Which Ethernet switch is best? 

If you’re running several devices with wired Ethernet connections, it’s useful to have a switch. Having an Ethernet switch lets users maintain and modify a home internet network using multiple devices that use a LAN or Ethernet cable to connect to the internet. They can also offer performance benefits such as faster speeds and better overall traffic management.

The TrendNet Ethernet Switch offers five Ethernet ports, operation lights and 10 Gbps on file transfers.

What to know before you buy an Ethernet switch

Needs

Ethernet switches are used to connect to devices using a wired local area network, also called LAN and Ethernet cables. If you want a basic switch for optimizing traffic flow across devices, just about any switch will do, so long as it has the number of ports you want. But specific Ethernet switches may work better than others, depending on your data needs. Some come with upgrade features, including added security, faster speeds or additional power.

Unmanaged vs. managed

The most common type of Ethernet switch is an unmanaged switch. These offer basic traffic flow maintenance and don’t require users to set up parameters. While basic Ethernet switches work for most households, you can also buy upgraded or managed switches for adding a virtual LAN network or Quality of Service controls for managing data bottlenecks. These may be more useful for those using a switch in commercial or professional settings.

Power over Ethernet

Certain devices, such as security cameras, require power and can use the Ethernet cable to get it, rather than a separate power cable or a battery. This is where Power over Ethernet systems come into play. Another upgrade feature found on high-end switches, PoE lets you power devices and connect to the internet through the Ethernet cable. Other devices that often work with PoE switches include printers and media streaming devices.

What to look for in a quality Ethernet switch

Speed

The increased speed across devices offered by an Ethernet switch is the primary selling point for most users. Ethernet switches can support cumulative data speeds across devices of either 10, 100 or 1,000 Mbps, which equals 1 Gbps. Today’s vast majority of switches offer what they call “Gigabit” speeds, or speeds up to 1 Gbps. These can still work with lower-speed devices, and they offer faster speeds from one device to the next than if you just use a router.

Ports

The number of ports on an Ethernet switch determines how many wired connections you can use it to make. While most include around five Ethernet ports, you can also find some with just a few ports, or those with nine or more. Make sure any switch you choose has enough ports to support all the devices you want to use simultaneously.

Lights

While they don’t affect functionality on an Ethernet switch, many buyers prefer those with lights that indicate when certain LAN ports are operational, connected or working at full speed. Those without lights can be significantly more confusing to set up, making it harder to know when devices are active — which can be a total pain when troubleshooting issues.

How much you can expect to spend on an Ethernet switch

A cheap Ethernet switch costs as little as $10. However, most midrange switches run $15-$40, while high-end Ethernet switches for use in professional settings cost $50-$500.

Ethernet switch FAQ

Are Ethernet switches secure?

A. On their own, they aren’t particularly secure. However, there are steps you can take to lock your network down from outsiders. These include creating access passwords and implementing a Secure Shell or other encrypting protocols.

Can Ethernet switches be daisy-chained?

A. Yes, so long as you have fewer than three switches daisy-chained, though it isn’t usually recommended. Some do this to create multiple networks alongside each other, using the same switches. However, it’s almost always best to run Ethernet cables separately, using separate switch chains.

What’s the best Ethernet switch to buy?

Top Ethernet switch

TrendNet Five-Port Unmanaged Gigabit Desktop Ethernet Switch

TrendNet Five-Port Unmanaged Gigabit Desktop Ethernet Switch

What you need to know: This powerful five-port Ethernet switch comes at a fair price and offers up to 10 Gbps of data traffic across devices.

What you’ll love: This switch features GreenNet power consumption-reducing hardware and a standby mode for when devices aren’t in use. It also includes lights for when activity is detected, and it has a fan-less design for minimal noise.

What you should consider: Some buyers didn’t find this switch durable.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Ethernet switch for the money

Tenda Five-Port Unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet Switch

Tenda Five-Port Unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet Switch

What you need to know: This is a simple, affordable switch with activity lights and all the basics you need to distribute data speeds across multiple devices.

What you’ll love: This unmanaged switch works great for household use, offering up to 1,000 Mbps of data transfer speeds. You can also buy this brand in eight- and nine-port varieties.

What you should consider: This switch stopped working after a short period of use for a few buyers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

TP-Link TL-SG105 Five-Port Unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet Switch

TP-Link TL-SG105 Five-Port Unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet Switch

What you need to know: This five-port gigabit switch is powerful and mountable, offering upgrade functionality at a reasonable price.

What you’ll love: This switch lets users choose between VLAN and Quality of Service functions. It also has shielded ports, automatic traffic optimization and a fan-less design for low noise levels while active.

What you should consider: Some buyers had trouble keeping the power cable in.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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