Difference between Router, Switch, and Hub

Article on networking devices like Hub, Switch, and Router. Learn the differences between them.

In networking terminology, you might had come across the terms hubs, switches, routers, bridges, modems etc which are the basic building blocks for the network to be built.

All these networking devices hubs, switches and routers perform similar functionality as they pass along data traffic through connectors called ports.

In the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model, the software to handle the transmission media are defined at layers 1 and 2 — the physical layer and the data link layer.

Let’s explore the fundamental roles of these networking devices which help us to understand the differences among them.

Difference between Router, Switch, and Hub

what is a Hub?

Hub is a layer 1 network hardware device for connecting multiple Ethernet devices. It has multiple input and output ports.

When a packet enters at any one of the ports, it is copied to every other port except for the port of entry which means all the segments of LAN can view the packet regardless of where the data is actually destined to be.

Hub is not intelligent enough to identify to which port the packet must be sent to.

It can create a lot of traffic on the network as the packets are placed on each and every port apart from the intended destination.

what is a Switch?

A Switch is comparatively intelligent than a hub. As a hub, the switch also serves as a connection point for multiple devices over network and operates at Layer 2 (datalink Layer).

The Switch can perform an error check before forwarding the data packets which makes it more efficient as it passes the error-free data to the appropriate port only as it makes note of the mac-addresses of the computers connected to it in the table.

If the destination address is not in the table, the switch sends the data to all the connected computers.

What is a Router?

A router is the most intelligent of the three hardware devices.

A router is a networking device that forwards data packets between computer networks and operates at Layer 3 as per the OSI model.

It usually connects at least two networks together, such as two LANs, two WANs, or a LAN and its ISP network.

Routers can calculate the efficient route for sending data and communicate with each other by protocols.


Layer ArchitecturePhysical LayerData Link LayerNetwork Layer
FunctionalityConnects two or more Ethernet devicesConnect two or more LAN devicesCan connect devices or a LAN and WAN
Data Transmission FormSends data in the form of electric signals or bitsSends data in the form of frames or packetsSends data in the form of packets
Filter OperationDoes not perform filteringPerforms  error check filtering on the packets before forwarding themMost Expensive and intelligent. 
Intellingence and Cost VarianceLeast Expensive and complicated. No IntelligenceMore Expensive and IntelligentMost Expensive and intelligent. Most Complicated
Data Transmission ModeHalf DuplexHalf /Full DuplexFull Duplex
Address used for Data TransmissionDoes not store any address of a node in networkMAC AddressIP Address
Speed10 Mbps10/100Mbps, 1 gbps1- 100 mbps wireless, 100mbps – 1gbps Wired
Ports4/12 portsmulti-port, usually between 4 and 482/4/5/8 ports
Device TypeBroadcast DeviceMulticast DeviceRouting Device

Author: Padmini Devi Edupuganti

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