The Best Network Switch

A network switch allows you to link computers together. Because most ISPs provide only a single router, it’s common for there to be insufficient ports on it for all of the house’s devices. You may connect a switch to your router and add addit ional network ports by doing so. But what is the best one right now? Read our guide about the best network switches of 2022 and find out now!

Ben Grindlow

Ben Grindlow is the founder of ProXPN, a company that provides reviews about VPN products and services. Ben's interest in cybersecurity and privacy led him to start ProXPN, which has become one of the most well-respected VPN providers in the world. Ben is passionate about his work, and he is constantly exploring new ways to improve ProXPN's in-depth guides.

Last updated: 10:10AM 7/5/2022

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Whether you’re a small business or a large home, your network needs to keep multiple users connected reliably and securely around the clock. With the right switch, you can easily connect additional users and benefit from higher speeds. Which network switch is right for you depends on your system. I’ll help you get started by highlighting the most important factors to consider in relation to your networking needs.

TP-Link TL-SG105

  • Managed: No
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 5
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 10 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • Link aggregation (LACP): No
  • Port Mirroring: No
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Yes
  • VLAN support: No

Netgear GS105

  • Managed: No
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 5
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 10 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • Link aggregation (LACP): Yes
  • Port Mirroring: No
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Yes
  • LAN support: No

Netgear GS308E-100PES

  • Managed: Yes
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 8
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 16 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • Link aggregation (LACP): No
  • Port Mirroring: Yes
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Yes
  • VLAN support: Yes

Buyer’s guide to the best network switch: making the best buy

It is annoying if you no longer have available Ethernet ports on your router. Especially if you want wired connections for all your devices, but you don’t want to pull a bundle of Ethernet cables to the location of your router. A switch will come to your rescue.

Choosing the best network switch for your needs isn’t too difficult, but there are a few concepts you’ll want to understand better so you don’t buy the wrong device or spend too much money unnecessarily. Discover it all below!

What is a network switch for?

One of the best ways to expand your wired network is by purchasing a network switch. In simple terms, a switch is like a hub. You connect your switch to your router, after which you connect your devices to your switch.

Your devices can then access your home or office network as if they were connected directly to the router. It’s that simple!

These switches may also sometimes be called an Ethernet switch or LAN switch.

LAN

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a collection of devices connected together in one physical location, such as a building, office, or home. In contrast, a wide area network (WAN) or metropolitan area network (MAN) covers larger geographic areas. Some WANs and MANs connect multiple LANs together.

In the context of domestic, commercial or industrial computer networks, the main role of network switches is to physically connect online resources and devices. Users connected to the same network via a switch can then access multiple or even all of the resources and devices on that network.

Number of users

Finding the best network switch for you starts with the number of users you want to connect to your network. Remember that a user is not just a person but can also be connected devices such as a security camera, an all-in-one printer, a VoIP phone and wireless access points.

Access point (AP)

An access point or access point (AP) is a device that creates a wireless local area network, or WLAN, usually in an office or large building. An access point connects to a wired router, switch, or hub via an Ethernet cable, and projects a Wi-Fi signal to a designated area.

In general, a larger number of users will require more ports and higher transfer rates.

More ports means more flexibility in the network, but the amount of traffic that can flow through the network at any time – in other words, the number of connected devices and users that a network can adequately serve – is limited by several factors, most notably the bandwidth of your internet connection.

Gigabit Ethernet and other speeds

Network switches do not provide speed, but you do run the risk that the wrong switch will slow down your network considerably. If you’re transferring a lot of data, you want to make sure you have ports that can handle your need for speed. Gigabit Ethernet is the name of the game.

Look for ports with 10, 100, or 1000 MB/s, or Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports. These ports automatically detect the fastest speed.

For less demanding scenarios, a switch with ports of 10 or 100 MB/s will suffice, but most modern switches support GbE portten.

Type of network switch

There are two main types of network switches, namely the managed switch and the unmanaged switch. The essential difference between managed and unmanaged switches is their ability to configure the switch operation to tailor and optimize network traffic for specific applications.

Managed switches

If you are an administrator or other authorized user, managed switches are devices that give you access to a control panel that is displayed in a web browser or a supported mobile app.

You can use the control panel for a managed switch to configure a number of settings to customize your network environment the way you need it.

Configuration options may include:

  • Assigning priority to certain ports and devices
  • Combining network ports for increased bandwidth (also called link aggregation)
  • Setting up security rules to protect your network from unwanted intrusions
  • A range of too many other configuration options to list here

The user environment for managed switches is more user-friendly than it was years ago, but it still can be overwhelming to configure all these settings. Figuring out how to start configuring your own network connection using managed network switches will probably take some time.

Unmanaged switches

Not surprisingly, unmanaged switches do not provide you options for configuring your network. The switch comes with a number of default settings and a security protocol that establishes how it handles the traffic as more users connect to the network.

With an unmanaged switch, you may find yourself missing some popular features like link aggregation, quality of service, failover configurations and so on. On the plus side, an unmanaged switch is easier to set up and is more affordable, as it does not need all the internal hardware that a managed switch includes so as to provide all those options.

Unmanaged Ethernet switches may be a great solution for a home connection or for a small business that does not need any special network configurations.

Failover

Failover is a procedure that makes a system failure or maintenance shutdown invisible to the system’s users. Failover automatically switches users to a standby database, server, or network if the main system is no longer available for some reason.

Failover uses a configured backup system that behaves the same as the normal environment. When there is a problem on the main system, failover will seamlessly redirect system requests to this backup system so that users won’t necessarily be aware of the system failure.

PoE support

Network switches that supply power over Ethernet or PoE on any kind of interface is called a PoE switch. They can be either the managed or unmanaged type. PoE switches provide both a network connection and electrical power over one cable instead of two.

Reducing the number of cables running around the office will save space, provide a neater appearance and make it easier to organize the cables. Often you will need to install an access point for areas where there aren’t any electrical outlets within easy reach, and this is where PoE comes in, because many access points can use power over Ethernet.

Port mirroring

A port mirror is a special port on a switch. A network switch does port mirroring when it sends a copy of the data packets sent through a switch to a network monitoring or inspection device connected to the port mirror.

Depending on the design requirements, port mirroring can be beneficial in a variety of network environments from LANs (local area networks) and VLANs (virtual local area networks) to WLANs (wireless local area networks).

Port mirroring improves an administrator’s insight into the network by helping to monitor, inspect, identify and resolve any unusual events (network anomalies) that may occur on the network.

You may also want to consider a server with NAS (network attached storage) to keep your files and network safe.

Network anomalies

Networks have a normal flow of events that they follow as they operate. Network anomalies are anything that suddenly differs from this normal network operation.

Anomalies are worth keeping an eye on, as some of them may be a sign of malicious intruders in the system, such as an attack on an IP network. Other anomalies may occur due to pure random chance (User A happened to do a certain operation at the very same time that the system did such and such) and may not be a sign of trouble.

Link aggregations and LAGs

Link aggregation is when two network devices that are connected over multiple Ethernet connections are virtually merged into one logical connection.

A link aggregation group (LAG) is a set of Ethernet connections that management functions and other devices handle as a single link.

If you connect a network switch to another switch, the two switches could be combined as a link aggregation. Other examples of link aggregation could bee buying an additional server or adding on an access point with multiple ports.

A LAG could be included in a virtual local area network (VLAN), and multiple LAGs could be configured on one switch.

Not all network devices support the link aggregation control protocol (LACP), which helps prevent errors in the link aggregation setup process, so be aware of which devices do and which don’t.

Benefits of using link aggregation may include:

  • Additional reliability and availability. Network traffic can be dynamically redirected to another physical link behind the scenes if one of the physical links in the LAG goes offline.
  • Increased bandwidth. When physical links are aggregated, they can provide extra bandwidth beyond what would be available on an individual link.
  • An improved use of physical resources. Network traffic can be distributed over the aggregated links.
  • Providing a cost-effective solution. Upgrading your network can incur significant costs. Link aggregation increases bandwidth on the network without the need for expensive new equipment and new cabling.

The 5 best network switches compared

1. TP-Link TL-SG105

  • Managed: No
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 5
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 10 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • Link aggregation (LACP): No
  • Port Mirroring: No
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Yes
  • VLAN support: No

2. Netgear GS105

  • Managed: No
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 5
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 10 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • Link aggregation (LACP): Yes
  • Port Mirroring: No
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Yes
  • VLAN support: No

3. Netgear GS308E-100PES

  • Managed: Yes
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 8
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 16 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • Link aggregation (LACP): No
  • Port Mirroring: Yes
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Yes
  • VLAN support: Yes

4. Netgear ProSAFE GS105E

  • Managed: Yes
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 5
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 10 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • Link aggregation (LACP): No
  • Port Mirroring: Yes
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Yes
  • VLAN support: Yes

5. Netgear GS108E

  • Managed: Yes
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 8
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 16 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • Link aggregation (LACP): No
  • Port Mirroring: Yes
  • Quality of Service (QoS): Yes
  • VLAN support: Yes

Answers to frequently asked questions about network switches

What are the steps to connect a network switch?

Do the following:

  1. Connect an Ethernet cable to a WAN port, which is simply an outgoing port on your modem or router.
  2. Plug the other end of that cable into any available port on the network switch.
  3. Plug a second Ethernet cable into another port on the switch.
  4. Connect the other end of this cable to your device.

Will a network switch decrease internet speed?

A drag on internet speed can happen if your internet service is faster than 100 MB/second and your network switch cannot provide gigabit Ethernet speeds. Non-gigabit switches have a maximum throughput of 100 MB/s (which is called fast Ethernet or 10/100). Buy a switch that is gigabit capable to avoid slowing down your internet connection in most cases.

What is a PoE switch?

A PoE switch has built-in ‘power over Ethernet’ functionality, meaning that you can provide your devices with power over network cables. A PoE switch uses Ethernet cables to supply the power to run other devices.

What is the difference between a network switch and a router?

A network switch is capable of extending a LAN or local area network further. A router lets you share one IP address between multiple network devices. Another way to think of it is that a network switch creates networks, while the router makes connections between networks.

What are VLANs used for?

If you have a LAN or local area network, you can use a VLAN or virtual local area network to logically divide the LAN into different broadcast areas. For example, if your network contains sensitive data, you can improve your network’s security by setting up a specific VLAN with a broadcast domain to be used for that data to get it off the main network.

Which network switch should I buy?

The answer to this question will vary based on your network requirements and how many users are on the network. Although there is no one right answer for everyone, the table below can help you make a decision. The table shows the main specifications for what I consider the best network switches. For each product, I list its switching capacity, whether it provides gigabit Ethernet ports, PoE ports, etc.

I hope this table helps you to make an informed choice, which is bound to be the best choice.

TP-Link TL-SG105

  • Managed: No
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 5
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 10 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • VLAN support: No

Netgear GS105

  • Managed: No
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 5
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 10 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • VLAN support: No

Netgear GS308E-100PES

  • Managed: Yes
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 8
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 16 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • VLAN support: Yes

Netgear ProSAFE GS105E

  • Managed: Yes
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 5
  • Wired speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 10 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • VLAN support: Yes

Netgear GS108E

  • Managed: Yes
  • Number of Ethernet ports: 8
  • Wired Speed: 1 gigabit (up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Total switching capacity: 16 Gbps
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE) support: No
  • VLAN support: Yes

Gigabit Ethernet ports for better performance

A network switch connects devices on a wired network using Ethernet cables. This makes it easier to add on more devices (a ‘plug and play’ setup) and enjoy faster speeds and better network performance.

When you buy a switch to connect new devices to your network, choose one with fast Ethernet ports, ideally one with gigabit Ethernet ports. And if you plan to extend the network with additional devices in the future, be sure to select a fast network switch that can accommodate your growing network.

Frequently asked questions

If you know that your network will include a lot of user devices and high-bandwidth applications, invest in a switch with at least ten Gigabit (10/100/1000 Mbps) Ethernet ports. If you expect to add more systems in the future, go for a switch with extra capacity.

5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Network Switch

  • 1 User count. It all starts with the number of users you need to connect.
  • 2 Power. Remember those access points.
  • 3 Speed. Network switches don’t create speed, but the wrong switch could slow your network down significantly.
  • 4 Managed vs Unmanaged.
  • 5 Value.

Switches with presets are available in Fast Ethernet (10/100 Mbps), Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps), Ten Gigabit (10/100/1000/10000 Mbps) and 40 Gbps speeds. Switches with pre-configured settings are available in Fast Ethernet (10/100 Mbps), Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps), Ten Gigabit (10/100/.

There are various security features accessible to you as a business owner that can help prevent external attacks, but it is important to approach this topic methodically. Unmanaged switches in particular have limited security. They’re secured by making sure there are no holes from system to system, which a lockable port cover may guarantee.

Because there is no loop in a linear topology of three Ethernet switches or fewer, it’s fine to utilize daisy chaining. However, due to a lack of redundancy, switch failure is an issue. In a linear topology, data must be carried in one direction from one switch to the next.

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