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I currently have a single wireless router near my TV, with a bunch of devices plugged into it. In my current setup, these devices are all somewhere near the router. I'm about to move and in my new home, I'd like to hide the non-HTPC related devices away as there won't be as much space around the TV. Through superuser and serverfault, I learned a lot about network switches. My plan is to put these other devices on a switch with a single ethernet cable running to the existing router. The router would, in turn be plugged into my cable modem and I'd be in business.

The switches I'm interested in are unmanaged switches (in particular, this one).

One of the things I learned about these switches is that they're able to send data from one device directly to another by comparing the destination MAC address against a list of observed MACs corresponding to devices plugged into each port. So if a packet is destined to the MAC address of the device plugged into port 2, the switch will send the data directly to port 2. But, where a packet is destined for an unknown MAC address, the switch will broadcast it to all ports and leave it to the devices to either drop the packets or accept them.

From what I read, these broadcasts could put a burden on all of the devices plugged into the switch if they happen too often, but I'm wondering if this will be a problem in my future setup.

For example, let's say I'm playing a game on one of the devices plugged into the switch and it needs to communicate with the internet. Will these packets be retransmitted?

I think the answer lies in the MAC address that would get stamped on these internet bound packets. If it's the MAC of the router, I gather the switch will send the data directly to the router. However, if it's the MAC of the game server, the switch will retransmit, and only then will the router will figure things out.

So, am I setting myself up for retransmission city?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your setup is nothing uncommon. In fact, I have the same setup with Linksys gigabit switch and linksys gigabit router / wireless AP. Go get the switch. Your network is not / will not be the scale, at which you should be worried about it.

If you are reading about switches and their MAC "stamping", you should also read how Address Resolution Protocol works in detail. When your computer needs to communicate with gameserver, it begins with the IP address. It asks ANY device on your network WHO HAS THIS IP? (possibly only once). The router should answer, because gaming server's IP is from outside of your network. If i remember correctly, answer should be "hey, i don't know if this IP is out there, but i will try to send it". Then your computer stamps packets for gameserver with router's MAC. And will save this answer for future use.

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