It's been a long time since we did a group test of switches, and there is a reason for that. The market for switches is not exactly one going through boundless innovation year after year. Out of the 25 models we tested back in 2009, seven are still widely available. That's not something you can say about a lot of other product groups in the world of computer hardware, but it doesn't mean that the market segment is entirely stagnant. So today we'll take a closer look at what's out there right now and what you can expect from a switch in this day and age, and we've picked out 12 to compare specifically.
There is a huge range of switches you can choose between, and they come with lots of different features. If you only need to add a couple of extra ports to your router, and you don't need the best possible bandwidth, you can find very affordable gigabit switches with five network ports for example. You will fill it up faster than you think, however, especially if you want to use a single switch to hook up all the equipment in your home office. One port is for the network connection, the rest could go to the PC, printer, NAS and an access point. In the living room you might have a Smart TV, home cinema set and games console, which are another four devices with a network port.
A slightly larger switch with eight ports is usually the preferred option. That leaves some room for future expansion, in case you want to be able to quickly hook up your laptop when you need the maximum bandwidth for downloading or copying large files.
Switches exist in all shapes and sizes. You can get one with 100 ports even, but most larger switches come with either 24 or 48 ports. A 24-port switch costs around £100, but the more extreme ones with advanced features can run into the thousands. You can read the rest of 12 switch group test on Hardware.info.