The best Ethernet splitter

Reviews

One of the most appealing aspects of an Ethernet splitter is its ease of use. Since no power is required, a splitter can be installed virtually anywhere in your home network.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which Ethernet splitters are best?

Sometimes, you have a room with two devices that require a wired internet connection, but you only have one port in that room. While there are a few different ways to solve this problem, the quickest, easiest and most affordable approach is to purchase a pair of Ethernet splitters.

While there is a little more to the setup than most sites tell you, in essence, an Ethernet splitter allows you to split one Ethernet cable into two. This way, you can connect two devices to one cable. The Startech 13-Inch 2-to-1 RJ45 Female/Male Splitter is an excellent example of this. It is a specially designed device that is part cable and part port, allowing you to quickly and easily connect two devices to one Ethernet wall outlet.

What to know before you buy an Ethernet splitter

What an Ethernet splitter does

An Ethernet cable splitter doesn’t work the way most people think it does. There must be two signals at the start. The first Ethernet splitter actually merges the two signals into one cable. At the other end of that Ethernet cable, a second splitter separates the signals once again so you can connect two devices.

How an Ethernet splitter works

Without getting overly technical here, an Ethernet cable contains eight wires. However, it only takes four wires to transmit and receive data. A splitter is constructed to make use of all eight wires that are inside an Ethernet cable. This allows you to merge two cables into one, and split them again when needed.

Ethernet splitter vs. Ethernet switch

There are two main differences between an Ethernet splitter and an Ethernet switch. First, Ethernet splitters must be used in pairs — they merge the signal at one end and split it at the other. An Ethernet switch, however, is a standalone device: You only need one. An Ethernet switch can take one signal and distribute it to several ports/devices. Second, Ethernet switches require power to function, so they must be installed in an area that has access to power. An Ethernet splitter, however, can be installed anywhere because it does not require power to operate.

What to look for in a quality Ethernet splitter

An Ethernet splitter is a fairly basic device. There are only two important distinctions you need to know about.

Male or female connectors

There are three ports on an Ethernet splitter. They are configured in three different ways: all female, one male and two female or two male and one female. If you are plugging Ethernet cables into the splitter, you will want female connectors (ports) on the splitter. If you are plugging the splitter into a wall outlet or directly into a device, you will want male connectors.

Included Ethernet cable

If a splitter has male connectors, they will also include a run of Ethernet cable. The longer the run, the more flexible (and expensive) the splitter will be.

How much you can expect to spend on an Ethernet splitter

An Ethernet splitter is a small, affordable piece of tech. Most of these devices only cost around $10. Even if you purchase a model that features a short run of Ethernet cable, it shouldn’t cost more than $20.

Ethernet splitter FAQ

What is an RJ45 port?

A. An RJ45 port is another name for an Ethernet port. It is where you insert the male end of an Ethernet cable.

Is an Ethernet splitter hard to install?

A. Not at all. There is no power source involved, and you don’t have to worry about any type of configuration. All you have to do is connect the three points — the male end slides into the female end and clicks when it is secure. However, it is very important to be careful when removing an Ethernet cable from a port. If you don’t handle the little plastic locking mechanism with care, and gently but fully depress it before removing the cable, you could snap it off. When this happens, your Ethernet cable will no longer be able to stay in the port. If you do happen to break the clip off, it’s not the end of your cable. You can get a little RJClip that will quickly repair most cables and serve you well in light-duty usage situations.

Will an Ethernet splitter slow down my internet speed?

A. Unless noted on the device, you can expect an internet splitter to have a limit of 100 Mbps. If your plan is faster than that, it will slow down your internet for any device that is connected to the splitter. However, 100 Mbps is still fast enough to stream 4K content.

What’s the best Ethernet splitter to buy?

Top Ethernet splitter

Startech 13-Inch 2-to-1 RJ45 Female/Male Splitter

Startech 13-Inch 2-to-1 RJ45 Female/Male Splitter

What you need to know: This Ethernet splitter features one male connection and two female connections.

What you’ll love: For convenience and versatility, the male connection is attached to the end of a 13-inch-long Ethernet cable. This splitter can support both 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps data transmission rates. 

What you should consider: It’s important to understand how splitters work — you need two — to get the expected performance.

Where to buy: Sold by Staples

Top Ethernet splitter for the money

SXRH RJ45 Splitter

SXRH RJ45 Splitter

What you need to know: Featuring three female ports, this is the most compact and simplest splitter type available.

What you’ll love: This tiny device is manufactured to be wear-resistant and durable. The installation is easy. Simply insert an Ethernet cable into each port, and once you hear the click, you’ll know you have a solid connection.

What you should consider: While the splitter is affordable, this is a new seller, so there aren’t many customer reviews available yet.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

TP-Link Litewave 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch

TP-Link Litewave 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch

What you need to know: This is an Ethernet switch (not a splitter) that can send a signal to up to five devices.

What you’ll love: Unlike a splitter, you don’t need to purchase switches in pairs — you only need one switch to get the job done. The intelligent technology automatically conserves power when not all ports are being used. Setup is simple as no configuration is needed.

What you should consider: This is not a splitter, it’s a switch, so it requires a power source.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.