D-Link DMS-106XT 2.5Gbps gaming and media 6-port unmanaged switch (DLink network review)
Since when does an unmanaged switch look good? On looks alone, the D-Link DMS-106XT 2.5Gbps gaming and media 6-port switch wins outright and received a red dot award for design. On the performance front, it does very well, too, if you plan your network properly.
We put it through its paces, and yes, it makes a huge difference to internal network speeds, especially if connected devices support 2.5Gbps.
D-Link DMS-106XT 2.5Gbps gaming and media 6-port switch
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It is an unmanaged switch, not a hub
You need to understand the difference.
A lower-cost hub takes the 1Gbps (from 10/100/1000Mbps) Ethernet input and shares it, half-duplex (like a one-way bridge – one direction at a time), over the Ethernet ports (to devices like smart speakers, TVs, soundbars etc.). It is unmanaged, meaning it works on a ‘collision’ factor. If two devices want to talk simultaneously, the loudest wins until it lets the other get a word in. Overall, hubs are adequate for light home and small office use. It is why a 5-port hub costs under $50.
A switch is intelligent and shares the bandwidth full-duplex (two-way bridge) with no collisions. That means higher throughput. Unmanaged means it does this automatically without software to administer it. D-Link only do switches.
There is one more important issue – a switch enables connected device-to-device communication instead of all traffic coming back to the router (or PC) and then being sent back to the device. For example, a PC and printer on a switch can talk to each other without creating outside traffic that could slow down the network. It is for heavier use and why this 6-port costs $399.
Cables – All Ethernet cables are not the same
Standard Cat 5e Ethernet cables (most common) support 2.5Gbps, Cat 6 supports 5Gbps, and Cat 6a or 7 supports 10Gbps. A switch will run to the maximum speed the cable supports, dependent on the run length (maximum 100 metres).
So, if you have older Ethernet wiring, all you will get from this switch is the change from half-duplex to full-duplex, and that alone is worth the effort if your network is slow.
Let’s start from the NBN side of things. It is likely to be DL/UL 25/10, 50/20 or 100/40Mbps. Some Fibre-to-the-Premises users can get gigabit speeds at giga-dollar costs. It comes into a router that manages internet access from its Wi-Fi or cabled Ethernet-connected devices.
Typically, a good router has four Ethernet 10/100/1000Mbps full-duplex switch ports (auto-negotiation). That means if you attach a PC, Games console, or media station, it will have 1000Mbps (1Gbps) full-duplex data transfer both ways. Using a switch instead of a hub maintains that full-duplex link. You can extend the network by connecting a hub to the switch, but all connected devices are running at lesser speeds – unnoticed because your internet speed is also slow.
The best use is to connect the switch to the router’s 2.5Gbps port (if you have one) then to all your bandwidth hogs like gaming consoles, 4K TV. Rule of thumb – you can connect hubs downstream to switches but not the other way around – you want to keep that full-duplex connection.
This switch has Turbo mode
When enabled, it provides up to 40% faster performance and port-based QoS (priority) settings. I would like to have a simple explanation but sorry – it is to do with how a switch works.
Priority in an unmanaged switch is more about who gives way to whom if they all want to use the switch simultaneously. It is called ‘store and forward’ instead of a collision!
- Assuming your router has 1Gbps or 2.5Gbps WAN connection, you should connect to this via port 1 (top priority).
- Port 2 has the next priority (suitable for 4/8K video)
- 3, 4, and 5 are all the same priority (below port 2)
- 6 is 10Gbps (10E) for a high-speed NAS connection – or just a 2.5Gbps port, but it has top priority like Port 1.
Cybershack view – D-Link DMS-106XT 2.5Gbps is fast
If money is not the object, you would replace all your dumb Ethernet hubs with these 2.5Gbps full-duplex switches and have a blazingly fast internal cabled home or small office network. The 10Gbps port is nice but only reaches that speed with devices on the same switch – a 10Gbps NAS is the ideal shared device. And you can connect other 2.5Gbps switches to extend the network and keep full-duplex to the router.
D-Link also has low-cost 1Gbps full-duplex unmanaged switches (5-port DGS-105/$59.95 and 8-port DGS-108/$79.95) that are excellent downstream devices.
D-Link DMS-106XT 2.5Gbps 6-port unmanaged switch$399.95
- Red Dot Design award – nice
- 2.5Gbps full-duplex and 10Gbps within the switch
- Easy plug and play replacement of dumb hubs
- Turbo mode for gamers and streaming media
- D-Link support is local and excellent
- Expensive, but perhaps not for 2.5Gbps
- Make sure you have the correct Ethernet cables