While wireless networking is growing as never before, there are some of us who prefer cables. They are more reliable and provides faster speeds. However, with many devices in your home, getting a switch for more ethernet ports is not so far off.
The switch I recommend is the Ubiquiti UniFi Switch 8-60W (link to Amazon). The switch is one of the best home network switches and will connect to the UniFi controller for easier management. It offers PoE and will let you power your access points, cameras of IP phones without issues. On top of all this, the switch is fanless.
I will be honest with you from the start. This is not the cheapest 8-port switch on the market. But there aren’t many switches that are targeting prosumers and professionals as much as the UniFi product line and what comes with it.
I chose the UniFi switch 8-60W because it’s the one I use for myself and I am happy with it. I have been using the switch for about 6 months now and I have never had any issues with it. I wanted to get into UniFi products as they seemed like awesome products and it turns out that they are.
Today, I have an access point from Ubiquiti that is powered by this switch. Everything is working as expected and I run the controller on my home server, on av virtual machine running Ubuntu 18.04. If you are interested in doing that as well, you should read my post How to Install UniFi on Ubuntu.
Back to the switch…
The best thing with the UniFi 8-60W is the integration of the UniFi controller. The UniFi product line is unified (pun intended) in a way that can only be compared to the Apple ecosystem. If you already have UniFi products at home and a controller installed, adding this switch is super simple.
Of course, if you don’t want to use these features, you can skip all of it and use it as an unmanaged switch but there are switches with a much better price if that is what you want.
This switch supports PoE on four ports and they can provide up to 60W in total, which is a lot. You are probably never going to use that much. For example, if you plan to use one of the UniFi access points to this switch, they use about 3W and an IP phone consumes around 5W so there is plenty of power to take from.
This is a fast switch and will not bog you down. On the opposite, I can transfer files to my home server faster when the computer and the server is connected to this switch instead of the router I have. It shouldn’t be a surprise as that is the only job of the switch…
Comparing this switch to a normal home switch like the Netgear GS108 or the Linksys LGS108 is not fair. The UniFi 8-60W is much heavier and feels much better in the hand. The case on this switch has no plastic or thin metal as the other switches have.
You also have indicator LEDs on top of the switch. There are one for each port and they will light up in green when being used. On top of this, four more LEDs are showing if PoE is in effect or not. This makes it easy to see which ports are active (non-active show up in orange coloring) and which devices are powered by PoE.
There is no fan in the UniFi Switch 8-60W which means it will stay silent. Sure, it gets hot when in use, without all ports active but you will only notice that if you touch it when in use. I have never heard of any of these switches overheating and dies either, so I guess Ubiquiti tuned the switch to be just under the need for a fan. But +1 for silicon.
While the UniFi 8-60W is a great switch with a lot of features, not everyone is interested in a managed switch that can do all that, on top of installing the UniFi controller or buy a cloud key. When that is the case, getting the Linksys LGS108 8-port switch is a much better buy.
The Linksys LGS108 is a simple switch that is plug and play. It doesn’t need to be managed and there are no PoE ports on it, essentially a “dumb” switch. In the Linksys LGS series, you can find other seizes as well, as the smallest 5-port switch or the large 24-port switch.
The price on these switches is much lower than the UniFi 8-port and they are performing great for that price as well. All ports on the Linksys LGS-switches are gigabit ports so you will not lose any speed by getting one of these. What you lose is control, but if you simply need an extension, it’s a no brainer.
Click here to find the Linksys LGS108 on Amazon
A switch can be managed or unmanaged. An unmanaged cannot be controlled and configured while a managed switch can offer more features by being able to configure it to suit your needs. If you need a managed switch or not will depend on what you are looking for.
An unmanaged switch is a switch where you don’t configure anything, and you will do nothing else than plug in an ethernet cable and use the ports to expand your network. This type of switch is very easy to use, and it doesn’t require anything else than power. This is what most home users will find useful when they need more ports.
A managed switch offers a lot more features but at the same time, it requires some basic knowledge about networking. Newer managed switches come with a graphical user interface which means that you don’t need to get familiar with the CLI (Command Line Interface) which was the standard back in the days.
With a managed switch, you can set an IP address, configure quality of service, virtual LANs and much more. A managed switch also offers better security in that you can configure each port to be turned on or off or set a MAC address for a specific port, for example. It’s not something that you may use at home but for small business, this feature is good.
The reason I like managed switches the most isn’t because of the features above, it’s because of statistics. Managed switches provide better statistics on how data is flowing through the switch. You can see which clients are using the most data at a specific time, for example, which I often find interesting.
So, which to choose? If you want nothing more than more ports, an unmanaged switch is perfect. But if you are looking for more features, a managed switch is much better (and more fun).
This is a problem that is slowly going away, but I still find cheap switches that don’t offer 1000 Mbps ports. When it comes to switches, there are three main speeds: 10, 100 and 1000 Mbps. Cheap, old switches usually just offer 10 and 100 Mbps which isn’t good enough in 20198, especially since new switches with 1000 Mbps is so cheap, like the LinkSys LGS108 on Amazon.
If you are looking to get a switch, especially second hand, make sure the switch supports 10/100/1000 Mbps. If not, you should stay away. For example, if I move a file that is 6.8GB big from my home server to my computer with both connected to a switch with 1000 Mbps, the time it takes to move that file is around 70 seconds.
If I had a switch that only supported 100 Mbps, the time it would take to copy this file would be closer to 10-11 minutes. If you have an internet speed to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) that is more than 100Mbit/s, you would not be able to use the full capacity with a switch limited to 100 Mbps. So, stick with 1000 Mbps (1 Gigabit) to not limit yourself.
This is a question I get asked every now and then and the simple answer is: probably not. If you plan to set up cameras or an access point, then yes, you should pay extra for PoE. If you plan to use the UniFi Cloud Key, you should pay extra for PoE as it’s much easier to power it that way. But usually, PoE is not needed for home networks.
If you need multiple switches, getting one PoE switch can be a good idea. You can then purchase switches that are powered by PoE and thus, you can run one power cable to one switch and use that switch to power the other switches.
But it’s specific situations like this when PoE is needed. Generally, PoE is a “nice to have” and nothing you should focus on when buying a switch.
I have been using the UniFi Switch 8-60W (link to Amazon) for half a year at the time of writing and I would not recommend anything else when it comes to managed switches. But I know the cost is high and thus, the LinkSys LGS108 on Amazon might be a better option if you just need more network ports.
But when you are out shopping for a new switch, do not forget to make sure it does support 10/100/1000 Mbps as you would limit yourself way too much if it doesn’t. You want a switch to be as fast as possible. Something you may not need as much is PoE unless you have a specific use for it.
Enjoy your new switch!