Like every other website on the planet, SmallNetBuilder uses cookies. Our cookies track login status, but we only allow admins to log in anyway, so those don't apply to you. Any other cookies you pick up during your visit come from advertisers, which we don't control.
If you continue to use the site, you agree to tolerate our use of cookies. Thank you!

Router Charts

Click for Router Charts

Router Ranker

Click for Router Ranker

NAS Charts

Click for NAS Charts

NAS Ranker

Click for NAS Ranker

More Tools

Click for More Tools

LAN & WAN Reviews

Introduction

Four smart gigabit switches

Once upon a time, gigabit Ethernet switches could be found only in data centers, and the high cost per port made them impractical for all but the most demanding backbone applications. But times have changed, and the price per port has dropped dramatically. Most desktop computers now have built-in gigabit Ethernet ports and a number of consumer products are beginning to adopt gigabit as the default. And with the explosion of video and audio data that consumers are starting to move around their networks, gigabit starts to make a lot of sense.

There are three classes of gigabit Ethernet switches. The simplest, most cost-effective gigabit switch is an unmanaged switch. D-Link, Linksys, NetGear and Trendnet all sell a five port unmanaged gigabit Ethernet switch for less than $50. An unmanaged switch is a very simple device—you take it out of the box, plug it in and connect your Ethernet cables. No configuration is required, or in most cases, even possible. These switches perform a basic switching function at prices that are starting to rival 100 Mbps switches and give you a significant boost in performance if the attached devices are also gigabit capable.

At the other end of the continuum, you'll find fully managed switches. These switches offer the maximum amount of configurability and have a correspondingly higher price. These are the devices that you'd most likely find in a corporate data center. But be forewarned—fully managed switches are complicated devices that generally suited only for networking pros.

NoteNOTE: Managed and smart switches come in Layer 2 and Layer 3 flavors—which refers to the OSI model layer. All of the switches in this roundup are Layer 2 devices. This means that they recognize and operate on packet MAC addresses, can implement functions based on data source and destination. Layer 3 devices operate at the protocol level and can perform functions based on packet port numbers (among other things).

Between unmanaged and fully managed switches, you'll find a hybrid—the so-called "smart switches". These switches offer a subset of the functions found on fully managed switches, but at a fraction of the price. For many small offices, these switches are the ideal solution.

For this roundup, we decided to see how far we could stretch our dollars. With a target price of around $250, we contacted a number of vendors and requested their most fully-featured all-gigabit "smart" switch. D-Link, Netgear, and Trendnet each sent a 16 port smart switch. Linksys, which says it makes only unmanaged and fully managed switches, sent an eight port managed switch.

All switches are supplied with rack mounting hardware and will install in a standard "1U" rack space. To avoid redundancy and to facilitate comparison, we created a features chart to accompany the reviews. We've also included a slide show of screen shots to give you a taste of the user interface for each product.

We'll be looking at the following products in this roundup.

  • D-Link DGS-1216T
  • Linksys SWR2008
  • Netgear GS716T
  • Trendnet TEG-160WS

More LAN & WAN

Wi-Fi System Tools
Check out the new Wi-Fi System Charts, Ranker and Finder!

Featured Sponsors



Support Us!

If you like what we do and want to thank us, just buy something on Amazon. We'll get a small commission on anything you buy. Thanks!

Over In The Forums

My home is currently connected in such a manner : External Internet -> ISP Router -> Netgear Orbi. I have recently purchased a new PC and the wifi mod...
My Honeywell RTH9580WF ceased communicating with Honeywell at the end of last week. Anyone else having a similar issue?I even tried another WiFi netwo...
Hi,I'm looking for a good router for OpenVPN and fail over function. I saw reviews that RT-AC86 is good for speed and VPN, however not good for failov...
so i brought a second hand RT-AC68 router that was stated to have problems with the lan ports. After getting the router, i reset to defaults the route...
HelloI am new to networking and I apologize in advance if this has been asked and I was too naive to know what to search for.I live in Japan and I hav...

Don't Miss These

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3