Network switch review: Best Network Switches 2022: Add Ports, Speed to Your Network

What is a network switch (and do you need one)?

What is a network switch (and do you need one)? |
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August 12, 2022

4 min read

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There are many types of tech-based switches out there. Most popular is the Nintendo Switch console. But there are also keyboard switches, KVM switches, HDMI switches, USB switches and network switches. Of those switches, the network switch is worth considering for faster and more reliable home network speeds.

See the latest deals and discounts on network switches at Amazon

What is a network switch?

A network switch, also called an Ethernet switch, is an optional piece of networking equipment that’s built to handle wired traffic between Ethernet-compatible devices in your home. One of the main reasons these bits of networking tech exist is because of limited Ethernet ports on modern routers or modem-router. A network switch connects to a router via Ethernet and, once connected, effectively expands the number of Ethernet-compatible devices you can use on your home network.

Generally, routers and modem-routers tend to have four Ethernet ports to connect to devices in the home. That may sound like plenty, but it’s not a lot if you want to connect as many Ethernet devices in the home as possible with a wired network connection. This is where a network switch can help.

These days, there are plenty of Ethernet-compatible devices. Computers and laptops (the latter sometimes via a dock), gaming consoles (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch OLED), smart TVs, WiFi extenders, network-attached storage (NAS) drives and set-top boxes (like the Nvidia Shield TV Pro). Admittedly, WiFi is fast enough—not to mention more convenient—for most online tasks with download speeds comfortably up to 100Mbps.

But WiFi connections are prone to interference and speed degradation over distance, not to mention wireless black spots in the home that can make internet unbearably slow or increasingly unreliable. This is where a network switch can help.

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Do I need a network switch?

For most homes, a network switch is entirely optional. After all, a network switch adds another power-drawing device that needs to be monitored if there are network errors. But it also frees up a router or, more so, a modem-router to focus on other tasks. The challenge of routers and modem-routers is they’re handling WiFi, Ethernet and incoming/outgoing internet traffic.

By connecting a network switch, routers and modem-routers can free up resources for WiFi and internet traffic, rather than throwing Ethernet into the mix, too. The other perk of a network switch is it lets you connect as many Ethernet devices as there are network switch ports, which may mean fewer devices in the home competing for finite WiFi bandwidth.

Ethernet connections using Cat5e or newer cables (Cat6 Ethernet cables are great) can comfortably handle speeds beyond gigabit internet. While only Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and select Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) homes are currently eligible for NBN 250, NBN 500 and NBN 1000 plans, Ethernet has other perks. It’s faster and more reliable than WiFi, which leads to more consistent internet download/upload speeds and lower latency.

It’s also great for homes that like to transfer large files on their local network. This makes a network switch a great choice for speedy file transfers between two devices connected via Ethernet. It’s also a great option for streaming local video files via services like Plex in high resolutions (including 4K) to multiple devices.

Network switch troubleshooting

The main reason a network switch is a better fit for homes with more advanced network users is that it adds an extra device to manage in the connectivity chain. For instance, most NBN internet connections use an NBN connection box that connects to a router. So that’s already two devices to manage. A network switch adds a third device, which may cause issues that need to be troubleshot. If you do buy a network switch, when troubleshooting, power down all networking devices, then power them back on in this order: modem or modem/router, router, then switch.

Which network switch is best for me?

For home use, you want an unmanaged network switch. While managed network switches allow for greater device control, they’re intended for business use. An unmanaged switch just lets you plug and play: connect an Ethernet cable between a router-connected network switch and device, and then you’re good to go.

The next question then is whether to opt for a regular switch or power-over-Ethernet (PoE) network switch. A PoE network switch adds versatility by allowing for network data and power to travel over an Ethernet cable, which is useful for VoIP phones, wireless access points and surveillance cameras. If you do have an NBN service with a VoIP phone, we’d recommend connecting the VoIP-compatible handset directly to your NBN connection box or modem-router.

Ultimately, a PoE Ethernet switch is optional. The main question for any network switch owner is how many ports you want. Count the number of Ethernet-compatible devices in your home and buy a network switch that has at least that many ports (though more ports means you can connect more devices in the future).

Finally, remember that you’ll need Cat5e or faster Ethernet cables to pair with all of your devices. Estimate the distance between the intended network switch placement spot and the devices you want to connect via Ethernet. Cables can be trip hazards, so allow extra breathing space to run them in a way that won’t be directly underfoot, or speak with an electrician about installing tucked-away Ethernet in your home. To save money, source Ethernet cables from Amazon or trusted eBay sellers.

Get your network switch on sale at Amazon

Network switch FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about network switches in Australia.

A network switch is used to add more wired Ethernet connection ports to your home network. An Ethernet switch also helps with freeing up system resources on a router or modem-router by handling Ethernet network traffic.

A modem connects to a router to share the internet around the home via WiFi and Ethernet. Routers typically only have four Ethernet ports for devices, though, so a network switch connects to a router to add more Ethernet ports. You need a router to share internet around your home, but a network switch is reliant on a router for Ethernet-connected devices to have internet connectivity.

For most homes, a network switch will be surplus to requirements. But for homes with lots of Ethernet-compatible devices, a network switch is a great tool for faster and more reliable network speeds.

Written by

Nathan Lawrence

Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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Best Ethernet Hubs & Switches in 2022

Best Picks

An Ethernet hub (also known as a switch or splitter) is an inexpensive way to connect more devices to your network. Here are the models to buy.

By Jim Martin

Executive Editor, Tech Advisor JAN 20, 2022 12:53 am GMT

If your router doesn’t have enough ports to connect all your set-top boxes, smart home hubs, games consoles and other devices, an Ethernet hub is the answer. 

They’re inexpensive little boxes which work much like a multi-socket mains extension lead that allows you to connect several electrical devices to a single wall socket.

They don’t require any configuration or technical know-how: you just plug them in and they work. (That’s why they’re known as ‘unmanaged’ hubs, in case you’re interested.)

Using Ethernet cables instead of Wi-Fi, even if you device has the choice of both, offers quite a few advantages. For example, gamers might prefer the wired option for their PC, laptop or games console to reduce lag when playing online games. Wi-Fi is good, but if you want the best speeds and reliability, Ethernet is the way to go.

Fortunately, Ethernet hubs are are cheap and easy way to add more ports to your router. And you could also plug one into a mesh Wi-Fi unit to do the same thing.

These little boxes (which are interchangeably called hubs, switched or splitters) attach to a LAN port on your router. Just remember that doing this uses up a port on the hub, so you end up with either four or seven extra ports, not five or eight.

When you connect an Xbox, TV, PC and any other wired network device to the hub it will work as if it were connected directly to your router.

If you need to put the switch in a different room to your router then you could connect the two with a pair of
powerline adapters – it will make the connection slower, but it will at least make it possible without running a long network cable through your home.

There isn’t a great deal of variation between unmanaged switches from different brands. But there are subtle differences which can make one more attractive than another, whether it’s the ability to wall-mount it, the placement of the power connector, the orientation of the ports or even the visibility of the LEDs.

Price and warranty also come into it, as does construction and aesthetics, although the latter won’t be a high priority for many.

One point you will need to be careful of: speed. The models here are all Gigabit and full-duplex which means they can operate at 1000Mbps in both directions (i.e. sending and receiving) simultaneously.

If you see a cheaper option, it’s likely to be a 10/100Mbps version. This means the ports are limited to 100Mbps in each direction, and so are ten times slower. It’s never worth saving a few pounds or dollars for such a big compromise. Even if all the devices you need to connect are 10/100 right now, you’ll be glad you went for a Gigabit switch when you acquire a device that can take advantage of those Gigabit speeds.

None of these switches come with network cables, but we’ve taken the hassle out of choosing which ones to buy in our separate guide to the
best Ethernet cables. 


TP-Link TL-SG1008D – Best Overall


  • Affordable
  • Well designed


  • Shorter warranty than some

Like most manufacturers, TP-Link offers both metal- and plastic bodied switches. This plastic one is by far the most popular and it’s easy to see why.

It’s better looking, with a much less business-like design. The ports are at the back, but activity lights are at the front. So the cables can be routed away more neatly rather than emerging from the front of the device.

Unlike others here, the power socket is on the back, not the sides, again making for neater cable management.

If you need to, the SG1008D can be wall mounted and, again, the TP-Link is better designed than some as the release tabs for the cables remain accessible and not against the wall.

Don’t need eight ports? There’s a 5-port version called the
SG1005D: it’s £12. 99 / US$16.99 / AU$27.50 on Amazon. Both have a three-year warranty.

2. Zyxel GS-108BV3 – Most versatile


  • Sturdy metal body
  • QoS on two ports


  • Release tabs face mounting surface

Zyxel’s hub is slightly unusual in that it has a metal body, but unlike most rivals it keeps the ports and power connector at the rear. It’s not bad looking, either, with its silver finish and slanted grille slots on the sides.

Another reason it’s unusual is because it offers QoS on specific ports. Ports seven and eight are for high-priority devices – such as media streamers or anything that relies on low latencies – and six and five are marked for medium-priority devices. The other four are for all other devices – and the connection to your router.

There are mounts on the underneath for wall mounting – or hanging under a desk – but bear in mind that the network ports face the wall (or desk) and so it can be tricky to release the tabs if you need to remove a cable from a socket.

There are plastic versions available, and these mirror the 5- and 8-port metal versions in design and also with their low, medium and high-priority ports. Since they’re no cheaper, it makes sense to buy the metal version, and it’s great to see a five-year warranty.

3. Netgear GS308 – Easy to Hide


  • Metal body
  • Wall mountable


  • Cables both front and rear

Netgear is another well-known networking brand which makes both plastic and metal-bodied Ethernet splitters for home use.

We’ve picked the metal version here because the GS908 – the plastic one – isn’t widely available and it tends to be considerably more expensive when you can find it. (Also, its cable management isn’t brilliant – the grooves aren’t wide enough to accommodate standard round network cable. )

The GS308, like other metal switches, has its ports on the front along with status LEDs, so isn’t going to look great if it’s on show in your living space. As the power cable plugs into the rear, you can’t simply turn it round: there will still be a cable emerging.

Tucked inside – or behind – a TV cabinet, it’s not an issue and, as you’d expect, it’s fanless for silent operation. Finally, it’s wall mountable if you need to hang it up.

4. Trendnet Unmanaged Gigabit Switch – Best Budget Option


  • Affordable


  • Side-mounted power socket

Trendnet’s unmanaged switch comes in five- and eight-port versions, but both seem to go out of stock regularly. There are both plastic- and metal-bodied versions, with prices varying accordingly.

Both are well suited to those on a budget. Remember that as with all hubs, one port will be used to connect it to your router, so there are four usable ports on five-port hubs and seven on eight-port hubs.

Note the side-mounted power connector – this can be awkward in certain situations.

Like the others here, it offers silent operation, low power consumption and plug-and-play setup.

Author: Jim Martin, Executive Editor

Jim has been testing and reviewing products for over 20 years. His main beats include VPN services and antivirus. He also covers smart home tech, mesh Wi-Fi and electric bikes.

Choosing a switch: an overview of the Zyxel

  • assortment
    ([email protected])

    Published: 18 February 2020

    Do you need to connect computers in the office to a wired Internet or connect them to a single local area network? The switch will cope with both tasks — in this article we will consider what parameters you need to pay attention to when buying it.


    Without going into technical details, the switch is the link to which all computers that need to be networked are connected, as well as a LAN cable with the Internet connected if the equipment needs Internet access.

    To connect both the Internet cable and cables from computers, RJ-45 ports are used — the most standard and common. However, some models have other connectors. One of these additional ports is RJ-45+SFP, the so-called dual-purpose combo port. Either RJ-45 or SFP can be connected to this port (when one connector from a pair is used, the second one is blocked automatically). Also, SFP and its varieties can be independent ports without being combined into a combined pair.

    Three parameters are important when choosing a switch:

    • Number of ports — the number of ports should be equal to the number of devices in your office plus a few spare ports (useful if a new computer appears in the office).
    • Switching speed — the importance of this parameter depends on the network usage scenario. Be sure to pay attention to the switching speed if the work of your office means that all computers will simultaneously transfer large amounts of data. nine0004
    • MAC address table is a setting relevant for large networks. If there are too many devices, then the switch will spend time rewriting MAC addresses, which will slow it down.

    Some models support PoE technology, which means that not only the Internet can be connected from such a switch, but also electricity through a regular Ethernet cable, which is relevant, for example, for IP cameras.

    Switches are also divided into unmanaged, configurable and managed — let’s consider this classification in more detail.

    Unmanaged switches

    Such a switch works in automatic mode and does not have manual control tools. This can be a disadvantage when working with large networks, so an unmanaged switch is the best solution for a home network or a small office.

    5 ports

    With five ports, there are two switches in the catalog. The first model is ZyXEL ES-105A v3 with 1 Gb/s switching speed and 1K MAC address table; second — ZyXEL GS-105SV2 with 10 Gb/s switching speed and 2K MAC address table.

    8 ports

    Models ZyXEL ES-108A v3 and ZyXEL ES1100-8P are equipped with eight ports with a switching speed of 1.6 Gb / s and a 1K MAC address table. The second switch also optionally supports PoE technology and has 4 RJ-45 ports with PoE support.

    Also among the eight-port unmanaged switches there is a more advanced model — this is ZyXEL GS-108SV2 with 16 Gb/s switching speed and 8K MAC address table.

    16 ports

    Only one model of unmanaged switches, ZyXEL GS1100-16 , is equipped with sixteen ports. It operates with a switching speed of 32 Gb/s and an 8K MAC address table.

    24 ports

    The catalog contains two unmanaged switches with the maximum number of connectors. These are ZyXEL GS1100-24E and ZyXEL GS1100-24 with switching speeds of 48 Gb/s and 52 Gb/s, respectively. The MAC address table in both models is 8K. The second switch has 24 1 Gb/s RJ-45 ports and two 1 Gb/s SFP slots.

    Custom switches

    Such switches support both automatic and manual operation. It is an office solution that is a compromise between unmanaged and managed devices.

    5 ports

    The minimum number of ports for this company’s configurable switches. A total of five ports installed in model ZyXEL GS1350-6HP . It operates at 12 Gb/s switching speed and 8K MAC address table, and it is equipped with one 1 Gb/s SFP slot. This model supports PoE technology — all five ports have a total power of 60 watts.

    8 ports

    ZyXEL GS1900-8 and ZyXEL GS1900-8HP are equipped with eight ports. Both models operate at 16 Gb/s switching speed and 8K MAC address table. The second switch supports PoE technology and has 8 RJ-45 ports with PoE support.

    24 ports

    The base models with 24 ports are ZyXEL GS1900-24 and ZyXEL GS1900-24HP with 52 Gb/s switching speed, MAC address table in both models is 8K. The second switch additionally supports PoE technology. Both switches are additionally equipped with two 1 Gb/s SFP slots.

    More advanced models are also presented in the catalog: ZyXEL GS1920-24HPv2 and ZyXEL XGS1930-28HP with switching speeds of 56 Gb / s and 128 Gb / s, respectively. Except for the switching speed, they are quite similar switches: the MAC address table in both models is 16K, both switches support PoE technology with a total power of 375W. The first model has four dual-purpose 1 Gb/s SFP/RJ-45 ports, the second one has separate 10 Gb/s SFP+ ports.

    48 ports

    The two 48-port models listed in the catalog have the same switching speed of 100 Gb/s. Model ZyXEL GS1900-48 is equipped with 8K MAC address table and two 1Gb/s SFP slots. The more advanced ZyXEL GS1920-48v2 switch has a 16K MAC address table, as well as 44 1Gb/s RJ-45 ports, four dual-purpose 1Gb/s SFP/RJ-45 ports, and two 1Gb/s SFP slots.

    Managed switches

    Flexible switches designed to work with large networks. They support manual and automatic control modes, as well as many additional configuration tools built into them.

    8 ports

    There is one 8-port Managed Switch model in the catalog, ZyXEL MGS-3712 . It operates at a switching speed of 24 Gb/s, the MAC address table is 16K, and the switch is equipped with four dual-purpose 1 Gb/s SFP/RJ-45 ports.

    24 ports

    All other models are equipped with 24 ports. They operate at 56 Gb/s switching speed and 16K MAC address table and differ in available ports:

    ZyXEL MGS3520-28 and ZyXEL GS2210-24 have four dual-purpose 1 Gb/s SFP/RJ-45 ports;

    The ZyXEL GS2210-24HP also has four dual-purpose 1 Gb/s SFP/RJ-45 ports. This model also supports PoE technology and has 24 RJ-45 ports with PoE support;

    The ZyXEL GS3700-24 is optionally equipped with four 1 Gb/s SFP slots.

    Zyxel designs network equipment for a variety of applications: for example, they have a line of video surveillance switches