Routers and switches are both computer networking devices. They allow one or more computers to be connected to other computers, networked devices, or to other networks.

However, the functions of a hub, switch and router are quite different, even if at times they are integrated into a single device. Routers connect two or more logical subnets, which do not necessarily map one-to-one to the physical interfaces of the router. The term layer 3 switch often is used interchangeably with router, but switch is really a general term without a rigorous technical definition. In marketing usage, it is generally optimized for Ethernet LAN interfaces and may not have other physical interface types.

Comparison chart

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Layer Network Layer (Layer 3 devices) Data Link Layer. Network switches operate at Layer 2 of the OSI model.
Ports 2/4/8 Switch is multi port Bridge. 24/48 ports
Device Type Networking device Active Device (With Software) & Networking device
Data Transmission form Packet Frame (L2 Switch) Frame & Packet (L3 switch)
Function Directs data in a network. Passes data between home computers, and between computers and the modem. Allow to connect multiple device and port can be manage, Vlan can create security also can apply
Transmission Type At Initial Level Broadcast then Uni-cast & Multicast First broadcast; then unicast & multicast as needed.
Table Store IP address in Routing table and maintain address at its own. Switches use content accessible memory CAM table which is typically accessed by ASIC (Application Specific integrated chips).
Transmission Mode Full duplex Half/Full duplex
Broadcast Domain In Router, every port has its own Broadcast domain. Switch has one broadcast domain [unless VLAN implemented]
Definition A router is a networking device that connects a local network to other local networks. At the Distribution Layer of the network, routers direct traffic and perform other functions critical to efficient network operation. A network switch is a computer networking device that is used to connect many devices together on a computer network. A switch is considered more advanced than a hub because a switch will on send msg to device that needs or request it
Device Category Intelligent Device Intelligent Device
Bandwidth sharing Bandwidth sharing is Dynamic (Enables either static or dynamic bandwidth sharing for modular cable interfaces. The default percent-value is 0. The percent-value range is 1-96.) There is no sharing port can be 10, 100, 1000 and 10000 Mbps individual
Speed 1-10 Mbps(Wireless) 100 Mbps (Wired) 10/100Mbps, 1Gbps
Routing Decision Take faster Routing Decision Take more time for complicated routing Decision
NAT (Network Address Translation) Can Perform NAT Switches can Not perform NAT
Faster In a different network environment (MAN/ WAN) Router is faster than L3 Switch. In a LAN environment L3 switch is faster than Router (built in switchning hardware)
Features Firewall VPN Dynamic hadling of Bandwidth Priority rt range On/Off setting of port VLAN Port mirroring
Latest Models Linksys WRT54GL Juniper MX & EX series Cisco 3900,2900,1900 Alcatel's OmniSwitch 9000; Cisco Catalyst switch 4500 and 6500(10 Gbps),
Used for Connecting two or more networks Connecting two or more nodes in the same network or different network
Address used for data tramsmission Uses IP address Uses MAC address

edit Function

A router is a more sophisticated device than a switch. Traditional routers are designed to join multiple area networks (LANs and WANs). Routers serve as intermediate destinations for network traffic. They receive TCP/IP packets, look inside each packet to identify the source and target IP addresses, then forward these packets as needed to ensure the data reaches its final destination. Additionally, routers can be used to increase a small business or home network's security while browsing the internet.

A network switch is a small hardware device that joins multiple computers together within one local area network (LAN). Switches are incapable of joining multiple networks or sharing an Internet connection. A home network with a switch must designate one computer as the gateway to the Internet, and that device must possess two network adapters for sharing, one for the home LAN and one for the Internet WAN. With a router, all home computers connect to the router equally, and it performs the equivalent gateway functions.

Below is a video that compares hubs, switches, and routers.

edit Cost

Depending on the style, features, functionality and the brand, the price of a Router can range anywhere from $10-$74,000+. Prices for Switch range from $12-$93,000+.

Current prices for these products are available on

edit Connectivity

Routers can connect wired or wireless (WiFi) networks. A switch is used for wired networking connections.

edit Intelligence

Routers are more sophisticated devices that can have software to increase network throughput using techniques such as caching.

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