How Do You Choose The Best Ethernet Splitter?

ethernet splitter network-connection-route

Image via Pixabay

There are often times when wiring business offices or even setting up home computer systems where it may be necessary to connect additional devices to your existing cabling. Of course the last thing you want to do is run a new, separate Ethernet cable to the new equipment – that can be time-consuming and expensive. So what choices do you have?

Ethernet splitters will allow you to “share” a single cable run among more devices, solving problems when adding or relocating equipment. The key is to install a sharing device that will not slow your network or cause communication conflicts, and still allow you to use each device at the same time.

In practice, there is a significant difference between a true Ethernet “splitter”, a hub, and a switch. Although each device has its own attributes and reasons for use, introducing them into your network can have significant variations in the results you experience.

  • Splitter – a splitter is a simple non-powered device that lets you share a single cable between two devices. They must be used in pairs, since what you split where your devices are located, must be “unsplit” at the other end, where the cable connects to your router or internet connection. That being the case, splitters may save you cable runs, but they won’t give you any additional ports on your router – two devices will still take two ports.
  • Hubs – these work differently from splitters. Hubs connect to a single cable, providing more Ethernet ports for your devices. Hubs are rarely used anymore, since network switches came on the scene with a much more robust feature set, and improvement in managing network traffic.

Hubs may actually slow your network performance, as the data across the network must be sent to each port, eating up bandwidth. This may not be a huge issue if you only have a few devices, but the performance issue is there, nonetheless.

  • Network Switch – this is what most network engineers are speaking about today, when addressing Ethernet splitting or adding ports to a network. Switches are now relatively inexpensive, but have many advantages over outmoded splitters or hubs.

Network switches perform similar functions as the hubs of the past, enabling you to connect multiple devices to a single Ethernet cable. The major difference is that switches filter through data on the network, sending information only to the correct destination.

When you have a wired network that needs to expand or handle additional devices, Ethernet switches are the way to go.

In this discussion of Ethernet splitters, we’ll actually be referring to switches, as true “splitters” should be avoided, and hubs have been all but replaced by switches.

Product.

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D-Link DGS-1008G

[amazon fields=”B003X7TRWO” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon fields=”B003X7TRWO” value=”button”]

TP Link TL-SG1005D

[amazon fields=”B000N99BBC” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon fields=”B000N99BBC” value=”button”]

NETGEAR 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch

[amazon fields=”B00KFD0SYK” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon fields=”B00KFD0SYK” value=”button”]

TRENDnet 5-Port Unmanaged Gigabit GREENnet Desktop Metal Switch

[amazon fields=”B001QUA6R0″ value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon fields=”B001QUA6R0″ value=”button”]

Edgerouter Poe-5-Port Router with Poe

[amazon fields=”B00HXT8EUE” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon fields=”B00HXT8EUE” value=”button”]


5 Best Ethernet Splitters

D-Link DGS-1008G 

[amazon box=”B003X7TRWO”]

This D-Link switch is packed with features that place it at the top of the heap as the best overall unit. Even for network novices, the DGS-1008G is simple to implement, with plug-and-play simplicity.

Technical specs:

  • 8 Gigabit ports
  • Green technology that conserves energy when not in active use – Energy Star Level V rated
  • Perfect for use with your gaming systems
  • Silent operation with no fans required
  • Quality of Service (QoS) support for smooth gaming and clear VoIP calls
  • Diagnostic LEDs for each cable for easy view of port status

Ease of installation and Gigabit speed, this D-Link switch gives you the power to transfer large files such as video, music, and graphics quickly, without dragging down your network. Small and lightweight, switch is one you can “set and forget.”

Consumers say:

“Boy, this ethernet switch is small, fits almost anywhere and it works, so far, but I just got it so time will tell. In order to really take advantage of the speed I would need to replace all of my cat 5 Ethernet Cables with cat 6 something I am not ready or willing to do. I am getting 90 -93 mbps for large file transfers on my network so I can't complain.”

“I was quite pleased with this switch. I think most computer nerds have that situation at some point where we have multiple switches/hubs all kind of cobbled together in a daisy chained no-no of a mess. This was my solution to that problem.”

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • full of features

Cons

  • Some reviews say, several times per day it seems to freeze up 

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TP Link TL-SG1005D 

[amazon box=”B000N99BBC”]

This TP Link switch is high on the list of best Ethernet splitters due to its budget-friendly price, plug-and-play installation, and impressive performance.

Technical specs:

  • 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Non-blocking switching, allowing the transfer of large files
  • LED status indicators for each port
  • Inactive port detection, with power reduced for inactive ports
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty

With these features and low price, it is a favorite with both pro reviewers and consumers:

“Nice little desktop switch for the money. I'm using two of them to distribute internet connection throughout the house from my cable modem to the wireless router, the computers, TVs, Blu-Ray streamers, AVRs yada yada yada, Getting good solid connects through all 10 ports.”

“Me and my roommate in college both have PC's and Xbox 360s, but there is only two Ethernet ports. We got tired of having to move each ethernet every time we wanted to switch. We almost bought just an average 2$ splitter, but a little research showed that splitters don't allow you to have connection from both sources at once, which is pretty pointless. This switch is amazing. It allows us to have all of our devices connected to it with full internet access all at the same time. It also has ZERO configuration required.. you just plug it in and it's ready to go. Great product!”

Pros

  • Not as sturdy
  • Best for desktop use

Cons

  • Some reviews say, has high pitched noise

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Netgear ProSAFE GS208 

[amazon box=”B00KFD0SYK”]

Netgear’s ProSAFE GS208 rates high honors due to the product’s simple installation and operation, that makes it extremely well-suited for home or office use. One unique option for this unit is its availability in either a durable and light plastic housing, or a metal casing..

Technical specs:

  • 8 ports, each supporting Gigabit speeds, with non-blocking switching
  • Silent, fanless operation
  • Front-facing status LEDs for each port
  • Energy conservation through limiting power to idle ports
  • Plug-and-play installation

At this low price and reliability, owners have plenty of good things to say about the ProSAFE GS208:

“Lights show active connections, amber for 100 and green for 1000 mbs. Comes with rack mount hardware or rubber buttons for desktop. I mounted it in a structured wiring cabinet in a clamp mount. Fan-less venting is at the ends of the unit. Great and affordable replacement for my older 10/100 mbs switch.”

“Not much to say, I have a gig network at home with a gig fiber connection and of my hard wired devices, these switches keep everything fast and online. Not much to a switch, but bad ones will slow you down...these Netgear won't disappoint.”

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Good support from vendor

Cons

  • Some reviews say, some ports don't work

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TrendNet TEG-S50G 

[amazon box=”B001QUA6R0″]

This high-tech Ethernet switch incorporates sensors in each port that detect not only whether the port is in use, but also the length of the cable connected to the port.

Less power is then sent to empty ports, inactive ports, and to devices with cable lengths that are short, but longer than 5 feet. Power save operation kicks in when no devices are actively sending data.

Technical specs:

  • 5 Gigabit ports
  • Sturdy metal housing
  • Green technology to save energy
  • Plug-and-play installation
  • Diagnostic LEDs for each port
  • 3-year limited warranty

At this low price and reliability, owners have plenty of good things to say about the ProSAFE GS208:

“Lights show active connections, amber for 100 and green for 1000 mbs. Comes with rack mount hardware or rubber buttons for desktop. I mounted it in a structured wiring cabinet in a clamp mount. Fan-less venting is at the ends of the unit. Great and affordable replacement for my older 10/100 mbs switch.”

“Not much to say, I have a gig network at home with a gig fiber connection and of my hard wired devices, these switches keep everything fast and online. Not much to a switch, but bad ones will slow you down...these Netgear won't disappoint.”

Pros

  • Sturdy casing

Cons

  • Some reviews say, some issues with software

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Ubiquiti Networks Edge Router ERPoe-5

[amazon box=”B00HXT8EUE”]

If your networking needs call for more than a simple, plug-and-play switch, you will want to consider a managed switch for maximum flexibility and control of your network and attached devices.

Ubiquiti Networks offers the EdgeRouter ERPoe-5, with 5 ports capable of transfer rates at a blazing 1 million packets/second. This unit is highly customizable via EdgeOS, allowing you to control multiple EdgeRouter devices at once with this online application. You can customize Quality of Service (QoS), user settings, and security.

This managed switch is intended for business use by technical personnel, and may not be an options for the average homeowner or consumer.

Technical specs:

  • 24V or 48V support for multiple devices on the network
  • 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Manage remotely with Ubiquiti Network Management System (UNMS)

This level of sophistication of course comes with a corresponding higher price point.

 “Update Firmware - then typical setup is easy. PoE at 24/48v on three ports is convenient, saves using 3 injectors. Router setup is straightforward, if you load latest firmware and use Wizards.

Pros

  • Expensive
  • High-performing managed switch

Cons

  • Some reviews say, loses its configuration every time the power goes out

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Types of Ethernet Splitters/Switches

There are several types of Ethernet switches available. Each has its own advantages, depending on the application and network requirements.

Modular switch – these switches over flexibility in their ability to have additional ports added when needs change.

Fixed switches, unmanaged – fixed switches have a set number of ports available, which cannot be expanded. Unmanaged switches require no configuration or software setup. They are ideal for use in home and small business applications, since they are inexpensive and easy to install and use.

Fixed switches, managed – managed switches offer the most functionality and flexibility for complex networks where engineers want or need full control of network functionality and the use of ports on the network. These require a level of network expertise to configure and manage the switches and devices on the network.

Selecting the Ethernet Splitter That Suits Your Needs

There are a few key decision points that factor into your decision on which ethernet splitter is best for your particular networking requirements:

  • Price – don’t pay for features that you don’t need.
  • Ports – don’t under-buy – consider future as well as current needs
  • Speed – purchase the switch that supports the highest speed of any device on your network
  • Support – when something goes wrong, or you need help setting up your splitter, you want answers quickly
  • Performance – consider the bandwidth your network will require to provide all your devices with good response – especially if you regularly require high-speed access, such as with gaming applications

When comparing switch speed, take notice that today’s Gigabit switches are now very cost-effective, and exponentially faster than older Fast Ethernet switches. Even if you don’t have any devices that run at Gigabit speed today, they may be in your future sooner than you think.

Viewing specifications, professional reviews, and customer satisfaction reviews is a good way to determine what switch is the right choice for your network.

Featured Image via Pixabay

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