Best Ethernet Hubs and Switches 2023
Best Ethernet Hubs and Switches 2023
The vast majority of routers have four usable Ethernet ports, with a fifth generally reserved for connecting a modem. Mesh Wi-Fi routers rarely have so many, with only one or two ports on each device.
If your router or mesh Wi-Fi device doesn’t have enough ports to connect all of your wired network devices, an Ethernet hub is the answer.
A hub is an inexpensive device that has a number of Ethernet ports (usually five or eight) and connects to an Ethernet port on your router.
You don’t have to configure anything: just plug them in and they work. This is why they are known as “unmanaged” hubs.
We recommend buying an eight port hub as they don’t cost much more than the five port models and of course one of those ports is used by connecting the hub to your router.
These little boxes are referred to interchangeably as hubs, switches, or splitters, and they allow your devices – such as an Xbox, PC, TV, or set-top box – to work only if they were connected directly to your router.
If you need to place the switch in a different room from your router, you can connect two of them with a pair of powerline adapters – this will slow down the connection, but it will at least make it possible without running a long network cable through your home.
There isn’t much variation between unmanaged switches of different brands. But there are subtle differences that can make one more appealing than another, whether it’s wall-mountability, power connector placement, port orientation, or even the visibility of the LEDs.
Price and warranty also come into play, as do build and aesthetics, although the latter aren’t a priority for many, understandably.
One point to which you will have to pay attention: the speed. The models here are all gigabit and full-duplex, which means they can run at 1000 Mbps in both directions (i.e. sending and receiving) simultaneously.
If you see a cheaper option, it’s probably a 10/100 Mbps version. This means that the ports are limited to 100 Mbps in each direction, and are therefore ten times slower. It’s never worth saving a few pounds or a few dollars for such a big compromise. Even if all the devices you need to connect are 10/100 right now, you’ll be glad you went with a Gigabit switch when you get a device that can take advantage of those Gigabit speeds.
None of these switches come with network cables, but we’ve simplified which ones to buy in our separate guide to the best Ethernet cables.
1. TP-Link TL-SG1008D – Best Overall
Warranty shorter than some
Like most manufacturers, TP-Link offers both metal and plastic bodied switches. The plastic one is by far the most popular and it’s easy to see why.
It’s more beautiful, with a much less professional design. The ports are on the back, but the activity lights are on the front. This allows cables to be routed more neatly rather than coming out the front of the device.
Unlike others here, the power outlet is on the back, not the sides, again allowing for neater cable management.
If you need to, the SG1008D can be wall mounted, and again the TP-Link is better designed than some because the cable release tabs remain accessible and not against the wall.
Don’t need eight ports? There’s a 5-port version called the SG1005D: it costs $16.99 / £12.99 / AU$27.50 on Amazon. Both have a three-year warranty.
2. Zyxel GS-108BV3 – Most Versatile
Sturdy metal body
QoS on two ports
Release tabs facing the mounting surface
Zyxel’s hub is a bit unusual in that it has a metal body, but unlike most rivals it retains the ports and power connector on the back. It’s not bad either, with its silver finish and slanted side grille vents.
Another reason it is unusual is that it offers QoS on specific ports. Ports seven and eight are for high priority devices – such as media streamers or anything that relies on low latencies – and six and five are marked for medium priority devices. The other four are for all other devices – and connecting to your router.
There are brackets underneath for wall mounting – or hanging under a desk – but keep in mind that the network ports face the wall (or desk) so it can be difficult to release the tabs if you have to remove a cable from a socket.
There are plastic versions available, and these mirror the 5 and 8 port metal versions in design and also with their low, medium and high priority ports. Since they aren’t cheaper, it makes sense to buy the metal version, and it’s great to see a five-year warranty.
3. Netgear GS308 – Easy to Hide
Front and rear cables
Netgear is another well-known networking brand that manufactures plastic and metal Ethernet splitters for home use.
We’ve chosen the metal version here because the GS908 – the plastic one – isn’t widely available and it tends to be considerably more expensive when you can find it. (Also, its cable management isn’t brilliant — the grooves aren’t wide enough to accommodate a standard round network cable.)
The GS308, like other metal switches, has its ports on the front as well as status LEDs, so it won’t look great on display in your living space. As the power cable plugs into the back, you can’t just flip it over: there will always be a cable emerging.
Tucked inside – or behind – a TV stand, that’s no problem and, as you’d expect, it’s fanless for quiet operation. Finally, it can be wall mounted if you need to hang it.
4. Trendnet Unmanaged Gigabit Switch
Side mounted power outlet
Trendnet’s unmanaged switch is available in five- and eight-port versions, but both seem to be regularly out of stock. There are plastic and metal versions, with prices varying for both.
For reasons we don’t know, prices have skyrocketed recently, and it’s no longer the great budget option it once was.
Remember that, as with all hubs, one port will be used to connect it to your router, so there are four usable ports on five-port hubs and seven on eight-port hubs.
Note the side power connector – this can be troublesome in some situations.
Like the others here, it offers quiet operation, low power consumption, and a plug-and-play setup.