You'll need one of the best ethernet switches if you're doing any of the following things. Firstly, if you want to set up a network of devices - say you're running multiple computers in your home office, or you're operating a small business - then an ethernet switch or two is vital. Secondly, you may be looking to simply optimize your internet connection across all the devices in a single room of your home (wired connections are more reliable than wireless), and need more ethernet ports than you have, or want to control the access of each device. Alternatively, you may just want more ports because your router simply doesn't have enough, or it has weak WiFi signal? Ethernet switches are perfect for solving these problems.
The best ethernet switches will offer you a larger number of ports - usually between eight to ten - along with a great throughput speed. That's more than enough for a cluster of laptops and printers, for sure. They will also give you some networking options, like data prioritization, and will come with features that minimise noise and save energy. If you're running loads of devices, no, you probably won't hear an ethernet switch operating, but you will definitely notice an increase in your bills if you're running a power hungry switch.
Ethernet Switches come in two main varieties - managed and unmanaged switches. Unmanaged switches are mainly for home use, as they will automatically optimize your network for you, with no real input required from the users. Managed switches require configuration, but can give you greater control over network access, so are better for offices and small businesses. Most home set-ups will be fine with one of the best wireless routers, as these often come with plenty of ethernet ports.
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Best Ethernet Switch
The D-Link DGS-1008G is our top pick. It does everything you need an Ethernet switch to do, with fast speeds and low running costs.
Best eco-friendly Ethernet switch
Save money on your bills and help the environment with the TP-Link TL-SG1005D, the best eco-friendly Ethernet switch.
Best value for money Ethernet switch
The TrendNET TEG-S50g offers exceptional value for money, with great speeds and a sleek design.
What the experts say
When it comes to the best Ethernet switches, the experts tend to be the companies that are manufacturing them. NETGEAR, D-Link, TP-Link, Linksys - these are the big names in consumer Ethernet switches, but there are also companies like Cisco who specialize in kitting out businesses and corporations with Ethernet switches.
Obviously each of these companies will want to direct you to its own products, but they can all offer important insights and advice too. NETGEAR has recommendations for Ethernet switches based on your needs, whether it be for home, business or gaming use.
Cisco also has a solid guide which runs you through each type of Ethernet switch, explaining unmanaged and smart switches, as well as managed switches and why they're probably overkill for domestic use.
Best Ethernet Switch Overall
Our top pick for both home and small businesses, the D-Link DGS-1008G does everything you need an Ethernet switch to do, looks great, and doesn’t cost the world. It features eight Gigabit ports with a total switching capacity of 16 Gbps.
The outer shell of the DGS-1008G is made from plastic with a matte black finish, so it shouldn’t stand out in your home office or workplace setup - you don’t want your Ethernet switch being a feature piece in the room. The DGS-1008G is an unmanaged switch, which means it’s super easy to set up and use, and the fanless design means that it’s quiet in operation too.
The D-Link DGS-1008G has a score of 4.6 stars out of 5 on Amazon with 1172 ratings. Users were pleased with the D-Link DGS-1008G’s performance and ease of use, but some criticized its longevity and not occasional disconnects.
One standout feature we liked is that the D-Link DGS-1008G prioritizes important data packets automatically, giving you access to your full network speeds for intensive tasks like online gaming or video calling.
If you’re environmentally conscious, or just worried about your energy bills then you’ll also be pleased to hear that the D-Link DGS-1008G uses D-Link’s Green Technology which keeps energy usage down. The shell is even made from recycled plastic. Oh, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
- Read our full D-Link DGS-1008G review
Best for business
The Netgear GS305E is a fantastic Ethernet switch with variants that are perfect for either home or small business use. The GS3 series of Ethernet switches come in sizes ranging from five ports for home uses, all the way up to a 48 port switch for small-to-medium sized businesses. Supporting Gigabit (1000Mb) speeds, the Netgear GS305E should be more than sufficient for your home or work network needs. The fanless design means that it’s whisper quiet too.
The Netgear GS305E has a score of 4.6 stars out of 5 on Amazon with 1390 ratings. Positive reviews said that it was a “user-friendly” solution and that it has a great cable management system. Negative reviews are rare, with only 3% rating it one star, but some users noted difficulty updating the firmware.
NETGEAR is a quality manufacturer known for its well-built and sturdy devices, and the Netgear GS305E is no exception - this is a robust piece of kit with a metal case. It’s energy efficient too, which is ideal if you’re going to have it running 24/7.
The Netgear GS305E sits in NETGEAR’s Smart Managed Plus range, which means it has some basic network monitoring capabilities and configuration options, but doesn’t require the advanced management software that most business tailored switches do. Some businesses may need more advanced management options though, but it’s great for those that don’t.
If you’re looking for an affordable Ethernet switch from a brand you can trust, then the TP Link TL-SG1005D is the best Ethernet switch for you. It offers five Gigabit Ethernet ports using IEEE 802.3x flow control for reliable and fast data transfer with non-blocking switching. It’s plug and play, so you won’t need to worry about setting it up or installing software, which is great for less tech savvy users.
The TP Link TL-SG1005D has an average score of 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon with a staggering 10,419 user ratings. Happy customers noted that it offered “ Great performance for the price” and that it works seamlessly with no issues setting up. While reviews were overwhelmingly positive, some users did note inconsistent speeds.
It’s kind on your bank balance too. The TP Link TL-SG1005D is cheap to buy and features energy-saving technology to keep running costs down by automatically shutting down idle ports. This can result in an up to 80% power use reduction.
The TP Link TL-SG1005D also comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty so you can be confident in your purchase, and the 24/7 tech support that TP offers means you’ll be able to get issues sorted quickly.
- Read the full TP Link TL-SG1005D review
Best value for money
Another fine choice if you’re looking for a budget Ethernet switch that doesn’t skimp on build quality or performance, the TrendNET TEG-S50g is an excellent choice if you need a small, unmanaged switch for your home. It offers five Gigabit ports with a 10Gbps switching capacity to help deal with data traffic spikes, reducing bottlenecks and slowdown. It’s encased in a robust metal shell.
The TrendNET TEG-S50g has a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 1530 ratings. Users praised how user friendly and easy to setup the device is, but some low scoring reviews criticized TrendNET’s customer service and warranty program.
Like many Ethernet switches these days, it also has energy saving features. The TrendNET TEG-S50g has sensors that detect when ports are vacant and inactive, and it regulates power usage accordingly to keep your energy bills down and the polar bears happy. This features can drop power usage by up to 70%.
The TrendNET TEG-S50g is simple to use too, with a plug and play setup. There are some management features you can access if you wish though, including data prioritization for audio and video downloads, full-duplex mode and jumbo frame support.
- Read the full TrendNET TEG-S50g review
Best user reviews
Linksys is another big name when it comes to computer connectivity, and the Linksys LGS105 is a great choice if you’re looking for an Ethernet switch either for home or the office. The Linksys LGS1 line comes in five port, eight port, 16-port and 24 port variations so you can scale up according to the size of your needs, with the larger models suiting small businesses more.
The Linksys LGS105 has an impressive average score of 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 828 ratings. Positive reviews noted the excellent performance, even with long LAN cables. They also praised the easy setup and reliability. Negative reviews noted some inconsistencies in connections.
It offers Gigabit transfer speeds and it’s plug and play, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting it set up. Just set it up, plug in your Ethernet cables and away you go.
The Linksys LGS105 is also a good choice for budget conscious buyers, thanks both to it’s reasonable cost and because it meets the 802.3az standard for energy efficiency, which should keep running costs down. As part of this, the Linksys LGS105 features auto detection on its ports, meaning the it only draws power for ports when they're in use, keeping energy usage down.
Ethernet switch buying advice
What is an Ethernet Switch?
An Ethernet switch is a home networking device designed to connect several wired Ethernet devices to a network through one Ethernet connection to your router. Ethernet switches are useful if you have more wired devices than ports on your router, or if there are several wired devices in the same area that is far away from your router. Switches organize the information passing through the router to optimize transfer speeds. In this way, switches differ from older Ethernet hubs, which are similar devices that split a single Ethernet connection among multiple inputs and outputs. Instead of sorting the information and sending data only to the intended destinations, hubs repeat data to all locations besides the origin, which can slow down a network significantly.
Ethernet switches are also distinct from routers. Routers manage your home network. They connect to your modem and every other internet-using device in your home, either through wired or wireless connections. Routers generally have more than one Ethernet port, as well as network switching capabilities similar to those of Ethernet switches. Although a router with multiple ports could be used in place of a switch, an Ethernet switch cannot replace a router in your home networking setup, for various functional and security reasons. Your Ethernet switch should be connected to your router through a wired connection. The order of networking equipment from your ISP connection should be the modem, router, Ethernet switch (optional) and your device. Because they are wired, Ethernet switches are also different from wireless network switches and wireless access points.
Types of Ethernet Switches
Broadly speaking, all Ethernet switches fall under two categories: Modular or fixed. However, modular switches tend to be commercial grade devices for large companies. All of the Ethernet switches in our buying guide are fixed. However, within fixed switches there are three further subcategories, each of which with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Unmanaged switches are the simplest type of switches to use. They offer you the basic ability to expand your home network, but don’t offer any additional controls or security measures. These are best suited to the home environment, where they can expand the number of devices you can connect to the internet.
Managed switches are on the other end of the spectrum, offering the highest levels of security and customization among fixed switches. With a managed switch you can tailor the level of control and management that you want to have over devices on your network. Managed switches tend to suit business environments best, where multiple people are accessing the same network and handling sensitive information. These are typically not plug-and-play, requiring a more in-depth installation process.
Smart switches are the halfway house between unmanaged and managed switches. They offer a small degree of management and security features but are still easy to use and set-up. Smart switches typically offer things like port monitoring and virtual private networks and are ideal for small networks, such as in an office where they can often supplement a central managed switch. They’re also suitable for home use if you want a little more control over your home network.
What to look for in an Ethernet Switch
Unmanaged Ethernet switches are inexpensive. Many of the products we reviewed cost $25 or less and have five or eight ports. Many products in this price range support Gigabit speeds as well. For most people, an affordable, plug-and-play unmanaged switch is best. Managed switches are more complex and cost anywhere from $100 to over $1,000.
It is important to buy an Ethernet switch with the appropriate number of ports to fit your needs. We recommend choosing a product with enough ports to connect all your computers, consoles and other devices plus one to connect the switch to your router. Typically, switches are available with five, eight, 16, 24 or 48 ports.
Most people will be best served by a Gigabit Ethernet switch supporting 10/100/1000 Mbps switching speeds, with some switches able to handle twice that while in Full-Duplex mode. Fast Ethernet switches are ten times slower, by comparison, and still cost about the same. In your network, you want all your components to be at or above the speeds you intend to use, otherwise something like a switch could create limitations. Even if you don’t have anything in your network that can handle Gigabit speeds, purchasing a Gigabit Ethernet switch is a sound investment if you plan to upgrade any connected devices in the future.
Ethernet switch glossary
- Ports: These are the sockets that you plug your Ethernet cable into.
- Unmanaged: An Ethernet switch with no management options.
- Managed: An Ethernet switch that lets you control access and permissions for ports
- Smart: A hybrid between unmanaged an managed, offering some simple customization.
- Switching capacity: The total amount of data the switch can transfer at one time across all ports.
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