Due to the sheer variety of network equipment out there, you might face confusion about which device suits your needs. The Ethernet Splitter vs Switch question is not different. Contrary to common belief, you cannot use these two devices interchangeably.

    To solve this confusion, I have made a guide on the similarities and differences between an Ethernet splitter and a network switch. I shall also mention the switch vs. modem vs. splitter vs. bridge points.

    Ethernet Splitter vs. Switch: Which to Choose?

    Though Ethernet splitters and switches are designed to connect multiple devices, an Ethernet splitter is less expensive and only allows up to two connections. However, an Ethernet switch will allow you to connect multiple devices to the network without compromising the transfer speed, making it suitable for high performance.

    Ethernet Splitter vs. Switch: the Basics

    You might have come across Ethernet splitters and switches while looking for options to increase the number of Ethernet connections. The core idea is to increase the number of connections without getting additional networking equipment. Let’s look at how Ethernet splitters and switches approach this idea.

    Ethernet Splitter vs. Switch: the Basics

    An Ethernet splitter is designed to split the number of Ethernet ports. As you can see in the image, a splitter has two Ethernet ports on one side and one Ethernet port on the other side. The idea is that you can connect the single port to your modem/Wi-Fi router. And you can use the other two ports to connect two different devices. Even though these two devices cannot access the network simultaneously, an Ethernet splitter is a blessing from a cable management viewpoint.

    Fast Ethernet Switch

    An Ethernet switch is designed to truly increase the number of connected devices in a network. It does more than make it easy to lay cables for your network. Instead, an Ethernet switch only takes one Ethernet port from your router and provides you with access to multiple Ethernet ports. Because it is designed for high-speed data transfer within a network, you can expect the best Ethernet speeds on all connected devices. In other words, an Ethernet switch is smarter when it comes to managing connections.

    I understand these descriptions can throw you off a little. Don’t worry; I have briefly explained the pros and cons of both Ethernet splitters and Ethernet switches below.

    Ethernet Splitter – Pros and Cons


    • Ethernet splitters are incredibly inexpensive. You can get a pair of these devices for just a few bucks.
    • Because these devices operate at the basic level, you don’t need any expertise to set them up. You can simply connect the two Ethernet cables to one side and the single cable to the other side.
    • You don’t have to worry about additional power lines, either. Because of the basic nature of the devices, they do not need extra power.


    • The biggest downside of an Ethernet splitter has to deal with the speed restrictions. In most cases, when you use an Ethernet splitter, the maximum speed is just 100Mbps.
    • You should also keep in mind that Ethernet selectors are not designed for performance. Instead, their function is to enable a simple system for cable management.

    Ethernet Switch – Pros and Cons


    • Unlike Ethernet splitters, Ethernet switches are designed with performance in mind. By connecting the switch to your router, you get more ports.
    • Instead of simply splitting the signals for cable management, Ethernet switches use advanced software to provide control.
    • An Ethernet switch also works great when you want to upgrade your network down the line. Unlike an Ethernet splitter, you are not constrained by the speed or performance of a single device.


    • The complexity of installation and maintenance is probably the only problem with an Ethernet switch. These devices used to be expensive, but they are not these days.
    • Because of the complex software functionalities inside, network switches also need a level of network administration.

    Ethernet Switch vs. Modem vs. Splitter vs. Bridge

    Since I have gone a little technical into the differences between Ethernet splitters and Ethernet switches, I think it is appropriate to mention the differences between an Ethernet switch vs modem vs splitter vs bridge.

    • An Ethernet Switch is a device that you can connect to your modem and increase the number of Ethernet ports. All the devices connected to these ports will have continuous and simultaneous access to the Internet or the LAN.
    • A Modem is a device that receives the signal from your Internet service provider and converts it into something that your router can process. In the current scenario, the modem will be receiving fiber optics signals and converting them into Ethernet connections.
    • An Ethernet Splitter is designed to streamline cable management by splitting the Ethernet port into two. It needs to be noted that an Ethernet splitter does not provide a simultaneous connection to both devices. There are also specific speed constraints.
    • A Network Bridge, on the other hand, is a device that you can use to create a centralized network that offers connectivity to different segments. Unlike a switch, an Network Bridge can connect two different networks while offering all networking benefits.

    My Choice for Network Management

    I will quickly share my recommendations when it comes to home network management.

    I believe that long-term investments are better than frequent upgrades. For the same reason, I particularly stay away from Ethernet splitters, even though they can be quite attractive in terms of affordability. I also make sure that I get high-quality Ethernet switches instead of going for knock-off brands.

    It gives a couple of advantages. In my experience, these Ethernet switches last very long and they often have a better experience of customization. Because they are popular, I can always find solutions for common issues from community members.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can an Ethernet switch be used as a splitter?

    In terms of functionality, an Ethernet switch can be used as a splitter. As we have mentioned, the function of a splitter is to connect multiple devices without needing additional ports.

    Can you run 2 devices off 1 Ethernet cable?

    Using an Ethernet splitter or Ethernet switch, you can run two devices off one Ethernet cable. However, an Ethernet splitter may not allow you to use the connection from two devices simultaneously.


    I believe I have cleared your queries regarding the differences between an Ethernet splitter and an Ethernet switch. Of course, instead of delving too much into the technicalities, I have tried to explain the pros and cons that you may consider while looking for a way to expand Ethernet ports.


    Pavan Lipare is a tech enthusiast with a profound understanding of routers, WiFi networks, LAN setups, and internet connectivity. His fervent passion for technology extends to digital marketing and SEO, where he combines his technical expertise with strategic insights. With a keen eye for emerging trends and a knack for optimizing online visibility, Pavan is dedicated to sharing his knowledge and empowering others in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of digital connectivity and communication technologies.

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