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5 Reasons I Would Avoid a TP-Link 5-Port Ethernet Switch

rj45 connector

5 Reasons I Would Avoid a TP-Link 5-Port Ethernet Switch

If you don’t have enough Ethernet ports, you might want to get an Ethernet switch, which can provide additional ports to your router and help manage the data flow between the devices. Unlike regular Ethernet hubs, which have extra ports, Ethernet switches have further functionality that improves the network flow. However, I likely won’t be buying a TP-Link 5-port Ethernet switch. There are many reasons why I’m not impressed with these products. Let’s examine them.

They Only Reach Gigabit Speeds

ethernet switch
Ethernet is valuable because of its high data transfer speeds, but switches often artificially lower your internet speed.

The fastest TP-Link 5-port Ethernet switch is a Gigabit speed switch. For the average consumer, Gigabit speeds are usually more than acceptable. Most people use their internet for simple tasks like streaming video, light internet browsing, and maybe the occasional download. However, for people who perform more intensive tasks that require fast data transfer or live data transfer, Gigabit speeds are a joke. Family and roommate situations with extensive internet needs also laugh at Gigabit speeds. Let’s quickly break down how fast your internet needs to be to comfortably maintain certain tasks.

Less Than 50 Mbps

  • Light internet browsing
  • Single-user high-quality video streaming
  • Up to three concurrent devices
  • One-on-one video conferences in standard quality

50 Mbps

  • Remote call-center work
  • Non-live digital work (writing, social media management, admin work,)
  • Testing simple website features

150 Mbps

  • Website software
  • Cloud and internet-based software
  • Serious multi-tabbed internet browsing
  • High-quality video conferences with under ten participants
  • Up to six concurrent devices
  • Adequate for two to three concurrent users

300 Mbps 

  • Up to ten concurrent devices
  • Software development
  • Live streaming
  • Video conferences with many participants

500 Mbps

  • Developing websites or working with large codebases
  • Downloading large files
  • Up to 13 devices
  • Light server hosting

1 Gbps

  • 25+ devices
  • Downloading massive files
  • Video conferences with hundreds of participants (large-scale video presentations, etc.)
  • Server-hosting for standard-scale project development
  • Crypto trading and mining

Many users vastly underestimate what internet speeds they need to complete tasks. They also don’t remember to determine whether their upload speed is fast enough to maintain their task load. Many internet packages hide their upload speed information because they’d love to fleece you and make you pay more for inadequate service. Additionally, most internet packages give you “up to” however much they advertise. You’ll likely not receive the maximum and legally they can give you almost nothing and there’s no problem with that.

When you factor those issues in with gear that doesn’t support the speeds you need, you’re being throttled on both ends. It’s terrible form to actively choose gear that throttles you! You know you’re going to get throttled by your ISP whenever they possibly can. So, don’t further throttle yourself by lowering your maximum!

They Are Too Expensive

This issue is very relative compared to other devices that provide the same or better features, but TP-Link 5-port Ethernet switches are expensive. For instance, TP-Link’s 5-port Power-Over-Ethernet switch is currently $79.99, but Netgear sells an 8-port Power-Over-Ethernet switch for $59.99. So, if you want an up-to-date device with good features, you’ll typically pay more if you buy from TP-Link. The same is true for all their other 5-port Ethernet switches, and those have the bonus of not being up-to-date technology.

There’s also the fact, which we will expound upon later, that TP-Link products are rather cheaply made. You can get far better quality Ethernet switches, outside of the technology inside, for much better prices. TP-Link products aren’t the cheapest products out there regarding build quality, but they’re essentially all made of cheap plastic that will crack and shatter under the tiniest possible force. If you have a family with children that might damage your electronics, you definitely want to get something sturdier than what TP-Link can provide, especially for the price they sell it at!

Even between just TP-Link products, their 5-port Ethernet switches are not cost-effective. TP-Link 8-port Ethernet switches are less expensive and provide 4-port Power-Over-Ethernet, the same as the 5-port ones at the same speeds. There’s just really no reason to spend all that money on a less efficient product. If you’re insistent on your switch being a TP-Link model rather than Netgear, just get an 8-port model and you’ll get more ports for less money.

Most of Them Are Unmanaged Switches

ethernet switch
There are two types of Ethernet switches with unique merits for the user.

The difference between managed and unmanaged switches is something primarily valued by people with knowledge of networking. Managed switches allow the user to configure the data and network management manually, while unmanaged ones work without any input from the user. Unmanaged switches are locked to a manufacturer-encoded configuration for data and network management. For the uninformed, this is ideal since the additional features of network management aren’t as necessary for someone who doesn’t want or need to manually adjust their data management.

However, there are benefits to buying a managed switch, even if you’re a newer user. After all, there’s never a bad time to become more technologically literate and take control of your private data management.

Managed switches can receive input from multiple interfaces, depending on your preferences and comfort level with technology. Some administrators prefer the flexibility of command-line interfaces. However, they can be daunting for users who don’t regularly use the shell interface. Even the look of that hacker-like black-and-white interface can make some users nervous! Luckily, most managed switches have alternate graphical user interfaces such as web interfaces or Simple Network Management Protocols that are more accessible and convenient for new users.

With more accessible, low-skill access becoming a more prominent feature available to managed switches, there’s no reason not to learn how to use one if you plan on buying an Ethernet switch. If you’re unwilling to learn, you’re probably better off buying an Ethernet hub that provides additional ports without the network management features. They’re much more cost-efficient and won’t change anything about your network that you don’t understand.

Managed switches are designed to handle intense workloads efficiently. Unmanaged switches can be a nice step up from a hub if you need some data management but not much. However, most average users only need a hub, and most unmanaged users would be better served by learning to use a managed switch. Most users who genuinely need a switch need the features that come with a managed one. Thus, the lack of managed switches among these options is something to consider when purchasing them.

Most of Them Lack Power Over Ethernet

Power over Ethernet is the ability of an Ethernet port to deliver AC power under 100 watts to a device. This feature eliminates the need for an additional power source for devices connected to the Ethernet port. Not all devices can use power over Ethernet. Some devices need more power than an Ethernet port can deliver to them. For instance, you can’t use power over Ethernet to run your game console or smart TV.

However, devices that require less power such as wireless access points, voice-over-IP phones, wireless sensors, wireless window blinds, and LED lighting can use a power over Ethernet port to deliver both network capabilities and AC power.

Power over Ethernet is becoming a standard feature in Ethernet ports. However, most devices only have a few PoE ports because providing that much power from Ethernet ports is electrically inefficient and would make the power draw of the device far too great. However, modern switches will typically include around four power over Ethernet ports for users. So a five-port switch would have four plus one regular Ethernet port while an eight-port switch would have four plus four.

TP-Link only makes one five-port switch with power over Ethernet ports. People who really only use their internet for light browsing and don’t have smart home devices probably won’t notice the lack of PoE ports on their Ethernet switch. However, these people also don’t realistically need the additional networking features of an Ethernet switch and would be better served by a hub.

Many of Them Are Built Cheaply

Ethernet switch
Many Ethernet switches are made of plastic, and some people find that to make them feel cheap.

We mentioned this earlier, but we’ll go more into detail about it here: TP-Link five-port Ethernet switches use cheap materials. There’s no way around that. They’re just not that great regarding build quality. For there to be “good build quality” there must also be “bad build quality” and, sorry TP-Link, you fall into the latter category. 

For instance, TP-Link Ethernet switches advertise their plastic frames, which most technology enthusiasts would instantly rebuke. While a heavy plastic frame might not feel completely garbage, plastic is just significantly less sturdy than metal. It isn’t just physically less sturdy it also feels cheaper, which can sometimes be an issue for people. I don’t just want technology that costs a lot. I want it to feel sleek, modern, and high-quality. Plastic frames rarely feel high-quality, which is why premium tech models almost always use metal or glass depending on the device.

Also, technology tends to very strongly err towards “you get what you pay for.” Many of the older TP-Link five-port switches advertise low-quality builds and also happen to be kind of cheap, even if they are more expensive, relatively speaking. Advertising a low-quality build material for a relatively low price just screams “This is not a good item.”

If our reasons to avoid a TP-Link 5-Port Switch have convinced you to look elsewhere, here are our favorite alternatives.

NETGEAR 8 Port PoE Gigabit Ethernet Plus Switch

Powerful and Affordable
NETGEAR 8 Port PoE Gigabit Ethernet Plus Switch (GS308EP)
$59.99
  • 8x ports PoE+
  • 62W PoE total power budget
  • Easy-to-use software for basic managed capabilities to configure, secure, and monitor your network
  • VLAN control, QoS, and priority setting per port
  • Desktop or wall mount
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 11:00 pm GMT

This Ethernet switch is cheaper, provides more ports, has the same number of PoE ports, and has the same speeds as the “premium” version of the TP-Link 5-Port switch. It’s just a better overall purchase in every sense.

Cisco Business CBS220-8P-E-2G Smart Switch

Premium Ethernet Switch
Cisco Business CBS220-8P-E-2G Smart Switch
$172.11
  • 8-Port 10/100/1000 + 2 x 1G SFP
  • 8 PoE ports with 65W total PoE power budget
  • On-box UI, mobile app, and Cisco Business Dashboard to help manage network operations
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack prevention and Access Control Lists (ACLs)
  • 3-year limited hardware warranty plus one-year technical support
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 11:05 pm GMT

This is a true premium Ethernet switch. It’s significantly more expensive than TP-Link alternatives, but it’s better and worth the money. If you truly need the additional features of an Ethernet switch, this will serve you better than a cheap one.

If you want to buy a TP-Link switch, in particular, you should buy a TP-Link 8-port Ethernet switch because it is cheaper than the 5-port and offers almost all the same features. It’s essentially the same product with three more ports and costs $10 less.

1. NETGEAR 8 Port PoE Gigabit Ethernet Plus Switch
2. Cisco Business CBS220-8P-E-2G Smart Switch
3. TP-Link TL-SG108PE 8 Port Gigabit PoE Switch

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Ethernet switch?

An Ethernet switch is a device that redirects data from a single Ethernet port to multiple sub-Ethernet ports, much like a hub. However, Ethernet switches have additional networking and data management software to more efficiently route data transfers between the ports.

Are Ethernet switches and Ethernet hubs the same thing?

No. Ethernet switches are different devices from an Ethernet hub.

What is power over Ethernet?

Power over Ethernet is a technology that allows an Ethernet port to deliver low-wattage (<100 watts) AC power to a device, eliminating the need for a discrete AC adapter.

Does the speed of my Ethernet switch matter?

The speed of your Ethernet switch determines how fast the devices connected to it can send and receive data.

Do I need an Ethernet switch?

Most households will be fine with an Ethernet port and do not need the additional features of a switch.

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