What Is a Network Switch?

In this blog, you will learn about:  

  • Network switches
  • How they work
  • Different types of network switches
  • How does Nordic Computer ensure high quality of refurbished network switches

Networks play a significant role in everyday work life. They are vital for supporting every kind of business and supplying communication. One thing all the networks have in common is a network switch, which allows the connection of devices intending to share resources.  

What is a network switch?  

A network switch (also known as switching or bridging hub) is networking hardware that connects devices on a computer network by using a packet (a block of data transmitted across a network) switching to receive and forward data to the destination device.   

The network switch acts as a multiport network bridge and uses media access control (MAC) addresses to route data at the data link layer (Layer 2) of the OSI model. It picks up and resends packets sent to the device connected to the port, but only through the port that leads to the device the packet is supposed to reach. Some network switches can operate at the network layer (layer3), where the routing occurs.

In other words, within one building, network switches are used to link various devices such as computers, printers, or servers on the same network. The switch then acts as a controller, allowing different devices or gadgets to communicate and share information.

Switches are a frequent element of networks based on Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), and InfiniBand. Nevertheless, most switches nowadays use Ethernet. 

How does a network switch work?

When a source sends a data packet to a destination, the packet enters the switch first, and the switch reads the header and finds the destination MAC address to identify the device. Then send the packet over to the corresponding port to which the device connects - target. The switch establishes a temporary connection between the source and destination of the communication and terminates the connection when the conversation ends.

It also provides full bandwidth for simultaneous network traffic to and from the device to reduce collisions. Switching techniques are used to determine the best route for sending data between the source and the destination, which consists of these categories: 

  • Circuit Switching
  • Message Switching
  • Packet Switching

Types of Network Switches 

The network switches vary in size based on how many devices need to be connected in one area, along with the network speed required for these devices. Depending on how much deployment is needed, the network switches can comprise 4 or 8 port switches to up to 128 ports.   

Switches also vary in the network speed they offer, ranging from Fast ethernet (10/100 Mbps), Gigabit ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps), 10 Gigabit (10/100/1000/10000 Mbps) to even 40/100 Gbps speeds. Which speed to choose depends on the throughput required for the tasks being supported.   


Unmanaged switches offer fixed configurations. Commonly, they are known as plug-and-play appliances, meaning they have few options that users can choose from. They typically have default settings for features, but they cannot be changed. These switches are inexpensive, but they lack features that make them unsuitable for most enterprise uses.  


These switches offer significantly more functionality for IT professionals and are commonly seen in business settings. Managed switches are configured by CLI (command-line interfaces), and they support SNMP (simple network management protocol) agents that provide information that can be used to troubleshoot network problems. The managed switches can also support virtual LANs, quality of service settings and IP routing. Managed switches are much more expensive than unmanaged ones due to their advanced features.  

Smart or intelligent switches  

The smart switches can be described as managed switches with some additional features. They are far more advanced than unmanaged switches but less expensive than a fully manageable switch. These switches lack support for telnet access (a network protocol that allows a user on one computer to log into another computer that is part of the same network). Other options, such as VLANs, do not have as many features as those supported by managed switches. Since these switches are less expensive, they are an excellent fit for smaller networks with fewer financial resources and where fewer features are needed. 

Network Switch and Nordic Computer 

With our large warehouse of data center hardware with more than 150,000 parts in stock, Nordic Computer offers several options, including network switches from brands like HPE, IBM, DELL, CISCO and JUNIPER. All our products are tested thoroughly before leaving our warehouse and come with a 12-month warranty, which is your guarantee for receiving a quality product that works.  

We understand that as an IT Manager it is your job, to make sure that the budget is respected, and the data center works impeccably all the time. Your uptime and quality requirements are higher than ever before, while the budgets are becoming tighter. 

With us as your third-party maintenance partner, you can extend the life of not only your network switches but also your data center by 4-5 years after the hardware has gone out of OEM support. If your hardware is in any need for maintenance Nordic Computer's technicians are available to assist you immediately over the phone, and if there is a need for on-site support, a technician can arrive on-site. 

Thanks to our global network, we have access to several forward stocking locations worldwide. Therefore, you are always guaranteed fast and safe delivery. Reduce your warehouse and logistic costs with Nordic Computer! 

Have questions?

In case of any queries or requests for price or maintenance offers, do not hesitate, and contact us at  sales@nordiccomputer.com  or by filling out the form below.