What's the Difference? Hub vs Switch vs Router

Updated on Dec 17, 2021 by

In an Ethernet network, there are some networking devices that play their roles at various levels such as hubs, switches and routers. The functions of the three devices are all quite different from one another, even if sometimes they are all integrated into a single device. due to that, many people feel confused about the differences between the hub, switch, and router. The following part will focus on the topic—hub vs switch vs router, aiming to clarify differences among them.

What Is a Network Switch and How Does It Work?

A network switch is a hardware component that facilitates the connection and communication of devices within a local area network (LAN). Unlike a router, which directs data to multiple devices in a network, a switch directs data packets to a specific device it intends to send to, such as another switch, router, or user's computer. Switches play a crucial role in networks by connecting and transmitting data packets between devices, enabling efficient communication and resource sharing.

Switches operate at the data-link layer (Layer 2) of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model. When a device sends data through the network, the switch receives the data packet and examines the packet's destination Media Access Control (MAC) address, which acts as a unique identifier for each device on the network. By referring to its MAC address table, the switch determines the port to which the destination device is connected and forwards the packet to that specific port. If the destination device is not within the same LAN, the switch forwards the packet to the appropriate router, which then sends it to the intended destination. The switch's internal memory and processing power store and manage the MAC address table, allowing efficient forwarding of packets based on their destination addresses.

Network switches are essential components in various network types, including Ethernet, fiber channels, InfiniBand, and ATM networks, providing reliable and fast data transmission for network devices. Taking the FS S5800-48F4SR switch as an example, it's a high-performance Layer 3 Ethernet switch that provides a powerful Layer 3 routing solution for next generation enterprise, data center, Metro and HCI (Hyper Converged Infrastructure) networks.

How a Network Switch Work

What Is a Hub and How Does It Work?

Hub is commonly used to connect segments of a LAN (Local Area Network). A hub contains multiple ports. When a packet arrives at one port, it is copied to the other ports so that all segments of the LAN can see all packets. Hub acts as a common connection point for devices in a network.

A network hub serves as a central connection point in a hub network, linking multiple devices and facilitating data transmission. It broadcasts received data to all connected devices and shares the available bandwidth. Hubs operate in half-duplex mode, lacking traffic isolation and security. All connected devices share a collision domain, leading to potential data collisions and performance issues. As a result, hub networks are typically suitable for smaller-scale networks rather than larger ones.

What Is a Router and How Does It Work?

A router is a networking device that connects multiple computer networks or subnetworks. It manages traffic by forwarding data packets to their intended IP addresses, allowing devices to share an internet connection. Routers play a vital role in directing network traffic and are commonly used devices in networking.

A router determines the path of data packets by examining the destination IP address in the packet header and comparing it to its routing database. It uses routing tables to determine the most efficient way to transmit the data to the specified IP address. Routers work in conjunction with modems to enable communication between devices and the internet. They prioritize data and choose the best route for each transmission based on the destination IP address. Routing tables can be manually configured or updated dynamically based on network activity. Routers facilitate the efficient flow of data within networks and ensure effective communication between different devices and networks.

Hub vs Switch vs Router

In network equipment and devices, data is usually transmitted in the form of a frame. When a frame is received, it is amplified and then transmitted to the port of the destination PC (Personal Computer). The big difference between hub and switch is in the method in which frames are being delivered.


In a hub, a frame is passed along or "broadcast" to every one of its ports. It doesn't matter that the frame is only destined for one port. The hub has no way of distinguishing which port a frame should be sent to. Additionally, a 10/100Mbps hub must share its bandwidth with each and every one of its ports. In comparison, a switch keeps a record of the MAC (Media Access Control) addresses of all the devices connected to it. With this information, a network switch can identify which system is sitting on which port. So when a frame is received, it knows exactly which port to send it to, without significantly increasing network response times. In addition, unlike a hub, a 10/100Mbps switch will allocate a full 10/100Mbps to each of its ports. So regardless of the number of PCs transmitting, users will always have access to the maximum amount of bandwidth.


Unlike an Ethernet hub or switch that is concerned with transmitting frames, a router is to route packets to other networks until that packet ultimately reaches its destination. One of the key features of a packet is that it not only contains data but the destination address of where it's going. What's more, router is the only one of these three devices that will allow you to share a single IP (Internet Protocol) address among multiple network clients.

Aspects Hub Switch Router
Layer Physical layer Data link layer Network layer
Function To connect a network of personal computers together, they can be joined through a central hub Allow connections to multiple devices, manage ports, manage VLAN security settings Direct data in a network
Data Transmission form electrical signal or bits frame & packet packet
Port 4/12 ports multi-port, usually between 4 and 48 2/4/5/8 ports
Transmission type Frame flooding, unicast, multicast or broadcast First broadcast, then unicast and/or multicast depends on the need At Initial Level Broadcast then Uni-cast and multicast
Device type Non-intelligent device Intelligent device Intelligent device
Transmission mode Half duplex Half/Full duplex Full duplex
Speed 10Mbps 10/100Mbps, 1Gbps 1-100Mbps(wireless); 100Mbps-1Gbps(wired)
Address used for data transmission MAC address MAC address IP address


In summary, understanding the differences between a hub, switch, and router is crucial for effective network management and device selection.

FS.com offers an extensive selection of network switches, hubs, and routers. With a wide range of high-quality products and expertise, FS assists you in selecting the most suitable network devices to meet your specific requirements. Upgrade your network with FS.com now!

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