Best Network Switches To Buy In 2020

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Finding a good network switch to buy in 2020 is hard. Here is a short guide to the best network switches you can buy in 2020 if you don't like our bottom-line recommendation for buying a network switch in 2020: DON'T.

Buy NOW or Wait

Gigabit Ethernet has been the standard local network speed for two decades. This is changing in 2020.

  • 2.5 Gigabit single-port RJ45 PCI express network cards based on the Realtek RTL8125 can be bought for around $20 on sites like AliExpress, $30 on e-bay and $40 on Amazon.
  • 10 gigabit RJ45 cards from ASUS can be purchased for around $100.
  • All Intel Socket 1200 motherboards with the Z490 chipset feature a 2.5 Gigabit RJ45 ethernet port.

The sum of the above means that you should absolutely NOT buy a network switch that is not at minimum capable of doing 2.5 Gigabit on all ports in 2020. Switches that are limited to Gigabit speeds will soon flood the used market. It will be possible to buy managed 24 and even 48 port Gigabit switches for very low sums of money. They are not worth buying at this point. However, switches that are capable of 2.5 or 10 Gigabit on all ports are very rare and very expensive. Thus; our recommendation, worth considering before you read on, is to wait for switch manufacturers to get the memo: Gigabit is dead. Buying a switch one year from now will probably get you a switch capable of doing 2.5 Gigabit on all ports for less than what a switch that is only capable of doing 2.5 or 10 Gigabit on one or two ports will cost you today.

Zyxel XGS1010-12

The Zyxel XGS1010 is a 12 port switch capable of doing 2.5 or 10 Gigabit on just two ports. That leaves you with 10 ports that are limited to older devices. The two Gigabit RJ45 copper ports are shared with two SFP+ ports; you can use one but not the other at the same time.

The XGS1010 will cost you around $200. It is only worth considering if you absolutely must have a switch capable of doing 2.5 or 10 Gigabit right now. $200 for what is effectively two high-speed RJ45 ports is quite expensive. You could, in comparison, buy 5 2.5 Gigabit PCIe cards for $100, put those in an old box, configure it to run in bridge mode and have a switch with more ports for less money.

ASUS XG-U2008

The ASUS XG-U2008 is another "10 Gigabit" switch with just two ports capable of modern speeds. The other 8 ports are limited to gigabit speeds. It is slightly more expensive than the Zyxel XGS1010 at $250 and it lacks the option to use SFP+ cables. It is therefore a worse buy.

D-Link DMS-1100-10TS

The D-Link DMS-1100-10TS is a "Smart Managed 2.5 Gigabit Switch" with 8 RJ45 ports capable of 2.5 Gigabit and two 10-Gigabit capable SFP+ switches. It supports 802. 1Q VLANs, bonding ("Link Aggregation") and everything else you would want from a managed switch.

The D-Link DMS-1100-10TS is preferable to other cheaper beyond-Gigabit switches because it has eight, not just one or two, ports capable of 2.5 Gigabit. It must, however, be noted that all the copper ports are limited to 2.5 Gigabit. They are not 10/2.5/1 ports like other switches have. It must also be noted that this switch retails for around $500. That is quite a lot of a eight+2 port switch. It would totally be a buy at $50 or $100 or perhaps even $200. At $500 it's just not worth the price.

TRENDnet TEG-7080ES

The TRENDnet TEG-7080ES is a managed 8-port 10 Gigabit copper switch. All ports are capable of 10/5/2.5/1 Gigabit. The switch is fully managed with all the bells and whistles you would expect from a fully managed switch.

The TRENDnet TEG-7080ES is priced at $550 which places it in the same ball-park as the D-Link DMS-1100-10TS. TRENDnet's alternative is clearly the better buy of the two since it can do 10 Gigabit, not just 2.5, on all eight ports. However, it must be noted that the TRENDnet has two very noisy 40mm fans. You do not want this switch anywhere near you or your loved ones.

This is a switch worth considering if you need a higher-than-gigabit switch right now. It is quite expensive for what you get: It's just a eight-port switch capable of switching a bit faster than other eight-port switches that would cost you one tenth of what you would have to pay for this one. It will much likely be possible to buy a similar switch for less than half its price early 2021.

Conclusion

It won't be long before 8-port switches capable of 2.5 or 10 Gigabit on all ports become cheap and widely available now that Realtek 2.5 Gigabit network chips have become very affordable, making it cheap to buy a add-in card for existing motherboards, while new Intel motherboards all come with 2.5 Gigabit network chips. Buying a new switch limited to gigabit speeds on the majority of ports is foolish at this time. Buying a network switch limited to 2.5/10 gigabit on just two ports is equally foolish. The price of switches that are capable of higher speeds on all ports is currently very high.

Look at used sites like e-bay if you absolutely need to buy a switch limited to gigabit today, there are a lot of 24 and 48 port gigabit switches listed for less than $100. Only buy one of the switched listed above if you have to have a switch that is capable of 2.5 or 10 gigabit today and do consider the cheap-skate alternative before you do: Any old computer can be turned into a 5-port 2.5 Gigabit switch for half the price of a network switch limited to two 2.5 gigabit ports.

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