How Do You Choose The Best Ethernet Splitter? Our Top Picks

ethernet splitter network-connection-route
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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.
Yellow ethernet cable on blue background
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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.

5 Best Ethernet Splitters

D-Link DGS-1008G 

D-Link Ethernet Switch, 8-Port Gigabit Plug n Play Compact Design...
  • 8 Gigabit ports
  • D Link Green technology helps conserve energy when the device is not in use
  • Ideal for Gigabit Ethernet storage and gaming

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.”

Pros

  • Small, fits almost anywhere
  • Very easy to use

Cons

  • Several times per day it seems to freeze up 
  • In order to really take advantage of the speed, you might need to replace all of cat 5 ethernet cables with cat 6

TP Link TL-SG1005D 

TP-Link 5 Port Gigabit Ethernet Network Switch | Plug and Play |...
  • PLUG-AND-PLAY - Easy setup with no configuration or no software needed
  • ETHERNET SPLITTER - Connectivity to your router or modem router for additional wired connections (laptop, gaming...
  • 5 Port GIGABIT ETHERNET - 5 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit auto-negotiation RJ45 ports greatly expand network capacity

This TP Link switch is high on the list of best Ethernet splitters due to its 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

Pros

  • Gets good solid connection through all 10 ports
  • Zero configuration required

Cons

  • May have a high pitched noise
  • Not as sturdy
  • Best for desktop use

Netgear ProSAFE GS208 

NETGEAR 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Unmanaged Switch, Desktop, Internet...
  • ETHERNET PORT CONFIGURATION: 8 Gigabit ports
  • PLUG-AND-PLAY: Simple set up with no software to install or configuration needed
  • VERSATILE MOUNTING OPTIONS: Supports desktop or wall mount placement

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

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Good support from vendor
  • Comes with rack mount hardware or rubber buttons for desktop

Cons

  • Some ports may not work

TrendNet TEG-S50G 

TRENDnet 5-Port Unmanaged Gigabit GREENnet Desktop Metal Switch,...
  • Ethernet port configuration 5 Gigabit RJ-45 ports provide high-speed network connections to devices and a 10Gbps...
  • Desktop design with a compact and lightweight metal housing design this Ethernet Switch is well-suited for desktop...
  • Energy savings The 5-Port Gigabit GREENnet switch model TEG-S50G Provides high bandwidth performance ease of use and...

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

Pros

  • Sturdy casing
  • Power save operation

Cons

  • May have issues with software

Ubiquiti Networks Edge Router ERPoe-5

Ubiquiti Networks Edgerouter Poe 5Port Router With Poe (ERPOE-5)
  • The EdgeRouter PoE supports 24V or 48V passive PoE to power multiple devices on the network
  • The EdgeRouter PoE delivers uptime performance equal to leading carrier or enterprise technology solutions
  • The EdgeRouter PoE routes up to 1 million packets per second to meet the needs of carrier-class networks

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)

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

  • High-performing managed switch

Cons

  • Loses its configuration every time the power goes out

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.

White Switch Hub Turned on
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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:

  • 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.

Featured Image via Pixabay

Jarrett Webster

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