Should I use a switch and how will it effect my network

I have a lot of computers and devices in my house and pretty much anything I can stick ethernet into I do over using wireless. I only use wireless for devices like my phone, kindle fire and my laptop (so it can remain portable). I currently have all 4 ports on my router filled and 2 100' ethernet cables running from upstairs to downstairs. I am curious if going down to 1 100' ethernet cable downstairs into a switch and then plugging my devices into this switch would give me any noticeabe difference in speed on my entire network or just the devices on the switch. I have my Xbox360 and AV receiver hooked up with ethernet currenty and PS3, Wii U and television hooked up to the wifi (just becuse I don't ave enough ports). If I used a switch I could hook up everything downstairs to the switch and the switch to one of the routers LAN ports. What do you think the best solution is for me? Thank you.

I am also curious how this will effect the wifi if at all.
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  1. Implementing a switch would be a good idea seeing as you have so many devices. It'll give you a faster connection for your Wii U, PS3 and TV (going from wireless to Ethernet), and you won't notice a speed difference with your 360 and receiver. WiFi wouldn't be affected.

    Getting a switch is your best solution.
  2. As stated above, a switch is your best option. Unlike a hub that just repeats a signal, a switch works at the Data Link layer of the OSI model. It can actually 'learn' what devices are connected to it by way of the hardware's MAC address. Each port on the switch has a table associated with it of devices that are connected to that port. In this way, the switch will send the data to the correct device without sending the data out every port.

    I don't know if this will 'speed' up your network. It will certainly make it more efficient. I guess it depends on what kind of traffic you have on your network, but you could see some reduced latency.
  3. Right. With a hub, when you transmit a data packet, the packet is sent to each device on the network until the correct device is found. This process is done every time a unique transmission occurs and can be seen as a very arbitrary and inefficient way of sending data.

    With a switch however, it very quickly becomes aware of which devices reside on which ports (done so by keeping track of each devices MAC address in correspondence the port it's connected to), and will then directly send the data to the desired device without having to hit other devices first. This technique is called ARP, or Address Resolution Protocol.

    People used to use hubs over switches because switches were much more expensive than hubs, but nowadays it's pretty standard to get a switch if you have several devices on the network since they're both around the same price.
  4. Without knowing the specifics of the router, or the switch you are talking about, The best anyone can really say is, it might help...

    Ethernet is known as a star topology network, meaning you have a central point, and connections radiating off of that. Your router / WiFi for example is the central point, the WiFi clients are the connectiosn that radiate off of that. And using he same star analogy, one or more of the radiating elements can interconnect to another central point, say a switch....

    Now switches, being ulike hubs in that they are ful wire speed / non blocking, can carry data to and from each port at full speed, no worries about collisions like back in the day with hubs. However, if you say an 8 port switch, with 1 port uplinked to another device, say a router, the 7 remaining ports when the communicate over that one port that interconnects, will have to compete for the bandwidth of that one port.

    So if say for example, if you are using an 802.11N router, with gigabit ports, and plan on plugging in a gigabit ethernet switch, then yes, I would say you should expect to see some speed improvement. Especially if you are saturating your WiFi. Honestly, even if you are running 10/100 ethernet, it should be faster than too many devices competing over WiFi...

    WiFi is nice, but it really ought to be used for devices that absolutely can not be connected to the wired ethernet network.
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