The Ultimate Guide to Ethernet Switch Ports: Identifying and Choosing the Right One

Published on Updated on April 26, 2024

Ethernet networks use various networking hardware for ensuring the connectivity of devices and the Ethernet switch is an important one among them. It is considered as the brain of a network that uses the hardware addresses to connect to the devices effectively. Owing to their increasing importance, today, switches are designed in diverse specifications and configurations. Sometimes they are differentiated based on other factors like Ethernet switch port and more. But, how many of you have ever noticed the ports on network switches? Ethernet switches may come in different port types, and work on distinct switch port modes. In this post, common Ethernet switch port types are briefly introduced in terms of data rates, network architecture, and functions. This would help you understand their differences and make the right preparations for your future network plans.

ethernet switch port types

Types of Ethernet Switch Ports by Data Rates

The data rate is one of the important factors for an Ethernet switch interface. It varies from 1G to 100G and beyond. Here is the list of mainstream interface types of these data rates.

  • RJ45 Port: RJ 45, registered jack 45, is the quintessential Ethernet style data port found on switches, network cards, routers and more. This port on 100/1000BASE switch can be used in LANs, data centers for server switching, and uplinks from desktop switches for broadband application. The RJ45 Port uses eight conductors or pins to transmit data and is typically found on the back of networking equipment, required for connecting two RJ45 ports on Gigabit switches.The RJ45 Port is a type of Ethernet port, which supports data transfer rates of up to 10 Gbps, depending on the network infrastructure and cabling used.
  • SFP and SFP+ Port: The small form-factor pluggable or SFP port is specially designed for small form factor (SFF) connectors. It offers high speed and physical compactness. It enables a Gigabit switch to allow copper uplinks over long distances by inserting the corresponding SFP module. On the other side, SFP+ is an evaluation of SFP port and supports higher speeds up to 10Gbps. While comparing the compatibility of both ports, SFP+ often accepts SFP optics at a lower speed of 1Gbps. But, one can’t plug in SFP+ transceiver into an SFP port as it does not support speeds less than 1Gbps.
  • SFP 28 Port: It is an evolution of the SFP+ port and provides a new way for networking upgrade:10G-25G-100G. It has the same form factor as the SFP+ but provides 25Gbps over a single lane.
  • QSFP28 Port: It is designed for 100g applications. It offers high-speed differential signals with data rates ranging from 25Gbps to 100Gbps.
  • QSFP+ Port: It is an enhanced version of the quad small form-factor pluggable or QSFP. It has four-channel Gbit/s SFP+ interfaces that offer a transfer rate up to 40Gbps.

Ethernet Switch Port Types by Functions

Like data rates, functions, as well as applications are vital for Ethernet switch connector types because the same port is used for various purposes. This helps us gain insights into Ethernet switch port types configurations.

  • PoE Port: The power over Ethernet or PoE switch port can transmit both data and power through a single cable. It delivers power in two standard formats – IEEE (delivers power up to 15.4 on an Ethernet switch port) and IEEE 802.3at (delivers power up to 30 watts on an Ethernet switch port). However, the power would be lost with the increasing distance.
  • Combo Port: It is a compound port which supports dual front ends such as an RJ45 and SFP connector. However, these different ports can’t be used simultaneously. That means RJ45 port is being used, the corresponding port is automatically disabled and vice versa. One best advantage is that it provides different connectivity without taking up unused switch fabric, allowing users the power and flexibility to configure their switch as required. Get to know more about Combo Ports in Ethernet here.
  • Stack Port: It is a special functional port on the switch. It is used to connect other stackable network switches of the same model to operate as a single stackable switch. It can be an uplink port; however, some network switches may have a dedicated port for stacking. It is one economical solution with great flexibility and preferred for long-distance connections.

Types of Ethernet Switch Ports based on Network Architecture

Basically, network architecture comprises three layers such as core layer, access layer, and distribution layer. Fortunately, network switches also have these types.

  • Access Port: As its name implies, it is used for connecting devices available in access links such as laptops, desktops, printers, and more. An access port can only be a member of specific VLAN, and it sends as well as receives regular Ethernet frames in untagged form.
  • Trunk Port: A trunk port is used between switches and higher-level network devices available in trunk link. It allows for several VLANs set up, thus, it can carry traffic for numerous VLANs at the same time.
  • Hybrid Port: It can connect the user as well as network devices, thus named hybrid port. It supports both tagged VLAN like trunk port and untagged VLAN like access port, receiving data from one or more VLANs.
  • Uplink ports: Uplink ports are used to connect switches together to expand the size of a network. They typically operate at the distribution or core layers of a network and are configured to carry traffic for all VLANs or a subset of VLANs.
  • Management ports: Management ports are used for remote management and configuration of a switch. They typically operate on a separate management VLAN and are used to connect to a management console or network management software.
  • Stacking ports: Stacking ports are used to connect multiple switches together to form a stack, which acts as a single logical switch. They are typically used in larger networks where a single switch may not be able to provide sufficient capacity or redundancy.
  • PoE (Power over Ethernet) ports: : PoE ports are used to power devices such as IP phones, wireless access points, and IP cameras. They provide both data and power over a single Ethernet cable, eliminating the need for separate power cables.
List of ethernet switches

Knowing the appropriate switch ports number helps you select the right switch for your network applications. If you are planning to buy Ethernet switches for your upcoming networking campaign, then source them from a reliable, trustworthy and industry-leading supplier like VERSITRON. The company specializes in offering network switches in various configurations. To know the cost of industrial switches, industrial PoE switches and all fiber switches, visit

Rich Tull

Rich Tull
R.W. Tull is the President of Versitron, a leading technology company specializing in data communication and networking solutions. With expertise in Guiding network switches and media converters, R.W. Tull has played a pivotal role in driving Versitron's success. His deep understanding of these technologies has enabled the company to provide innovative and reliable solutions to clients. As a visionary leader, He ensures that Versitron remains at the forefront of the industry, delivering cutting-edge networking solutions that enhance data communication efficiency.
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