All network switches are not the same, with the transmission speed being the deciding factor. From traditional ethernet switches came the fast ethernet switch, an updated version that enhanced the speed to 100 Megabits per second or 1 Gbps from 100 Mbps. With advancements and increased demands came the need for higher speeds and better connectivity, and this is what pushed the development of the best gigabit switch in 2021.
A gigabit switch is capable of operating at speeds of 1 Gbps or 1000 Mbps, 10 times faster as compared to its predecessor. Gigabit ethernet switches are also backward compatible, supporting 10/100 legacy standards. These switches have RJ45 ports, SFP, and SFP+ ports. Coupled with a variety of features, gigabit switches are the ideal choice for high-speed and high-availability data centers. So what is the best gigabit switch in 2021? What should you consider while looking for one? Let’s try to dig in this gigabit switch review and find the answers to all that.
List of The Best Gigabit Switch in 2021
How To Pick The Best Gigabit Switch of 2021
Knowing the best gigabit switches in the market is just half the battle. You must also ensure that you consider all important factors before buying one- which are exactly what we will go over ahead.
Number of devices to be connected
This one is obvious- depending on how many devices you plan to connect to the switch, you need a gigabit ethernet switch with a sufficient number of ports. In case you do not have requirements for many ports now, it would still be wise to get one with a few extra ports to leave room for growth.
SFP Port Availability
Are you planning to connect multiple switches? If yes, you need to consider getting one with SFP uplink port or Mini-GBIC ports. These are the connection points that allow switching to other switches through optic fibers.
PoE or Power over Ethernet
PoE or Power over Ethernet is how connected devices are powered through ethernet cables. These devices include VoIP phones, surveillance cameras, and wireless access points. If you plan to use any of these, getting a switch that provides PoE with suitable power may make things easier for you.
Managed v/s Unmanaged Switch
If you will need to control network traffic, then a managed switch is what you need. This includes applications like access control between various departments over LAN, running multiple applications that require high-bandwidth at once, prioritizing certain data on LAN, implementation of VoIP and similar advanced services, etc.
Warranty and After-Sales Service
Since a lot depends on the gigabit switch with multiple devices connected to it, especially in an enterprise, you will want a product that lasts for the maximum possible time with optimum performance. This is why choosing one with a few year’s warranties and some form of quick-replacement guarantee (many offer next-business-day delivery) can save you a lot of trouble. Having a manufacturer that provides 24×7 technical support is another benefit that can make things a lot easier for you.
Check out this thorough review of the best gigabit switch in 2021 below.
This 8-port gigabit switch from TP-Link comes with a plug and play setup, minimizing the need for any software installation or additional configuration. One of the best features of this is the power management feature which adjusts consumption as per the cable length and link status. It uses IEEE 802.3x flow standards for reliable transfers.
With DSCP QoS and 802.1p, a gigabit switch is an ideal option for traffic that is highly sensitive to latency like audio and video. It comes with 8 RJ45 ports and backward compatibility as per 10/100 standards. Lifetime warranty along with 24 x 7 technical support is included with this 8-port gigabit switch from TP-Link.
If you are looking for the best gigabit ethernet switch for a larger project or commercial applications, this 52-port gigabit switch from Netgear is one worth considering. It has 48 PoE (Power over Ethernet) switches along with 4 1G SFPs. An advanced GUI for configuration and management makes it easy to set up as well as manage this ethernet switch. It is also compliant with IEEE 802.3az standards for Energy Efficient Ethernet mode operation.
You get a 1-year subscription of Netgear Insight, which is a cloud-based app/portal for network management. A limited hardware warranty is included along with 24/7 chat-support from Netgear.
This 28-port gigabit switch from Netgear comes with 24 ethernet ports along with 4 Gigabit RJ45 and SFP combination ports. It supports both static and L2 routing. D-Link’s Network Assistant tool allows for easier management down to the individual port. The initial setup is also made easy through this utility.
The D-Link Green technology allows for conserving power without any decline in functionality or performance. Several safeguard features are included including traffic screening, ARP spoofing, etc. to provide a more secure network. There is a limited lifelong warranty along with the advanced replacement on the next-business-day.
This gigabit ethernet switch has 24 auto-sensing ports, which can recognize the current network speed and adjust accordingly. It offers plug and play connection to simplify setup, and includes QoS or Quality of Service traffic prioritization. 12 out of the 24 ports support Power over Ethernet (PoE) with a budget of 120W.
It has a compact form-factor and can be mounted in a rack for building an enterprise setup. The fanless operation provides complete silence while operating. You get a lifetime warranty with the entire product, except the power apply and fan that is only covered for 2-years.
This 24-port gigabit ethernet switch from Mikrotik comes with 2 SFP+ ports along with support for 1.25GB and 10Gb SFP+ modules. This is a ‘Cloud-Smart’ switch equipped with capabilities for managing port forwarding, VLAN configuration, adjustment of IP header, and MAC field among others.
The gigabit switch supports PoE in but not PoE out. Some initial setup is required to get this switch running since it comes with a DHCP set up out of the box. The firmware also requires an upgrade. There is a 1-year warranty against any manufacturing defects in this 24-port gigabit switch.
Frequently Asked Questions Of The Best Gigabit Switch
- How easy is it to set up a gigabit ethernet switch?
In the case of an unmanaged gigabit ethernet switch, set up is simple as most of these are plug-and-play, able to run without any configuration. However, managed switches offer advanced functionalities and may require some configuration before they can be used.
- Can a gigabit ethernet switch improve my internet speed?
The speed offered by the ISP is the major factor that decides how fast your internet will be. However, if you have high-speed internet but a switch that offers a lower rate than the maximum speed, then upgrading to a gigabit ethernet switch may improve performance.
- Is an ethernet hub and switch the same thing?
While both of these are network devices that can be used to connect multiple devices on a network, there are differences. A switch is used for connecting different devices in a single LAN, while a hub combines various devices to function as a single element.
A switch offers higher performance as it is smarter in determining the target where data is to be forwarded, unlike a hub that sends data to all connected devices thus decreasing performance due to the shared bandwidth.
The Main Functions of The Gigabit Ethernet Switches
As mentioned above, Ethernet switch is a network device based on Ethernet to realize data transmission and exchange. So what are its main functions?
1. Network interface can be provided to realize interconnection: In network system, Ethernet switch is mainly used to provide network interface for network equipment so as to realize interconnection between devices.
2. Extensible network interface: Generally, Ethernet switches have at most dozens of ports. When you have large network demands, Ethernet switches can be stacked to meet network demands.
3. Scalable network scope: Ethernet switches connected to the network equipment depend on the transmission medium. According to the network technology used in Ethernet switches, the transmission distance of each transmission medium is different and limited. When the network coverage area is larger, Ethernet exchange of opportunity for relay, extending transmission distance, increase network range.
4. Ethernet switch learning function: Ethernet switches can understand the MAC address of each port connected device and map the MAC address to the corresponding port in the MAC address table cached by the switch.
5. Forwarding/filtering for Ethernet switches: When the destination address of a data frame is mapped in the MAC address table, it is forwarded to the port of connection.
6. De-loop function of Ethernet switches: When an Ethernet switch includes a redundant loop, it can avoid the loop by spanning tree protocol and allow for an alternate path.
Get Further Understanding Of Gigabit Ethernet Switch Port Types
Ethernet switches also have different port types due to their varying speeds and functions. The following is a brief introduction to some common Ethernet switch port types in terms of transmission rate, function, and network architecture to help you better understand their differences and prepare for future network deployments.
Different Port Types Of Gigabit Ethernet Switches According To Transmission Rates
The transmission rate is a critical factor in determining the port type of Ethernet switches, which currently have transmission rates of 1G/10G/25G/40G/100G or higher. Here are the main port types for these Ethernet switches at different transmission rates.
Currently, ports on 1000base-T Ethernet switches are RJ45, which can be used in data centers for server access, LAN, and desktop switch uplink or gigabit to desktop bandwidth applications. Standard twisted-pair wires are usually used when two 1000base-T Ethernet switches are connected, such as Cat 5, Cat5e, Cat 6, and Cat 6e network jumpers.
SFP port (miniature GBIC port) is a kind of small hot plug interface. In Ethernet, the SFP port rate is 1Gbit/s, and in fiber channel systems, the SFP port rate is up to 4Gbit/s. When the SFP optical module is inserted on the Gigabit switch with SFP port and used with different cables (fiber jumper or copper cable), the short and long distance transmission can be realized on the fiber and the short distance transmission on the copper cable. For example, the maximum transmission distance is 160 km when SFP1G-ZXC-55 optical module is connected with LC duplex fiber optic jumper, and the maximum transmission distance is 100 meters when SDF-GB-GE-T optical module (i.e. electrical port module) is connected with Cat 5 network cables.
SFP + port
The SFP+ port (small pluggable interface) is an upgraded version of the SFP port and can support up to 10Gbps transfer rates. SFP+ port has backward compatibility, which means SFP optical modules can be supported on the SFP+ port, but the link transmission rate can be reduced to 1Gbps. It should be noted that SFP+ optical module cannot be supported on the SFP port, because the rate of SFP+ optical module cannot be adjusted to 1Gbps.
The SFP28 port is an upgraded version of the SFP+, and both have the same shape and size, but the SFP28 can deliver 25Gb/s over a single channel. SFP28 provides a new path for data center network upgrade — 10G-25g-100g network upgrade path. Compared with the earlier 10G-40g-100g network upgrade path, 10G-25g-100g is a more economical and efficient solution, which can meet the increasing demand for bandwidth of next-generation data center network.
QSFP + port
The QSFP+ port is based on the QSFP (four-channel small pluggable interface), which has a 4x10G channel and is suitable for 40G Ethernet. In other words, QSFP+ port is equivalent to 40Gbps transmission through four channels SFP+ interface.
The QSFP28 port is designed specifically for 100G applications with four high-speed differential signal channels that support data transfer rates from 25Gbps to 40Gbps, meet 100Gbps (4x25Gbps) Ethernet and 100Gbps 4X InfiniBand enhanced Data rate (EDR) requirements.
Different Port Types Of Gigabit Ethernet Switches According To Their Functions
As with the above transfer rates, function and application are also important factors affecting the port types of Ethernet switches, because the same port can have different functions and multiple uses. Ports of this category can be more complex, but a deeper understanding of them can help you better choose an Ethernet switch.
Combo port refers to the two Ethernet ports on the switch panel, namely, the electrical port (RJ45 port) and the optical port (SFP port). Simply put, a combo port is simply a composite port that supports two different physical ports, sharing the same exchange structure and port number. But these two different physical ports cannot be used at the same time, which means that if you are using the SFP port, the corresponding RJ45 port is automatically disabled, and vice versa. In general, the biggest advantage of Combo port is that it provides different types of connections without occupying unused swap structures, thus providing the user with powerful functionality and flexibility to configure the switch according to specific network application requirements.
Stacked port is a special functional port of Ethernet switches, which is mainly used to stack connection with Ethernet switches of the same brand, model and software version. Among them, multiple stacked switches can be regarded as one switch, and users can manage all switches within the stack through the main switch inside the stack. At the same time, the port capacity after stacking is the sum of all the stacked switch ports. In addition, a stacked port can be an uplink port in an Ethernet switch or a stack-specific port. For example, the FS S3900 series of stackable switches use their uplink ports to stack, which is more economical and flexible, making it an ideal choice for long distance transmission.
Ethernet power port
Ethernet power supply ports (PoE ports) can be used to transmit data and power simultaneously via twisted-pair wires. Ethernet power supply ports follow different standards and provide different power sources. Currently, ports of Ethernet switches (PoE switches) compliant with IEEE 802.3AF can provide up to 15.4W of power. Ethernet switches compliant with the IEEE 802.3AT standard (PoE+ switches) can provide up to 30W of power on their ports. However, with the increase of distance, the power attenuation problem will occur. Therefore, the minimum power available on power supply equipment of PoE switches is 12.9W. The minimum power available on power supply equipment for PoE+ switches is 25.5W.
Different Port Types Of Gigabit Ethernet Switch According To Network Architectures
The traditional network architecture (i.e., three-layer network architecture) usually consists of core layer, convergence layer and access layer. Accordingly, the ports of Ethernet switches can be divided in this way.
The access port is mainly used to connect desktop computers, laptops, printers and other devices. Only the access link can be connected. Typically, access ports can only belong to one VLAN (that is, access ports can only be members of that particular VLAN) and transmit data frames only for that VLAN, and any data frames not classified as that VLAN will be discarded. Among them, the interface port will only send and receive data frames in the native format, and will not be VLAN tagged, that is, the data frames will not carry any VLAN tags.
A trunk port refers to a connection port between switches or between switch and router or server, which can be connected to a relay link. The trunk port allows multiple VLAN to pass, receiving and sending multiple VLAN simultaneously. A trunk port is a VLAN aggregation port connected to another switch port, while an access port is a port the switch connects to a host in the VLAN.
A hybrid port is a port used to connect network devices to user devices, and a port used to connect a hybrid link. Hybrid ports can support both unmarked VLAN (such as access ports) and marked VLAN (such as trunk ports). Like the trunk port, the hybrid port can also allow multiple VLAN to pass and receive and send multiple VLAN. However, the hybrid port can allow multiple VLAN to be sent without labels, while the trunk port only allows messages to be sent without labels for default VLAN. While hybrid ports are similar to trunk ports in many ways, hybrid ports have more port configuration capabilities.
The figure below shows how access ports, trunk ports, and hybrid ports can be used in the same network system.
The Best Gigabit Switch vs The Best 10GB Switch
What is the best gigabit switch?
A gigabit switch is a switch whose port can support either 1000Mbps or 10/100/1000Mbps rates. The best gigabit switches feature flexible networking, providing full gigabit access and enhanced gigabit uplink port expansion capabilities. In addition, they can also achieve high-performance stacks with long distances within, between and across racks, helping data centers and enterprises quickly build scalable and manageable data center network platforms.
What is the best 10gb switch?
10gb switch is a new generation of intelligent routing switch designed to meet the requirements of high performance and high reliability. It is mainly aimed at enterprise network and operator network convergence or access layer, which can help users to build a cost-effective and reliable optimized network. The gigabit ethernet switch does more than just support gigabit optical modules on existing gigabit Ethernet switches. It is a huge change in switch architecture, two-tier/three-tier technology updates, and effective bandwidth management.
In addition, the best 10gb switch, to some extent, also promoted the development of coaxial cable, twisted pair and optical fiber, as well as the progress of network functions from shared ethernet to full-duplex ethernet and switched ethernet. The transmission rate increased from 1000MB to 10GB or even 100GB, which greatly satisfied the needs of users for various applications.
What’s the difference between the best gigabit switch and the best 10gb switch?
Supported rates vary: gigabit switches support up to 1000Mbps and 100G for 10gb switches, so the transmission rate of 10gb switch is faster than the transmission rate of a gigabit switch.
The backplane bandwidth and packet forwarding rate are different: the backplane bandwidth and packet forwarding rate of the 10gb switch are higher than those of the gigabit switch, so it is more competent for the large-scale networking requirements. The 10gb switch is generally applied in the core layer network.
Different power consumption: the power consumption of the 10gb switch is higher than that of the gigabit switch, so in terms of energy saving, the gigabit switch is better.
Different functions: Gigabit switches generally have two layers, while 10gb switches usually have two or three layers, so 10gb switches organically combine the simplicity and flexibility of the two layers with the stability, scalability and performance of the three layers. As an upgraded version of gigabit switches, 10gb switches have more complete functions than gigabit switches.
Application scenarios are different: gigabit switches are applied to the access layer of LAN and network, such as large amount of Internet access for small enterprises, extensive multimedia applications, regular transmission of large file transmission and other operations, which require the network to have strong data processing capacity and efficiency, using gigabit switches can be fully competent. However, 10gb switches are used in the convergence layer of metropolitan area networks. For example, 10gb switches have higher data forwarding capacity and can improve the bottleneck of gigabit networks. They are often used in large enterprise networks, data centers or networks with very high requirements for security performance.
From home networks to enterprise data centers, having the best gigabit switch can help boost performance and ensure a stable network. With our review of the best gigabit switch for 2021 in the market, you should be able to narrow down your search and find the best choices to help you set up a reliable LAN. Take your time as you go through this gigabit switch review and find one that is the best investment for your money and provides excellent performance for a long time.
List of The Best Gigabit Switch in 2021