Managed switches are networking hubs that allow you to hook up several devices to a network and manipulate how traffic is controlled. Think of a managed switch (in comparison to an unmanaged switch) as a virtual private server (VPS) that offers you more than shared web hosting, but requires you to get a little dirty in the backend to get everything working. Here are a few options to get you started.
Netgear S8000 (opens in new tab)
For gamers, Netgear has a viable switch option in the S8000. It's a managed switch with an easy interface to get accustomed to. There are a total of eight Gigabit ports for hooking up consoles, PCs, and other devices to the network, and it even packs a punch with traffic prioritization and QoS management. Best of all, it's rather affordable.
TP-Link T2600G (opens in new tab)
The T2600G-28TS from TP-Link is an excellently managed switch, coming in a variety of configurations and offering several ports. This unit has 24 ports, which is usually more than enough for a home or small office deployment, but for the price, it's an affordable, powerful, and capable hub. The Gigabit and four mini-BGIC ports allow for not only computers and laptops to be hooked up, but also printers, IP telephones, other access points, and smaller devices.
Mikrotik CSS326 (opens in new tab)
This 24-port switch from Mikrotik offers more connectivity for your buck when compared to the Cisco SG300. It even packs a punch with an excellent user interface for managing everything on the device, called SwitchOS. As well as 24 ports, this switch offers Layer 3 management, PoE functionality, and port isolation with some additional security protocols. On the front of the unit are the Gigabit port cluster and two SFP+ Ethernet ports.
TP-Link TL-SG105E (opens in new tab)
TP-Link offers some killer networking equipment, and this five-port managed switch is ideal for a small office setup or in the home for connecting gaming hardware and media servers. The small unit houses some serious features usually found in more expensive switches like diagnostics, QoS, and more despite the budget price.
Netgear XS708E (opens in new tab)
The Netgear XS708E is a serious hub for small businesses and deployment. It's easy to configure, reliable, and offers high levels of network performance, but comes at a price. It's ideally suited for high-speed networks with eight 10Gb ports and 10Gb SFP+.
EnGenius EWS2910P (opens in new tab)
EnGenius makes some smart networking equipment and the EWS2910P is a great 10-port switch that lets you not only see what's going on in a local sense, but opens up the company's cloud platform for external access to analytics and more. This switch has 8 PoE 1Gb ports with a further two SFP ports.
If we were to make a suggestion
Managed switches like the Netgear S8000 (opens in new tab) are great for allowing you to set up and configure your home network with gaming in mind. This gaming switch houses eight Gigabit ports for hooking up all your consoles, PCs, and other devices to the system. It even rocks some advanced features like traffic prioritization and QoS management.
You get a three-year warranty with it, and the software is incredibly easy to use, but it is — at the end of the day — a network switch. It may sound like quite the investment to spend this amount on a switch, but it's worth picking up if you're a gamer, especially if you're a streamer. Other switches in this collection are better suited for home and business owners, depending on your budget, like the Netgear XS708E (opens in new tab).
If you're unsure whether or not a managed switch is right for you, we've got a guide to better understand the differences between unmanaged and managed switches.
Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
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