Technology |April 13, 2021

The Wide World of Switching: Top 8 Features of Ethernet Switches

Rob Freebird
April 13, 2021

If you are looking to buy an ethernet switch, you will quickly realize that there are many different makes and models on the market. For example, this link here has 3,121 to pick from.

Which one is best? Which features do you need? Are the features even worth it? This article will review the top 8 features of modern ethernet switches.

You can identify which features you will benefit you the most by answering these quick questions:

1. How many devices are you connecting?

Likely the easiest question, but few people know, is that some manufacturers rate full throughput for switches that are 80% utilized. Make sure that throughput is not impacted by utilization. Lastly, when counting devices, do not forget that the switch needs an uplink as well.

2. How many devices require POE (power over ethernet)?

Again, like utilization, some switches have smaller power supplies that will only provide POE to half the ports of a switch. Modern POE devices take between 13-71 Watts of power over ethernet. So, make sure the switch is listed as able to provide POE to all ports.

3. What environment is the switch going into, and is rack mount available?

Indoor? Outdoor? Industrial DIN RAIL? Damp? Underwater? Rack Mount? Wall mount? The environment is key factor in longevity.

4. Do you have VLANs?

Having VLANs can improve performance and security of a network by allowing for better control of the data as it moves through your network. Almost all managed switches allow for VLANs.

5. Do you need ether channel, link aggregation, or stacking?

Link Aggregation and EtherChannel allows for two or more connections to work as one to move data at faster rates, while stacking allows for one switch to talk to another switch nearby through a back plain connection—often at rates 10x or 20x faster than common link aggregation.

6. Will the switch be able to see the internet?

Internet access is key if you want to have a cloud managed switch. There are serious advantages here—including the ability to get security patches and firmware/feature upgrades.

7. Do you want to manage the switch from a website or command line?

Some switches do not offer CLI and some only have CLI. Most cloud-based switches only have web interfaces to configure them and sometimes require internet access to even function.

8. Will the switch need to do layer 3 routing? 

Lastly, routing is a matter of function. Some switches do not allow for layer 3 routing and simply pass mac address to the upstream device. Like with VLANs, having more control here can offer more security. 


We want to hear from you! If you have questions about ethernet switches, please reach out to NuWave by filling out our contact form:

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