If you’re managing an office or a business that has a particularly busy local network, or your home setup is somewhat complex; you will need to make sure that you have excellent speeds.
And if the speed of the network is an integral part of the success of your business or the functioning of your home network; you will want to pick the best network switches.
Luckily, there are plenty of different network switches on the market today; regardless of your budget or the size of your network, you’re sure to find some kind of Gigabit switch to satisfy your needs.
With that in mind, we’ll take a look at what these devices are, as well as the most prominent Gigabit switches that we believe to be top of the range.
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Also, we’ll give you a rough guide on how to pick an excellent product in this niche yourself.
Why do you need a gigabit ethernet switch?
So, before we get into what the best Gigabit switch for a home network is; you may not be sure why you need such a device in the first place.
However, this is nonetheless a very essential piece of equipment for plenty of home networks.
It’s there to direct the bandwidth in your local network — supporting different data rates across different models, and bringing a larger level of reliability and stability to your connections.
Mostly, people use them to connect a wide variety of different hardware across a single household or office. For instance, you may need to connect servers, computers, game systems, and other devices like HDTVs and DVRs.
The most important aspect of these devices is that they tend to boost the speed of your connection’s data transfer capabilities; providing you with better response times, and in the case of games or HD video — better framerates.
To put it simply, a Gigabit switch will expand your network capacity by including additional ports and without losing any speed.
So, if you find that your router doesn’t contain enough connection ports for your needs or many of your hardware pieces aren’t near enough for the LAN cable to reach them; a Gigabit Ethernet switch might solve the issue for you.
Indeed, there are Gigabit switches that have a huge range in ports — you can find small ones with five ports and large ones that allow you to connect up to twenty-four different devices!
This can come in handy if you find that WiFi isn’t stable enough for some of your devices, and you want a hardline connection.
And with all of this in mind, we will now delve into our top picks when it comes to the best gigabit switch for home networks!
NETGEAR GS308 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch
This model represents a great pick for anyone looking for an affordable, yet effective Ethernet switch for their small office or home.
The top pick on our list is definitely one that was created by hardware veterans in this industry. And in the world of networking — there aren’t many brands more mature than good old Nethear; which is precisely what they’ve proven with this unmanaged switch!
Interestingly enough — this unit is the only Netgear switch model which was manufactured with a metal chassis; all of the others are plastic.
What we liked about NETGEAR GS308
When it comes to why this product should rank high on your list — there are multiple reasons. First of all, the installation is as easy as you’d want out of a simple, yet effective unmanaged switch.
Furthermore, the compact nature of the device makes it an excellent pick for tight spaces. It has four rubber feet at the bottom, sticky enough to allow for easy placement pretty much anywhere.
We’ve already mentioned its exceptional metal chassis; this makes the GS308 one of the sturdiest choices on our list — certainly one of the factors that made us choose it for the top spot.
That means it’s rugged enough to sustain prolonged office and home use. When it comes to the number of ports, it’s a pretty standard 8-port switch; though it’s worth noting that the RJ-45 ports have status indicators that are quite handy.
One of the other notable features on this list includes the fact that this is a fanless device; meaning that it will generate no noise regardless of where you place it and what you connect to it. For houses that have small children with sensitive sleep cycles, this is an ideal choice.
As for the performance of the device, we’re delighted to say that it’s more than admirable; the 16GBPS which the manufacturer advertises is more than visibly present in the working of this model.
Compared to the regular competition in its price range, the Netgear model manages to hold its own with ease. In most cases, you won’t be able to notice any signal disturbances or considerable lag that could interrupt your network’s functioning. 3
Of course, no device is perfect — and the same is true for this Netgear switch as well.
Noticeably, it lacks most of the advanced network management and monitoring features that some advanced users may want. However, this is pretty much to be expected from an unmanaged switch, so it’s nothing too bad.
How we chose the best gigabit switch
When you need to buy the best Gigabit switch for a home network, there are more than a few considerations to make.
And that’s why we’ve included a handy buyers’ guide for you below; detailing all of the factors that we’ve taken into account when choosing the very best model on the list.
First of all, the manufacturing quality of the device was a big thing for us; if you have enough different interconnected devices in your home to warrant buying a Gigabit switch, you’re likely looking at a relatively cluttered room or household.
With that in mind, you don’t want to risk easily breaking the switch if you trip over a cable or knock something over. That’s why the Netgear device was perfect for us, seeing as it has a sturdy metal chassis that provides a decent level of protection.
Apart from that, we’ve judged the ease of use for the different devices. As you’ll see below, the Netgear switch is not the most advanced one on our list by far — lacking some of the most basic features of managed switches.
However, that’s precisely its point — the average home user won’t want to deal with a ton of fiddling and settings when it comes to their Ethernet switch. At the end of the day, you may just want a simple plug-in functionality.
Also, the actual performance of the switch was, an important factor. We didn’t want to risk recommending a subpar model that couldn’t maintain a decent level of network stability, even though we’re talking about less intense home networks.
TP-Link 5-Port Gigabit PoE Switch
The switch contains five ports — they also have a non-blocking functioning, improving the response time across your entire network.
There are different reasons why you may want to buy a Gigabit switch for a home network; which is why we included more than one option on our list, apart from the top pick.
For instance, you may not purely be looking for more Ethernet ports. Perhaps you need a device that’s capable of boosting your local network speed?
If that’s the case, you don’t need to look for anything else but the good old TP-Link PoE switch.
What we liked about TP-Link 5-Port Gigabit Switch
Now, your first impression of this product may not be the best one; after all, it only comes with five ports, which you may not judge to be enough compared to most other models on this list.
However, the lack of more ports shouldn’t discourage you if the network speed is a bigger priority for you.
The manufacturers behind the product were mainly looking to improve the stability and speed of their consumers’ networks — which is something that they’ve handily managed to do. Also, this is a switch that manages to perform data transfer quietly — even during high traffic times.
There’s a handy PoE function that is supported via four different RJ-45 ports. If you need to power some low-energy devices, this is a handy way to transmit both power and data across a single cable.
As you can see, this Gigabit switch has more advanced features than our top pick — though that does mean that using it is more complicated as well.
For instance, there’s the Port Priority option; meaning that you can set the fourth port won’t receive power if the PoE power consumption passes a certain threshold.
Of course, this isn’t the biggest priority for homeowners who don’t tend to connect power-hungry devices; but if you’re looking to put this in a small office, it will work wonders.
Also, one of the other excellent features of this switch is that it isn’t that difficult to set up — meaning that its advanced features don’t hinder the casual user too much.
As you can see, it does require some fiddling — but it’s far from a dealbreaker.
When it comes to the downsides of this product there aren’t that many of them — but they’re still worth talking about.
First of all, there are some questionable clauses in the lifetime warranty agreement, rendering you unable to make use of it at all times.
Also, the power jack is placed clumsily away from the Ethernet ports — though that’s nitpicking an otherwise solid product.
TP-Link 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch
TP-Link is extremely helpful when it comes to the way they treat their customers; for these models, you get what amounts to a two-year warranty and around-the-clock technical support! And you get all of that without spending a fortune.
Naturally, functionalities of a Gigabit network switch are far from the only thing that people take into account while looking for the best Gigabit switch for home networks.
Apart from this, you may also be looking into something that’s reasonably priced — after all, you’re not looking to spend a fortune on a network switch.
And if that’s the case, then you’ll be more than happy with this 8-Port switch from TP-Link!
What we liked about TP-Link 8-Port Gigabit Switch
Now, when we talk about entry-level Gigabit switches for your home network — this is pretty much the lowest of low; in terms of prices, at least.
In terms of quality, you won’t find this 8-port device lacking in any meaningful way. And right from the get-go, it’s pretty clear that the TP-Link manufacturers have wanted to create something that will appeal to users without a huge budget at their disposal.
However, that’s not to say that this is the lowest-quality model you can find; far from it! We’ve chosen this among our top picks precisely because it manages to strike a perfect balance between build quality and affordability.
Of course, as you might imagine — this is an extremely basic model that appeals to the widest possible range of users. Its setup process is incredibly simple, with a quick plug-and-play mechanism.
There isn’t a lot of configuring and fiddling to perform if you just want to achieve basic connectivity; an important factor for most buyers.
Now, when it comes to the actual build of this model — you will find that it’s made of plastic, which means that it isn’t the sturdiest model we’ve ever seen.
That being said, we’re looking at some high-quality plastic, so it’s not as flimsy as the lowest rungs of the niche either. And it looks pretty sleek as well, contributing to the aesthetic of your household with a modern industrial design.
Plus, you get a couple of neat functionalities, like LED indicators on the front of the switch.
Also, you will find that this model is capable of eliminating any need for additional crossover cables between your devices; its handy auto-negotiation function is more than capable of handling that issue.
If you’re someone who hates dealing with a lot of wires, you’ll certainly be glad to hear this.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, this isn’t the most advanced nor the best Gigabit switch for your home network.
However, if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money on this particular piece of hardware, you could do a lot worse than this offering from TP-Link.
That being said — there’s no denying the fact that the plastic exterior of the product severely diminishes its durability.
We’re talking about a flimsy product, but only compared to the likes of the Netgear model from the top of the list.
NETGEAR GS308-100 PAS
There is an auto-MDI/MDIX assistance, allowing you to dispel any concerns regarding crossover cables. All in all, the reliability of this unit is one of its main selling points.
Our fourth and final choice on this list is also one that accommodates people with lower budgets — the GS308-100 PAS!
While that is true, you shouldn’t expect a truly low-quality product; we’ve found that Netgear has once more managed to surpass itself when it comes to affordable yet useful home hardware.
What we liked about NETGEAR GS308
Considering this, it’s worth mentioning the extremely versatile mounting options presented by this product; also, it’s incredibly easy to install, as you only need to plug in its various dependencies — there’s no complex configuration here.
Plus, if your cluttered desk is yearning for a piece of hardware that won’t take up too much space; this Netgear model may be just what you’re looking for.
It’s quite subtle, small, and completely silent. Also, for a model in this price range, you will be happy to see that it has a metal exterior frame which gives it an immense level of durability for a fairly small price.
As is the case with all of the best Gigabit switches for home networks, this model has LED indicators on the units to show you all of the port activity as well. Also, the speed of your connection is improved by the non-blocking architecture used for the switching.
After all, most people who buy Gigabit switches solely for home networks don’t possess a high level of technical acumen needed to handle more complex configurations.
For such individuals, this is the most affordable choice on the market. Many gamers also opt for this particular model, because it’s known to enable LAN connectivity without any lag quite easily; even for the most network-demanding games.
In the very beginning, we’ve discussed how the practical convenience of this model is a great selling point with this product.
And that’s something you’ll notice right away due to the dual mounting structure which you’ll find included; you can choose between wall mounting and a simple desktop setup.
Naturally, you can’t expect a perfect performance from a product at such a low price range; the affordability that you get with it does require slight compromises.
In the specific case of this Netgear model, you should know that it can experience small power spikes from time to time if you work it too hard.
Different Types of Gigabit Switches
As you might have noticed if you’ve already searched for the best Gigabit switch for a home network; there is a wide variety of these devices available on the market.
Among them, the most basic choice for expanding the connectivity and capability of your network is a fiber optic Gigabit model.
If you’re looking for something for medium to small environment sizes — this is likely the greatest option when it comes to network efficiency boosters.
As for the number of ports — this largely depends on your household. However, we’d say that the average home would benefit from an 8-port switch.
Most commonly, homeowners and owners of small businesses opt for unmanaged switches. This is simultaneously the most common kind of switch that you can buy.
One of the most important reasons why these are useful is because such switches rarely demand any configuration and setup from the end-user.
If you’re merely looking to increase the number of available Ethernet ports to your router — this is the kind of Gigabit switch you want.
Basically, their main purpose is to allow users to connect more devices, or to a router. You can use them for connecting multiple computers, or computers and laptops.
The fact that they don’t require almost any maintenance is the reason why they’re dubbed “unmanaged switches”.
When it comes to the best Gigabit switch for a home network, you’re not likely to require a managed network. However, that being said — there are plenty of advanced users who do want some more functionality out of their Gigabit switch.
With that in mind — managed switches could be just what you’re looking for. These are used in situations where you want to customize them in a way that will allow you to increase the speed of your network.
Furthermore, they’re also important for monitoring network conditions and metrics — mainly speed and traffic on the network. Generally, these switches are more expensive than unmanaged models, but they do give you a lot more flexibility when it comes to setting up your local network.
We can further differentiate between enterprise switches and smart switches within this category. Smart switches give you more liberty when it comes to customizing basic settings, but their features are more limited.
Enterprise switches allow you to completely alter your local network configuration — though, again, that’s not something that you’re likely to do in a home environment.
Which One To Choose?
Now that you’ve got enough information on both types of switches, you’re probably wondering — which one is the best for you? The answer depends on your requirements.
On the one hand, managed switches give you a lot of options when it comes to security options, which are far more limited on unmanaged switches. On the other hand, unmanaged switches are simply far cheaper than their more complex variations.
Managed switches can easily be used with larger networks, while undamaged ones are better for small businesses and personal households — making them the more obvious choice for a home network.
Things to consider before buying a gigabit switch
By now, you’ve probably realized that buying the best Gigabit switch for a home network is more than choosing a single one out of countless metal and plastic boxes.
In reality, especially if you want to set up a gaming center or a home office in your household — this will pretty much make or break the quality of your network experience.
Considering this, you need to keep a wide array of factors in mind as you pick the perfect device for your household!
First of all, we’ll take a look at one of the more practical aspects of your purchase — the warranty. Once you start choosing one among many different suppliers for this piece of hardware, you want to be certain that you’re getting a decent warranty.
Things can break down or malfunction — and in many cases, it’s not even your fault. So, there’s no reason to bear all of the financial risks in this case.
A good warranty means that the manufacturers care enough about their customers to provide options in case there are serious issues with the product.
Why do you need it?
Generally, before you buy any kind of hardware — it’s worth thinking about the specific of how and why you’ll be using it. And in that regard, Gigabit Ethernet switches are no different.
When you consider your use for these devices, there are generally two crucial factors that you need to keep in mind.
First of all, there’s the number of different ports your switch will have. In this case, more is always merrier; even if you don’t think that you need more than five ports now, you never know when you’ll add more devices to your home network and suddenly require a more potent switch.
That being said — more ports usually means more money that you have to pay for the device; so, you need to strike a careful middle ground here.
Our advice would be trying anticipate your needs for the number of ports in the near future; consider the number of additional Ethernet-compatible devices that you plan to buy in the next year or two, and choose an appropriate switch in terms of port complexity.
Secondly, there’s also the question of the practical setup in your home or your office. The fact that most other devices you have will be connected to it also means that you certainly want your Gigabit switch to be placed in a convenient location.
With that in mind, think about if you need a switch that has varied mount options or not.
Many people don’t realize just how crucial the right choice among Gigabit switches is while you’re buying one for your home network.
For instance — before reading this article, you probably don’t even know that there are tons of different brands which you can choose from while buying your Gigabit switch. And yet, that’s precisely the case, even if it seems to be nothing more than a simple box with ports.
Still, you’ll find that the cheapest models out there aren’t worth your time — which is why we haven’t reviewed them in the first place.
If your ports become dislodged after a quick while, or you find yourself losing connectivity — you’ll become frustrated pretty quickly, and start looking for a new Gigabit switch. You need to steer clear of any switches that will lead to wasted money and frustration.
Plastic or Metal?
Speaking of build quality among the best Gigabit switches on the market — you should also consider how the switch was manufactured in the first place.
In other words, is the outer casing made out of plastic or metal? Generally, the cheaper models will be plastic. And while there are plastic polymers that are durable enough, nothing can beat metal when it comes to sturdiness.
That’s why you should opt for a metal Gigabit switch whenever you can; you’ll be one step farther away from stuff like accidental drops or other types of damage.
Switches or hubs?
So far, we haven’t mentioned the other option when it comes to Ethernet devices for your household; of course, we’re talking about Ethernet hubs.
Now, to the average layman, Ethernet hubs and Ethernet switches may appear to be quite similar. And while their function in the household is somewhat similar, they’re not the same.
To put things in the simplest possible terms — whenever you can choose, you want to go with a switch instead of a hub. The latter is usually the “dumber” option; simply because hubs can’t tell where your data packets need to go.
As a result, they waste a lot of time and power transmitting every single piece of data to every device that you’ve connected to the hub. As you might have already guessed — this means that your network will have a poorer performance than with Gigabit switches.
So, why would anyone use these in the first place?
Well, switches used to be insanely expensive compared to hubs; so the latter was simply a more viable alternative for most people.
However, today you can find incredibly cheap Ethernet switches; some of which we’ve already talked about above. That’s why it doesn’t make much sense to go with a hub when you can buy a switch.
Now, for all this talk of Gigabit Ethernet switches; we haven’t discussed what it means to have a “gigabit” Ethernet switch. Generally, you’ll find that not all Ethernet switches support all kinds of data transfer speeds.
That’s why you want to get a switch that’s compatible with gigabit-fast data transfers. In other words, 1,000 Mbps.
And don’t worry — if your network speeds are lower (as most still are), you will have backward compatibility with lower standards for Ethernet connections.
Getting gigabit speed on your network
Okay, so you’ve decided to buy a Gigabit switch for your home network. Is this all that you have to do in order to have a Gigabit speed on your home network?
Unfortunately, no. Don’t worry, though — we’ll explain everything in more depth here.
The first thing that you need to understand is — getting gigabit speeds on any network requires every single part of the network to be capable of handling such speeds. In a network of devices, the entire network is only as fast as the slowest component. So, why is that?
Imagine a highway with only one lane in one direction. Even if you were driving the most expensive sports car that’s basically capable of flying; it doesn’t matter if you’re stuck behind an old, banged-up car that is practically crawling down the road.
Just like your car with one lane, there’s no “passing” on a network; so it adapts to the slowest part.
Considering that — what is an average network made up of? Well, you’ll find that there are about three components that you need to keep in mind here: the router, switch, or hub is one of them; depending on which piece of hardware you use here.
The second is the network cable that connects all of them into one unified network. And the third one is the network controller — or the various devices which you connect to the switch.
You need to be certain that every single one of these integral parts can handle data transfers of 1,000 Mbps in order for the entire network to reach that speed.
Frequently Asked Questions
As we’ve said above, your need for a gigabit switch depends on the network capabilities of other hardware you have; as well as your Internet connection.
Generally, if you find that your ISP can provide you with a true Gigabit speed and you have a couple of devices that you need to connect — getting a Gigabit switch is a good idea.
The short answer is — yes. Generally, an Ethernet connection is faster and far more stable than even the best WiFi. That’s why you should strive to connect your devices over Ethernet hardlines whenever you can.
Considering that, all that’s left is to choose between an Ethernet hub and an Ethernet switch. That isn’t that much of a hard choice, considering the fact that your network will work faster with a switch.
Remember, Ethernet hubs share all of the network bandwidth for every single port; meaning your speed is bound to be lower. Conversely, a switch will send every single data packet to the appropriate port and device — allowing for far better efficiency!
If your switch is fast enough to handle your Internet connection, that’s not going to be the case.
However, if you have an Internet connection that’s faster than your switch, the latter is certainly going to hold up the data transfer.
That’s why we’ve only recommended Gigabit switches on our list; you aren’t likely to need more than that.
To put it shortly — not necessarily, though it depends on what you need from your Gigabit ethernet switch. When it comes to the basic metrics that we use to judge the quality of these devices, no there is no difference; particularly in terms of latency or speed.
However, there are other factors that may lead you to choose a managed switch over its simpler cousin; mainly the need to handle the metrics of your network in more detail.
As we have already discussed, pretty much any Ethernet switch is going to outpace an Ethernet hub in terms of speed and stability.
That’s because switches “know” the specific port destinations for each data packet, allowing for the precise transmission and no retransmissions due to collision.
Conversely, hubs transfer data to every single port all of the time — making them the far less efficient option.
Of course, our last and pretty much million-dollar question is — do you need a Gigabit Internet connection? We should point out that, unless your ISP gives you some truly amazing prices; the answer is generally no.
Well, at least for the average home network — an office network that requires a larger degree of network performance is an entirely different story.
Plus, remember what we’ve talked about before; a real-time Gigabit speed will require all of the devices in the network to be capable of such speeds — which is not something you’ll easily achieve.
Naturally, if you do get a Gigabit connection — you will have an urgent need for a proper Gigabit switch.
As you can see, a Gigabit switch is definitely a great addition to any kind of home network; especially if you believe that your hub or router was the bottleneck preventing you from achieving excellent 1,000 Mbps speeds!
All you need to do is to choose the right model; which shouldn’t be hard if you carefully follow our guide.