Ethernet switch versus hub versus splitter for gaming: what are the differences?

Ethernet networks are used to connect all your devices to the internet.  It can be a lot of work to install an Ethernet network in your home. Luckily there are devices that make this simpler. Let’s take a look at an ethernet switch, hub, and splitter to see what they do and how you can use them. 

This will ensure that you can game or surf with minimal lag.


What is an ethernet switch for gaming?

The internet service provider offers a switch that is connected with your wired connection (often a  copper or fiber cable). From there you can run an ethernet cable to your computer or WiFi hotspot. Most people want to use multiple ethernet cables so that they have access to faster internet. An ethernet switch makes it possible to split one ethernet cable into multiple ones. This can be handy if you want internet on multiple floors or if you have a big house. 

You can see it as the branch of the tree. One central branch splits out into multiple branches. This divides the network into smaller parts that have less traffic.

Companies often need to connect a lot of devices and ethernet switches allow them to install a lot of devices on the same ethernet cable. Often specialists are working on this to make sure that the network is stable and works properly. If it stops working, it can cost a company a lot of resources so they tend to spend a lot of time making sure that everything works properly. They have backup systems in place to make sure that the ethernet keeps working.

Switches use complex software to manage everything. They often get software updates. After a few years, you will have to replace the switch as the company that makes them doesn’t support them any longer.

Using an ethernet switch is quite easy. Just plug it in and make sure that you connect the correct wires. This is described above it. Once this is done, the software should do its work and you should have access to the internet quite fast after this. These switches need electricity at all times. From time to time they have to be reset as well. For this reason, you should only add an ethernet switch if you really need one as it adds complexity to your network and is a failure point.

More expensive switches offer higher speeds and more ports. These can be configured to support advanced settings. This is more needed for businesses than normal consumers. 

What is an ethernet hub?

An ethernet hub extends the network. It doesn’t divide it up into multiple cables (as a switch does) but makes the current cable longer. It just spreads the same data that it receives over multiple cables without filtering or altering the information. It might send information to too many devices and can slow the internet down. The internet traffic is therefore not split over multiple cables. 

Switches are more intelligent than hubs as they can learn the addresses of the devices and only communicate with a specific device. This speeds up the internet and makes everything safer. This requires more advanced software and chips.

Hubs are not used that often as they can lead to a lot of problems. Switches have become cheaper and easier to use so they are the preferred option for most networks. Some use cases can require a hub but they are not that common.

In reality, this is often a function of a splitter so most people don’t get a separate ethernet hub. Big brands such as TP-Link or Cisco offer this option on their splitters. You just have to use the right connection point. Software is then used to make sure that the cable gets the right signal.

If you are more advanced, you can get access to this software and configure everything but this is not something that most homeowners will do as the standard settings work pretty well. You can break your network if you don’t know what you are doing as small mistakes can make it impossible for the switch to communicate with your devices.

Ethernet cables are often long and you can cut them to the desired size. You can then add your own connector. This versatility makes it easy to get the right length of cable. This is why Ethernet hubs are often parts of switches as they are not needed that often.

What is an ethernet splitter vs switch for gaming?

An ethernet splitter is quite similar to an internet switch but it is a lot smaller and less powerful. It often can split one ethernet cable into two. This can be handy on a desk if you add a new device. You don’t have to run a new cable to this location as you just split the current cable in two.

This can slow down the internet though so isn’t recommended if you upload a lot of files or need a fast download speed at all times. Ethernet splitters are very cheap and easy to use. You just attach the ethernet cables and you are good to go. Contrary to ethernet switches, these splitters don’t need electricity. This means that it is a passive device. It doesn’t run any software and just splits the internet signal over two or more cables.

To conclude, we can state that ethernet networks are important as they connect your devices to the internet. Companies can have complex networks. To make things easier, ethernet hubs, splitters, and switches have been invented.

These devices allow you to install the ethernet network without too much hassle. A switch allows you to split the ethernet network without losing internet speed. An ethernet hub does the same but on a smaller scale and it is possible that the internet speed drops when you use this. An ethernet hub allows you to extend the current cables. 

We have discussed what a patch panel is here.

Ethernet systems can get really last a long time. For this reason it is important that you pick the right equipment for your needs.