Managed vs. Unmanaged Switch: What’s the Difference?

AV Access Blog_ Managed vs Unmanaged Switch , What’s the Difference

An Ethernet switch serves as the “brain” or “core” of a network as it is designed. Network switches come in a variety of sizes that enable them to have up to 52 ports, and they can be classified into two types: managed switches and unmanaged switches. So managed vs unmanaged switch, which one is better and what’s the difference? You can find the answers in this blog.

What Is a Managed Switch?

With the ability to customize each port individually, managed switches give users a variety of options for managing, configuring, and monitoring the network. They also offer a greater degree of control over who can access data and how it is transmitted via the network.

Besides, managed switch ports can be set up as trunks, which allows for the transmission of multiple VLAN frames over a single link and the tagging of data frames with a VLAN ID. Typically, trunk ports are used to link two switches together or to link a switch to a virtual machine server that needs access to numerous VLANs.

As a final feature, managed network switches typically offer a remotely accessible console that may be accessed via a command line or web interface. This allows administrators to make configuration changes or modifications from various physical locations.

What Is an Unmanaged Switch?

Unmanaged switches employ auto-negotiated ports to choose data rates and whether to operate in half-duplex or full-duplex mode. Furthermore, virtual LANs are completely unknown to unmanaged switches (VLANs). All devices are therefore part of the same broadcast domain.

But a media access control (MAC) address table is kept by unmanaged switches. This table keeps track of MAC addresses that have been dynamically learned along with the accompanying switch port where they were discovered. Unmanaged network switches offer a distinct, per-port collision domain because they have a MAC address table.

Managed vs Unmanaged Switch: What’s the Difference?

The following are the 4 major differences between managed and unmanaged switches: capabilities, security, cost and application.

  • Capabilities: Unmanaged switches begin traffic forwarding as soon as users plug them in. Other than what they require to negotiate transfer speeds and establish the type of duplexing for each link, they have no functionality. Managed switches can provide a vast selection of capabilities that IT specialists can design, enabling a wide range of deployment options. The availability and performance of the network can be improved thanks to these features.
  • Security: Network security comprises guarding against and spotting risks to data and functionality. Managed switches include security options that can be set up to safeguard the network and assist in detecting attacks. Switches that are not monitored lack security features.
  • Cost: Unmanaged switches are often available for between $50 and $100 or more. Typically, the cost of a switch is based on how many ports it needs. However, you should anticipate much greater expenditures with managed switches. These can cost anywhere between $1500 and $2800.
  • Application: An unmanaged switch is more likely to be used in smaller networks, such as those for homes, small offices, or small businesses, among other situations. Enterprise-sized companies with a much wider network reach or those who use data centers and require far better control over their network traffic are better suited for managed switches.

Managed vs Unmanaged Switch: Which One to Choose?

Unmanaged switches are most frequently seen in relatively small, straightforward networks with just a dozen or so connected devices and no pressing needs for security or availability.

For networks where dependability and security are essential, managed switches are a need because of the flexibility and control they offer. These networks typically support large corporations, governmental institutions, academic institutions, and healthcare facilities.

Although managed switches are more expensive than unmanaged switches, there are various levels of complexity and cost for companies of all sizes due to the variety of models available.

A third class of switches, known as smart managed switches, provides a balance between price and features. Small organizations that require improved security protection and wish to boost the performance of their networks but have limited financial resources should use these switches.


So managed vs unmanaged switch, which one should you pick? They differ in many ways, like capabilities, security, cost and application. It depends on how you apply the Ethernet switch and how much money you plan to spend. Before purchasing, you can take these factors into consideration, which can help you save money in the long run.

If you are also searching for a high-quality and plug-n-play 4K AV over IP solution that works with both managed and unmanaged Ethernet switches on the market, AV Access 4KIP200 is the one that you can’t miss. It can work flawlessly with any universal network switch on the market. It boasts matrix switching, video wall support, easy visual control, fast seamless switching, etc. It is perfect for wide applications like sports bar, restaurant, shopping mall, retail store, house of worship, etc.

Other FAQs about Network Switches

If you want to learn more about Ethernet switches, you can refer to the QAs below.

Does an Ethernet switch reduce speed?

An Ethernet switch does not typically reduce the speed of a network. In fact, it can increase the speed by enabling multiple devices to communicate simultaneously.

How to use an Ethernet switch?

To use an Ethernet switch, simply connect it to a power source and plug Ethernet cables into the available ports. Then, connect the other end of the cables to your devices.

What is an Ethernet switch used for?

An Ethernet switch is used to connect multiple devices to a network and enable communication between them.

Can I connect 2 Ethernet switches together?

Yes, you can connect two Ethernet switches together by connecting a cable from one of the ports on the first switch to one of the ports on the second switch.

Is a network switch the same as a router?

A network switch is not the same as a router. A switch enables devices to communicate with each other on a local network, while a router connects multiple networks together and enables communication between them.

Do I need a router for an Ethernet switch?

Yes, you typically need a router for an Ethernet switch to connect to the Internet and communicate with devices outside of your local network.

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