Difference Between Router and Switch

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

The Primary Difference Between Router and Switch is that routers connect networks, whereas switches connect devices within networks. Routers can connect to the internet and local devices, whereas switches can only connect to local devices.

Difference Between Router and Switch PDF

First, we see the difference between router and switch, and then later, we will discuss the router and switch individually. Another difference between routers and switches is that routers can support wireless and wired connectivity. In contrast, switches only support Ethernet LAN ports and cannot create or connect to Wi-Fi networks.

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Difference Between Router and Switch

First, we see the difference between router and switch, and then we will discuss about the router and switch individually. Both router and switch are essential as per the GATE CSE question paper. The table shows the difference between router and switch based on the operating layer, service offered etc.

Key Difference Between Router and Switch



A router serves as a network layer, and thus it is compatible with Layer 3 devices.

A switch provides a data link layer. This connector device’s network switches operate at Layer 2 of OSI models.

Routers are useful in any network for directing data. Data can be transferred between home computers, office computers, and modems and computers.

Switches are used to connect multiple devices. They come in handy when it comes to managing ports and VLAN security settings.

A router performs the function of a networking device.

A switch is a frame (L2 Switch) as well as a networking device.

A router is a device that sends data in the form of packets. Data is initially transmitted via Broadcast and then as Unicast and Multicast. Full-duplex transmission is used.

A switch’s data transmission modes are packet (L3 switch) and frame (L2 switch). The data transmission is similar to that of a switch and is done as needed. Half/full-duplex transmission is used.

A router can connect to multiple networking devices/computers via WiFi or Ethernet.

Switches can connect to multiple networking devices/computers using Cat 5e and Cat 5 cabling.

A router’s IP address is stored in a routing table; it manages addresses independently.

Switches make use of the content-accessible memory (CAM) table. This table is generally accessible using ASIC (Application Specific integrated chips).

Routers enable faster routing decisions.

In switches, the time required for complex routing decisions is greater.

What is Router?

A router is a networking device that manages data entering and exiting the network and data transmission within the network. The router is also used to keep multiple networks running and to route traffic between them.

The router is required when connecting multiple devices to the network or connecting that device wirelessly. The GATE exam may carry a question based on this concept. A router connects those to your home or Wi-Fi network, allowing you to communicate wirelessly.

What is Switch?

A switch is a networking device that operates on the OSI model’s data link layer, which is important for the GATE CSE exam syllabus. This is used to link various devices in a computer network. The switch allows for connection creation and termination based on the need for a connection.

The device saves the MAC addresses of all devices that are connected to it. It keeps a table in which the port number is mapped to the MAC address of the device connected to that port. The switch operates in full duplex mode. The number of collision domains, in this case, is equal to the number of ports on the device.

Key Difference Between Router and Switch

The key difference between router and switch are given below.

  • In the OSI model, network switches operate at layer two (Data Link Layer), and routers operate at layer 3 (Network).
  • While switches store MAC addresses in a lookup table, routers store IP addresses in the routing table.
  • With the exception of VLAN, each port on a router has its own broadcast domain, while a switch only has one.
  • Switches are limited to conventional network connections, while routers can operate in both wired and wireless network configurations.
  • The switch will not provide any of the NAT, NetFlow, or QoS functions, but the router does.
  • The switch operates more quickly than a router in a LAN context, but the router performs better in MAN and WAN network environments.

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