multi-gig switch
Internet Tips and Tricks

Multi-Gig Switch: Everything You Need to Know (With Recommendations)

Traditional switches were once enough for our networks. However, as our digital demands soared—with more devices and data-heavy activities—these switches struggled to keep up. Enter multi-gig switches, the next-gen network heroes, designed to handle data gracefully, offering 2.5G, 5G, and 10G speeds.  

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This blog explains what multi-gig switches are and whether you need one. You’ll learn all about the most common network switch features and use cases. And if you’re interested in getting one, we’ve added a list of the best multi-gig switches currently on the market.   

What is a Network Switch?

A network switch directs the flow of data packets between devices in a computer network. This rectangular device features multiple ports on one side to connect various devices—such as computers, printers, and servers—using Ethernet cables. This networking setup fosters better communication among all devices. 

While network switches help create the best home network, not every person or business needs a network switch. You’ll need a network switch if you’re looking to connect multiple devices in a Local Area Network (LAN). A basic router without an additional switch might suffice for small setups or individuals relying on a simple wireless network.   

However, a network switch becomes essential for businesses, gaming setups, or tech-heavy households that need multiple wired connections for enhanced reliability and speed. 

What is a Multi-Gig Switch? 

Unlike standard switches, which typically support up to 1 Gbps Ethernet connections, a multi-gig switch accommodates internet speeds beyond 1 Gbps. This upgrade doesn’t necessarily mean increased ports but signifies that each port can sustain higher throughput. However, not all ports may offer the same ‘power’ or speed capacity within a single multi-gig switch. This way, you can connect devices according to your speed requirements and the nature of their tasks. 

For example, a device might feature one 10G Ethernet port and several 2.5G Ethernet ports. This configuration enables a highly flexible and efficient networking setup. You can connect a desktop that supports 2.5G Ethernet to the 2.5G ports for high-definition streaming and gaming. At the same time, the 10G port is ideal for connecting to a NAS (Network Access Storage) system. This setup facilitates quick backups or restoration of large volumes of data, making it an invaluable asset for businesses and data-intensive applications. 

Types of multi-gig switches and their ideal applications:


  • 2.5G switches are ideal for advanced home networks and small offices. Supports multiple 4K video streams, online gaming, and HD video conferencing simultaneously. 
  • 5G switches are suited for small to medium-sized businesses with heavy online activities. Enhances productivity for graphic design firms and video production companies by speeding up large file transfers. 
  • 10G switches are optimal for data centers and large enterprises with intensive data needs. Enables rapid data analytics and cloud operations for enterprises; supports high traffic volumes for data centers hosting multiple online services. 

Multi-gig switches are essential for bandwidth-intensive tasks such as high-definition video streaming, extensive file transfers, and seamless operation of cloud-based applications. The need for a multi-gig switch arises when the data transfer volume is significant and high-speed is crucial.   

Environments that typically require this level of performance include:


  • Busy offices where large files are regularly uploaded and downloaded, and video conferencing is frequent. 
  • Gaming centers demanding ultra-low latency and high-speed data transfer for an optimal gaming experience. 
  • Technology-driven households, where streaming in high definition, gaming, and remote work occur simultaneously, necessitating high-speed internet and rapid data transfer rates. 

Even with a 10G internet connection, the decision to use a multi-gig switch depends on specific needs, such as the scale of data transfer and the speed requirements. 

7 Key Multi-Gig Switch Features

  1. Power over Ethernet (PoE) Support


  • Simplifies the deployment of devices like VoIP phones, wireless access points, and surveillance cameras by delivering power and data over a single Ethernet cable.  
  • PoE support eliminates the need for separate power sources for each device, reducing clutter and saving on installation costs.  
  • Ideal for businesses looking to streamline their tech setup and for spaces where additional power outlets are scarce. 
  1. Number of Port Counts


  • Cater to networks of any size, from a simple home office to a sprawling enterprise system.  
  • This adaptability means you can start small and expand your network without needing to replace your switch.  
  • Perfect for growing businesses or tech enthusiasts who anticipate scaling their network. 
  1. Compatibility with Existing Cables


  • Allows for network speed upgrades without the need to replace existing cabling infrastructure.  
  • Backward compatibility with Cat5e and Cat6 cables makes multi-gig switches a cost-effective solution for businesses and individuals looking to enhance their network speeds without a complete overhaul. 
  1. IEEE 802.1X Authentication


  • Enhances network security by requiring devices to authenticate before gaining access to the network.  
  • Crucial for environments where sensitive data is transmitted, offering an added layer of protection against unauthorized access. 
  1. Managed vs. Unmanaged Multi-Gig Network Switches


  • Managed switches provide advanced features like VLAN support, QoS controls, port management, and network monitoring, making them suitable for networks that support critical applications or involve sensitive data. These switches are essential for optimizing performance and security in complex configurations. 
  • Unmanaged switches offer ease of use with plug-and-play capability, making them ideal for smaller networks or setups where simplicity and cost-effectiveness are key. They’re best for small businesses or home offices with basic connectivity needs. 
  1. Quality of Service (QoS) Controls


  • Prioritize network traffic for critical applications like VoIP calls and video conferencing to run smoothly, even under heavy network load.  
  • Vital for businesses that rely on real-time communication tools, as it ensures high-quality, uninterrupted service. 
  1. SFP+ (Small Form-factor Pluggable Plus) Ports


  • SFP+ ports on a switch offer high-speed network connections, ideal for linking switches together over long distances or connecting the switch to high-speed internet backbones.  
  • These ports are used with SFP+ modules (fiber-optic or copper), allowing for a flexible range of connection types and distances.  
  • Fiber-optic modules can support long-distance connections between different parts of a building or across campus environments without the signal degradation common with traditional Ethernet cables over long distances. 
  • Valuable for enterprises that require reliable, high-speed connections for data centers, storage area networks (SAN), or connection between geographically dispersed locations. 

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The Best Multi-Gig Network Switches in 2024

Here are some of the best multi-gig network switches currently on the market, each with a brief description: 

  • MikroTik CRS309-1G-8S+IN. Offers 8 SFP+ 10GbE ports at an affordable price, with passive cooling for silent operation. It’s designed for simple L1/L2 switching, making it suitable for connecting multiple 10GbE devices. 
  • Brocade ICX Series. Known for their powerful performance and cost-effectiveness, these switches offer 10GbE/40GbE switching options. They run on Linux, allowing advanced users access to underlying system settings for customization and debugging.  
  • Real HD SW8-1-2G. A fanless switch with eight 2.5GbE ports and one SFP+ 10Gb port, offering flexibility for devices requiring various speeds up to 10GbE. It stands out for its affordability and lack of branding, made for resale under different brands.  
  • QSW-M3216R-8S8T by QNAP. This half-width rackmount switch features 16 ports with a mix of 10GbE SFP+ and 10GBASE-T, offering powerful security and system functions suitable for SMB/SOHO environments.  
  • NETGEAR XS508M. Offers 8 multi-gig ports with 1 SFP+ port, supporting speeds from 1G to 10G without the need for CAT6 wiring. It’s tailored for modern business or home networks with high-speed requirements but does not support VLAN or port-based QoS. 

Do You Need a Multi-Gig Network Switch? 

The question of whether you need a multi-gig switch boils down to your demands on speed, efficiency, and scalability. Whether for gaming, business, or a sophisticated home network, a multi-gig switch offers a foundation that is poised to handle tomorrow’s internet technology advancements. 

For gamers: 

  • Competitive online gaming where every millisecond of reduced latency can mean victory and defeat. 
  • Streaming gameplay to platforms like Twitch or YouTube without impacting game performance. 
  • Multiplayer sessions with multiple devices require multiple consoles or PCs connected on the same network. 

For businesses: 

  • Regularly moving large files or datasets quickly within the network, such as video production companies sharing raw footage or architectural firms exchanging large 3D models. 
  • Facilitating multiple simultaneous HD video calls without degradation in quality, crucial for remote workforces and client meetings. 
  • Connecting servers for web hosting, cloud computing, or internal data centers requiring high bandwidth for efficient data access and backup processes. 

For home networking enthusiasts: 

  • Streaming 4K or 8K video content across multiple devices without buffering. 
  • Supporting a growing number of smart home devices (security cameras, smart TVs, IoT devices) that all require a stable and fast network connection. 
  • Stable and fast connections for remote work or online learning environments where multiple video streams and large file downloads are common. 

While a multi-gig switch offers considerable benefits, you don’t necessarily need it. Suppose your activities predominantly involve basic web browsing, streaming standard definition content, and light online gaming. In that case, the advantages of a multi-gig switch won’t change your online experience.   

Similarly, if your home or business network only supports a handful of devices and your internet service plan doesn’t exceed 1 Gbps, the investment in a multi-gig switch could be overkill. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you love gaming, working from home, or have many smart devices, you might need a multi-gig switch to keep everything running smoothly. When looking for a network switch, remember to check for the right ports and how to set it up. 

If you’re interested in multi-gigabit internet, consider switching to Race Communications. We offer speeds up to 10 Gbps – the fastest residential internet available. You can reach out by calling us at 877-722-3833 or place an order directly on our website. 

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