A versatile, ultra-performance, easily configurable network switch designed for expert gaming
Even though our house has a fantastic mesh wireless network, sometimes you really need the speed and stability of a wired network connection. The only problem with this is when you exceed the number of ports allotted to you from your network router. Most of them come equipped with 3-4 ports, which can be taken up in the blink of an eye these days. When you need more ports that are available with your router, you can add a network hub, but that doesn’t really help your network’s productivity. A hub is an inexpensive option for managing multiple network devices, but it’s a dumb network device. It does not examine or manage any of the traffic that comes through it like a network switch will.
A few years ago, we realized that our home network was in need of a tune-up. We took stock of what devices were running wirelessly and which ones should be wired connections. At that time, we added in a ProCurve Switch by HP. This helped us to organize our network traffic and the network has been running well since then, but with it being an older switch, we weren’t really getting the latest technology abilities. So, about a month ago, we swapped out the ProCurve for a NETGEAR Nighthawk S8000 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch. This device is considered a Gaming & Streaming Switch, which means that it is optimized for expert gaming, 4K UHD media streaming, and home network connectivity.
The switch is built with a premium zinc-alloy housing with a soft-touch no-slip base. It’s durable and provides a sleek design. This is an ultra high-performance switch and provides link aggregation (up to 4 Gigabit LAN ports), Low Latency, and glitch-free streaming (4K UHD streaming with multicasting support). The S8000 also has a mobile-optimized GUI.
- Packet buffer memory – 192kb
- Forwarding modes – store and forward
- Latency non-congested network – 2.7μs
- Latency congested network – 4.7μs
- 16 GB/s Bandwidth (full-duplex fabric)
- 3 priority queues with weighted round robin (WRR) queuing
- 4K MAC Address database size (48-bit)
- 128 multicast groups
- 11.9 Mf/s packet forwarding rate (64-byte packet size)
- 1000Mbps: <3.2μs
- 100Mbps: <9.6μs
- 10Mbps: <76.9μs
The S8000 switch has some impressive management tools as well including password management, web browser-based GUI, configuration/switch settings, one-click optimized setup, and preset modes. With all the backend technology support, I was eager to get the Nighthawk setup. Netgear was pretty straightforward with what was included in the box. You get the switch, its power supply, and an installation guide.
The first thing that really stood out to me is the design of the S8000. It looks like something right out of Star Trek. It doesn’t weigh a ton and you could probably successfully mount it on the side of a desk or on the wall. I opted to install the unit in my network cabinet.
The S8000 is sleek and the controls couldn’t be simpler. You plug in the input signal into port 8 (uplink) and then fill in the rest of the ports with your wired connections. While you will start getting a signal right away, you aren’t getting the most out of your switch until you set its IP address to be static. This process is pretty simple and even though Netgear offers a few options for completing this task, the easiest is to download an IP Scanner to determine which device on your network is the switch.
One of the main reasons I wanted to add in this gaming-centric switch was because of our XBox One. While I’m not a huge gamer, my fiance is and he loves to play against other players online. We’ve run into issues operating the XBox wirelessly as it doesn’t get a solid connection. When we ran an ethernet cable we found the connection was more solid and he wasn’t experiencing a lag when playing his game. Prior to adding in the S8000, the Xbox was plugged directly into the cable modem. Because of that, I really only noticed a slight difference in our network’s performance through the switch. That said, my fiance did report that there was a much smoother connection and his gameplay was much more stable than with the previous wired connection method.
Aside from just how the network felt, I decided to run a network speed test. I used my MacBook Pro as the primary internet user device. My MBP does not have an ethernet port on it, so I had to use a Thunderbolt 2-to-Ethernet adapter. The Ethernet cable I was using is CAT6. The speed test I ended up using was speedtest.net, which utilizes HTML5. The first test I ran was with my MBP connected wirelessly to our network. The second test was a wired connection directly to our cable modem, and then the third test shows the results from a wired connection plugged directly into the Nighthawk S8000. Even though I knew from using that the connection was more stable and efficient, I was still in awe of the actual results, which you can see below.
The Netgear Nighthawk S8000 is a very nice option for a network switch. I love the efficiency it’s brought to our wired devices and how easy it is to setup. I would recommend this if you have an overabundance of wired connections, or if you are just a hardcore gamer.