Netgear S8000

Do you need a $100 Ethernet switch targeted at gamers? Probably not ... but you'll also probably want one.

That's what the Netgear S8000 is, an Ethernet switch that makes up part of the company's high-performance Nighthawk line. An Ethernet switch is a pretty boring product. It's basically there to split your wired network connection between multiple devices.

So why, then, did Netgear make one that looks like something from a science fiction movie, that lights up, is pretty darn heavy, and retails for $100? Well, if you listen to the marketing, it's for gamers. And while the price tag is high and the design perhaps unnecessary, it's the smarts inside it that make the difference.

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Netgear S8000

The NETGEAR Nighthawk(R) S8000 Gaming & Streaming 8-Port Advanced Gigabit Ethernet Switch is a versatile, ultra-performance, easily configurable network switch designed for expert gaming, 4K UHD media streaming, and basic home network connectivity. Its sleek and modern design make it the perfect for any modern home or small office. The Nighthawk S8000 brings low latency, traffic and port prioritization, and Quality of Service (QoS) management at the click of a button for ultra-high performance in high-demanding online/VR gaming and media streaming.

S8000 design and hardware

Do even gamers need to spend $100 on one of these?

It looks fantastic. That's all perhaps unnecessarily, but if you are a gamer there's a good chance you've put some effort into your setup and want something that'll fit in. On the outside, it's the outrageous design that differentiates it from any other Ethernet switch. Well, that and the blue lighting strip.

From Netgear:

Industry-first "cool-touch" premium zinc-alloy housing for durability and looks, with a soft-touch no-slip base.

The S8000 is an eight-port Gigabit switch, though one of these ports, labeled Uplink, is the internet connection from your router. So you've got seven other ports to plug in all of your things. The only other thing of note on the outside is a button to turn off the LED lighting. The power button is just beneath the lighting strip, too.

The company throws around terms like "low-latency," "4K gaming" and "VR" but in truth, the software that goes with the S8000 is where the beauty of this product comes to light.

The user interface for the S8000 settings is designed to be easy to use on both a PC and mobile, albeit in a browser rather than an app. You don't really want mountains of settings for something with such a relatively simple function, and Netgear has addressed it well.

The S8000 makes sure that your gaming device is the top priority right out of the box.

Netgear recommends you use port No. 1 for your main gaming device and port No. 2 for your main streaming device. Both of these have presets already applied in the software, so it's easy enough to run with it. Essentially there's a quality of service management within the switch, with your gaming device being the highest priority.

You can change this, of course, and you're able to easily adjust rates on the fly across any devices you have connected to the S8000. The idea though is that your online gaming never suffers, and the S8000 will make sure it gets the bandwidth it needs over anything else. I don't have VR to test with it, but the same principle applies. Bandwidth-heavy stuff gets priority.

Netgear S8000

Closing thoughts

Does it work? Absolutely. The dynamic quality of service has less of a visible impact maybe since you're not talking about a wireless connection, but it does work. And if you've got seven devices hooked up, being able to prioritize is helpful. That said, if you can hook up straight to your router you may not even need one of these, but you would benefit if your use case suits. A managed switch will have better control for high demand devices than the 'dumb' ports on the back of a router.

Whether it's worth $100 is more of a question. You get a three-year warranty with it and the software is incredibly easy to use, but it is, after all, an Ethernet switch. If you can get it on discount it's worth picking up if you're a gamer, especially if you're also a streamer. But it's a harder sell at full price.

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