TP-Link has two inexpensive 8-port switches aimed at the consumer market: the TP-Link TL-SG1008D and TP-Link TL-SG108. If you’re wondering about TP-Link TL-SG1008D vs TP-Link TL-SG108, I can sum it up pretty easily.

Who you’re asking for makes a big difference. If you’re asking for yourself, you probably want the TL-SG108. If you’re asking for a friend, the TL-SG1008D may be worth considering. Read on to see why.

TP-Link TL-SG1008D vs TP-Link TL-SG108: Aesthetics

TP-Link TL-SG1008D vs TP-Link TL-SG108

The TP-Link TL-SG108 is a better switch than the TP-Link TL-SG1008D, which is why it costs more. But depending on what you plug into it, you may not notice much difference. And the SG-1008D, above, looks nicer.

Aesthetically, the current version of the TL-SG1008D has a bit of an edge. The plugs are in the back. The front gives a smooth and uncluttered visual, with power and activity LEDs. It’s a basic, black plastic case. But that design blends in well with other consumer electronics. TP-Link isn’t the best known brand yet, but I’m at least as comfortable buying their gear as I am big brands like D-LinkLinksys, or Netgear.

The TL-SG108 looks like a traditional metal switch. It looks like it belongs on a computer workbench. That’s an advantage on a computer workbench. That’s not necessarily an advantage in the living room. Then again, you can mount either one out of the way the same way I mount a power strip, and if you do that, it doesn’t really matter how they look.

Advantage: TP-Link TL-SG1008D

TP-Link TL-SG1008D vs TP-Link TL-SG108: Cost

TP-Link TL-SG-108

The TP-Link TL-SG-108 has its ports on the front and has speed indicator lights, so it’s a better choice for a workbench. It looks like the switch I had in my work area when I was a computer technician.

The TL-SG108 costs more than the TL-SG1008D. The TL-SG1008D retails for $25 and you can often get it for $20 or even less. The TL-SG108 retails for $30, but it’s harder to find it on sale.

If the difference in price is $5, the TL-SG108 is the one you want. But it’s not unusual for the price difference to be closer to $10.

When either of them are on sale, the TL-SG1008D, or its younger brother the TL-SG1005D, are cheap enough that if you need more than one network port in a single room, you can just one run one wire and plug a switch in. The switch probably costs less than the extra cables and connectors for an additional port would. In fact, I had a friend ask me why I ever run more than one port to a single room, when I could just plug in a cheap switch anywhere I need more ports. If I were wiring a house today, I’d probably take his approach.

Advantage: TP-Link TL-SG1008D

Speed

The TL-SG1008D has smaller buffers and less capacity than the TL-SG108, but consider the audience. If you’re using the gigabit Ethernet that’s built in to most motherboards, you won’t overwhelm this switch. If you’re the type who puts Intel E1000s in all of your systems, you’ll notice the difference in the two. For that matter, even the TL-SG108 may not be enough if you’re going to plug high-end gigabit NICs in every port.

So here’s my rule to make it easy: If you use the built-in network card on your motherboard, or if you’re plugging stuff like game consoles and Roku boxes into it, the TL-SG1008D is probably enough.

If you buy separate network cards and you can name more than one manufacturer of network chipsets, the TL-SG108 is probably the better fit for you. But if you want maximum performance, consider a used Dell Powerconnect 2816 switch, which costs around $40.

Advantage: TP-Link TL-SG108

Indicator lights

The TP-Link TL-SG108 has lights to indicate link speed. One light indicates gigabit; the other indicates 10/100 megabit. The TL-SG1008 only indicates whether it has a link; there’s no speed indicator. With it, you’ll have to check via the computer.

Here’s how to check your network speed on Windows. On Debian-based Linux distributions, use the command mii-tool eth0 to check the speed. On Red Hat derivatives, use the command ethtool eth0. If your active interface isn’t eth0, use the command ifconfig on either type of system to determine the active network interface. I learned the hard way it’s not always eth0.

Advantage: TP-Link TL-SG108

Other advantages of the TL-SG108

The TL-SG108 has no built in configuration but you can use a Windows-based app to configure it. TP-Link bills it as an unmanaged switch but it has some limited management capabilities. The TL-SG1008D is a true unmanaged switch.

Additionally, the TL-SG108 has a sturdy metal case. And it also has better power management than the TL-SG1008D.

I own one of each. I got a TL-SG108 on sale. It’s the switch I keep at my bench, where having speed indicator lights is definitely helpful. I also have a TL-SG1008D in the living room, where it only has a Roku game consoles plugged into it. For that application, it made sense for me to save my 10 bucks.

And that’s what you need to know about the TP-Link TL-SG1008D vs TP-Link TL-SG108 to make an informed purchase. If you need its features, the TL-SG108 is significantly better. But the TL-SG1008D is certainly more consumer friendly.