A switch is a device responsible to send a data packet within a local network. Layer 2 and layer 3 switches primarily differ in the routing function. Basically, a layer 2 switch only functions with MAC addresses and does not look after IP addresses or any components of higher layers. On the other hand, a layer 3 switch accomplishes everything that a layer 2 switch does and also supports additional static routing and dynamic routing. It implies that layer 3 switch has both MAC address table and IP routing table.

Layer 3 switches can flawlessly deal with intra-VLAN communication and packets routing amongst various VLANs. Go through the following selection to pick up the best layer 3 switch in 2023 matching your requirements.

List of The Best Layer 3 Switch

Check out the thorough reviews of the best layer 3 switch in 2023 below.

1. MikroTik Cloud Router Switch with Layer 3 Features

Best Layer 3 Switch In 2023: Buyer’s Guide-10TechPro

MikroTik cloud router layer 3 switch contains 16 SFP+ ports for high-performance 10GbE connectivity as well as a 1GbE copper port for management. The easy rack-mountable setup saves you time and effort. The ability to facilitate high-speed networking and easy setup imply that it can be the best layer 3 switch for your needs.

Being powered by a next-generation switching chip, it provides you wire speed performance for all of the sixteen 10GbE ports, irrespective of Ethernet frame size. The CLI is easy to configure. Once the entire setup is properly configured, the operation becomes flawless. For efficient heat dissipation, it is designed with a passive cooling case and dual redundant power supplies. Two redundant fans automatically keep the system cool.

Key Features

  • SFP+16 ports support 1.25GB SFP and SFP+10GB modules.
  • DDMI support is included.
  • The RAM size is 1 GB and the storage space is 16 GB.
  • MTBF is approx. 200000 hours at 25°C.
  • The installed operating system is RouterOS / SwitchOS.
  • Key features include IEEE 802.1Q VLAN, up to 4K port isolation simultaneously, port security,
  • mirror port of in/outbound traffic, Broadcast Storm Control, Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol, Access Control List, and SNMP v1.
  • Advanced features like hardware-based Spanning Tree Protocol and Link Aggregation (LACP) offer enhanced protection and professional performance for demanding networks.
  • The actuator type is the push button.
  • Dimensions are 17.44 inches (L) x 8.82 inches (W) x 1.73 inches (H).

Pros And Cons

  • Provides enhances protection and professional networking performance
  • Passive cooling case contributes to efficient cooling
  • Extremely quiet operation
  • Easy rack mount mechanism
  • GUI looks outdated
  • A little difficult to configure if you are not a seasoned network professional

2. Tenda Layer 3 Managed PoE Switch

Best Layer 3 Switch In 2023: Buyer’s Guide-10TechPro

To fulfill the demand for high-performance access, this Tenda layer 3 switch offers nine 10/100/1000 Mbps Base-T Ethernet ports and a distinct 1000 Mbps Base-X SFP port. It also supports a PoE power of up to 130W.

With the cutting-edge hardware configuration and software platform, this Tenda switch boasts an efficient processing capacity. With the comprehensive security protection system, the switch streamlines maintenance and management. So, it aptly fulfills the demands of high-density user access. Moreover, the high-performance aggregation is perfect for the access layer or aggregation layer of medium to large networks like campuses and enterprises.

Key Features

  • TEG5310P-8-150W features 8 POE ports that provide the fastest possible connection.
  • All the included RJ45 Ethernet ports support 10/100/1000 Mbps.
  • Key features include static routing, IGMP, VLAN, QoS, and DHCP Snooping.
  • 6 kV lightning protection is implemented on all ports to avoid lightning strike induction currents and power spikes.
  • The Layer-3 Routing Engine supports high-efficiency fast-forwarding type static routing protocols. It supports Layer 3 forwarding of maximum of 400+ terminals to fulfill Layer 3 routing as well as forwarding across network segments.
  • This switch achieves Layer 2 network isolation as well as Layer 3 network interworking.
  • It uses a 150W PoE power supply. 130W is the maximum output power of PoE.
  • A Built-in PSE chip with a smart power management function can supervise the temperature of the chip and tailor the PoE power supply depending on time.
  • Dimensions are 11.57 inches x 7.07 inches x 1.73 inches and the weight is 4.98 pounds.

Pros And Cons

  • Automatically turn on/off the PoE function in working hours and idle time for energy conservation
  • Temperature monitoring automatically customizes the power supply
  • The sturdy metal frame effectively protects internal components
  • Plug and play interface offers easy and fast setup without software
  • Lightning protection available on all ports
  • Comes with some learning curve that takes time to get used to

3. Cisco 3560CX-8PC-S Layer 3 Switch

Best Layer 3 Switch In 2023: Buyer’s Guide-10TechPro

Managed gigabit ethernet switches including this Cisco 3560CX-8PC-S layer 3 switch are perfect for high-speed data connectivity, Power Over Ethernet (PoE) connectivity, and backhaul Wi-Fi. It is extensively useful in classrooms, offices, stores, hotels, and other businesses. Its versatility suggests it is the best layer 3 switch for different applications. If you want to build next-generation workspaces and extend wireless LAN networks, this Cisco compact layer 3 switch is an ideal choice.

Due to its compact footprint and quiet, fanless design, this layer 3 switch can be extracted from the data closet and be positioned closer to users. The configuration redesign facilitates a shorter cable setup of the compact switches. The same allows flexibility in space and the growth of new devices into the network. If multiple cable runs are expensive or difficult, you can use this switch.

Through a single copper or fiber cable derived from the cabling closet, this layer 3 switch provides IP connectivity for devices like wireless access points, PCs, IP phones, video, surveillance cameras, and endpoints.

Key Features

  • It is implemented with PoE passthrough and Cisco IOS NetFlow Lite.
  • The number of PoE output ports is 8.
  • The available PoE power is 240W.
  • Two 1G copper plus and two 1G SFP ports are included.
  • The forwarding bandwidth is 16 Gbps and the switching bandwidth is 32 Gbps.
  • The flash memory is 128 MB and the memory DRAM is 512MB.
  • Maximum VLANs are 1023 and VLAN IDs are 4000.
  • The maximum transmission unit (MTU) is up to 9000 bytes.
  • The jumbo frames are 9198 bytes.
  • The forwarding rate 64-byte packet is 17.9 Mbps.
  • The default software is IP Base (IP Services with RTU License).
  • Dimensions are 9.37 inches x 10.59 inches x 1.75 inches and the weight is 3.5 kg.

Pros And Cons

  • Network Plug and Play (PnP) for easy configuration
  • Comes with an option to run in Instant Access mode
  • Removes the dependence on expensive and inflexible cabling infrastructure
  • Provide flexible mounting options and unlock a wide range of connectivity and network design options
  • Simple administration, low occurrence rates, and a wide range of deployment options make it ideal for use in virtually any networking environment
  • The switches can run hot at times, but it is managed well

4. Mikrotik Layer 3 Gigabit Switch

Best Layer 3 Switch In 2023: Buyer’s Guide-10TechPro

This Mikrotik layer 3 gigabit switch is the latest cost-effective switch from CRS Series. It contains an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port, a 10g SFP+ cage, 10 SFP cages, a serial port (RJ45), and an LCD panel. A power supply and desktop interior are included. All the CRS Series switches including this one blend the finest features of a fully functional router as well as a layer 3 switch.

Key Features

  • The Gigabit Ethernet port supports 10/100/1000 Mbps speed. It is implemented with Auto-MDI/X.
  • The switch comes with Mikrotik RouterOS V6 and Level 5 License.
  • DDMI support is included.
  • It is powered by ROUTEROS.
  • The CPU nominal frequency is 400 MHz.
  • The RAM size is 16 MB and storage space (flash storage) is 64 MB.
  • MTBF is approx. 200000 hours at 25°C.
  • The range of tested ambient temperature is -40°C to 70°C.
  • The mounting type is panel mount.
  • Dimensions are 5.67 inches x 7.87 inches x 1.85 inches.

Pros And Cons

  • The LCD panel comes with an intuitive interface
  • Easy to navigate the menu on each port
  • Powerful Ethernet connectivity protocol
  • Enough RAM size and storage space
  • Noisy fan

5. Ubiquiti 24 Port Fully Managed 3 Layer Switch

Best Layer 3 Switch In 2023: Buyer’s Guide-10TechPro

Are you looking for a fully managed 3-layer switch with plenty of ports? If yes then this Ubiquiti 24 port managed 3 layer switch can be the best layer 3 switch in terms of port density. It contains 24 gigabit ethernet ports. Two 10G SFP+ uplinks provide link aggregation for higher accessibility and higher capacity. A USP RPS DC input is included.

This Ubiquiti 24 port switch boasts incorporates layer 2 capabilities and layer 3 functionality like static routing, inter-VLAN routing, and DHCP server. Through the intuitive UniFi Network web application and the mobile app, this Ubiquiti 3 layer switch can be supervised and configured from anywhere. You can use it to effortlessly handle network users and guests.

Key Features

  • The UniFi Pro 24 switch offers UniFi SmartPower RPS power redundancy.
  • UniFi Network mobile app and UniFi Network Controller permit the administrators to configure and supervise virtually all switch functions.  This can be done in an intuitive graphical user interface anywhere.
  • The 1.3-inch LCM color touchscreen comes with AR switch management.
  • Dimensions are 17.42 inches x 11.23 inches x 1.72 inches and the weight is 11 pounds.

Pros And Cons

  • Can manage your networks from a single interface
  • Upgrades device firmware remotely
  • Presents intuitive configuration options, device control, and monitoring
  • Implemented with Layer 2 and Layer 3 functionalities
  • Advanced near-silent cooling
  • Doesn’t come with POE

6. HP 48 Port PoE+ Layer 3 Switch

Best Layer 3 Switch In 2023: Buyer’s Guide-10TechPro

All HP E2620 switches are multiport switches useful for building high-performance switched workgroup networks. They are nothing but store-and-forward devices which provide high-speed networking performance and reduced latency.

This HP 48 port PoE+ layer 3 switch support external and redundant power supply. You can directly connect it to printers, computers, and servers to offer dedicated bandwidth. Also, you can set up a switched network infrastructure after connecting the switch to other switches or hubs or routers.

Key Features

  • PoE/PoE+ technologies are implemented.
  • The RJ-45 Gigabit Uplink ports are auto-sensing 10/100/1000Base-T ports that operate independently.
  • Dimensions are 18 inches x 15 inches x 2 inches and the weight is 10.15 pounds.

Pros And Cons

  • Provides full network management capabilities
  • The fan-less design offers quiet operation that enables easy deployments in open spaces
  • SmartLink offers easy-to-configure link redundancy of active and standby links
  • High-speed networking boosts the performance of your device
  • Don’t support PoE+ power

What Is Layer 3 Switch?

In simple terms, layer 3 switches operate on layer 3 of OSI model (network layer) where they route the packet through an IP address. It accomplishes the static routing to transfer data amongst various VLANs. The dynamic routing method allows the switch to perform optimal packet routing. A network with a layer 3 switch is provided with a set of multiple paths as per the real-time scenario of the network to transmit the data packets.

How To Pick The Best Layer 3 Switch?

1. Number of ports

For connecting a huge number of devices and end-users, it is better to choose a layer 3 switch with a high port density. Firstly, you need to device how many devices are needed to connect to the access layer. Subsequently, you need to determine how many switch port numbers you would require for the access layer. Many of the top-notch layer 3 switches support port density up to 48.

2. Port speed

The majority of access switches including the best layer 3 switch are equipped with 10/100/1000Mbps ports. The choice between Gigabit Ethernet or Fast Ethernet depends on the explicit requirements of your network.

Fast Ethernet is adequate for data traffic and IP telephony on the majority of small to medium enterprise networks, but its performance is significantly lower than Gigabit switches. Furthermore, it is quite important to select high-bandwidth uplink ports when the uplink port is oversubscribed due to the required bandwidth being higher than the accessible maximum bandwidth to distribution layer switches. Hence, it is recommended to choose a layer 3 switch with high port density and fast port speed.

3. Security

A high-speed network is not the only requirement. It should operate safely. Therefore, before choosing a layer 3 switch, you need to check what safety features are implemented. Many of the best layer 3 switches come with safety features like DoS protection, source guard, and other techniques to avoid security attacks.

You may find many of these switches equipped with a complete security protection mechanism that streamlines maintenance and management. Lightning protection is available on some of these switches to avoid lightning strike induction currents and power spikes.

4. Scalability

With time, the number of users in an enterprise network alters. Hence, it is crucial to think about the number of users the network would require in the future. Make sure the layer 3 switch you choose boasts the network design required to fulfill the requirement for the enterprise environments in the upcoming 3-5 years. This ensures that your chosen switch can offer the opportunity to smoothly upgrade the network.

5. Cost

Another key aspect that influences the buying decision for a layer 3 switch is the cost. If you intend to purchase a layer 3 switch designed with fiber optic ports instead of RJ45 ports then you have to consider the expense of optical modules.

FAQs When Picking The Best Layer 3 Switch

1. When to choose a layer 2 switch and when to choose a layer 3 switch?

If there is a pure layer 2 domain then a layer 2 switch is recommended. A pure layer 2 domain is the one where the hosts are connected. It is typically known as the access layer in a network topology.

You will need a layer 3 switch if you want to aggregate multiple access switches and perform inter-VLAN routing. Layer 3 is alternatively known as the distribution layer in the network topology.

2. What are the significant differences between Layer 2 and Layer 3 switches?

The key difference is the routing method. Layer 3 switches are competent in inter-VLAN routing and don’t require additional devices connected such as router-on-a-stick. Because network architectures on layer 2 switching permit end station connectivity, it is better to build a VLAN through the layer 2 switch only. Also, it provides easy, affordable, and high-performance connectivity for plenty of end stations. Layer 3 switches have also sustained a presence at several points in a corporate network. 

3. In what cases do you need a Layer 3 switch?

If you have VLANs or planning to include them in the future then you will need a layer 3 switch. If individual departments require separate broadcast domains for performance and security then you will need a layer 3 switch. This type of switch is required if you have subnets connected through a router. In case when your network has 250+ devices connected to the same VLAN, you will need one of the best layer 3 switches.

4. Do layer 3 switches only perform routing?

In addition to routing packets, these switches also support functions that require understanding the IP address information of data that is entering the switch like tagging VLAN traffic depending on IP address rather than manually configuring a port. 

Final Thoughts

These layer 3 switches can work as both routers and switches. In VLANs, they provide you with multiple options to efficiently manage your bandwidth. These switches are implemented with scalable and powerful technology for building high-performance Ethernets. When it comes to enhancing your network performance, you can choose the best layer 3 switch from the above selection. These switches ensure high-speed networking and excellent network safety.

Enjoyed the layer 3 switch review? Then be sure to check out our other guides.