Updated: May 23, 2015

Network Hub Reviews:

Finding the Best Network Hubs and Ethernet Switches - Who couldn't use a good network hub in their life? A component that acts as a convergence point of a network, allowing data packets to be transferred is a modern day necessity, isn't it? You can make the explanation as complicated as you like and put in as many technical terms as you want, but network hubs are fairly straightforward devices, and they can help make your computer system more efficient and streamlined. Network or ethernet switches are more complicated, but their purpose is to connect points of your network. Network hubs and switches are often used in commercial applications, but they can be handy for home use. Let's take a look at exactly what these devices are, whether you need one, and which are the best to get.
network hub

A Bit about Network Hubs and Switches - A transportation hub is where people and cargo are exchanged and several different modes of transportation are available. Penn Station, for instance, is a hub because it is a convergence of passengers traveling by train and bus. This is what a network hub does. The internet comes into your home via your modem, where it is then routed to your hub. From there, you can connect your devices, such as computers, printers, and other peripherals. That's it. It simply routes the ethernet to your devices. An ethernet switch, by contrast, is sometimes called a "smart hub." It is more sophisticated because it doesn't just send data to all of your devices, whether they require them or not. Instead, it is able to look at the information sender and destination devices to determine where a connection needs to be made. This is very similar to a router. So, an ethernet hub or an ethernet switch? If you have a computer system that currently doesn't have either, go with switches. If you have a network hub, you can either get a new one or replace it with a switch. Switches are more efficient and sophisticated. Cost used to be a factor, and network hubs were the way to go for the budget-conscious. The great thing about technology is that prices drop; today switches are comparably priced. *Note: you may also hear the terms "active hub" and "intelligent hub" in your search, which are switches, rather than passive hubs.

What to Look for When Choosing Your Network Switch or Hub - The first decision you want to make is the switch/hub choice. After that, you need to look at the speed of your internet connection. Older network hubs have a speed of 10 Mbps, while newer models offer 100 Mbps speeds. You will see dual speed network hubs with both 10 and 100 Mbps so different devices have the right connection points. Network hubs and switches come with different numbers of ports, so decide how many devices you want connected to your network hub. You can get a relatively inexpensive 4 port ethernet switch or a $13,000 - 128 port monster of an ethernet switch. Somewhere in between you should find your perfect match. You can browse the best selling network hubs and ethernet switches here.

Best Network Hubs and Ethernet Switches:

Your needs will determine the best network hubs and ethernet switches for your particular system, but here is a look at some general bests to get you started.

Netgear DS104 - About.ComputerNetworking chose this Netgear switch as the best dual-speed hub, and it reviews well with ZDNet, as well as consumers from Amazon, Wize, DooYoo, and other sites. Netgear is a popular choice for home networking equipment, and About.ComputerNetworking liked the metal case. Most others in the price category are made with plastic, and the "quality look and feel" of the hub adds to its appeal. The DS104 features dual 10/100 Mbps speeds, self-learning bridge (so it knows how to manage traffic to both 10 and 100 Mbps traffic), full connectivity between devices, uplink button, plug and play installation, and Vista network ports with built-in LED lights. The Netgear is $99 on Amazon and will offer reliable service. The Cisco-Linksys EZXS55W EtherFast 10/100 5-Port Workgroup Switch is a less expensive option, but one that is tremendously popular with consumers. It is noted time and again that this gigabit ethernet switch does what it says, and does it well. So, what does it do? The EZXS55W boosts your network's performance. It offers support for half- and full-duplex speeds (full duplex means it can transmit data in both directions), supports 10, 20, 100, and 200 Mbps speeds, 10/100 autosensing ports, and easy plug and play installation. The Cisco-Linksys costs $25. A top rated ethernet switch for Buzzillions and Amazon reviewers is the D-Link DGS-2205 5-Port 10/100/1000 Desktop Switch. This features Green Ethernet technology, which allows the D-Link to detect link status and reduce the power usage to unused ports. There are 5 ports which offer 10/100/1000 Mbps speeds, full duplex mode, compatibility with virtually all 10/100/1000 Mbps ethernet devices, easy operation with no configuration, auto MDI/MDI-X crossover on all ports, and diagnostic LEDs. This lists for $56, but you can find it for about $20 here. You may find that a network USB hub is a good choice for you. Say you had one printer and four computers. You can share the printer with all four computers with a switch like the Belkin F1U200V 4-Port USB Switch. The Belkin works with virtually all USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 devices and has a Bus-powered design so it doesn't need a power source. LED status lights let you know if the power is on and which port(s) are in use. Add a lifetime warranty, and you have an efficient USB switch for about $33. In your search for the right network hub or ethernet switch, you'll keep running into the same names: Netgear, Cisco-Linksys, D-Link, Belkin, MediaLink, and CyberPower. Going with top brands helps ensure that you get the reliability that you need to keep your network running smoothly. Browse through the selection online to see which network hub is right for your network and your budget.