Network Switch, How To Pick One in 5 Easy Steps

Choosing the best Network switch for your Expansion requirement can be a difficult task. Review this basic step-by-step guide on how to choose the best switch for your networking needs. This guide will review class types, port requirements, form factors, and briefly cover basic managed switch features.

1. Classify Your Requirement Based on Speed

There are several types of switches, each providing different levels of management. Unmanaged switches allow you to expand your network easily with no special configuration or specialized networking knowledge. Unmanaged switches simply increase the number of ports (or available connections) to your network by increasing port density.

Web smart and layer 2 managed network switches have additional features such as VLAN support, PoE controls, traffic analysis, and multicast support. EdgeSmart switches are basic web smart switches that offer only the most commonly used management features to help reduce both cost and setup complexity.

There are many different levels of managed switches (and not all are discussed here, such as Layer 3 switches); the type of switch you need and the best switch for your network will depend on the features required for your project. (See Managed Network Switches for more info on managed along with unmanaged switches).


Required bandwidth will determine whether you need a 10G, 2.5G, Gigabit, or 10/100 switch. Fast Ethernet or 10/100 switches are more cost-effective, but Multi-Gigabit and Gigabit switches can provide better scalability. Choose a speed that is enough for your current requirement, but plan for the future and do consider extra bandwidth.

Specialized Switches
Look for specialized network switches, such as industrial switches or AV switches, to meet the unique needs of your custom networking project(s).

It all sums up to just buying a plug and play switch if you plan on extending your existing router network, utilizing its DHCP pool and move on, but if you are planning for advanced features mentioned above then you need a Managed Switch with X amount of Bandwidth.

2. Chose Number of Ports Required

Determine how many devices that need to be connected in order to identify the number of ports you’ll need. For your surveillance solutions, Its recommend reserving 2 additional ports for your NVR and/or network bridge/client.

Ports also Justify the Network Switches Bandwidth Capability. So A Larger Number of Ports Generally Means a More Powerful Switch

3. Pick Your Form Factor

The form factor that you choose will come down to both your own personal preference and the switch’s application. Desktop and wall-mountable switches are great when you want to save space; they are generally more affordable and are quieter since most desktop and wall-mount switches do not have internal fans. Rackmount switches are ideal when you want to integrate it into a new or existing server room or rack. DIN-rail switches are usually reserved for industrial applications.

Plastic or metal?
Having trouble deciding which type of housing is best for you? Metal switches are more durable, but plastic switches are a cost-effective solution, and just good for extending small home / office networks

5. Review and Pick Features that You Need

Knowing the class of the switch chosen in step one helps us identify the possible feature set of that switch. However, regardless of class, Network switches can have varying features, and the features you want will depend on your project’s needs. In Case you are looking for Features that are exclusive to Routers, Then Review the article on 5 ways to pick a router.

Unmanaged Network switches or the ones that work with plug and play, have no management features. Managed switches include a variety of features for traffic management, troubleshooting, access controls, and monitoring. Some common features include LACP, VLAN, QoS, IGMP snooping, and bandwidth control per port. Once you’ve chosen your switch, doublecheck that it offers the features you need, as switches can have differing feature sets even within the same class.