I recently needed a new network switch for my garage, so I went to purchase a Netgear switch as usual. However I quickly noticed that their price has jumped MASSIVELY: they are now 57% higher than they were just two years ago – yikes!
As a result, I purchased a much cheaper TP-Link unmanaged gigabit switch instead. But it got me thinking: is it okay to ‘mix and match’ different network switches? Or could you have some problems with this?
Well luckily it’s USUALLY fine to use various makes of switch in your networking set-up. I now have three Netgear switches and one TP-Link switch (along with four Eero Pro 6 routers, and a TP-Link PoE Injector) – and my network is rock solid. I have no problems at all.
Having said all that, there are SOME factors that would make me avoid certain makes of network switch – as I cover in this video:
The individual video sections are:
- 0:00 – Intro
- 0:44 – Does The MAKE Of Network Switch Matter?
- 1:32 – You Can Mix And Match Without Issue
- 2:02 – Metal > Plastic
- 2:16 – TP-Link’s LEDs SUCK (Compared To Netgear)
- 2:48 – GLEEN IS L33T
- 3:07 – Final Thoughts
If you prefer text over video, please read on for the guide/transcript version of this video.
Video Guide And Transcript
Hey everyone, I was recently looking to buy a new network switch for my garage. I went to buy a Netgear one as usual, but they were a LOT more expensive than 2 years ago. The 5 port one has gone up from £14 to £22, and the 8 port one has gone from £19 to £30 – yikes.
That’s a 57% increase in just 2 years, which is crazy. Inflation has really been switchin’ it up. Get it?
Nevermind. My main point here is that I didn’t want to pay these crazy, hiked prices – so I went looking for other makes of unmanaged switches. And TP-Link popped up:
They were a LOT cheaper, and seemed to offer everything I needed like… being unmanaged. That’s ‘kinda all I need, really. As long as they are also gigabit, then I’m happy.
Does The MAKE Of Network Switch Matter?
So it got me thinking: does the MAKE of network switch matter? Certainly, if you browse Amazon you’ll see that the customer reviews are pretty high across the board. Even brands I hadn’t heard of before were averaging 4 and a half star reviews.
And that’s because IN GENERAL the MAKE of network switch does not matter. The approach of network switching and routing data packets correctly has been solved a long time ago. Effectively, our internet devices – whether it’s a PC, TV or a phone – will send and receive LOTS of internet traffic known as data packets. A network switch will “label” these packets, so that they know that a certain data packet relates to my phone (and not my PC) for example.
You Can Mix And Match Without Issue
And as I say, this fundamental technique hasn’t changed in a long time. Plus switches work in a common way, against common networking standards. So there’s certainly no problem with “mixing and matching” and having SOME Netgear switches and SOME TP-Link switches, for example.
That’s what I HAVE now. I have three Netgear switches INSIDE my house, and a TP-Link switch in my garage.
They all work perfectly fine together, and my network setup is rock solid – which I’ve covered in some previous videos. If you wanted to check those out, I’ll put the links to those down in the description.
Metal > Plastic
Having said all that, there are three reasons why I might choose one brand over another. Firstly, I much prefer METAL switches over plastic ones:
Plastic switches look and feel a bit cheap, in my opinion, and they can run a bit hotter. I’ve seen some “no name” switch brands that only produce plastic switches, so I avoid them on this factor alone.
TP-Link’s Eth LEDs SUCK (Compared To Netgear)
Secondly, while the TP-Link switch seems reliable, there’s one thing I HATE about it. The LEDs on the Ethernet ports are TINY. I can barely see them, and this sometimes makes me think that one of my devices has gone offline or the Ethernet cable isn’t plugged in properly. You can see on screen that the Netgear LEDs are bigger and brighter.
Now, I don’t know if ALL TP-Link switches are like this, y’know I’m not gonna go out and buy loads of switches to test this out, but the lights on this particular model are really annoying – they really REALLY bug me.
GLEEN IS L33T
Thirdly, some network switches are GLEEN:
Wait, what? Ohhh, that crappy logo actually says “green” right? Okay, so some network switches offer various energy saving technologies including EEE – energy-efficient Ethernet. Not all makes of switch offer this, but TP-Link and Netgear OFTEN do, which might be a bonus for you.
Those are three of the things I look for in a network switch, but how about you? If you have any extra thoughts or factors on the “best” network switch manufacturer to go for, then please let me know down in the comments.
And that wraps up today’s video. I hope you found it useful – if you did, please click the thumbs up button. Please also consider subscribing to my channel if you haven’t already. Thank you!