When choosing a network switch to expand your home or office network, you have a choice between managed and unmanaged switches. Managed switches allow you to really dive deep into configuring the device to control a whole manner of functionality, while unmanaged switches are a little more affordable, but aren't quite as advanced.
This is a great unmanaged switch choice with plenty of features. You get eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, network monitoring capabilities, loop prevention, cable diagnostics, QoS and much more. There's also a limited lifetime warranty.
If you're into gaming, Netgear has you covered with the S8000. It's a managed switch with an easy interface to use and a total of eight Gigabit ports for hooking up your consoles and gaming PCs. It's also not terribly expensive and doesn't look like a spaceship.
For the office
TP-Link's T2600G is a superb managed switch, coming in a variety of configurations with different port arrays. This one, in particular, has 24 ports, which is more than enough for a home or small office network. It's also affordable without sacrificing much on functionality. You've also got four mini-BGIC ports that allow for not only computers and laptops to be hooked up, but also printers, IP telephones, other access points, and smaller devices.
Cisco is known for serious network equipment and the 300-20 is no different. It's designed for small businesses and enterprise deployment, but remains easy enough for almost anyone to configure. It's reliable, offers high levels of performance, but comes at a rather high price.
If you're on a tight budget, this TP-Link unmanaged switch is a basic five-port hub. It's able to do pretty much all you need it to do when attached to a small home network with very little to configure. Ideal if you want to plug and play.
Making the right switch
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Choosing an unmanaged or managed switch depends entirely on your budget and how many ports you require. If you're only connecting a few PCs at home, the TP-Link TL-SG108E (opens in new tab) is ideal with a low price and plenty of features — you can even go a little further and check out the built-in configuration page to play with a few features and settings.
If you'd prefer a managed switch and happen to play games, the Netgear S8000 (opens in new tab) is a great tool to hook up all your consoles and gaming PCs with gaming in mind. This switch houses eight Gigabit ports for hooking up all your devices. It even rocks some advanced features like traffic prioritization and QoS management.
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.