Review of the best according to the editorial board. About selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.
For the organization of computer networks of various architectures and scales, special devices are widely used – switches, or in professional slang – switches (from the English 'switch'). The editors have prepared for you a special rating of popular switches, which our experts considered the best for one or another characteristic.
- How to choose a switch
- Number of ports
- Network model (level)
- MAC Address Table Capacity
- Base baud rate
- Traffic control
- Monitoring, diagnostics and protection
- Secondary parameters
- Rating of the best switches
- Best Low Cost Switches
- TP-LINK TL-SG108E
- D-link DGS-1100-05
- UPVEL US – 5G
- The best switches in terms of price-performance ratio
- Cisco WS-C3560G-24TS-S
- MikroTik Cloud Router Switch CRS125-24G-1S-IN
- D-link DES-3200-28
- TP-LINK TL-SG1008P
- ZYXEL GS1900-24E
How to choose a switch
To begin with, let's figure out what switches in principle exist, what tasks they can cope with and what should be guided by when buying such a device.
Technically, from the point of view of hardware, switches are very similar to hubs (which in pure terminology are also switches) – the same network ports and the same tasks. The key difference is that hubs send data packets to all ports, creating a significant amount of spurious traffic, while switches support address forwarding of packets, thus working orders of magnitude more efficiently. I must say that due to the ever-increasing affordability of the switches, the classic unmanaged hubs have almost completely squeezed out of the market.
Network switches are characterized by a fairly large number of parameters. Let's analyze the most important of them that are available for understanding by an ordinary user without special education.
Number of ports
This is the most obvious parameter, but some points are still worth emphasizing. The commercially available switches can contain from 5 to 48 RJ-45 ports. Of course, if the local network consists of three computers, then it is unreasonable to buy a switch for 20 ports unless a serious expansion is planned. But the end-to-end option is also an undesirable extreme. It is optimal if there is a reasonable margin for free ports.
Network model (level)
When the term 'layer' is used in the description of a switch, we are talking about the network model of information transfer (OSI) used in the device. The logic is simple – the higher the level number, the smarter, more efficient, more efficient, and generally better and more expensive switch. Let's briefly describe each of them.
- First level. The most primitive model using physical transmission. These are, in particular, the very hubs that were discussed, and which, if they are still on sale, then there is no point in buying them. There are no such models in our review.
- Second level. This category includes almost all commercially available unmanaged switches. Such devices use the channel model. The incoming data is divided into separate meaningful parts (frames, frames), each of them is checked and address redirected to a specific device on the network. The addressing is based on the MAC addresses of network devices, from which a table of these same addresses is formed with storing the 'port-address' bundle. Switches of the 2nd level do not perceive IP addresses and cannot interpret them.
- Third level. Level 3 switches already accept IP addresses, and also include a number of mandatory functions. A significant portion of general purpose routers and 'advanced' switch models operate at this level.
- Fourth level. The so-called transport model is already used here. This is the top class in network technologies, where the distribution of the data stream is carried out with a significant intellectual component. Such devices are able to work directly with software applications and direct packets based on the headers exactly in the right direction. These are most often expensive technological solutions used in data centers or large enterprises. We will not consider them in this review, since this is the domain of highly specialized professionals.
MAC Address Table Capacity
It naturally follows from the previous point, namely the part that concerns the third level switches. By analogy with the stock of the number of ports, it is also advisable to calculate the MAC address table in advance, even before purchasing, and taking into account the likely expansion of the network in the future. A downward mismatch does not automatically imply the inoperability of the device or port, but if there are not enough entries in the table, the switch will overwrite new entries instead of previous ones, which will slow down the data transfer.
Base baud rate
This indicator in network devices does not even mean the basic speed, but still the maximum. The speed gap between the standards is an order of magnitude – 10, 100 or 1000 megabits per second. A single switch can contain ports that operate at different speeds or support combinations.
Sometimes, unknowingly, bandwidth is confused with data transfer rate, but this is a completely different parameter, although they are related. External bandwidth (fabric) refers to the upper threshold for the amount of traffic that can pass through a switch in a given unit of time. This value is nominal, almost mathematical, and is calculated by simply multiplying the number of ports by the speed and 2 more (two-way transmission). For example, if the switch contains 8 ports and the nominal speed is 1 Gb / s, then its external bandwidth will be 8x1x2 = 16 Gb / s.
Internal throughput is a characteristic that must be specified by the manufacturer himself, and the buyer only needs to compare it with the external throughput. If the internal is less than the external, then under extreme loads, slowdowns and freezes of the switch are likely.
The traffic capabilities of the switch are a fairly large topic, and most of it relates to the professional responsibilities of specialized specialists. We will briefly go over those parameters that can affect the decision of an ordinary user.
- Flow control. This refers to the ability of the switch to coordinate the order of receiving / transmitting packets between itself and a third-party device. This feature becomes important under increased workloads when there is a possibility of packet loss. The feature is supported by almost every modern switch.
- Jumbo Frame. Working with packages of oversized sizes. A useful feature that is important at high speeds (1 Gbps and more). Allows you to work with fewer packages, thereby significantly reducing the processing time. Found in almost every modern switch.
- Prioritize traffic. An extremely useful feature for those networks where the overwhelming majority of traffic will be video or audio transmission. Its essence is that the switch detects more important packets on the fly and forwards them first of all – for example, VoIP packets.
- VLAN support. A useful tool that allows you to delineate conditional sections of the network, for example – a separate group of computers for employees, separate for clients; different isolated groups for different departments of the enterprise, etc.
- Traffic mirroring. A function that allows you to put on one hundred percent control of intranet traffic and its properties. So, the entire volume of data reception / transmission is simply duplicated on a separate port, where it is 'picked up' for analysis by specialized software.
- Port forwarding. A painfully needed feature when it comes to deploying a game server with internet access.
- Loop protection. A highly recommended feature, but practically necessary in the case of an unmanaged switch. Designed to eliminate the often arising problem of loopback sections of the network – the cause of many instabilities, freezes, drops in speed, etc.
- Link aggregation. Combines several physical ports into one logical one with natural addition of bandwidth up to 8 Gb / s.
- Stacking. The function is similar to the previous one in its essence, but it operates at the level of not one single device, but the whole network. It implies the possibility of combining several physical switches into one logical one, thereby obtaining more ports on a 'one' switch.
Monitoring, diagnostics and protection
For a number of cases, it can be important that the switch is able to independently diagnose the physical health of the network and protect itself from unwanted activity. The first boils down to diagnosing the integrity of the cable and connection – when a malfunction is detected at the physical level, the switch signals this by lighting the corresponding indicator on the case. The second implies protection from abundant junk traffic, mainly of viral origin.
And before proceeding directly to the rating, let's briefly go through the secondary parameters of the switches, which serve more for ease of use than for functionality.
- Expansion slots. The switch has additional interfaces for connecting various peripherals, for example, flash memory.
- Determination of cable / crimp type. It is desirable that the switch independently correctly determines the type of twisted pair compression and supports these same types. Thus, the user relieves himself of the need to manually control this circumstance.
- Form factor. The switches can be mounted on a desktop, wall-mounted, or rack-mountable. The latter option is most often demanding on the linear dimensions of the device case and the possibility of lateral mounting of removable 'ears'.
- Features of power supply. Since switches often operate 24/7 and never turn off, it is important that such a device uses electricity sparingly and minimizes heating. Some models provide the ability to manually adjust the power consumption. The so-called 'smart' switches automatically send inactive ports to sleep. Support for PoE (Power over Ethernet) technology makes it possible to provide power to the connected device through the same port through which data is received / transmitted. Also, some devices contain built-in lightning protection (grounding is required for its operation).
Rating of the best switches
|Nomination||a place||Name of product||price|
|Best Low Cost Switches||1||TP-LINK TL-SG108E||RUB 2,099|
|2||D-link DGS-1100-05||RUB 1,587|
|3||UPVEL US – 5G||842 RUB|
|The best switches in terms of price-performance ratio||1||Cisco WS-C3560G-24TS-S||RUB 51,151|
|2||MikroTik Cloud Router Switch CRS125-24G-1S-IN||RUB 9 850|
|3||D-link DES-3200-28||RUB 14,050|
|4||TP-LINK TL-SG1008P||RUB 3,680|
|5||ZYXEL GS1900-24E||RUB 7,240|
Best Low Cost Switches
In the first selection of the rating, we will consider the simplest and most affordable models, which, nevertheless, are capable of solving a fairly wide range of tasks. All three switches presented use the channel network model, that is, they are second-level switches. Each model has been produced under the same nomenclature and markings for quite some time. During this time, the versions and, accordingly, technological profiles have changed – up to appearance, weight and functionality. We will only consider the newest hardware revisions of devices.
Let's start with the managed switch of the super popular German TP-LINK brand. We will consider the hardware revision of the second version. It is quite noticeably different from the first, even in that the control in the higher versions is carried out, including through a convenient web interface, and in the first, only through the special Easy Smart utility. The latter allows you to centrally manage all such switches in the network.
The switch contains 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports with RJ45 sockets supporting connection speeds of 10/100/1000 Mbps. The ports automatically detect and operate normally with direct and crossover twisted pair compression.
The performance capabilities of the device are as follows. The total bandwidth is Gbps. Packet transfer rate – 11.9 Mpps / sec. The packet memory buffer is 2 MB. Jumbo frames – 16Kbps. The MAC address table can hold up to 8 thousand entries.
Functions inherent in Layer 2 switches include the following: flexible port operation (mirroring, rate limiting, aggregation), cable health diagnostics, loop detection, IGMP Snooping.
This model also demonstrates very good energy characteristics. Thanks to a special technology, up to 80% of electricity is saved, which, all other things being equal, in 'ordinary' switches is completely consumed. PoE (power supply to peripheral devices through a network port) is not supported.
The switch supports data prioritization (QoS function – 'Quality of Service') with the following parameters: 4 thousand priority queues; speed limit; prioritization for a specific port; protection against network storms.
The device supports a wide range of IEEE standards, can form virtual VLANs – up to 32 networks simultaneously.
Switch dimensions – 158x101x25 mm. It draws 5.46 W with a 100-240 V AC source. Designed in a desktop form factor, rubber feet are included for stability. Manufacturer's warranty – 24 months.
- stable work without freezes;
- can work reasonably out of the box without any preliminary settings;
- energy saving;
- there is no Russian interface firmware.
Another inexpensive managed switch in our rating is made by no less well-known company than the previous one, only from Taiwan – D-link. This is a compact five-port switch with dimensions of 141x85x28 mm and a weight of 320 g. Supports a wide range of functions and capabilities, therefore it is applicable to solve a fairly wide range of tasks at the scale of enterprises of various sizes, but not large companies. We are considering a new hardware revision – A1.
The switch ports operate at all speeds – 10, 100 Mbit / s and 1 Gbit / s, including work according to the 1000Base-T standard (gigabit transmission over twisted pair of categories 5, 5e and 6).
Configuration and management is carried out via the Smart Console utility or via the web interface. Similar to the console in the above model, the Smart Console easily detects other D-Link switches in the same area of the network and integrates the device harmoniously into the system, taking the hassle out of system specialists. The web interface offers the same management tools, and you can connect to the switch from any workstation on the network.
Let's describe the basic set of features. Total switching capacity – 10 Gbps; the capacity of the MAC address space is 8 thousand entries; maximum packet forwarding speed of 64 bytes – 7.4 Mpps; buffer space for packets – 128 kB; the Jumbo frame is 9,216 bytes.
The extended set of functions includes the following features: IGMP exchange snooping; protection against broadcast bursts (network storm); Static MAC function (fixed list of trusted MAC addresses); preventing header line (HoL) locks; support for groups up to 32; detection of loops with auto-disconnection of the 'bad' port; cable diagnostics.
This switch supports Surveillance VLAN technology, which allows you to deploy an efficient video surveillance system with prioritized video traffic. Also, this model has good characteristics in terms of power consumption: the author's development of D-Link Green reduces power consumption overruns to almost zero; putting inactive ports into sleep mode in automatic mode; there is a grounding. The maximum power consumption of the device during the most active use is 3.35 W.
- wide functionality at an affordable price;
- ease of setup and network integration;
- there is grounding;
- point claims of a subjective nature to the bandwidth.
UPVEL US – 5G
Another five-port switch in our rating, this time from a much less well-known company, but with quite decent characteristics. The manufacturer is very young, formally American (registered in California), but in fact the English version of the site has not been supported since 2012, while the Russian version is always up to date. This clearly hints at the Russian roots of the enterprise. Oddly enough, in the context of equipment for connecting to the Internet, this is even a plus, since the manufacturer has 'sewn' into the device management system the property of automatically setting settings for many domestic providers. It is enough to select a city and a provider, and the settings will be picked up automatically. We'll be looking at Tech 2.0 from 2017.
Case dimensions – 92x25x68 mm, device net weight – 0.18 kg. Five ports of the device operate within the entire range of speeds – 10, 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps. The switch covers all the most popular IEEE standards. The declared internal bandwidth is estimated at 10 Gbps, the capacity of the MAC address space is 4096. Auto-detection of the type of compression of the MDI / MDIX twisted pair pair.
This switch also offers the same high energy savings as the previous two models – up to 75% savings thanks to GREENforce technology. Its only drawback is its exceptional simplicity, namely, that the switch is unmanageable and does not allow flexible configuration of many parameters, as the above models can.
- affordable price;
- transparent installation in the network;
- minimum power consumption;
- stable work.
The best switches in terms of price-performance ratio
The second, extended group of devices in our rating is a switch of various form factors, performance capabilities, functional sets, etc. Our experts have selected five models, each of which in its class is characterized by an optimal combination of cost, functionality and quality.
Let's start with the most expensive model made by the American company Cisco – this brand has been synonymous with high quality, performance, reliability and, in general, the highest level of network equipment for decades. Switch of the third level, and this already says a lot about its capabilities.
In this nomenclature, a whole series of switches comes out, which differ mainly only in the number of ports, but also in some other parameters. We will consider the most popular 24-port model.
The dimensions of the device are 475x44x378 mm, net weight – 5.4 kg. Execution in terms of appearance – a typical 'server', that is, without any design delights, austere metal case with the presence of devices for mounting in a server rack.
The switch contains an impressive amount of its own RAM – 128 MB, in addition to it there is also a 32 MB flash memory. All 24 ports support the full range of speeds from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps. The declared internal bandwidth is 32 Gbps. At first glance, this does not quite harmoniously correlate with the total broadcast capacity of all 24 ports in both directions, but do not forget that this is still a third-level switch with much more intelligent routing. The capacity of the MAC address space is 12,228 entries.
The switch supports a variety of connection and control methods. It contains a separate console port, built-in Web interface, SNMP support and Telnet access.
This switch can also work with OSPF and RIP dynamic routing protocols of the first and second versions. Supports IGMP versions one through three for Internet group management. There is also support for LACP, IEEE versions 802.1p, 802.1q, 802.1d and 802.1s. The type of compression of the twisted pair MDI / MDIX is determined by the ports automatically.
- third level of management;
- fast processor;
- a renowned 'theme' brand;
- reliability and durability;
- professional device as a whole.
- not the most affordable price.
MikroTik Cloud Router Switch CRS125-24G-1S-IN
The rating continues to be a multifunctional professional switch manufactured by the Latvian company MikroTik. This device is characterized by typical features of this brand's products: reliability, wide functionality and amazing flexibility of settings. This is also a switch of the third level, and in terms of the set of characteristics it is practically in no way inferior to the above-described solution from Cisco, but in terms of price it is incommensurably cheaper.
The number of ports is the same – 24, and the speed characteristics are the same – 10, 100 and 1000 Mbps. Auto MDI / MDIX. There is also a separate uplink port with the same speed characteristics. The same amount of RAM is 128 MB. Processor – 600 MHz Qualcomm Atheros AR9344. And the same range of possibilities in terms of access and management: Web interface, console port, SNMP, Telnet. There is a USB socket for connecting the desired peripherals or external memory. Operating system – RouterOS.
The SFP port allows flexible extensions and integrations, such as connecting the switch to fiber optic networks without additional hardware or media conversion tools. The PoE function is implemented – power supply through the network port.
The device also contains a touchscreen LCD display, with which you can not only monitor the statistics of the switch, but also control some of its functions.
The switch is made in a strict form factor typical for MikroTik products – a metal case with dimensions of 285x45x145 mm
- third level;
- full-fledged RouteOS with author's adaptation from MikroTik;
- compact touchscreen;
- flexible settings;
- reliability and stability;
- one of the best ratio of quality, functionality and cost.
- complex and not completely transparent setting.
The third number in the rating is another 24-port switch, but already of the second management level and with some obvious restrictions compared to the two models described above. True, its functionality is still definitely top-notch, as for devices of this class, so it is even more expensive than a 3-tier MikroTik at a price.
The switch is made in a classic server form factor with accessories for rack mounting. The dimensions of the metal case are 441x44x207 mm, the net weight is 2.15 kg.
The first most noticeable limitation that we see in this case is the port transfer rate, which is 10 or 100 Mbps. Only 4 SFP ports are gigabit. The manufacturer's declared internal bandwidth is 12.8 Gbps. The capacity of the MAC address space is 8192. The device is equipped with 16 MB of RAM.
In terms of management, this model offers the same capabilities as the two previous solutions: Web interface, console port, SNMP, Telnet. RADIUS / TACACS + authentication to organize access. Three versions of IGMP Internet Group Management Protocols have been implemented. The type of twisted pair compression is determined automatically, Jumbo Frame and IEEE of all the most popular versions are supported.
The switch also works flexibly with traffic: built-in port mirroring, bandwidth throttling, protection against broadcast bursts.
All Ethernet ports are equipped with built-in 6 kV surge protection.
- fairly transparent settings;
- reliability and continuity;
- energy security;
- Information Security.
- the speed of standard ports is not higher than 100 Mbit / s.
The next position in the ranking is a significantly simpler network solution than the three previous models. Made in a desktop form factor and simple laconic design.
The dimensions of the device body are 171x27x98 mm, these dimensions contain 8 ports with speeds of 10/100/1000 Mbit / s and automatic detection of the type of twisted pair compression.
One of the most notable features of this model is that four out of eight ports support PoE technology, that is, in addition to transmitting data, they also provide power for the connected device. PoE parameters are as follows: power consumption of the switch with network devices connected via PoE – 63 W, without external devices – 5.8 W.
The backbone channel width (external bandwidth) is 16 Gbps. The capacity of the MAC address table in the switch of the most recent hardware revision is 4096 (in previous versions this figure was only 1024). The buffer capacity is 2 Mbit.
Additional functions and useful properties: compatibility with various power devices; IEEE 802.3af compliant; ability to prioritize traffic distribution; automatic detection of MAC addresses and automatic clearing of entries in the table by time, transmission delay in case of buffer overflow for half-duplex mode, Flow control for full-duplex mode.
- 4 PoE ports – according to user reviews, this is the optimal solution for connecting four surveillance cameras in an office or home;
- elementary network integration;
- fault tolerance.
- cannot be wall-mounted.
And the rating of the best switches according to the version is completed by another 24-port model from the famous manufacturer – ZYXEL. According to the combination of parameters price / functionality / quality, this is one of the most successful models in the opinion of our experts.
Device dimensions – 267x 42×162 mm, net weight – 1.56 kg. It is made in a 1U server-type metal case with the possibility of mounting in a rack. Contains 64 MB of SDRAM for the CPU and additionally Flash memory – 16 MB.
24 RJ-45 ports provide 10/100/1000 kbps speed characteristics. Two SFP ports at 100/1000 kbit / s (only in the fresh version, there is no SFP in the old revisions). The twisted pair crimp standard is automatically detected. The device offers a wide range of methods and tools for configuration and management: Web-interface, Telnet, SNMP, CLI, RMON, LLDP, TFTP
The performance parameters are as follows. Total switching capacity 48 Gb / s. Forwarding speed of 64-byte packets is 35.7 Mpps. The capacity of the MAC address table is 8 Kb. Jumbo frame – 9216 bytes. Packet buffer – 0.525 Mb.
The device supports a wide range of networking standards, including IGMP filtering, link aggregation, half duplex, Energy Efficient Ethernet, fiber optic, and more.
- one of the most successful combinations of quality, functionality and price;
- wide coverage of standards;
- many controls and configuration;
- possibility of mounting in a server rack.
- no pronounced disadvantages were found.
Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.