Today I updated my home network. For the last few years I have been using an old 8 port Ethernet hub that I got for free (the previous owner was not using it and just wanted to get rid of it). An Ethernet hub is a rather simple but inefficient way to network several computers. An Ethernet switch is more complex but more efficient. In really simple terms, a hub allows computer on the network to transmit data whenever they want to (just like everyone in a group trying to talk at once) which causes some data to get garbled (referred to as collisions) and therefore sometimes the data needs to be resent. A switch has “traffic control” to enable one computer to send data at a time and each device that wants to send data has to wait its turn. In my little home network I am typically only using one of my computers at a time so the inefficiencies of a hub were not a big concern. However I was at a local computer store last week and saw a deal I couldn’t resist. A 5 port fast (10/100 Mbps) Ethernet switch for $5. Time to upgrade.
Above is a very non-technical description of the difference between an Ethernet Hub and an Ethernet Switch. If you would like me to post a more in depth technical comparison, leave a comment.
Here is a brief comparison of the 2 devices:
- Manufacturer – 3Com
- Model – 3Com OfficeConnect Dual Speed Hub 8 – (8 port hub)
- Part Number – 3C16750B
- Size – 9in. X 7.3in. X 2.4in. (228.6mm x 185.42mm x 60.96mm) (L x W x H)
- Weight – 33.86 ounces
- Power consumption – 33 Watts
I can not find a date code on it but it was probably manufactured around the year 2000. I doubt that they are still in production but you can still buy them on Amazon for $75 new (I assume that this is new old stock), or on eBay for around $20 used.
- Manufacturer – Tenda
- Model – S105 5 Port Fast Ethernet switch
- Size – 3.2in. x 2.0in. x 0.88in. (82.00mm x 52.00mm x 22.30mm) (L x W x H)
- Weight – 0.120 KG
- Power consumption – 1.6 Watts maximum
- Purchased 11/05/2017 at Micro Center for $4.99 (on sale)
I could have bought a similar switch in 8 port configuration, but I only needed 5 ports so why waste an extra $5.
Technology marches on. Computer equipment keeps getting smaller, cheaper and more fully featured.
You may ask why anyone would be using wired networking instead of wireless (Wi-Fi) in this day and age. Actually I have both on my home network, but some of my computers do not have Wi-Fi built in and they do have Ethernet built in. I could buy Wi-Fi to USB adapters for them but I have found them to be unreliable. They are also an unnecessary cost and and wireless is less secure than wired. Besides I am an old fart and like old school to some point.
Item on the left is my old hub. The new switch is on the right. Front view.
Item on the left is my old hub. The new switch is on the right. Rear view.