How do I set this up: One large gigabit switch with multiple runs to multiple rooms, or smaller switch distributing to each room and a switch there distributing to each device?
I have a 3 level townhouse with lots of other WiFi networks all around me and poor wifi throughput in certain rooms. So I have decided to go wired for things like the Xbox360, roku, receiver, desktop pc, etc. So there are about 5 rooms with 3-5 potential wired network devices. I have fishtape and some cable pulls and a minimal amount of experience running and terminating Cat5e. I am thinking of using Cat6 for this. Has anyone ever had this professionally done in their home from a contractor? I wonder what the labor of that costs?
If I were going to do this and this is just my opinion I would pull multiple drops to each room and have one central switch in like a closet. In your townhouse do u have a unfinished attic or basement. How old is your townhouse is there drywall on the walls or plaster. Also if you are going on outside walls is there insulation in the walls? What kind of insulation is there? As for terminating the cat 5e or 6 use the T568B standard, and then it is just a matter of matching up the colors and punching the wires into each terminal. This is do able it just depends on how much cutting up your walls you are willing to do. One this is make sure you have a big enough drill bit to pull the wire through the floors/ceilings. I did this to my house and once I figured out where to drill and cut it was pretty easy.
Using 1 switch or multiple I suspect will come down to personal preference. Unless you are worried about saturating a 1gig uplink port I don't think there will be much performance difference. One larger switch tends to cut the cost of the switch hardware but you have now increased your jack costs. The cable itself is pretty cheap it is the keystones that add up quickly.
If you know how to fish the cable though the walls then that is the hard part. The jacks are just a matter of matching the wire colors up and using the special punch down tool to push them in.
I don't know we pay about $100 per drop in a office environment. It depends they will cut you a break if you are having lots run. They normally don't charge much more for running 2 cables per drop rather than 1. I don't think we have ever ask for just 1 drop to be run though so its hard to say what the minimum charge might be.
The largest costs is manhours of course, but also you would need a full schematic of your townhouse, so you know every beam, L joint, etc. This is where the man hours come in since your insistive on Wired solution then a Wireless solution.
In a wired solution the easiest method would be to follow the power lines, telephone lines or cable TV lines, unless they don't go to all the rooms properly. Then there is numerous issues, first there is distance limitation on wiring, second you need you constantly test the wiring because one bend / break and all you know is bad data is going on but no clue why /where (one of the big reasons people walked away from wired solutions as compared to a wireless solution).
Mapping all that out, planning it, then confirming the layout is one part, before final approval (for example if there is a main beam in between you would have to bypass around it. Also you want to segment the network usually to each floor then interconnect them together to make trouble shooting easier down the road (yes there will be a need to trouble shoot even immediately after install).
I understand your seeing alot of wireless signals nearby, but you can isolate down your network to not get that interference. Further the new 802.11AC class is more powerful signal, 'faster', and longer range wireless network setup. The simpliest solution would be at ground level you have in the middle of the house (as best as possible) the main 'drop' to connect the 802.11AC router. The next would be to walk with a laptop using a simple software like Xirrus Xirrus.com/Products/Network-Management-and-Software/Network-Management/Wi-Fi-Inspector and see what the 'competiting' networks are named and channel numbers they are on, then modify the setup in the router to use a different name / channel (i.e. if it is a Netgear rename it to Bob'sInet, Channel 9 is used alot by neighbors, try channel 7 instead, etc.).
Buy 2, no more then 4 (depends if you have brick walls or other 'thick' materials in the townhouse) 'boosters', follow the instructions to set them up while near the router. Then walk around and see where the signal starts to depreciate.. move '3/4' of the distance between the Router and the signal drops off, plug in the booster there. Then move again and find the next drop off, and so on till all places you want covered are covered.
Buy 802.11AC USBs and you can use them pretty much on any device trying to go wireless normally.