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Difference between Switch and Router with Comparison Chart

Updated Jan 06, 2020

Are you looking for a helpful computer network device to connect your computer/ computers to other networked devices, computers, or networks? Your solution lies in networking tools such as a router or switch. Both these devices are helpful for the cause and will help you remain connected as you go through your day to day work at office, shop, home, or any other commercial establishment. The questions related to what is a router, what is a switch, definition, and function of routers and switches, the difference between a router and switch, are quite common in interviews.

Through this article, we aim to help you get a fair idea about the functions of a switch and router, a comparative study of router and switch, and how they can be of use to you. Read on for more!

Switch vs. Router

Basis of Comparison Router Switch
Layer A router provides a network layer and is compatible with Layer 3 devices. A switch offers a data link layer. The network switches in this connector device operate at Layer 2 of OSI models.
Functionality Routers are useful for directing data in any network. The data can be passed between home computers, office computers, and between the modem and computers. Switches help in connecting multiple devices. They are very useful in managing ports and VLAN security settings
Format of Data Transmission A router transmits data in the form of packets. At the initial level, data is transmitted via Broadcast and after that as Unicast & Multicast. The transmission mode is full-duplex. Packet (L3 switch) and Frame (L2 Switch) are the modes of data transmission in a switch. The type of data transmission is similar to that of a switch and as needed. The transmission mode is half/full-duplex.
Ports in action 2, 4, 5, and 8. The switch creates a multiport bridge that has 24/48 ports.
Type of connector device A router works in the capacity of a networking device. A switch is both a Frame (L2 Switch) & a networking device.
Used in Routers can be applied for linking a LAN, MAN, and WAN. Switches fitfully aid LAN networks.
Table A router stores the IP address within a routing table; it manages addresses at its own. Switches utilize the content accessible memory or CAM table. This table can be generally accessed with the aid of ASIC (Application Specific integrated chips).
Domain of Broadcast All ports present in a router possess their broadcast domains. Switches possess singular broadcast domains unless they are VLAN implemented.
Number/ type of Connections A router has the capability of connecting to multiple networking devices/computers with the help of WiFi or Ethernet. Switches have the capability of connecting to multiple networking devices/computers with the help of Cat 5e, Cat 5.
Speed 100 Mbps - 1 Gbps for wired routers and 1-100 Mbps for the wireless ones. 1 Gbps and 10/100 Mbps for wired and wireless switches, respectively.
Security Offers security measures for network protection. It provides port security.
Routing Decisions Routers provide for faster routing decisions. The time required for complicated routing decisions is more in switches.
Manufacturers Cisco, TP-Link, D-Link, Netgear, Linksys, Asus, etc. D-link Juniper, Cisco, etc.

What is a Router?

A router is used for forwarding data packets across linked networks. It is common to find routers connected to a minimum of two networks, say two WANs/ LANs or the ISP network of a router and its LAN. Routers are situated at the gateway where multiple networks merge to connect. Forwarding tables and headers are put to use by routers for determining the best possible path for forwarding data packets. Routers have their protocol for communicating with each other while they are in the process of configuring the best possible route between two hosts.

What is a Switch?

A switch refers to a networking device that is used for filtering and forwarding data packets between different LAN segments. Operating on the data link layer (layer 2), as well as network layer (layer 3) in some instances, a switch uses the OSI Reference Model to support all types of data packet protocols. Switched LANs / Switched Ethernet LANs refer to those LANs that use a switch for joining segments/ Ethernet networks.

Key difference between Switch and Router

  • The key points of difference between a switch and router are:
  • Definition: The answer to what is a router is that it is a connecting/networking device used for linking local networks to diverse networks. A router directs traffic at the distribution layer of any given network. It is used for performing functions that are critical for more efficient network operations. On the other hand, the definition of a switch states that it is a networking device utilized for connecting several devices to a given computer network. More advanced than hubs, switches are useful for sending messages to specific devices that request/ need the same.
  • Sharing of bandwidth: The sharing of bandwidth is dynamic in the case of a router. This networking device allows for either dynamic or static bandwidth sharing in the case of modular cable interfaces. Conversely, there are no sharing ports in the case of switches. Individually, the port capacity can be either 10, 100, 1000, and 10000 Mbps.
  • Speed: In a MAN/ WAN network environment, the speed of a router is faster than that of a corresponding L3 switch. The difference between a router and switch, in this case, is that in a LAN environment, L3 switches perform faster than routers.


If you are not careful, you may find the differences between a switch and a router quite confusing. While a router can search through multiple active paths to determine the best possible way at any particular moment, a switch behaves differently. Switches recognize just a singular way in between networks. In case you have any further queries or suggestions regarding the definition, differences, and features of switches and routers, do write to us. We will get back to you at the earliest.