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While prices for switches in the end-customer sector are decreasing, I found that 24 port switches are much more expensive than multiple 8 port switches with the same speed.

Are there any disadvantages by using four 8 port switches and connecting them instead of a single 24 port switch, except of a slightly higher latency?

edit: (Hopefully obviously,) I am not going to configure a server centre. I just work for a non-profit organization (in my freetime, so I am not professional), and they need to connect a bunch of computers in the same room to another room with an active directory server.

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Not to forget: 4x8 Ports do not sum up to 24 Ports since you need to dedicate more ports as uplink. – Michuelnik Sep 17 '13 at 13:11
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Doesn't sound like professional networking... however:

A 24 port switch offers (about) the given speed between any two ports simultaneously. If switches are connected (at normal speed) then the bandwidth between all ports on the first switch and all ports on the second is limited to that of a single connection.

Depends on the traffic. In the best case there is no difference, in the worst case bandwidth drops to 1/7th. And if you cascade four switches this can get really evil.

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+1. All depends on how you connect them. 10g uplink? forget it. Traffic between two computers may overload the uplinks to the 4th (main) switch. For office cabling LIKELY good enough. Backbone? Forget it. – TomTom Apr 22 '13 at 10:05
Thanks for the answer. Indeed, we just need a fast connection to a server (for copying images and user profiles) and some slow connections to the clients. While the clients do not really communicate between each other, four small switches might be the apposite answer for my, admittely, very squishy question. – blacklwhite Apr 22 '13 at 11:30

How about reliability? Disrupting a single link would leave 3/4 of your users in the dark, unless you are using 8-port switches which would implement STP so you could create a ring topology for switch interconnects:

sw1 ---- sw2
 |        |
 |        |
sw3 ---- sw4

But then again, your main argument of cost-efficiency is moot as STP-capable managed switches are expensive even in their 8-port variants.

Also, the available bandwidth would be less than what you could expect from an integrated 24-port switch where the backplane is usually rated as non-blocking, allowing full-duplex wire-speed transfers for all ports simultaneously. If all you connect to is a single server (using a single link), this would not matter much performance-wise though.

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