What Is a Gigabit Switch?

Updated on May 27, 2019

A Gigabit switch is a typical type of Ethernet switch, which comes in many forms and sizes. To make sure you find the best Gigabit switch for your network, you'd better first find out how a Gigabit switch works and different types of Gigabit Ethernet switches. Keep reading to know more.

What Is a Gigabit Switch?

Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps), the evolution of the fast Ethernet (100 Mbps), is one of the cost-effective networks for various home networks and small businesses to achieve stable network connectivity up to a few meters.

Gigabit Ethernet switches are widely adopted to improve the data rate up to around 1000 Mbps while the fast Ethernet supports the transmission speed of 10/100 Mbps. As the higher version of fast Ethernet switches, Gigabit Ethernet switches are highly valuable in connecting multiple devices such as security cameras, printers, servers and more to a local area network (LAN). Besides, Gigabit network switches are great choices for video creators and video game streamers who need high-definition devices, because the Gigabyte Ethernet switches ensure a smoother experience when compared to a fast Ethernet switch. Wants to know the differences between fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, you can click: Fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet.

Figure: A Gigabit Switch Connects Multiple Devices

                                                               Figure: A Gigabit Switch Connects Multiple Devices 

How Does a Gigabit Switch Work?

  • Generally, a Gigabit switch allows multiple devices to be connected to a LAN through coaxial cables, Ethernet cable twisted pair and fiber optic cables. And the Gigabit Ethernet switches use a unique MAC address that belongs to each device to identify the attached devices as each frame is received on a given port, so that it can correctly route frames to the required destination.

  • Then the Gigabit switch is responsible for managing the data flow between itself, other connected devices, cloud services and the internet at the moment the device is connected to the port of the Gigabit network switch, aiming to transmit the incoming and outgoing data to the correct port of the Ethernet switch according to the port of the sending device as well as the sending and destination MAC addresses.

  • Next, the Gigabit switch will use a MAC address table to remember the MAC address of sending devices and the ports that the devices connect to when the Gigabit network switch receives an Ethernet packet. The switching technology will check the MAC address table to find out whether the destination MAC address is connected to the same switch. If the answer is yes, the Gigabit Ethernet switch continues forwarding the packet to the destination port. If not, the Gigabit switch will deliver the packet to all ports and wait for a response.

  • Finally, during the process of waiting for a response. Suppose that the Gigabit network switch is connected to the destination device, the device will accept the data packet. If the device is attached to another Gigabit switch, it's time for the other Gigabit switch to repeat the above actions until the frame reached the correct destination.

Different Types of Gigabit Switch

The gigabit Ethernet switch comes with a various number of ports, such as an 8-port Gigabit network switch, 24-port Gigabit network switch, and more. And the following are other gigabit switch types to consider.

Modular Network Switches vs Fixed Network Switches

These fixed-configuration switches have a fixed number of ports like 24-port Gigabit switch, 48-port Gigabit network switch.

In contrast, the modular switch allows users to add expansion modules as needed into the Gigabit Ethernet switches. For example, the modules that support security, wireless connectivity and more can be added.

Unmanaged Gigabit Switches vs Managed Gigabit Switches

Designed to be plug and play with no configuration needed, these unmanaged Gigabit switches are typically representative of home networks and small businesses.

The managed Gigabit switches support the higher levels of security, scalability, precision control and management of your network, so the managed Gigabit switches are often applied in large networks.

Standalone Switches vs Stackable Switches

A standalone Gigabit switch is managed and configured with a set capacity. The standalone switches need to be configured individually, and troubleshooting also needs to be handled on an individual basis.

One great advantage of stackable Gigabit switches is increasing capacity and network availability. And stackable switch allows for multiple switches to be configured as though they were one entity. In case of any part of the stack fails, these stackable switches will automatically reroute around the failure without affecting the data transmission.

PoE vs Non-PoE Gigabit Switches

PoE Gigabit switches can power a device like an IP camera or wireless access point over the same Ethernet cable, which greatly increases the flexibility of connected systems. A PoE Gigabit switch is great for wireless networks, while a non-PoE switch can not perform well in a wireless network because a non-PoE Gigabit switch only transmits data through Ethernet cables. For more information about the PoE switch, you can click: All You Need to Know About PoE Switches.

FAQs About Gigabit Network Switch

How to install a Gigabit network switch?

First, you can connect one end of the Ethernet cable to the outgoing port of the modem or router.

Second, it's time to connect the other end of the Ethernet cable to the port of your Gigabit Ethernet switch.

Third, prepare another Ethernet cable and connect one end of the Ethernet cable to another port of the Gigabit network switch.

Last, plug the other end of the Ethernet cable into your device.

Will a Gigabit network switch make your Internet faster?

Internet speed is generally governed by the speed of the connections to the ISP. So if you only buy a 100 Mbps connection, you will only get at most 100 Mbps even if your Gigabit supports 1000 Mbps.

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