We should start by clearing up some terminology: what most people refer to as an Ethernet splitter is actually an Ethernet switch. While most traditional splitters for electronics, like a coaxial or 3.5mm audio splitter, can simply duplicate a signal, it’s more complicated when it comes to network traffic. Actual Ethernet splitters exist, but they use very old technology and aren’t recommended for the speed and traffic you use when gaming or performing other tasks. As such, we’re going to be looking at the best Ethernet switches which meet the same goal of allowing you to connect several devices together with only one Ethernet cable going to your modem or router.
Note: one port on a network switch will be used to link the switch and its devices to your router. So remember, when you’re choosing a switch that however many ports it lists, one of them will be automatically used for the router. So, a five-port network switch would have four Ethernet ports available for linking devices.
This switch design is the current gold standard in the networking world for reliable, trusted network switches. Several manufacturers have switches that look nearly identical to this one offered by TP-Link, and all of them function admirably. It uses a heavy-duty metal case, has wall mounting ports on the bottom, and offers gigabit speeds. This model from TP-Link also comes with a limited lifetime warranty and an impressive operating temperature, in case you’re mounting in in an attic or basement.
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This pair of switches from NETGEAR offers gigabit speeds, wall mounting ports, and front-facing network traffic lights for convenient visual confirmation that everything is operating smoothly. NETGEAR offers it in two versions: the five port GS205 and eight-port GS208, both of which offer the same speeds and features. Cosmetically it’s very similar to many of NETGEAR’s routers, which is a nice bonus if you need to stack networking hardware in a small space and want it all to match nicely.
NETGEAR GS305P v2
With five Gigabit ports, a metal body design, and wall mount ports and hardware, this checks all the standard network switch boxes you’ll need to get up and gaming with multiple devices. But, in addition to that standard suite of features, it also offers POE with a 63W power budget.
This means that as long as your router supports POE, it can also power this switch without the need for more AC adapters clogging up your office space. NETGEAR offers this model in many configurations, up to an industrial 48 port model with a 380W power budget. If you’re out of plugs and don’t like the idea of adding yet another AC adapter to the mix, it’s a nice feature to have. It is important to note that this type of POE is different from the POE provided by powerline Ethernet adapters, which distribute Ethernet via traditional power outlets.
Related: Best Powerline Adapters for Gaming
Gigabit speeds are fast enough for the vast majority of consumer internet connections available on the market today. Still, if you’re an absolute network speed freak (or just doing lots of massive network transfers), then TRENDnet has you covered with the TEG-S350. It’s a 2.5Gbps network switch with 25Gbps switching capacity, which translates to massive maximum speeds. And that speed limit doesn’t hurt compatibility: it’s still fully functional when using 10/100/1000Mbps devices. For that maximum speed, be sure to upgrade to at least CAT6 Ethernet, or the speed of your cabling will bottleneck you.
If you search around, you can still find traditional Ethernet splitters on the market, but they will not perform well enough for even basic modern networking tasks. Network traffic requires proper routing to different devices, which is more complicated than just splitting a signal allows. Additionally, standard gigabit network switches are very affordable and provide much more functionality than an old-school splitter would offer in the first place. These days there’s effectively no reason to go for a traditional splitter over a much more capable network switch.
For more hardware recommendations check out Best Gaming Hardware Holiday Gifts and Best Logitech Gaming Headsets on Pro Game Guides.
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