Small businesses can sometimes have a tough time buying networking equipment. The problem isn’t always a matter of knowing which networking equipment is the best- heavyweights like Cisco, Juniper, and HP have long been providing enterprise-quality switches, routers, and firewalls that are time-tested and well-known for being fast, reliable, and stable. The problem is often the cost- that equipment can cost upwards of thousands of dollars, a budget that often isn’t at all feasible for small businesses. Thankfully, however, there are high-performing, stable, and reliable switches for the small business market that come in at under $1000 and are still suitable for small business use. Let’s take a look at our top 5!
1. Cisco SR2024CT 24 Port Gigabit Switch
Cisco has long reigned supreme in the enterprise-networking world, and having Cisco certifications is one of the markers of advancement in the IT workplace. Their equipment, however, has historically come with a price tag to match that reputation, and so recently Cisco has launched a small business line aimed at businesses that want Cisco quality gear but can’t afford the often high price that comes with them. That said, the SR2024CT does everything a small business might need, including gigabit speed ports, and it doesn’t break the bank doing so. The switch is unmanaged, but it does have QoS- a perk considering many small businesses are using QoS for VOIP applications nowadays. The lack of significant management software is obviously its largest failing, but for small businesses who don’t need that level of sophistication the SR2024CT will work wonders for improving network throughput and handling your office’s day-to-day network loads.
|Amazon: Cisco SR2024CT 24 Port Gigabit Switch|
2. Cisco SG 300-28P 28-Port Gigabit Switch
For small business owners that need a little more configuration ability in their network environments, the SG 300-28P is a strong contender in the sub-$1000 category. It boasts 28 gigabit-speed Ethernet ports, and 24 of those ports are PoE in case you have any VOIP phone or other office equipment that runs off of PoE. It also offers everything you’d expect from a managed switch: VLANs, QoS, link aggregation, MAC filtering, and more. The only downside of this switch is that it does not support pre-standard PoE equipment, so older VOIP phone models might not work with the now standard PoE specifications. Other than that, however, the switch is a wonderful model that will perform extremely well in any small business scenario that requires a managed switch with gigabit speeds and power over Ethernet.
|Amazon: Cisco SG 300-28P 28-Port Gigabit Switch|
3. D-Link DGS-1024D 24-Port Gigabit Switch
D-Link’s DGS-1024D is a fairly impressive offering in the unmanaged switch arena. Not only does it offer the normal speeds you’d expect from a 24-port gigabit switch, it also incorporates something D-Link calls its Green Technology: a technology that shuts down switch ports that aren’t in use as well as detects when ports are again connected. According to D-Link’s website, this can save up to 25% against a regular switch’s constant-on power mode. Green savings aside, however, this switch is a fast, reliable performer that would do well in any small business- its speeds and stability are a match for even the pricier options on this list!
|Amazon: D-Link DGS-1024D 24-Port Gigabit Switch|
4. TP-Link TL-SG1024D 24-Port Gigabit Switch
The TL-SG1024D is a lean, mean, 24-port gigabit switch for someone looking for nothing but the most basic in a switch. It has no extraneous features like green technology or QoS- it’s just a pure unmanaged switch that handles your data at gigabit speeds! It does that, however, at quite a speedy rate, so this switch is perfect for an office that needs gigabit speeds but doesn’t want to pay for all the extras that they don’t need. The switch is a bit loud- the onboard fan seems to be more audible than the other switches on this list- but as the switch is rack-mountable and can be safely stowed in an equipment room that would only be a concern to people potentially wanting to use the switch as a desktop switch.
|Amazon: TP-Link TL-SG1024D 24-Port Gigabit Switch|
5. Netgear JFS524E-100NAS 100 Megabit Switch
The only non-gigabit switch on our list, we recognize that some small businesses don’t need gigabit speeds in their internal network and might want to cut back more on cost by turning to a slightly slower switch. This Netgear will serve them well- though it’s unmanaged, it does support some very basic features that a managed switch would have, including QoS and basic VLAN support. The unit is also fanless, meaning it won’t be bothering anyone if you choose to use it in a desktop position. The switch delivers 100 Megabit speeds without a hiccup while still being a great buy, and it’s definitely worth a look for anyone who wants a business class switch but doesn’t need gigabit speeds!
|Amazon: Netgear JFS524E-100NAS 100 Megabit Switch|