Best Ethernet switches

Most internet-connected devices use Wi-Fi but there are still plenty which rely on a wired connection whether it’s powerline adapters, a Philips Hue bridge, a hub for your smart thermostat or a set-top box for your TV.

Often, there simply aren’t enough Ethernet ports on a router for all the devices that need to connect to it. And while you might be able to use Wi-Fi for many gadgets, sometimes it’s preferable to use a network cable for the best performance.

For example, gamers will prefer to use an Ethernet cable for their PC, laptop or games console for any online gaming to reduce lag, while a NAS drive will only really offer the fastest speeds for file transfers and streaming video around your home if you use a cable instead of Wi-Fi.

Fortunately, it’s cheap and easy to add more ports to your router with an Ethernet switch.

They’re inexpensive little boxes which work much like a mains extension lead that provides multiple power sockets from just one wall socket.

You connect one of these boxes (which are interchangeably called hubs, switched or splitters) to a single port on your router and add either four or seven extra ports. Not five or eight because, don’t forget, one of those will be used to join the box to your router.

Then, you can hook up your Xbox, TV, PC and any other wired network device and 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.

Because these are ‘unmanaged’ it means they are plug-and-play. There’s no configuration necessary.

This means that there’s not a great deal of difference between unmanaged switches from different brands. But there are subtle differences which can make one more attractive than another, whether it’s 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 needs those Gigabit speeds.

None of these switches come with network cables, but we’ve taken the hassle out of choosing them: these are the best Ethernet cables

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1. TP-Link TL-SG1008D

TP-Link TL-SG1008D 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch

2. Zyxel GS-108BV3

Zyxel GS-108BV3 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch

3. Netgear GS308

Netgear GS308 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch

4. D-Link GO-SW-8G/B

D-Link GO-SW-8G/B 8-Port Gigabit Switch

5. Trendnet TEG-S5g

Trendnet 5-port Unmanaged Gigabit Switch TEG-S5G


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