Buying My First Switch for Small Office/Home Network


I could really use some advice on picking out a switch. I’ve been reading a lot of threads here, but the ones that come up in search are a bit old and I’m not certain the products recommended are still the best thing to get in 2020.

I’m primarily motivated by the need to hardwire more devices into my network than I have available ports in my router. Some of you might have seen my other post about choosing a NAS; after having to hook a second ethernet cable into my Raspberry Pi for docker reasons, I’m now out of available LAN ports.

I don’t need a massive device, but at the same time, I don’t want a completely dumb unmanaged switch, that I’ll outgrow in a year, either. (I’m already envisioning a need for 2-3 more ports than I currently have.)

To that end, I’m imagining something with at least 8 ports, and some managed features (at least the option to do vLANs at some point). POE would be nice, but I’ve spent the last 20 years running extension cords. I can get fancy later.

Link aggravation would potentially be of greater use after I got a newer router than it would be now, but I’d hate to have to replace the switch just for that. I anticipate upgrading the router no sooner than 6 months from now, when the wifi 6/6E offerings have shaken out a bit.

Likewise, 2.5G or 10G would make me feel better about longevity, but may be out of my price range. I have no idea what devices I should be looking at.

My environment:

  1. Router: Synology RT2600ac (2017 WiFi 5/ac 1 Gbps Router, 4 LAN ports).
  2. Bandwidth Capacity: I work out of my house, and we get all our streaming content over the internet as well. I generally see ~ 1TB down/120GB up a month from the WAN, and that gets thrown around the network as needed. So I need a device that can keep up with that without causing slowdowns elsewhere.

Ideally, I’d like to spend less than $300.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

If you don’t mind setting up a UnFi controller their switches are good, there is also the Edge switch line. More budget friendly but still a good switch is the MikroTik line of switches and specifically the ones that support SwitchOS as they are a bit easier to configure.

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Good morning!

Thanks for the advice. I honestly had not considered Unifi for this particular problem–I’d like to invest in their equipment when I replace my router, but I didn’t think I could just buy a switch without buying a separate controller. I have a Raspberry Pi I could (probably) install the controller on without breaking something, but I’d prefer the controller be on-board the switch if possible.

I’ll check out the SwitchOS switches as well.

Would either of these have issues being plugged into the Synology router? It’s the only piece of networking hardware I own, so I’m not really sure how it plays with others yet.

I’m not pressed for time–right now, everything works and I’m treating it more like a hobby and a chance. to learn some technology I’m not familiar with than an emergency, pressing need to redo my home network. So, I’ve got some time to decide.

Thanks again!

I would go with the MikroTik switch and when you replace your router get a pf-Sense from Netgate. UniFi is an excellent choice but comes with a higher price tag.

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No one in this forum recommends Netgear switches except me :slight_smile: They work and are cost effective, I’d keep in mind you can have link aggregations so you may want to have more ports than devices.

I made a mistake in the switch I bought it’s a 48 port but the cost of a 48 port PoE turned out to be not much more, I used a 10 port fanless PoE to keep costs down. However, I now realise that a 48 port poe switch might have loud fans !

Personally I like the mix and match approach as you learn more, unifi looks cool but a bit too rich for my wallet.

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Thanks again, everyone.

Given that I eventually plan to move to Unifi for routing, I’m leaning very strongly towards grabbing the Ubiquiti UniFi Switch Lite 16 PoE | 16-Port Gigabit Switch with 8 PoE+ 802.3at Ports (USW-Lite-16-PoE):

I just need to double check that this one can do link aggregation.

I’d have already bought it, but I’m trying to figure out why it’s $50 more at Amazon than on Unifi’s site. (I’ve got Amazon gift cards and Pay with Points options that make me want to buy it there, but I don’t want to pay more for the privilege of using coupons.)

That would let me get started learning how to work the Unifi controller (apparently I can install it via docker on my Raspberry Pi, so I’m set there).

If I wasn’t so interested in Unifi, I’d certainly go with the MikroTik.