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best network switches

The Best Network Switches in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

Welcome to our big network switch test. Here we present you all of the network switches that we have tested. We have put together detailed background information for you.

We want to make the purchase decision easier for you and help you find the best network switch for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. You will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a network switch.

  • With a network switch you can set up a network in your company or in your own four walls and ensure that your connected devices communicate with each other quickly and securely.
  • A basic distinction is made between a managed and unmanaged network switch, with the unmanaged switch already available at a lower price.
  • An unmanaged switch is sufficient for most private networks. A managed switch is often used in companies because it offers extensive configuration options.

Best Network Switches

NETGEAR 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Smart Managed Plus Switch (GS105Ev2)

 Our Pick
NETGEAR 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Smart Managed Plus Switch (GS105Ev2)
  • 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Plus software with easy-to-use interface offers basic…
  • Supports desktop or wall mount placement
  • Lifetime Limited Hardware Warranty, Next Business Day…
  • Energy efficient design compliant with IEEE8023az

The Netgear GS105E-200PES 5-Port Switch is probably the best when it comes to price-performance ratio. It is a managed switch, which means that you have the option to configure the switch as you wish. It has 5 Gigabit LAN ports for more flexibility and additional devices in your network.

You can simply connect the Ethernet switch via plug and play and use it without any settings. It has a data transfer rate of up to 1000 Mbit / s and with Green Ethernet saves up to 60% power on inactive ports. The Netgear GS105E-200PES can be easily configured via the web browser. A wall mounting set is also included.

TP-Link 16 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch TL-SG116

 Our Pick
TP-Link 16 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch TL-SG116
  • 【One Switch Made to Expand Network】16× 10/100/1000Mbps…
  • 【Gigabit that Saves Energy】Latest innovative…
  • 【Reliable and Quiet】IEEE 802.3X flow control provides…
  • 【Plug and Play】Easy setup with no software installation…
  • 【Advanced Software Features】Prioritize your traffic and…

With the TP-Link TL-SG116 you can make the transition to Gigabit Ethernet. It is an unmanaged switch with 16 ports, each of which has a transfer rate of 2 GBit / s (a total of 32 GBit / s). Due to its fanless metal housing, it is ideal for wall mounting or table construction and is noticeable due to its noiselessness.

This network switch can easily be set up via plug and play and the built-in Green IT ensures energy savings in all corners and ends. QoS enables latency-free data traffic for voice and video. In addition, IGMP snooping optimizes multicast data streams, with which data can be distributed quickly and efficiently to multiple recipients.

D-Link Ethernet Switch DGS-105

D-Link Ethernet Switch DGS-105
  • Five (5) 10/100/1000 Mbps Ports
  • Inexpensive Gigabit Ethernet solution for Soho, small and…
  • Supports IEEE 8021p QoS traffic prioritization
  • Built to last: Rugged metal housing, fanless
  • Limited lifetime warranty

The D-Link DGS-105 5-Port Layer2 Gigabit Switch has 5 ports, which in full duplex mode provide up to 2000 Mbit / s and per port. This switch is a noiseless model because it was built without a fan.

Customers are particularly satisfied with the data transmission speed of this network switch and also praise the energy-efficient technology for saving electricity. The switch does not need to be configured, it has a plug and play function.

D-Link Ethernet Switch DGS-1008G

D-Link Ethernet Switch DGS-1008G
  • 8 Gigabit ports
  • D Link Green technology helps conserve energy when the…
  • Ideal for Gigabit Ethernet storage and gaming
  • Plug and play installation
  • QoS support provides clear VoIP calls and smooth online…

This network switch is ideal for VoIP and games thanks to intelligent data streaming. Thanks to the standby mode, it has reduced power consumption and less heat output. The automatic shutdown of ports without a link also ensures energy savings. With a cable diagnosis, the device also adapts to the cable quality.

The memory type of the device is DDR3 SDRAM and the power output is 12 volts. The switch supports speeds of up to 2000 Mbit / s, as well as flow control according to IEEE 802.3x for fast and continuous data transmission.

Network Switch: Purchase Criteria

In the following we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the multitude of possible network switches.

The criteria with which you can compare the network switches with one another include:

  • Design
  • Number of ports
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Data Rate

In the following paragraphs we will explain to you what is important for the individual criteria.

Design

The most common design for slots is the Small Form-factor Pluggable (SFP). This design is also known as Mini-GBIC, SFF GBIC, GLC, New GBIC or Next Generation GBIC. It resembles a child’s bar and is usually called mini-GBIC.

Mini-GBIC are designed for up to 5 Gbit / s. If you need higher speed such as 10 Gbit Ethernet, you need the larger XFP or XENPAC modules. XPAK and X2 are successors to the XENPAC modules.

Switches work either on the basis of Layer 2 or 3. Layer 2 switches are a simple design that establish connections between network accounts. Most unmanaged switches fall into this category. VLANs (Virtual LANs) and Quality-of-Service are based on Layer 3.

Number of Ports

Before you buy a network switch you should be clear about how many ports you need. That depends of course on how many devices you own or plan to buy in the future. As a rule, you plan for the next five to seven years.

For private home networks, network switches with 5 or 8 ports are usually sufficient. For larger networks, you should focus on switches with 16 or more ports.

Energy Efficiency

Those who save electricity also save money at the same time. Ethernet switches are usually never switched off, which is why you can save quite a bit of electricity with small changes over the entire operating time.

An important point here is to buy a switch with efficient power supplies. Smaller switches are supplied with power via conventional plug-in power supplies, which uses a lot of energy. It is better if you rely on a device with energy-saving switching technology.

You can check the efficiency of the power supply of your switch in the data sheet. Here one speaks of a good degree of efficiency if it is well over 80%.

The cable length also plays a role in the energy supply. Here, the shorter the cable, the less energy is consumed.

Power over Ethernet (PoE)

Devices with Power over Ethernet (PoE) can supply themselves with power via the data connection with the network cable. This means that you don’t need an additional power supply.

One advantage of this technology is that you can set up your network switch more flexibly. So you can mount your device in places where there is no power line and it would be too expensive or tedious to install one. You can also supply other devices with power via the PoE ports.

Data Rate

If you want to buy a network switch, you should pay particular attention to the transfer rate.

No matter how fast the line is, if the switch works too slowly, the full potential cannot be exploited. You will always find the data transfer rate with the values that are specified with Mbit / s or Gbit / s.

This value should be higher or lower depending on the number of ports and speed required.

With an 8 port Ethernet switch with a rate of 1 GBit / s, for example, the speed is divided by all outputs. This makes a data throughput of 125 Mbit / s per port, which can be compared with a conventional fiber optic connection.

Types of Network Switches

If you want to buy a network switch, there are two alternatives you can choose between:

Unmanaged network switch

  • Rather cheap, easy to use, sufficient for the home network
  • Hardly any configuration options, not suitable for companies

Managed network switch

  • Configurable, for large networks, many settings
  • Complicated, more expensive

Each of the two types of switch has its advantages and disadvantages. The unmanaged switch is often used in home networks and small offices. Networks that are set up with a managed switch, on the other hand, are often found in large companies. We would like to make your decision easier with the following sections.

Unmanaged Network Switch: Advantages & Disadvantages

Unmanaged network switches are mostly used for smaller networks such as small offices or home networks. They can be connected to the network simply and easily via plug and play with the LAN cable.

The disadvantage is that unmanaged Ethernet switches have little or no configuration options. Remote configuration, management or monitoring is also not possible.

Advantages

  • Low acquisition costs
  • Easy handling
  • Meets the requirements for a home network

Disadvantages

  • Little to no setting options
  • Not suitable for businesses

As a rule, unmanaged switches are used to set up a small, independent network with a few devices. They are also suitable for adding temporary work groups to larger networks or for connecting surveillance cameras to one another.

An unmanaged network switch is also perfectly adequate for LAN parties.

Managed Network Switch: Advantages & Disadvantages

Managed network switches are very suitable for companies in which many IT devices have to communicate with one another without interference.

A comprehensive configuration can be carried out via the web browser and the network analyzed using the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). This is especially valuable when diagnosing problems. This ensures optimal network performance and reliability.

Advantages

  • Remote configuration
  • Ideal for large networks
  • Many setting options

Disadvantages

  • Very complicated and therefore often useless for laypeople
  • Higher cost

Managed switches are suitable, for example, to set up a VLAN network, to isolate individual participants or segments and to redirect the traffic for a port in order to detect DoS attacks. You can also assign different bandwidths to the different participants.

Frequently Asked Questions: Network Switch

What is a network switch?

A network switch is an electronic device that creates a connection between different network segments (e.g. several computers) in a local network.

It usually has the shape of a flat box and is equipped with several ports (connections).

The devices connected in the network can communicate with one another via the switch and exchange data with one another. It serves as a central distribution unit.

The network switch can differentiate between the individual participants in the network and, if necessary, forward data specifically to certain devices.

For example, an Ethernet switch is used to exchange data, as already mentioned, or to use a shared Internet connection or printer.

A switch is also often used in gaming (LAN party) to play with or against other players in a network.

When do you need a network switch?

A network switch has many advantages when you have several electronic devices.

Most households have a modern DSL router such as a FritzBox. These usually have three or four so-called LAN ports.

Did you know that there are network switches with up to 48 ports?
This gives you more than enough space for all your secret devices. Such switches are particularly suitable for companies with many devices.

Your network can use these connections to send or receive data to connected devices at up to 1,000 Mbit per second.

So if you only have a desktop PC, notebook, tablet and printer at home, a router is perfectly adequate.

But if you also have game consoles, a Smart TV, a receiver or other IT equipment, you will quickly reach your limits with a standard router.

Theoretically, you can also connect most devices via WiFi via the router. The connection via cable, however, offers you faster and trouble-free data transmission. This is often a decisive factor, especially in the gaming area.

Who should use a network switch?

A network switch is basically suitable for people or companies who have several IT devices and want to connect them intelligently.

In today’s working world, home office is increasingly becoming a common practice.

In order to ensure fast and efficient work in your own four walls, the network switch provides the necessary basis.

A network switch is also suitable for people who only use the home network for private purposes to organize the ever-increasing number of electronic devices and to exchange data quickly and safely.

A switcher is particularly recommended for game consoles. It ensures an optimal Internet connection between your router and your game console.

What are the alternatives to a network switch?

As an alternative to a network switch, there is a hub or a standard router.

In the following section we will give you a brief overview of the alternatives to network switches.

Router
Several independent networks are connected to one another via the router. In most cases it is used to establish a connection between the private network (LAN) and the Internet. It combines all computers in the home network and connects them to the Internet via the same connection.

Hub
Like the network switch, the hub ensures that the various devices in a network can communicate with one another (exchange data). The difference, however, is that it cannot distinguish between the various participants in the network. Data is thus transmitted to all connected IT devices. The hub can either receive or send data, but not both at the same time.

How is a network switch connected correctly?

So that you can connect the network switch to the router, you need a 1 to 1 patch cable. You plug one end of the cable into one of the router’s existing ports and the other into the LAN / Ethernet port of the switch.

It is easiest if you use port 1 on both devices. But this is not absolutely necessary.

By connecting the router and switch, you have expanded the router’s ports. You can continue to use the connections of the router as normal.

How can I set up a managed network switch?

Managed network switches can usually be set up via the web browser. In some cases, the manufacturer also supplies separate software that you have to install on your computer first.

DHCP activated: In the best case scenario, the network switch has already activated DHCP and is connected to a DHCP server. The server is usually integrated in the router. The router then automatically forwards the IP address to the Ethernet switch.

You can read off the IP address via the router under connected devices and enter it in the web browser so that the user interface of the switch appears. And you’re ready to start configuring your Ethernet switch.

DHCP deactivated: If your switch already has its own IP address and DHCP is not active, you must first read the operating instructions to find out which IP address was assigned. Then you have to disconnect the switch and the computer with which you want to configure your network from the network.

In the next step you assign the manufacturer’s IP address to your PC or notebook and connect to the network switch. Then enter the IP address in the web browser as usual so that the user interface is called up.

How can I restart a network switch?

If you have network problems or the network switch stops working, the easiest solution is often to restart the whole network. To do this, you can simply follow the steps below:

  1. Turn off everything, disconnect the router from the power and wait about 10 seconds
  2. Connect the router to power and switch it on
  3. Turn on the network switch
  4. Turn on your computer and connect to the Internet
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for all other computers
  6. Switch on printer and other devices

How can I connect multiple network switches together?

If you want to cascade several network switches, i.e. connect them to one another or connect them in series, there are two alternatives:

We recommend that you make the connection between the various devices in a star shape. This means that the router acts as a central unit.

Did you know that multiple switches can be used at the same time?
You can stack them on top of each other and then connect them via a stack port. This is called a “stack”.

The first possibility is that you use the ports that are already available in the router. You connect the second Ethernet switch as normal as the first via the connections in the router.

The second and more effective method if you want to operate several switches in a row is to simply connect the second network switch to one port of the first, the third to the second and so on.

Last product update on 2021-06-19 | Source: Amazon Affiliate