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There are two ways for you to connect your devices with your router.
You either connect through the WiFi signals spread across your house, or you connect a device with your router through an Ethernet cable between them (which is recommended for gaming, by the way).
All you need to do is to plug an Ethernet cable into your device and LAN port of your router and you're done.
Our concern here is the second method: connecting devices through LAN ports of the router.
It's because these ports aren't a LOT by any means. Most routers have 4 LAN ports and only some of them, like Asus' AC88U, has 8 of these ports. This situation is even worse in mesh-networking devices where you can have only 1 or 2 ports.
Best Gaming Ethernet Switches 2020
Now that may not sound like a real problem since connecting 4 wired devices to your router is a rear possibility for most of the people. But some rear scenarios can occur where you need a wired connection between your router and PC/gaming console, and you have no free Ethernet ports on your router.
In that case, what you need is an Ethernet switch.
Also called gigabit switch, or a network switch, it's a simple device that enables you to add a lot of wired devices to your home network, quickly.
Ethernet/Network Switches vs Routers
A lot of time people get confused between these two terms. Let me tell you something.
Both of these devices are different, and are supposed to work with each other (not AS each other).
Try to think of your router as a traffic warden that controls the traffic, security and other stuff. Ethernet switch, on the other hand, acts like a fast lane, which allows as much traffic as possible, without any interference.
Although most WiFi routers nowadays come with a built-in switch, it's very limited in functionality.
Why You Need An Ethernet Switch
Here are some of the other benefits you'll get from a network switch.
- Each device connected through a switch can communicate with every other device connected. So, in order to make the internet available, all you need to do is to connect your router to that switch and done. Every device now, can connect to this switch and access the internet.
- On top of that, traffic between the two communicating devices doesn't get in the way of other devices.
- Apart from PCs, you can also connect other devices like network storage devices, External Hard Drives, and gaming consoles.
- In the long term, it prevents your network from being messed up (by reducing the number of lengthy Ethernet cables)
Netgear Nighthawk S8000: Check Price On Amazon
Best Ethernet Switch 2020 For Gaming
So now that you have read about all the process related to buying a switch, it's time for our top pick for best gaming switches: Nighthawk S8000. Here's what we found out about this switch.
From its all-black design, it looks like a WiFi router from the Netgear (albeit a smaller one) without the antennas. On its back side, there are 7 LAN ports and a single WAN port. Each of these port has a corresponding LED light above them. These lights give the indication about whether that specific port is currently in use or not.
For extra durability, Netgear has made it from an expensive zinc-alloy. This makes it more than good enough to withstand any regular abuse.
And here's another good thing about this alloy:
Despite being extremely durable, it's very lightweight.
Here's how you can do it (for Windows OS).
- Before anything else, you need to plug one end of an Ethernet cable into the WAN (labeled as Uplink) Port of this switch, and another end to the LAN port of your WiFi router.
- You can then use the rest of the ports to connect other devices you want (from port 1 to 7). Make sure that your gaming console/PC is connected to Port 1 and a Media device is connected to Port 2, for extra priority.
- Turn on the switch and open the windows explorer on your PC.
- Select Network (from the light sidebar) and enable Network Discovery Feature if prompted.
- Once you've clicked on the Network, you'll be shown different devices under different sections.
- You need to locate S8000, under Network infrastructure Section.
- A double-click on S8000 will open its interface on a web browser. You can log into it by giving 'password' as the password.
After this, the main menu will open in front of you, and you can just do different things like changing password, assigning static IP etc.
Assigning static IP will make your access easier for the future uses.
- From the main menu, click on IP.
- In the IP section, change the slider under DHCP to disable it.
- After this, you can save that IP address of your switch, and apply changes.
In case you want to change the default password, here's how you do it.
- Go to Settings > Change password.
- Enter your current password, which should be "password" at that time.
- Put a new password in New Password and Retype New Password Fields.
- Apply Changes.
There are different types of presets in this switch.
First one is the gaming preset.
By selecting this preset you can prioritize your gaming device (connected in port 1). The second one is the media preset.
This can prioritize port 2, for media devices. The last is the standard preset. It gives equal priority to all the 7 LAN ports.
Another feature this switch supports is the link aggregation. This feature enables more than one Ethernet port to couple together and provides as much as 4 Gbps bandwidth.
There's even a feature that can detect whether a connected Ethernet cable is working, or should it be trashed in a bin.
This switch has its own QoS which is really beneficial if your main router doesn't have one.
But in case your router has its own QoS, it's better to not use that feature in your switch. It's because this QoS will eventually be overwritten by the router's QoS.
In our testing, it performs quite better than other non-gaming switches.
It's a really helpful device for gamers, who happen to have a mediocre router. But if you already have a gaming router, there's very little need for buying this switch, apart from increasing the number of LAN ports.
Some Other Alternatives
Although S8000 is our top pick here, you can look for some other options if you like.
Nighthawk Pro Gaming SX10
- Supports up to 10 gaming devices with the help of 10 Ethernet ports.
- Real-time insights on network performance
- 2 Multi-gigs uplinks
- Customizable RGB LED lights
- Different presets to choose from.
- Other features include VLAN tagging, Link aggregation (up to 20 Gbps speed), QoS.
- Very expensive.
SX10 switch is basically a new version of S8000, released in 2018. It's not our top pick because a) It's pretty new and we haven't tested it, b) It's too expensive for a network switch (almost 300 bucks).
Linksys SE3005 (Best 5-Port Ethernet Switch 2020)
- 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Plug and Play
- Ideal for beginners/single users
TP-LINK TL-SG108 (Best Midrange Ethernet Switch 2020)
- 8 Ethernet ports
- Unmanaged switch with Plug and Play feature with zero configuration needed
- Auto power-consumption adjustment leads up to 80% less power usage
- The Best midrange network switch for gaming
How To Choose An Ethernet Switch
The first thing you need to consider is the number of devices you want to connect to your switch. If you have a very few devices, then a 5-port switch will be perfect for you.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of users in your house, and they all want to be connected, then you should probably go for a 16-port switch.
Going beyond 16-port switches is a little too much, at least for home networking.
Managed vs Unmanaged
Managed and unmanaged are the 2 common types among switches, and people often have no idea what are these 2 terms, and what actually makes a managed switch different from an unmanaged one?
Generally speaking, unmanaged switches come pre-configured from the factory and you can't make any changes in those configurations. They don't require any setup, all you need to do is just plug and play.
For the most part, what they do is only allowing two connected devices to communicate with each other, and nothing else.
Managed switches, on the other hand, do much more than unmanaged ones. They usually offer greater control over your network and connected devices (through protocols like SNMP), allowing you to monitor and manage it.
Through these, you can also change how the data is traveling throughout your network and also change its access.
In between these two types, there are intelligent/smart switches. These switches are in the middle between the above-discussed types.
They're less expensive than managed switches and give you more control than unmanaged switches
Considering all this, I think it's better to have a managed or smart switch for your home network. They're a little more expensive than unmanaged switches but give you more control over your network.
Since you're going to use these switches to connect your gaming PCs with your router (and play online games), make sure the switch you're going to buy is fast enough to high data transmission.
So that it won't cause any lag during your Pubg sessions.
For this purpose, make sure that your switch has a good number of Gigabit ports. Then you can dedicate the fast ports for your gaming PC.
So, that is it. These were some of the best switches I have found for gaming. All of them are suitable for different types of users.
One thing you need to know is that a switch can only prioritize the traffic among wired devices connected through it to the internet.
It has nothing to do with wirelessly connected devices.