that provides efficient connectivity without the need for any oversight.
8. Ubiquiti UniFi Ethernet Switch 8 60W
The Ubiquiti UniFi is the first managed ethernet switch on our list, but it's one of our favorites. The eight individual ethernet ports should be suitable even for mid-sized businesses, and the price point of just over a hundred dollars is incredibly fair for the features that Ubiquiti offers. It sports a total switching capacity of 16 Gbps and the ability to simultaneously operate all of your connected devices and accessories without having to worry about any packet loss. But four of the ports are also auto-sensing, so you don't have to worry about unnecessary power usage when your tech accessories don't need to be operating.
9. BV-Tech 6 Port PoE Ethernet Switch
If you're looking to minimize the amount of power that your local network uses, you can't go wrong with this model from BV-Tech. Four of the six ports come with power over ethernet, allowing you to purge unnecessary power cables from your setup and minimize energy bleed. And an additional extended high power port allows you to get all the advantages of PoE at a distance of up to 250 meters. That makes it an ideal choice for offices with more complicated layouts. Despite that powerful functionality, this switch utilizes an incredibly easy plug and play design that makes setup an absolute breeze.
10. Tenda 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Desktop Switch
On the search for a modestly priced switch that offers consistent performance without any unnecessary bells and whistles? The $10 Tenda SG105 could be the right choice for you. Not only does it offer gigabit transfer speeds, but it also employs a plug-and-play format that can be setup by anyone in a matter of minutes. The auto-MDI MDIX feature means that you never need to worry about a crossover cable, while the IEEE 802. 3x flow control provides you with stable transfer rates in any circumstances. It's a reliable workhorse that performs well beyond what you should expect from the budget pricing.
Ethernet Switch Buyer’s Guide
An ethernet switch can dramatically improve the efficiency of the wireless network at your home or office, and while these are some of the best internet accessories you can invest in, you can quickly become frustrated if they don’t have the space or speed to fit your specific needs. Ethernet switches that aren’t built to your expectations can quickly become a liability rather than an asset. If you aren’t quite sure what you’re looking for in an ethernet switch, we’re ready to help you identify the key specs and find a model that’s well suited to your environment.
When searching for the best ethernet switch, you’ll have the option of managed ethernet switches and unmanaged switches. Managed ethernet switches can be configured with no technical knowledge. Their plug-and-play design means you can just connect your wired devices in and expect them to operate like you want.
Managed switches are more thorough. Through the use of an online portal or software, you can control who can access which devices, and you can have more control over the data allowance that each device is allowed to handle on the switch network. While a managed ethernet switch is the best choice if you require a more sophisticated setup, they’re more expensive and their higher functionality requires a skilled administrator for configuration and management.
Number of Ports
What is a network switch? It’s essentially just a means to expand the amount of ports you’ll find in your modem. That means that you can connect more devices than your modem would traditionally allow. Since a wired connection provides faster and more stable connectivity than Wi-Fi, it’s a great choice for offices. But it’s also useful for individuals who want to stream games, movies, and music from separate devices without having to worry about slowdown.
The best switch for you isn’t going to necessarily be the model with the most ports. Consider how many devices you intend to connect locally, and seek out the perfect ethernet switch that supports that number of ports.
Data Transfer Rate
The data transfer rate simply refers to the maximum amount of data you can transfer over each device connected to network switches. The best standard to look for is ethernet switches that provide gigabit speeds, but a gigabit ethernet switch may provide you with more functionality than you actually need. Consider the maximum transfer rates your ISP provides, and seek out switches that offer speeds that accommodate your specific needs. A high data transfer rate is important for streaming (where it can dramatically reduce the buffer speed) and large downloads but largely inessential for less intensive activities like simply browsing the internet.
Packet Forwarding Rate
Packet forwarding rate and data transfer rate are similar, but not the same. When information is sent over networks, it’s bundled together in what’s known as packets. Unfortunately, these packets can vary significantly in terms of size. The packet forwarding rate tells you how many of these packets can be transferred. If your switch offers gigabit speeds for data transfer rates but a low packet forwarding rate, you won’t necessarily always hit your peak speeds. The opposite is also true. The best ethernet switches offer a balanced configuration that pays equal attention to transfer rates and forwarding rates to offer fast performance in any situation.
Power Over Ethernet
If you’re connecting a lot of devices to your ethernet switch, that can quickly balloon your power usage and also require you to overload your wall switch or power strip with a lot of cords. A PoE switch is the perfect solution. PoE ports don’t require you to connect devices to a wall outlet switch, instead providing the power you need directly through the port itself.
This is a great choice for reducing the tangle of wires in your office or home, but it can also help you save money on your energy bill. Especially valuable are PoE ports that also offer an auto-sensing function. These ports will recognize when a device isn’t being used and ensure that they aren’t being fed power except when they’re needed.
If you want a switch that’s going to last, the last thing you want is a plastic model. Fortunately, most devices made today are constructed from durable metal. Plastic is largely a thing of the past. That said, there are a number of qualities to look for when measuring the durability of a switch. You want to find a switch that includes firm ports for connecting your devices so you don’t have to worry about connectivity loss as well as a design that keeps your switch from overheating. While many models make use of fans to disperse heat, there are plenty of fanless options as well. The best provide you with consistent and fast performance without being noisy in the process.
If you’re going to add an ethernet switch to your business or home, you’re going to have a significant amount of devices in a small amount of space. While longer cables generally aren’t going to affect your internet speeds, they can make swapping out devices difficult and created an unpleasant and tangled nest of wires to deal with.
For that reason, we suggest you map out what your local network will look like in physical terms before you go to Amazon and make a purchase. Take into consideration the dimensions of the device, but also consider whether or not the device comes with its own mounting devices or will work well on a rack. Having a well designed physical network connection will save you a lot of hassle when you’re trying to initially configure your network or alter it further down the line.
Ease of Use
If you’re looking for a great ease of use device, a plug and play model is the way to go. All you have to do is connect your devices and experience the fast speeds you pay for. There’s no configuration required. But ease of use can be a liability if you want more nuanced control of the devices on your network. We recommend easier devices for personal users, but if you’re running a business, you may just have to go with something more complicated. The amount of control you get over a more advanced product will ultimately pay off in the end.
Quality of Service
Quality of service refers to a very specific feature common in ethernet switches, routers, and other networking accessories. A standard ethernet switch isn’t going to prioritize the data that comes through the ports in the switch. But the best unmanaged ethernet switches and most managed ethernet switches include QoS functionality. Quality of service allows you to prioritize each port to ensure to provide the right amount of bandwidth to the devices most likely to need it.
Users don’t need to worry about quality of service providing weakened data transfer to their devices unless prioritized accessories need to make use of higher bandwidth usage. This makes QoS the perfect configuration for a gaming switch or for an office with a complex configuration for their devices.
Ideally, a good switch can last you a lifetime. And while unmanaged switches often employ a plug and play format that lets you get things up and running fast, there can still be problems. With managed switches, some level of devoted customer care is a practical necessity. For the best results, evaluate the customer service features that come with your switch. Does the company offer 24/7 care? What’s their turnaround on questions? Also look for switches that offer meaningful warranties so you won’t have to swap your switch out for a new model months down the line.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Ethernet Switch Used For?
An ethernet switch is a great way to expand the amount of devices you can connect to your router or modem locally. Local connections offer faster and more consistent speeds than those connected over Wi-Fi, so if you have a lot of devices that are resource hogs, an ethernet switch is one of the best investments you can make. In the guide above and the reviews that precede it, we outline the features you should be looking for.
What is the Difference Between an Ethernet Switch and a Gigabit Switch?
A gigabit switch is merely a type of ethernet switch. They serve the same function, but a gigabit switch comes with gigabit ethernet ports built in. If you want a switch with the highest rating for speed, you should opt for a gigabit switch.
Do You Lose Speed With an Ethernet Switch?
For the most part, no. All the ethernet switch does is offer more local connections to your devices. Fundamentally, any device connected to your switch is going to receive the same internet performance they’d get if they were connected over your wireless network. That’s true as long as the data transfer rate is higher than what you’d receive wirelessly through your network. Make sure to check the transfer rate against your internet service provider’s download and upload settings if you won’t to be confident that your speeds won’t be affected.
An ethernet switch can dramatically improve the internet speeds in your home without having to invest in a new modem or router (and without having to pay for a more expensive internet plan). If you have a lot of devices hooked up to your internet and want to make the most of them, you can’t go wrong with the models on our best of list. But if you really want to supercharge your performance, be sure to check out our guides to the best gaming routers of 2020 and the best ethernet cables for gaming in 2020.