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Media Converter vs Switch: What Are the Differences?

Media Converter vs Switch Transmission Rates

For fiber media converters, there are 100M/1000M/10G media converters currently available on the market. Among which the 100M/1000M media converters are more frequently applied and have become a cost-effective solution for home and SMB networks. Network switches can be divided into 1G, 10G, 25G, 100G and even 400G switches to meet varied data rate requirements. Take the large data center networks as an example, 1G/10G/25G switches are mainly applied for the access layer or considered as ToR switches. The 40G/100G/400G switches are used as core or spine switches.

Media Converter vs Switch Installation

Media converters are simple network hardware devices, which are equipped with fewer interfaces than network switches, thus the cabling and connectivity are less complex. They can be installed on a desktop or a chassis. Due to that media converters are plug-and-play devices, the installation method is very simple: just insert the corresponding cables into the copper and fiber ports on it, then connect the cables to the network devices at each end.

Network switches can be used as a stand-alone unit in home or small office, or mounted to a rack for larger networks. Usually patch cables are plugged into the port on a network switch to link a computer or other network devices. In some high-density cabling environments, components like patch panels, fiber cassettes and cable managers are also used together to organize the cables. For managed network switches, a sort of configuration is also needed for running features like SNMP, VLAN, IGMP, etc.

Media Converter vs Switch Function

Copper-to-fiber and fiber-to-fiber media converters are two typical media converter types. The former can enable connections of copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link to extend links over greater distances, while the latter can offer connectivity between multimode and single-mode fiber, between dual fiber and single fiber, as well as conversion from standard wavelengths (1310nm, 1550nm) to WDM wavelengths.

Compared to media converters, network switches functions are much more complicated and are determined by the network operating systems (NOS). According to the network layer, they can be divided into Layer 2, Layer 3, and Layer 4 switches. Usually, the Layer 2 switches are the basic switches for transporting data and in performing error checking on each transmitted and received frame. Layer 3 and Layer 4 switches come with the routing functions to actively calculate the best way to send a packet to its destination and other advanced features, such as MLAG, STP, VXLAN and so on.



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