What is the difference between Ethernet Splitter and Switch
Thomas Jensen / Unsplash

Usually, users connect to the Internet using an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi connection. The problem is that routers have a limited number of Ethernet ports. If you only have one or two devices that need the Internet via an Ethernet cable connection, this won’t be a problem for you. However, if all of the router ports are busy, then you have to look for options to solve the problem of additional connectivity. In this case, you can use an Ethernet splitter or switch.

Each of these two solutions can make a difference. Therefore, before buying either of these devices, it’s important to determine which one suits you best, based on your needs. This way, knowing its advantages and disadvantages, y0ou can choose the option that best suits your needs. Well, let’s take a closer look at the differences between Ethernet Splitter and Switch, which you can use to add more Ethernet network ports to your home or small office network.

What is a twisted pair?

The Internet is something that people in modern society can no longer do without. The Internet is used for communication, business, and leisure activities. And everyone is always wondering where to best place a WiFi router for the best signal.

The basis for the construction of the endpoint (your PC or laptop) of consumption is twisted pair. Eight- or four-core cable, arranged on the principle of interlacing the two wires. Each pair has a different weave pitch and if you weave a meter of cable, the length of the cores of each pair will be different. This is done to reduce pair-to-pair interference.

What is the difference between four pairs and two pairs? After all, many ISPs use the four-wire cable to connect subscribers. The difference is the data transfer rate. With two pairs you can only connect at 100 Mbit/s, with four pairs you can connect at 100 Mbit/s, 1 Gbit/s, and 10 Gbit/s. For the average user, whether it is an apartment or an office, 100 Mbit/s is sufficient.

The orange and green pairs are used to connect at 100 Mbps, and the blue and brown pairs aren’t used. If you look at the connector, you can see that there are 8 pins to connect the cores. The pinout on the connector RJ-45 is as follows: the first, second, third, and sixth pin – these white-orange, orange, white-green and green wires, respectively, and following this order when connecting you can organize two lines of 100 Mbit.

Why do some providers connect with eight-core cable and some with four-core cable? The answer is that it’s only the ISP’s own wish, it takes into account the deposit for the future and if the subscriber wishes to go to a higher connection speed, rewiring isn’t necessary, plus, one line can connect two subscribers at 100 Mbit/s. Sometimes it’s either very difficult or financially unreasonable to install a new line, and having spare wires is the way out.

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How to connect two PCs to the network using the Ethernet Splitter

To connect two devices to a twisted pair, there are several ways. The difference is essentially in the appearance of the split cable. The principle of all bifurcations, organize data transmission on two pairs of different colors with the same pinout connection for each pair. Let’s start with the factory version of the split cable, which doesn’t involve the use of a tool and will be the best option for the average user.

A splitter is the easiest way to split an Internet cable. The splitter works on the principle of one input, and two outputs.

RJ45 Splitter / Amazon

To organize the split signal, connect two patch cords in the transmitting device and in the connectors RJ-45 in the splitter, and the connector on the second side connects to the laid line in the office or apartment. It’s exactly the same as when you make a usual Ethernet cable.

On the second side of the socket perform the same operation, only patch cords from the connectors splitter connect to the consumer’s equipment, whether it be a PC, laptop, switch, access point, or router.

It’s important to remember that the Ethernet splitter reduces the number of cables used in a Cat 5e Ethernet cable, but reduces the data rate from 1000 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s. Its advantage is that it allows you to use a network cable for two Ethernet connections, and they are cheap.

However, the disadvantage of these Ethernet splitters is that they slow down network traffic. Consequently, depending on whether these computers need more or less bandwidth, they may not use all the speed offered by the Internet connection or this local network.

Moreover, if you’re a fan of online video games, then you should know why it’s better to play with an Ethernet cable connected.

How does an Ethernet switch work?

A network switch is an electronic device that connects several computers and/or other digital devices to a local network and allows them to exchange data. An Ethernet switch contains several additional ports to form a high-speed network. Because the device has multiple ports, it must share the signals between them with less interference. In this case, the router connects to one port and the other ports are free to connect to other devices.

Ethernet Switch / Amazon

The switch identifies each individual Ethernet connection with its network address. That way, it will pass data to the target client and the traffic will not be mixed up. Network switches come in different sizes, with different numbers of ports, from 5 to 52 ports.

The new switch in the learning phase, without finding the destination MAC address in its table, sends data to all devices connected to it (except the sender, of course). The correct recipient responds to the switch and the switch creates a new entry in the switch table. Further on, the switch, receiving data with the same MAC address, “understands” exactly where it should be sent, and does not send it in bulk, but sends it in a strictly targeted way. Traffic is thus localized, and the network is offloaded.

However, switching technology has some problems. Users may experience slower data transfer rates when using a switch. In addition, switches require a power source, just like other routers, and the need for power somehow dilutes the purpose of the button. Also, switches are a bit pricey if you want a switch with good functionality.

What to choose: a switch or a splitter

An Ethernet switch follows protocols, has multiple ports for power input, and requires proper configuration. Whereas a splitter is a simple device that is a small extension of your current Ethernet cable that splits it into two connections.

Splitters require no power to operate, while switches need a power source because they’re quite powerful devices.

Network switches have multiple high-speed ports to which multiple devices can be connected at the same time. Unlike switches, splitters can connect a maximum of two devices.

So, if you want to expand your communications system to a fast network that can support multiple devices, you need a switch.

Ethernet splitters, on the other hand, work best if you have a small, two-room system in your home or office. So, if you need Internet for two PCs that don’t need high data rates, a splitter is your best choice.

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What is a Mesh Wi-Fi?

Mesh routers are the latest technology for home Wi-Fi networks. Networks based on mesh devices have long been used in large facilities with high-security requirements, such as military bases and enterprises. Now the technology is available to users of wireless Internet in homes as well.

If you have a large house with at least 300 square meters or an unusual layout, with more than two stories or interior brick walls, you’re likely to encounter dead Wi-Fi zones on a regular basis. The solution may be mesh routers.

Mesh routers help eliminate these dead zones. Instead of broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal from a single point, Mesh routers distribute it from multiple points at once. One such point is connected to a modem and acts as the router, while one or more other access points, often called satellites, capture the router’s signal and rebroadcast it.

In the end, it’s worth checking the Wi-Fi signal strength on your PC before you purchase this device so that you don’t need to return this device back to the store.

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